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Lady in the Water (2006)
Ignore the critics and the less intelligent viewer--this is an entertaining film.
The critics are just mad because of what happens to the movie critic character in the film (Bob Balaban, who incidentally, has a really good scene loaded with double meaning).
I disagree with a lot of the critics on many films. They tend to critique a movie based on how closely it resembles modern art. I personally couldn't care less. I don't go to the movies to see the latest piece of art by the newest avant-garde director. I go because I want to be ENTERTAINED (what a shocker). I don't want to be reminded of the troubles of my own life (thus, my avoidance of movies with sad endings)--I want to be entertained with a good story.
"Lady in the Water" IS a good story, and it's well done. It isn't going to bring about the change it talks about in the movie, it won't radically alter people's lives, it won't wake you up in the middle of the night to question your whole existence. If you want that kind of experience then go see... well... some other movie. "Lady in the Water" is just a good ride--interesting and imaginative story, engaging characters, some really funny moments, some "boo" jump-at-you moments, and good performances by all involved.
It is NOT for everybody. Yes, the teenagers in the audience seemed bored and could not stop talking and running in and out, but I don't know that that's so much a sign of a bad movie as a sign of how stupid and inconsiderate our teenagers are. I'm sure they would have had no problem staying glued to their seats if we were viewing "Scream 14" instead.
This movie is also NOT "The Sixth Sense". Yes, I loved the "turn your whole world upside down in two seconds" moment at the end of "Sixth Sense", but it is unfair to expect that from Shyamalan every time and not judge him on his own merits as a director. (And I'm not just a Shyamalan "yes man"... I hated "Unbreakable").
My only major dislike was the music for the end credits. It was the worst I have ever heard.
All in all, Shyamalan is an unusual and talented director, and I always look forward to seeing what he has up his sleeve.
The Break-Up (2006)
Funny? No. Romantic? No. Well-made? No. Realistic? Sort of. Disappointing? A BIG YES!!
Well, everyone seems to be concentrating on the fact that this was advertised as a romantic comedy and it is neither romantic, nor a comedy. That is definitely true.
Aside from that, however, it is a poorly-made movie. The timing is off (comic and otherwise), the editing is off pace, and the writing is clunky. I've read a lot of user comments that mention the fantastic "depth of character". Let me just say that having characters that act like immature jerks instead of typical movie star characters does not automatically qualify as character developmentit's just different and new, not real "character development". There are many characters that we get to know a little and are left with NO wrap-up for. The main characters are the only ones we get closure for, but even they are not people we really care about by the end of the movie. I felt when we left the theater that Aniston and Vaughn had so little chemistry it's hard to believe they developed a romance off the set.
The biggest problem is consistency. If you're going to make Vaughn's character a beyond believable inconsiderate jerk, this same character would not make a 180 degree turn around after a short erudite "pep talk" from his bartender friend. By the same token, if you're going to make Aniston's character the kind of person who would put up with this behavior for so long, she would NOT in real life totally change her mind about him a few days after sobbing in her bedroom about their relationship when he finally makes the list of changes she wants (minus the bowl of lemons and ballet tickets he should have had on that table with the dinner).
As an aside, I know that I am probably the only one who feels this way, but the language was much rougher than I was expecting. If you go to see Lethal Weapon 18, you expect F's and GD's galore, but it really took me by surprise in a romantic comedy, especially since there are so many GD's in the first 15 minutes of the movie. I just mention it for the record.
All in all, I would pay another $15 just to have that two hours of my life back. And while we're at it, I am really sick of the marketing geniuses advertising movies in such a way that you have no idea what you're walking into. It makes the viewer give it even worse word-of-mouth than they would have otherwise. You can bet I've already written an email to all my friends telling them what a huge disappointment this movie was and to avoid it.
To sum up: Sloppy execution, poor characters, inconsistent follow-through, and a really crappy ending. Save this one for DVD
and even then, wait for it to be taken off the "new releases" wall so you don't have to pay as much for it, or better yet, maybe you'll get lucky and your library will carry it and you will be able to pay NOTHING for it
which is basically what it's worth.
The Devil's Miner (2005)
An unusually good documentary, a tragic situation, and one heroic young man.
Yes, this documentary is about poor, fatherless children who must work in the hazardous mines to support their families. I won't go into a lot of detail about the specifics of the film--you can find that in other user comments. There are multitudes of documentaries detailing the sad stories the less fortunate members of the world are forced to live every day. So what? What makes this movie different?
Two things: 1) the incredible maturity and strength of character of Basilio Vargas (the 14 year old miner the documentary is centered around) and 2) the expert way the filmmakers let the story tell itself instead of force-feeding the viewer pity and guilt.
I am not a filmmaker, but I think it took a great deal of wisdom for them to realize that this young man could relate the story on his own better than any amount of narration or scripted propaganda. Basilio is heroic, mature, a dreamer with goals and aspirations, a fatherless child, a father to his siblings, a breadwinner for the family, and he never complains about any of it.
Watching this film makes you want to comfort Basilio and then get down on your knees and ask God for forgiveness for being such an ungrateful and spoiled Westerner. Somehow though, you come away from it wishing you could show it to everyone you know, and wishing you could tell Basilio how much you admire him.