Other Movies M. Night Shyamalan Probably Ghost-Wrote

By now you have heard the baffling assertion that M. Night Shyamalan was an uncredited writer of 1999 teen rom-com She’s All That. There’s little evidence for this beyond Shyamalan’s own calculatedly abashed admission, so perhaps he’s just trying to add a movie that actually turned a profit to his résumé. If that’s the case, here are some other flicks he should claim to have ghostwritten. 

Cruel Intentions (1999) — Ghost-written at the same time as She’s All That. Shyamalan worked on one script during the day and the other at night. He slept standing up in a closet for six minutes at a time.

Dangerous Liasons (1988) — This is just a warm-up for Cruel Intentions, so it makes perfect sense that a young Shyamalan cut his teeth on it.

Can’t Hardly Wait (1998) — Credited as “M. Day Shyamalan.” 

She’s The Man (2006) — This gender-bending teen Shakespeare adaptation gave rise to a lifelong friendship between Shyamalan and Amanda Bynes. He plans to appear at any of her future court dates. 

The Happening (2008) — Took his name off it out of embarrassment. 

10 Things I Hate About You (1999) — My god, he was busy that year. It’s just too bad he was never able to top this, the most important scene in a century of cinema:

 

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Here’s a Shocking Twist: M. Night Shyamalan Jokes Still Aren’t Funny

M. Night Shyamalan, famed director and punching bag, has joined Twitter. Celebrity Twitter accounts have been standard fare for years now, but for whatever reason, M. Night just brings a certain something out of people. That “certain something” being jokes about twist endings.

Here’s a brief sample of the kinds of  “M. Night Shyamalan is on Twitter” humor you can expect to see in your feed for the next couple of days:

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As of this posting, Shyamalan only has 1,381 followers and he’s written five tweets. His first was this anecdote: “I was thirteen years old when I tried to call Steven Spielberg. I made my mom call and pretend she was my assistant. He didn’t take my call.”

That’s sweet and touching and everything, but can you at least make a joke about Spielberg being a ghost the entire time? Twitter is really depending on you, M.

M. Night Shyamalan Not a Humorless Prig After All?

For my part, I think M. Night has been getting a bad rap of late. No director ever set the bar higher—critically or financially—with their freshman effort, and to expect him to continually top it is as unrealistic as it is unfair. Recall that even St. Speilberg has given us such boo-able travesties as 1941 and Always. And as for The Last Airbender, which was the subject of some seriously mean-spirited derision, it’s nevertheless pulled in a world box office total of 225 million. So yeah, the trailer for the Shyamalan-produced Devil might look impossibly stupid, but that’s a farmed-out directing job anyway, and M. Night himself is even willing to poke fun at it. He recently got together with an MTV “personality” and a penthouse pet to make a not terribly-funny-but-at-least-high-spirited spoof of the thing.

If you find yourself getting bored, keep in mind that someone (I’m sure you can’t guess who) will eventually disrobe.

‘The Virginity Hit’ Trailer: Movies Are Getting Cheaper

Not long ago I wrote about the trailer for the forthcoming Devil. I didn’t address how audiences in a New York City theater booed the name of producer M. Night Shyamalan when it appeared on screen (that hadn’t happened yet), but rather how utterly cheap the movie is. To whit, it mostly takes place in an elevator. This is the most transparent movie-on-a-budget gambit I’ve seen poised for a major release in a long time. And yet, it only took a week or so for me to come across another: I give you The Virginity Hit.

This one’s conceit is that the whole film is shot by a teenager on his own video camera. It’s like Cloverfield without the expensive CGI. Crappy lighting? That just makes it more realistic! Shaky camera work? Ditto! As if this tactic didn’t make the thing look cheap enough, the plot looks to be an unapologetic mishmash of equal parts American Pie and Superbad. Now, if this were a film made by some scrappy upstarts, I could maybe, maybe forgive some of this. But it’s not. It’s producers are Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.

Really gentlemen? Really?

M. Night Shyamalan Chooses Suicide Over Questioning His Career

Say what you will about M. Night Shyamalan (we do), but the man will not let people stop talking about him. The director was recently at a press conference in Mexico City promoting his critically-panned, commercially successful The Last Airbender, when a female reporter had the balls to ask him if Airbender was just a bid at commercial success after his recent bombs. Night’s initial response (“If I thought like you I’d kill myself”) is magic. And then it gets better.

Night goes on to say, “Your impression of my career is not my impression of my career, it’s something you read on Google.” He’s kind of right, since her impression of his career is based on box-office statistics. But Shyamalan is, or at least aims to be, an event filmmaker. His career should in part be defined by how commercially successful his movies are. He makes movies for the masses, and when the masses don’t go see them, they are mostly a failure. Night gets increasingly defensive when he starts listing countries that have a favorite M. Night Shyamalan movie (who knew Lady In the Water was huge in Spain?). In the middle of the response, M. Night is still so dumbfounded by her question, that he says, “I literally don’t know how to respond,” not realizing that he just spent the last two minutes doing so. And the whole time, the actor Jackson Rathbone sits next to his director, smiling and applauding, just happy to be there.

Links: Jason Sudekis Steals Don Draper’s Girl, Rachel Uchitel Goes to Rehab

● Not even one of the worst hosting performances in SNL history could keep Jason Sudekis from bedding Don Draper’s girl. That’s how cool he is (Don, not Jason). [Socialite Life] ● Bryan Singer and Taylor Lautner are friends! How cool is that? Less cool: Taylor dissed his friend Bryan by not signing on to his film X-Men: First Class. With friends like these…[Blastr] ● Even with the not-terrible looking Devil, audiences seem to have really given up on M. Night Shyamalan. I see a dead career. [Film Drunk]

● Today on The View, Elisabeth Hasselbeck used the ‘S’ word to describe Kathy Griffin after the comedienne called Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown’s daughters “prostitutes.” Yep, she called her a ‘scholar.’ [EW] ● Following rumors of an upcoming gig on Celebrity Apprentice, Rachel Uchitel has instead taken a step way, way down, signing on for the upcoming season of Celebrity Rehab. No one’s sure what her addiction is, but we’re guessing it’s not anonymity. [People] ● The Porn Identity. That’s our suggested, if a little obvious, choice for the title of alleged Russian spy Anna Chapman’s proposed adult film. [TMZ]

The Trailer for ‘Devil’ Inspires Many Doubts

I had to watch the trailer for Devil twice to assure myself that it wasn’t a spoof. I’m still not entirely convinced. The premise sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. “Okay. So, five people get trapped in an elevator…” Then things turn unfunny when one of the five turns out to be something other than what they appear. Given that Devil is based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan, I’m guessing an Amish dinosaur.

This is the kind of thing that you expect no-budget, indie types to do. Setting a film almost exclusively inside an elevator is the most cost-effective gimmick since Michael Almereyda shot a feature on pixelvision. Maybe Shyamalan, who also serves as producer here, is feeling the pinch like everybody else. Or maybe he’s just quit pretending that he’s anything more than a poor man’s Rod Serling. In any case, there’s additional reason why the Devil trailer initially struck me as bogus, and that’s the presence of actor Geoffrey Arend. I’ve liked this guy since he played “College Boy 3” in Super Troopers (“The snozberries taste like snozberries!”), but he’s primarily a comic actor used here in what appears to be a quite serious role. (He’s also married to Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, so screw him.) I keep expecting him to crack wise or fart, thereby destroying the notion that this film, this lonely inhabitant of the “elevator horror” genre, actually exists.

10 Good Directors Who Have Ruined Their Careers

It’s been more than a decade since M. Night Shyamalan surprised everyone with the wholly original The Sixth Sense. That movie was a rare breed: A box-office monster (with no CGI, mind you) that scored a Best Picture Oscar nomination. It was even more surprising because seemingly out of nowhere, Shyamalan emerged as a major filmmaking talent. His follow-ups Unbreakable and Signs were worth companions to The Sixth Sense, and allowed the director to basically trademark the Twist Ending. It was at the exact moment when Shyamalan seemed like he couldn’t make a bad movie, that he made one. And then another one. And one more after that. And now, with The Last Airbender, in which he abandons his moody-thriller-with-surprise-ending-formula, it seems as if Night has made the worst movie of his career. Oh, and about that career, does it even exist anymore? At what point do studios revoke the benefit of the doubt and stop giving this man their money? But Night isn’t the only talented director whose career has taken an unexpected turn. Here are ten more who’ve lost their way.

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Joel Schumacher: Sometime in 1996, Joel Shumacher was sitting in his office on the Warner lot, deep into pre-production on his latest movie, a surefire hit called Batman & Robin. In walked his costume designer with a sketch for the new batsuit, to be worn by George Clooney. Schumacher, feeling it wasn’t anatomically correct enough, decided to add nipples to it. That was the moment when the man behind movies like The Lost Boys and Falling Down, became the guy who did Blood Creek. Yeah, we’ve never heard of it either.

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Michael Cimino: He is like the J.D. Salinger of filmmakers. He made one masterpiece, then disappeared, except in his case, it wasn’t by choice. The story of Cimino is well known, and serves as a classic cautionary tale of artistic excess gone berserk. After the incredible success of his second film The Deer Hunter, Cimino was given complete freedom (aka stacks of cash) from the studio for his next project, a Western called Heaven’s Gate. The final product was a bloated, over-budget debacle that nearly bankrupted the studio and put an end to the lenient studios of the seventies, who gave a new wave of auteurs complete creative control of their projects. Cimino has barely worked since.

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Roberto Benigni: Life used to be beautiful for this Italian entertainer, especially when he climbed over all those seats to accept the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for his Holocaust fable Life is Beautiful (he later won Best Actor for his role in the film). Then, like any artist who is suddenly labeled as “great” by his peers, Benigni followed up with an ambitious vanity project by the name of Pinocchio. He, a fifty-year-old man at the time, played Pinocchio. It grossed $3 million in the U.S., and aside from the forgettable The Tiger and the Snow in 2005, Benigni hasn’t made another movie since.

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Justin Lin: This Asian-American director’s career isn’t necessarily “ruined,” but it hasn’t fulfilled its initial promise. Lin burst onto the festival circuit with Better Luck Tomorrow, a disturbing, fast-paced stories of youth run amok, rare in that it focused on a group of Asian-Americans. At the time, Roger Ebert called Lin a “rising star.” He also said that Tomorrow “looks as glossy and expensive as a megamillion studio production,” prophetic in that that’s exactly what Lin went on to direct, and not in a good way. After trying and failing to make James Franco an action star in Annapolis, Lin went on to direct the third and fourth installments in the Fast and the Furious franchise, and is currently working on Fast Five. Hey, at least this kid’s a fan.

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Richard Kelly: Twice we’ve given this hotshot the benefit of the doubt. That’s what happens when you’re the recent film school grad who writes and directs Donnie Darko as your feature debut. Kelly decided to up the ante on his cult hit with Southland Tales, a post-apocalyptic parable on God knows what (we sure don’t, because, well, we didn’t see it). It’s debut at Cannes was one of the biggest failures in the festival’s history. But still, this was the guy who made Donnie Darko. Surely, Southland Tales was only a misfire, right? Wrong. His next movie was the studio-backed thriller The Box, a film that had a marketable plot (push this button, get a million dollars, someone will die) and Cameron Diaz in the lead. Still, he managed to throw in elements of space travel, aliens, and weird columns of water and the whole thing resulted in a meandering mess. In his review of The Box, Peter Travers wrote, “I’m not ready to give up on Richard Kelly and his questing intelligence as a filmmaker. Memories of Donnie Darko stay strong.” We don’t disagree.

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Kevin Costner: An especially tragic case, since Costner not only torpedoed his career as a director, but with Waterworld and then The Postman, he also crossed his name off the acting A-list as well. After the Oscar-winning triumph that was Dances With Wolves, Costner took nearly five years to make one of the most notorious flops in movie history. To this day, Waterworld is synonymous with “What the fuck was he thinking?” Then, in what felt like a perverse need to top himself, Costner followed it up with The Postman, which played like Waterworld on land. He redeemed himself somewhat with the well-received Western Open Range in 2003, but by then, Costner’s reputation as a maker of hyperbolic and vacuous epics was established.

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Brian De Palma: The maker of some of cinema’s great epic crime dramas (Scarface, The Untouchables), De Palma didn’t so much as burn out, but fade away. Since his last solid crime drama in 1993, De Palma’s filmography has been sporadic. He had success with the first Mission: Impossible film, but Snake Eyes, Mission to Mars, and Femme Fatale were all disappointments. Then, in 2006 when De Palma was set to direct The Black Dahlia, a noir crime thriller in the vain Untouchables, we thought he couldn’t miss. He did.

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The Wachowskis: When The Matrix burst onto the scene in 1999, The Wachowskis immediately became some of the most important filmmakers in Hollywood. Here was a a duo that combined groundbreaking special effects and fight choreography with profound philosophical themes. There was no way a movie that seemed so effortlessly good was fluke. Their talent was too pure. When the brothers announced their plans to shoot The Matrix sequels back-to-back and release them six months apart, people thought they had a new Star Wars on their hands. The Wachowskis appeared to be building an empire. Then the movies came out. While not total debacles, they did not live up to the original and were viewed as a missed opportunity. The debacle came after, with the release of Speed Racer in 2008. What was supposed to be another groundbreaking movie from the brothers, the $120 million movie grossed just $43 million. Some called it ahead of its time, we called it sucky. Now the brothers, who are notoriously private, aren’t even brothers anymore. Larry Wachowski has undergone a sex change and goes by Lana. They’re apparently working on an Iraq War movie as seen from the future, starring Arianna Huffington, so it’s safe to say they’re back on track.

Martin Brest: He’s never made a great film, but Beverly Hills Cop and Scent of a Woman are classic in their own right. But it’s hard to argue that Brest didn’t effectively end his career with the making of a single film. It was in 2003, and he hasn’t worked since. Did someone say Gigli?

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Roland Joffe: His first two films were The Killing Fields and The Mission. They each earned him Best Director nominations, and starred people like Robert De Niro and Willem Defoe. In 2007 he made Captivity, a torture porn movie starring Elisha Cuthbert. He followed that up with the infamous Mischa Barton t.a.T.u movie You and I. So yeah.

What’s Happening to M. Night?

We’re really rooting for you Night. The Sixth Sense is undeniable. Unbreakable is one of the most underrated films of this decade (we’re not kidding). Signs was a creepy and moving success. So when The Village proved you weren’t without filmmaking flaws, and then Lady in the Water utterly confirmed it, we began to worry. Your image in the press suffered—an egomaniac they called you—and suddenly our “next Spielberg” began resembling our “next Cimino.” So when chilling trailers for your latest film The Happening started popping up, we expected a return to form. An invisible force causes people to lose their self preservation instinct—suicide all around. Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel, two of the most likeable actors in Hollywood, on the run for their lives. What’s not to like? Well, today the reviews are in, and with held breath, we checked them out…

We sensed it. We saw the signs. It’s not looking good.

“The movie demonstrates a smart movie geek’s obsession with the rhythms and gory details of horror storytelling, undermined by a pompous insistence on spiritual lessons of the tritest kind” -Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

“After the insufferably dense mermaid mythology of Lady in the Water, Shyamalan clearly wanted to keep things simple. He whizzed straight past simple to simplistic.” Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

“The Happening stutter-steps its way in this direction and that to a disappointing ending.” Stephen Hunter, Washington Post

With those kinds of reviews from some of the nation’s top critics (and the film not faring well on the genre-loving fanboy web circuit either), our heart breaks for our fallen Night. But wait! There’s hope to be had! Roger Ebert, the bestest critic of all, gave the film three out of four stars, and had this to say about it: “M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening,” is a movie that I find oddly touching. It’s no doubt too thoughtful for the summer action season, but I appreciate the quietly realistic way Shyamalan finds to tell a story about the possible death of man.” Shit, he’s so right. That’s what we loved about Shyamalan in the first place, his ability to tell tales of the supernatural in realistic ways. Now we’re confused and don’t know what to think! Damn you film critics and your varying opinions. And damn our inability to form our own.