The Michigan Daily - Monday, July 24, 2006 - 11
'Lady in the Water'
should stay there
By Jeffrey Bloomer
As a filmmaker, M. Night Shyamalan has
it. He may have one of the industry's biggest
heads, its most intense insecurity and its most
bizarre sense of fame, but the reality of his
talent remains. Aside from the fact that his
movies change the pop-cul-
ture landscape with routine
efficiency, he is a suspense Lady in the
1 stylist of rare intelligence Water
and command, a romantic At the Showcase
who not only wants to scare and Quality 16
us into submission but teach Warter Bros.
us something afterward,
too. His "The Sixth Sense"
customarily justifies his brand-name pedigree,
but even more in his other films, it's clear that
he crafts his work with a profound sincerity
and an earnest desire to change our lives.
You can call such intentions lofty, or call
them naive or, as many critics have recently,
call them arrogant. But no one has, no mat-
ter how severe the attack, doubted his can-
dor. Perhaps Shyamalan's need to extend his
arms so deeply into the marketing campaigns
for his films - two years ago with a witless
mockumentary, this time with a tell-all book
- arises from how much of himself we're
actually seeing on screen. For him, it's per-
sonal. For some people (myself included),
he is the filmmaker he purports to be, and
for others, he isn't. Ultimately, for better or
worse, he for many remains one of the great
puzzlements of modern Hollywood, and one
of its true individuals.
That a lengthy defense of Shyamalan is now
necessary when discussing one of his films
is another topic in and of itself, so let's just
get to the print: "Lady in the Water," his most.
overtly personal movie to date, is a disjointed
perversion of everything he typically does so
well. Here is a fable in which a character liter-
ally has to yell out the moral, and even then
it remains unclear. Anyone who doubted the
merits of "The Village" will go running back
to it with open arms. This is what happens
when someone doesn't know how to take no for
an answer - a wildly off-key embarrassment
of the highest, and strangest, order.
The concept is not inherently an awful one:
A bedtime story Shyamalan once told his
daughters is now teased it into a full-fledged
tome for adults. (And it is for adults: The film,
for all its playful mysticism, wears its- PG-13
rating on its sleeve). The movie stars Bryce
Dallas Howard ("The Village") as a sea nymph
called Story who appears out of nowhere in
an apartment complex's pool. She's on some
"He has a beard. He's walking on water. He's two thirds of the way there."
sort of mission, no one seems to question this
strange half-naked 20-something wandering
around, and slowly her intentions revealed.
Buried not so stealthily in the midst of an
otherwise very tender movie is a brutal, pain-
fully dim-witted attack on film critics, a prob-
able symptom of the critical lashing "The
Village" took two summers ago. Shyamalan
arbitrarily inserts a newspaper critic, makes
him the single-handed culprit of everything
that goes wrong in the film's midsection and
proceeds literally to throw him to the dogs.
Granted, the reception of "The Village" was
inordinately harsh - one critic declared the
twist so awful that audiences would want to
rewind the movie at the end so they wouldn't
know it anymore - but responding by tarnish-
ing a good portion of your next movie's plot
in an act of explosive self-indulgence? It's
stunningly out of place, and in some ways, a
reckless betrayal of the confidence his work up
until now has inspired.
But alas, it happens to the best of us. Every-
one has a day off, and in the grander scheme
of Shyamalan's career, the movie will likely be
forgotten. But Shyamalan, it should be noted,
will not be OK with that, and neither should
we. As someone who has made some of the
most intimate blockbusters of the past decade,
he suddenly has a lot to make up for, a lot to
explain, but if I put money on anyone, Shyama-.
tan doesn't seem so nonsensical a place.
Kelis brings back the shake
By' Kimberly Chou
Daily Arts Writer
Don't dog Kelis for working her
sexual marketability with "Bossy,"
her . irresistibly cocksure summer
single. She'd already embraced it
after the success of "Milkshake,"
one of the best lapdance songs of the
current decade and the bane of par-
ents with MTV-loving preteens.
Those who first noticed the stun-
ning rage of "Caught Out There"
bemoan Kelis's departure from all-
Neptunes production, as well as her
gradual transformation from a girl
unafraid to cuss out her man to a sex
kitten writhing around in lingerie.
But bossy, saucy Kelis works. Lil'
of the week
Kim rapping "I make a Sprite can
disappear in my mouth" is actually
more silly than sexual because she's
pushed the exaggerated schtick so
much that her persona has become
But Kelis as an ultra confident
femme is refreshing. It's a hard
pill to swallow, she admits, when
your -projected audience finds you
strange, doesn't buy your sophomore
album, "then in the blink of an eye /
They got on what you got" when you
release a sexually forward single.
Accepting that sex sells will only
result in more cash - you might as
well have fun with it if you look as
good as Kelis.
"You don't need to love me,"
Kelis purrs in "Bossy," "but you
have to respect me - 'cause I'm
a boss!" In the video she climbs
out of bed, preens and sheers off
her famous locks. It's the reverse
Sampson transformation: Suddenly
Kelis is walking all over men with
her stilettos and championing her
all-around prowress, swathed in
designer labels. And what about the
What's so fun about "Bossy" is
how Kelis throws around hegemoni-
cally masculine symbols of suc-
cess (flashy cars, "diamonds on my
neck / diamonds on my grill"). Her
attitude is almost alarming with its
braggadocio, and here the video for
"Bossy" hits its acme.
"My shake brought the boys to the yard. Can you make them leave?"
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