Amazon Prime review: M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” (2019)

M. Night Shyamalan enjoyed somewhat of a revival since The Visit (2015) and Split (2016), never quite meeting the triumphs of The Sixth Sense (1999) and Unbreakable (2000), but still at least becoming watchable again.

As for Glass (2019), the third in a trilogy with Unbreakable and Split, the faults of his authorship stand in relief against these two stronger entries.

If you don’t know what to watch next, Glass is available on Amazon Prime. The psychological superhero thriller got largely negative reviews, with only thirty-seven percent of critics aggregated via Rotten Tomatoes praising the film.

The filmmaker also wrote, co-produced, and made a cameo appearance in the picture.

Unbreakable hero David “The Overseer” Dunn (Bruce Willis) and Split villain Kevin Wendell “The Horde” Crumb (James McAvoy) are institutionalized at the same Philadelphia facility as The Overseer’s nemesis, Elijah “Mister Glass” Price (Samuel L. Jackson).

There, Doctor Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), a psychiatrist who specializes in treating patients who believe they’re superheroes or otherwise superhuman, studies the three characters.

But Mister Glass has a plan for escape, and with The Horde in his reach, an alliance between the two could spell doom for the city The Overseer can no longer protect.

The premise is the highlight of the movie – three of Shyamalan’s finest creations conflicting against one another in a setting evocative of the ambiguous realism making Unbreakable a masterstroke of suspense.

It would’ve done the same for Split, if not for a denouement which decisively answers the question, “Does The Beast exist?” when no answer is what gives Unbreakable its staying power.

For the first time since Unbreakable, the audience asks themselves if The Overseer, The Horde, and Mister Glass really are players in a comic book, or if they’re suffering from a collective delusion of grandeur; debating the truth of the text warrants devoted re-watches.

But Shyamalan makes the same miscalculation at the end of Glass as at the end of Split, except worse, unleashing a veritable Pandora’s box of absurdity onto his world-building that no amount of mystery could ever close again.

And he might not have made this error if he hadn’t marketed himself as a brand after the success of The Sixth Sense, the Wellesian wunderkind, the lovechild of Sir Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg whose signature style orbits the climactic twist (even at its most contrived).

It’s the reason why auteur theory, developed in postwar Europe as part of the French New Wave by early film critics obsessed with studying Hollywood directors, is problematic and borderline fallacious in the inherently collaborative world of moviemaking.

Shyamalan is indisputably talented – The Sixth Sense is one of the best of all time – but The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable are greater than their twists, and even Hitchcock knew his limits. Hitch cast himself in cameos, but he never delivered a line, and he didn’t pen a word of dialogue.

His greatness lay in knowing when to take “no” for an answer.

If Shyamalan had an executive to answer to, or a seasoned screenwriter to ground his concepts into the dramatically satisfying, Glass might have lived up to its “super” potential.

What it is instead, is a delusion of grandeur.

Star-studded preview uploaded for Roland Emmerich’s “Midway” (2019)

Roland Emmerich’s Midway (2019), written by Wes Tooke and starring Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Darren Criss, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, as well as Woody Harrelson, dropped a new trailer Thursday, according to Rolling Stone. The cast of characters are mostly real-world military officers, and the World War II blockbuster will detail the Battle of Midway, a Pacific Theater defense of the American West Coast from the Japanese Imperial Navy after Pearl Harbor which marked a turning point during the conflict. The film is scheduled for a Veterans Day weekend release from Lionsgate, November 8.

The evolution of the stripper movie

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Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, and Lili Reinhart headline Hustlers. (Image Courtesy: The Atlantic).

Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers (2019) joins Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike (2012), Gregory Jacobs’s Magic Mike XXL (2015), as well as Gene Graham’s This One’s for the Ladies (2019) in its empathetic representation of the camaraderie between strippers, according to The Atlantic. This marks a progression from the likes of Adrian Lyne’s Flashdance (1983), which isolates star Jennifer Beales from her fellow dancers, or Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls (1995), wherein Elizabeth Berkley’s unlikable protagonist sabotages her relationships with other strippers. Hustlers castmate and consultant Jacq the Stripper tells Variety the film’s nuanced treatment of her community is because of their inclusiveness toward her.

Film school graduates in demand right now

With the advent of streaming platforms from media corporations looking to compete against Netflix, Syracuse University television, radio, and film professors say their freshmen are entering the entertainment industry at a lucrative time, according to student newspaper The Daily Orange. Department chair Michael Schoonmaker says this is a “Golden Age of Entertainment” for traditional movies and television as well. Even though film majors are stereotypically faced with skepticism, especially because anyone who owns a camera phone can become a filmmaker now, original content is in demand from undiscovered, young artists, as Hulu, Amazon Prime, Showtime, and CBS flood their collections.

Marielle Heller’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (2019) reportedly moves TIFF to tears

Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) was a cause for nostalgic audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival to exit the theater with tears in their eyes and stories about Mister Rogers on their lips, according to The Daily Beast. Reviewer Richard Porton reports that Heller uses a pessimistic journalist named Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), a fictionalized representation for the 1998 Fred Rogers profiler Tom Junod of Esquire, to balance the Rogers biopic with more nuance. Porton dismisses this attempt, writing that the movie still canonizes Rogers’s character, but praises Tom Hanks’s performance as the television host.

Roman Polanski’s drama places at Venice Film Festival

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A life sentence on the Devil’s Island penal colony was passed down to Alfred Dreyfus in 1894, before he was found guilty during a second trial in 1899 and finally exonerated in 1906. (Image Courtesy: France 24).

Roman Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy (2019), based off the Robert Harris novel of the same name, garnered the second-place prize Saturday at the Venice Film Festival, according to France 24. In it, Lieutenant Colonel Georges Picquart (Jean Dujardin) clandestinely reinvestigates evidence that proves Captain Alfred Dreyfus (Louis Garrel) is innocent of the treasonous accusations against him, only for the anti-Semitic Third French Republic to suppress it in the 1890s. Theodor Herzl, a Hungarian Jewish journalist corresponding in Paris at the time for an Austrian newspaper, would go on to become the father of Zionism as we know it today because of the Dreyfus Affair, leading to the founding of Israel in 1948.

History-making box office projections for Todd Phillips’s “Joker” (2019)

With critics raving about Todd Phillips’s Joker (2019) en masse at the 2019 Venice Film Festival, long-range box office projections for the film have skyrocketed, according to Comic Book Resources. If its forecasts prove accurate, then the movie will rake in the fourth-highest opening of all time for an R-rated release, behind Tim Miller’s Deadpool (2016), David Leitch’s Deadpool 2 (2018), and Andy Muschietti’s It (2017). As for the DCEU, it would outpace Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2017) and match Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman (2017), and even if Joker performs at the lower end of its estimates, it will still surpass Ruben Fleischer’s Venom (2018) as the top-grossing October opener ever.

Hulu review: John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place” (2018)

First, Alan Crosland’s The Jazz Singer (1927) popularized talkies. Then, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation (1974) distorted a single recorded word of dialogue just enough to influence the remainder of the narrative.

Next, A Quiet Place omitted spoken lines altogether for a mainstream, feature-length release, and the findings of this experiment are some of the most radical in the renaissance following the release of Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook (2014).

If you don’t know what to watch next, John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place (2018) is available to stream on Hulu. The postapocalyptic science fiction horror thriller was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing.

Krasinski also co-wrote, co-produced, and co-starred in the production.

Lee Abbott (Krasinski) and his pregnant wife, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), along with their children, Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe), are living in a world where almost all life has been hunted into extinction by alien creatures attacking anything which makes noise.

Fortunately for them, Regan is deaf, so the family knows American Sign Language and can communicate with each other in silence.

When one of the monsters kills the Abbotts’ youngest child, Beau (Cade Woodward), the rest of the family resolves to fight for themselves and one another.

Krasinski and Blunt are married with children off-screen, and so the filmmaker directs out of himself as well as his leading lady thoroughly personal performances, characterizing a husband, wife, father, and mother desperate to protect their home.

Simmonds is also deaf in real life, marking a sensitive casting choice for the disabled community. Rather than functioning as a handicap to overcome, Regan’s disability empowers her to survive.

What’s more, Krasinski’s directorial debut is a masterwork of its genre. Post-James Wan’s Saw (2004), jump scares have proven themselves to be most powerful when the sudden sound is paired with a horrifying image, instead of something cheaper and more mundane.

The hushed diegesis lends itself to effective jump scares like a dream (or a nightmare).

As progressive as the picture is with its positive, diverse (though not altogether intersectional) representation, and as much as it gets right about the scary movie formula, it is problematically regressive with what many critics interpret to be pro-life, pro-gun, conservative themes.

Some have even gone so far as to dismiss it as the antithesis to Jordan Peele’s social horror masterpiece, Get Out (2017).

Indeed, Evelyn still decides to give birth in spite of the mortal danger it poses to herself, and, by extension, her children.

While Lee’s altruistic parenting is good parenting, intentionalism is a critical fallacy, and it is irrelevant that Krasinski cites Get Out as a source of inspiration.

Art belongs not to the creator, but to the consumer, and one hopes Krasinski will learn throughout his promising career to handle his sociopolitical subtext with greater care.

A Quiet Place is important, effectual, “pure” cinema (according to the Hitchcockian school of thought), speaking to us with no words at all.

Dakota Fanning speaks out on backlash against new role as Ethiopian Muslim

Dakota Fanning took to Instagram Wednesday to respond to the controversy surrounding her part as a Muslim woman in Ethiopia in Zeresenay Berhane Mehari’s Sweetness in the Belly (2019), according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The twenty-five-year-old actress says her character is British, abandoned by her parents in Africa at seven years old and raised Muslim; the film, based on a book by Camilla Gibb, will debut at the 2019 Toronto Film Festival later this month. Twitter’s reaction to the casting is still divided, with some defending the faithfulness to the source material and others criticizing the whiteness of the protagonist.

Scarlett Johansson comes out in defense of Woody Allen

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Scarlett Johansson has joined the likes of Anjelica Huston and Javier Bardem in defending Woody Allen against sexual abuse allegations from his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, according to The Guardian. Other artists, such as Timothée Chalamet, Greta Gerwig, as well as Colin Firth, say they regret working with the filmmaker, who is waging a legal battle right now with Amazon over their termination of a four-film agreement after remarks he made about #MeToo. Johansson, a founding member of Time’s Up, starred in Allen’s Match Point (2005), Scoop (2006), and Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008).