Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Finding diamonds in the rough

Sometimes, movies suck. True story. Sometimes a movie is so godawful, the only thing you can do is stare at the screen, hoping that you can light the theater on fire through sheer willpower alone (editor's note: in my experience, this technique does not work. Still, we at A Slice of Movie Zen do not condone arson as punishment for cinematic sins. Unless it's Seven Pounds. Then we provide the gasoline.). Some movies steal precious hours from your life that you'll never get back, but will continue to haunt your nightmares, stalking the halls of your nighttime world like a Michael Myers from Rob Zombie's Halloween remakes (incidentally, a movie whose sheer badness will haunt your nightmares in just this fashion).

It's true. Some movies suck. This does not mean, however, that you should despair, dear reader. In even the worst films, there lie hidden treasures waiting to be discovered, waiting to save the viewer from two hours of aural and visual rape. Being the committed journalist that I am, I have inflicted the worst kinds of psychological torture upon myself to search for hidden gems. What I will attempt to do in this series (yes, I'm trying to start series I can run with here) is provide you with the map to these gems, in case you ever find yourself in a situation desperate enough to use it.

In other words? I've watched some terrible movies, and I'd like to spare you the same fate. But, if you find yourself watching these movies, I'd like to provide you with a fingerhold in the great rock-face of sanity. Enjoy.

Our first installment? The Village. Yes. The best comedy of 2004, hands down. Here is a sampling of some of M. Night Shamalyan's witty, insight-laden dialogue:

Ivy: I am in love.
Edward: I know.
Ivy: He is in love with me.
Edward: I know.
Ivy: If he dies, all that is life to me will die with him.

Moving stuff. Here is the script again, effortlessly summoning tension through skillful employment of passive voice:

Edward: Ivy.
Ivy: Yes, father?
Edward: Do your very best not to scream.

Sadly, pixelated letters cannot convey the poignant emotion with which actors Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Dallas Howard, and William Hurt, and friends garnish these fine words with. Suffice to say that the Sears Department Store Mannequin rendition of Waiting For Godot (located in Women's Wear) is the only thing I've witnessed recently that can compete with the performances displayed. This is to mention nothing of Adrien Brody, in his touching rendition of the Man-Who-Might-Be-Retarded. Oh well. He who might be retarded is still cognizant enough to put on his summer camp's costume contest entry and terrorize a village of pseudo-Amish vaudevillians.
Such are the joys of The Village. Joys they are indeed, but not of the variety that those who created the film intended.

And then the music kicks in. If you have iTunes, search the store for The Village soundtrack. Listen to the previews of "The Gravel Road," "The Vote," "Noah Visits," and "Race to Resting Rock." Youtube can also be used to accomplish this. I don't know about you, but I was dumbfounded. In the middle of this completely inane film, composer James Newton Howard has hidden compositions of nearly unsurpassed beauty and depth. His music is disturbingly audacious in its proficiency: when watching the film, it has the gall to almost persuade you that you care what's going on. Almost. The soundtrack of the film works as a stand-alone piece far more compelling than its source. In fact, I think we should all take a moment to thank Mr. Shamalyan for making The Village. Yes, it makes me want to run face-first into a wall with pencils shoved up my nostrils, but, without the film, this music would never have been composed, and the world would be a worse place. Thank you, M. Thank you.

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