Monday Movie: Signs, by David Bax

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2 Responses

  1. Max says:

    I accept Tyler’s invitation to comment on a film review.

    Is a film review a discussion of the film or a discussion of its components? I can’t tell which model David is advocating here.

    David seems to be advocating for the report card model of film review. To wit, you grade the discrete parts to demonstrate that the overall film should pass the grade (get a second look). Using “Signs” as an example, it has great editing for most of the film (B+), competent cinematography (B-), competent art direction and costumes (B-), and decent acting (B+). Thus, it should pass despite the (D+) third act. Under David’s model, a passing GPA warrants another look. (Note: David does not analyze all these elements explicitly, he seems to focus on the director’s handling of theme, acting, and script.)

    This is a useful model for academic settings and when you are comparing films (e.g., comparing films in the same genre, etc.). The weakness with this model is that, as art, a film is the sum of its parts. One bad element can ruin an entire film emotionally (e.g., off-putting acting) or intellectually (e.g., plot holes).

    Ultimately, I have no idea what David is advocating here. Is he arguing that the film’s strengths overcome its weakness? Or, is he arguing that the film as a whole works because the theme is well executed throughout?

    It would seem to me that any retrospective review such as this must begin by staking a claim: “Those folks who criticize the ending of Signs and, therefore, argue it is a bad movie are wrong because ….” Or, “those folks who criticize the end of Signs miss all the good parts of the movie ….”

    Because I don’t know what David is claiming here, all I can say is that the end of Signs makes it a middling film, at best. There is no organic reason for most of the plot elements that culminate at the end of the movie and the flashback at the climax of the film deflates the suspense that the director spent almost two hours deftly building. It is unfair that all of Shyamalan’s films get judged against his masterpiece. Then again, Shyamalan’s sins seem to be repeatedly forgiven because everybody knows that he is capable of a masterpiece.

  2. Lance says:

    This film is a damn masterpiece.

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