Another Day, Another Blog

June 27, 2007

The Lady cried, for she longed for a castle beside her tear-drop pool

Filed under: in for a penny, sci-fi — iamza @ 1:25 pm

I finally got around to watching M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water. Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) is the superintendent and general handyman for The Cove, an apartment building complex populated by some interesting people. One night, Cleveland falls into the pool, and stumbles across Story, a water sprite/narf on a mission to offer enlightenment to one man before flying home by way of a giant eagle escapee from one of the Lord of the Rings films. Unfortunately, Story’s nemesis, a giant grass-covered hyena, has also travelled to The Cove, and he’s determined to make Story miss her flight (rather like the train driver on my last trip to London Heathrow, when I think about it).

I think I’m growing away from M. Night Shyamalan’s stories. I loved The Sixth Sense, because I saw it early enough that I hadn’t been warned there was a twist at the end. I enjoyed Signs because I wasn’t expecting the water glasses to play such an important role. I thought Unbreakable was all right, and quite liked the idea of a supervillain struggling to find a superhero worthy of his attention. I hated The Village and, aside from Cleveland Heep, I didn’t really care about any of the characters in Lady in the Water.

Also watched Howl’s Moving Castle, directed by Hayao Miwazaki of Spirited Away fame. Hatmaker Sophie is cursed by the Wicked Witch of the West (I think), and transformed from her youthful self into a ninety-year-old woman. Terrified of what her mother will think, Sophie runs away from home, and finds a new life for herself in the magical moving castle of master magician, Howl. Along the way, Sophie collects some interesting companions, including: a bouncing scarecrow with an attitude problem; the fire demon, Calcifer, with whom Sophie strikes a deal; a shaggy dog with very short legs; and, of course, Howl, who is battling a curse of his own.

I loved Howl’s Moving Castle, though, as with most Japanese animated films, I walked away at the end wondering just how much of the film I’d missed. Japanese films and comics seem to me to rely on the reader/viewer grasping subtle complexities, and understanding what I regard as non-intuitive leaps in storytelling; I’m pretty sure I miss out on an awful lot.

Still, if you choose to watch one fairy-tale this week, I know which of the two I’d recommend…

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