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Sunday, July 14, 2024


Notes to my Neighbors 6.28.2006

By Rick Racela

It was unfortunate that the Italian-Americans, who planned a great block party in North Wildwood, didn’t have even a little sunshine for the festivities.
But they’re hearty folk. The torrents of rain didn’t keep them home Friday night when Johnny Maestro sang or Saturday when Al Martino’s took the stage.
Sunday, well, not even the heartiest souls could have withstood the apocalypse.
I loved it, though. It was great day for popping in a DVD. And even better for selecting an old favorite.
Like “The Sixth Sense.”
Everybody says it, and it’s true, that every time you watch it, you see another detail M. Night Shyamalan planted.
There’s no flaw in it. No expression, no movement, no camera angle, or set detail is random.
No question, it “crossed over from blockbuster to phenomenon,” as Richard Rys writes in July’s “Philadelphia Magazine.” (Rys calls him “Night” so I guess I can, too.)
The article traces Night’s accomplishments from his first studio film “Wide Awake” to “Lady In the Water” set for release July 21.
Rys’ point is that despite Night’s tight control over every aspect of the filmmaking, every film since “Sixth” has elicited wicked criticism.
An interesting insight into Night’s personality is that those slamming reviews were “heartbreaking” for him. And when Disney tortured him over his plans to make “Lady,” (a fairy tale about a mermaid, by the way) he admits he cried.
I guess that’s why he’s so intriguing. That kind of sensitivity in an uncompromising artist describes both the man and the work.
But even geniuses make bombs. I didn’t like “Unbreakable” which Rys calls “a thinking man’s superhero story,” because I couldn’t get passed the comic book silliness. Maybe I don’t think deeply enough. Or maybe “man” is not meant to be generic.
And “The Village” was spoiled for me because I recognized the story immediately from an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”
The first time I saw “Signs” I was just plain confused. But the second look – and some coaching from my son – showed me that it’s just as well crafted as “Sixth.”
If you haven’t seen it yet, I won’t spoil it. I’ll just give you a clue.
Watch carefully when Mel Gibson’s (Graham Hess) wife dies (in flashback). A minister, Hess becomes bitter and distant with his kids as a result.
He loses his faith because of the cruelty of her death, epitomized by what he feels are her pointless, random, last words.
Why weren’t they important messages for her kids? or for him? Anything that made sense.
Up until the last scene he believes there is no God, no plan.
That’s all I’ll tell you, except to say “Signs” will make you say: Ah, yes. I see! And, like “Sixth,” nothing in this film is random.
To paraphrase, “It is possible that there are no coincidences.”
So if this Fourth of July weekend happens to be washed out, get yourself to Blockbuster and pick up a copy.
Better yet, pick up all of Night’s oeuvre and have a marathon in preparation for the premier of “Lady.”
Better still, let’s pray for the sun to shine on all the parades and cookouts. We can catch the film on Wednesday.
Check On Deck for all the parade and fireworks info for your town.

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