Slug: unbreakable Date: 2004-06-12 Title: Unbreakable layout: post
While assembling a ceiling fan tonight, I popped in our copy of Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan's 2000 non-hit movie. Jodi and I saw it in the theaters, and unlike 90% of the audience, loved it. It's slow and intense, artful and sometimes heavy-handed. One might call it "brooding".
Of course, the ceiling fan got assembled much more slowly than it might have if I'd let the film stay in the background as intended. It was so easy, however, to get engrossed in the cautious yet inexorable move that David Dunn makes from stadium security guard to newly minted Hero.
I also noticed more of M. Night's touches this time than the first few times I saw the film. I love his shot framing; I've seen comics described as being cinematic - this is a film whose shots are often framed as comic panels. Not literally of course, but the use of background/foreground elements, props that obscure parts of a shot so as to highlight another part of the shot, and stark areas of light and shadow combine to make you feel a bit like your reading a really good comic. Trouble is, someone else is turning the pages, and they won't speed up!
Also, Shyamalan likes his camera angles a bit off to one side, or looking at a character from below or above, to heighten the suspense and to keep some interesting bit of information out of the shot until he's ready to go wide or pan across the scene. I love it.