Pharyngula

Not even tempted

I can’t believe people are actually going to see Shyamalamadingdong’s new movie, The Happening. Just as George Lucas ought to be hogtied and gagged anytime he tries to write a single line of dialog, Shyamalan needs to be slapped silly next time he tries to invent a plot. The man has some artistic talent, but unfortunately, it’s imbedded in a brain that is simply not very bright, and sees Portents and Significance in inanity, which really gets in the way of composing a good story. What makes it even worse is when he starts pontificating on his version of Science — it was disastrous stupidity in Signs, and his new movie seems to be in the same vein.

Now I’ve read a review (warning: spoilers therein), and my worst suspicions are confirmed. The review claims the movie is about intelligent design, but I have my doubts about that: I think it is just vacuous and muddle-headed, which gives it a strong family resemblance to ID. But yes, they are at least in the same phylum, in which ignorance is promoted and vaguely wishful thoughts pining for a heavenly sky daddy are treated as evidence.

Oh, and Shyamalan and Wahlberg are jesus kooks? That’s disappointing, but I suppose it isn’t surprising. ERV seems to be unhappy with the prospects, too.

Comments

  1. #1 Stan Ferguson
    June 14, 2008

    I was listening to Shyamalan on Science Friday promoting the movie and it was an utter disaster. Ira Flatow was respectful, but you could sense his sense of awe at the man’s ignorance throughout the interview. Shyamalan was spouting so much pseudoscience about Gaia and Einstein’s fictional conversion from atheism to theism that it was just sickening. I had to stop about 2/3 of the way through. I can only stomach so much new age nonsense. And on my science show. *cry*

  2. #2 Greta Christina
    June 14, 2008

    Here’s what jumped out at me:

    He explains to them that honeybees are disappearing all over the country, and asks what some possible explanations might be. Students who say things like “climate change” and “evolution” are dismissed as being “partly right.” But then when a generally quiet student finally says, “It’s an act of nature that we can’t understand,” Elliot lights up and says that’s the best answer.

    Okay. A science teacher asks his students for “possible explanations.” In other words, he asks them to speculate. And then he chides his students for doing so, and praises the student who replies to the “Speculate on possible explanations” question with the answer, “I don’t know, we can’t understand”

    You didn’t ask them what the answer definitely was, you dolt. You asked them to speculate. When asked to speculate in a science class, “Gee, I don’t know, nature is such a mystery, we can’t possible understand it” is not the “best answer.” (And if you think we can’t understand nature, what the hell are you doing studying science?) It’s a total cop-out.

    What a moron.

  3. #3 Steve C
    June 14, 2008

    SciAm’s Science Talk podcast featured the release of this movie in their latest episode too, including running a 15 minute interview with M. Night. His grasp of science is… mystical, to say the least.

  4. #4 fyreflye
    June 14, 2008

    Shyamalan’s recent movies have been so torpid and pointless that I can’t imagine who’ll be watching this one other than the usual airheads who use movies like this to give them a feeble jolt.

  5. #5 Nelson Muntz
    June 14, 2008

    Real knowledge is hard work. Faux knowledge is child’s play. Here the child grew up and now makes children’s stories for other aging children. Where’s the mystery?

  6. #6 Owlmirror
    June 14, 2008

    Well, going by the 2nd linked page, Shyamalan isn’t exactly a Jesus kook. It looks like he prefers a more vague and ill-defined belief or group of beliefs than that.

    Not all “ID” proponents are from the monotheistic faiths. I suspect that while Shyamalan would avoid specifying what he believes, it might be something like a universal energy field, or something else that is very, very generalized.

    Or in other words, in “woo”.

  7. #7 Michael Edmondson
    June 14, 2008

    Shababiloninonabon made a film about god’s death cloud? Brutal… like his last 4 films…

  8. #8 David Marjanovi?, OM
    June 14, 2008

    “Act of nature”? It’s not an act — an act implies an actor. It’s not something that’s done. It’s something that happens.

  9. #9 Andrés
    June 14, 2008

    So, according to the reviews, Wahlberg plays a character who drops out-of-context quotes from “authorities” speaking out of their field, says “we just can’t understand that” and spouts the infamous “just a theory” line. Said character is a science teacher. Did Shyamalan set out to film a fundie utopia?

  10. #10 MPG
    June 14, 2008

    Well, I might have defended Shyamalan by arguing that it’s only a film and meant to be enjoyed purely as entertainment no matter how vacant-drool-inducing the thinking behind it might be. After all, suspension of disbelief is all part of the fun – I love good zombie movies, for example, despite the daft, vaguely Biblical “dead shall walk the earth” woo behind some of them. But given that Shyamalan hasn’t made a watchable flick since Unbreakable, I can’t bring myself to care very much. I see dead film directors’ careers…

  11. #11 Bad
    June 14, 2008

    I dunno, if the review is what we’re going by, then the reviewer seems to be reading a heck of a lot into things. People wanting to get pregnant, and that as a symbol of renewal, is hardly some arch-religious right concern for human characters.

    How many horror movies feature disjointed bands of people hooking up at the end and forming new families?

    The science room discussion is stupid, but unfortunately, it’s no more or less stupid than most of the drek we see from TV and movies when script-writers, who know nothing about science, try to drama things up with glasses and test tubes.

    Honestly, the movie sounds stupid. But a big ID film? Sounds like hyping things up too much to attack a film that’s already a destined to bomb.

  12. #12 SC
    June 14, 2008

    It’s as if Shyamalan, a smart guy if nothing else, is trying to show us that at the heart of every monster movie…

    I think this is an example of a reviewer who is more clever than a director giving the director credit for his own insights.

    ***

    I’m not one to romanticize the “good old days” or lament our supposed decline, which is why I wasn’t calling out yesterday for a new Sagan (good science communicators abound, including here on Sb, and programs to help scientists and others to develop this skill are vastly preferable to pinning our hopes on another “genius”). However, it’s hard for me even to think of Shyamalan and his ilk as practicing the same craft as, say, Godard, Antonioni, or Pontecorvo.

  13. #13 Bunk
    June 14, 2008

    Andres said:
    “we just can’t understand that” and spouts the infamous “just a theory” line. Said character is a science teacher. Did Shyamalan set out to film a fundie utopia?”

    Maybe Shymalamadingdong is actually working up a reality show.
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/05/creationists_in_the_american_c.php

  14. #14 John Emerson
    June 14, 2008

    Wahlberg is apparently quite a lot worse than just a Jesus kook. He apparently committed a string of racist hate crimes in his thug youth. Not borderline hate crimes, but felony assault hate crimes. His rehabilitation seems to have been partial.

  15. #15 Colugo
    June 14, 2008

    Old post on The Smoking Gun about Mark Wahlberg:

    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/markymark1.html

  16. #16 kaje
    June 14, 2008

    SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

    I’ll never forgive him for “Signs”. Not only did the ending infuriate me, I went to see it with my mom; so afterward we had a big blowup regarding religion. Way to cause family strife Shyamalan! *finger wag*

    Also, “The Village”. Probably one of my worst theater experiences ever. Bored me to tears, and I didn’t so much as GUESS the ending but rather ASSUMED that it was the case throughout the movie. I was like “Wait, that was the twist? We weren’t supposed to think that it was an isolated Luddite society in modern times? Whoops.”

    END SPOILERS

  17. #17 Sid Schwab
    June 14, 2008

    I didn’t get the “intelligent design” aspect, but that might be because I was groaning so often. I did pick up the “just a theory” comment, and it was another of many groaners. Still, the essence of it (spoiler ahead, although it’s telegraphed very early) is that plant life seems to have identified man as a threat and has rapidly evolved a mechanism for warning mankind to back off destroying the planet. The science, such as it is, is pretty wacky. But what really ruins the movie is the laughably stupid dialog and some minor plot excursions that make even less sense than the central premise. The things people say and do are so stupid one’s jaw literally drops. M’knight is gone looney and tone-deaf. He needs to go back to his designer for a new set of plugs.

  18. #18 brokenSoldier, OM
    June 14, 2008

    So in the last four tries, he’s given us Signs (with the aliens at the bad guys), The Village (with people in monster suits as the bad guys), Lady in the Water (with fairly tale monsters as the bad guys), and The Happening (with no bad guys at all)… And this guy is supposed to be “reviving” the art of storytelling? It seems to me that he’s just putting not-so-pretty clothes on the same old shit we’ve seen time and time again. Seriously, aliens, monsters, fake monsters, and…PLANTS?? He really has quite an ego on him, doesn’t he?

  19. #19 Longtime Lurker
    June 14, 2008

    Never saw a movie by this hack. When “The 6th Sense” came out, a co-worker told me I had to see it, and that the ending was a mind-blower. I shocked her by guessing the ending in a second- he simply took the central conceit of Ambrose Bierce’s “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and padded it it with hours of “woo”.

    It’s easy to appear highbrow in our not-so-literate culture.

    Now, as far as a killer-plants movie goes, I think a remake of “Day of the Triffids” is in order, but instead of having an eye-injury, the hero misses the meteor shower because he’s cooped up in his parents’ basement playing conservative concern troll on a science blog.

  20. #20 Neil
    June 14, 2008

    As usual, I’ll wait for the dvd and rent it. It’s a damn shame, really. The guy is a talented director, and an imaginative writer. But not all that imaginative. Most of his stories drip with woo. My girlfriend loved Signs, and while I liked a lot of it, the rather silly plot twists and hammering on pointless “belief” just got in the way for me. I actually liked The Village better, just on it’s Twilight Zone style weirdness.
    My favorite is Unbreakable. I’ve noticed that this is also true of some other skeptics, and I think I know why. While the plot is still fairly woo-ish, all the woo is in the character’s head, where it belongs!
    I think people may be reading a little much into this one. All of his films are so much about “belief” that, minus the subtle catch phrases, this one doesn’t seem much different.
    Either way, given my history with his movies, I’m not going to drop $20 to find out!

  21. #21 Ian H Spedding FCD
    June 14, 2008

    I also get the impression that Shyamalamalama is over-rated.

    For some reason, though, reading Cordova’s drivel on UD about The Happening reminded me of a superb BBC TV mini-series from the 1980′s called Edge of Darkness which is now being made into a movie with Mel Gibson in the lead.

  22. #22 negentropyeater
    June 14, 2008

    This is exactly the kind of stuff that keeps the masses so deluded with the supernatural.
    It may look stupid and innocent to some, because, “it’s just a movie”, but it still has some of the most pernicious and detrimental effects, especially if it’s good entertainment.

  23. #23 Joshua Arnold
    June 14, 2008

    Two friends of mine saw the Happening last night. myself and two others saw The Hulk instead. The ones who saw the Happening gave it a so-so review. The Hulk, on the other hand, was freaking awesome. reading these links I am doubly sure my cinema choice was the right one.

  24. #24 jeff Lestina
    June 14, 2008

    While many lament his movies I can’t totally rip on Shyamalan. At least he’s trying! It seems that all we get out of the rest of Hollywood these days is crappy remakes of old favorites. There hasn’t been a new idea in Hollywood since the 80′s.

  25. #25 Niobe
    June 14, 2008

    “Shyamalamadingdong”

    Oh no you didn’t!

  26. #26 scooter
    June 14, 2008

    SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT

    I took a gang of kids to the Megaplex yesterday and between movies we ducked into The Happening for awhile. I was hoping to catch some of that really creepy Mayhem like in the trailer. But we only caught the last schmaltzy “Here Comes the Sun” last 12 minutes.

    It did however explain the plot mechanics while wrapping up.

    A ‘neuro toxin’ sweeps the northeastern US on the wind, it was compared to a Red Tide (which is not a neurotoxin)only on land instead of sea. I guess it’s a gas.

    I makes people confused then crazy then violent, we missed that part DARN!!.

    Somehow, by the end of the movie a ‘scientist’ figured out it is not a man-made but natural. The movie spans a very short period. A goofy talking head scientist is trying to explain on the TV that it is essentially an anti-biotic being produced by nature, or the planet or whatever, because hyoomans have become hazardous to nature, so nature has evolved this…. whatever it is.

    It is definitly along the GAIA lines of thinking, however I caught no suggestion of intelligent design, or Christard alerts.

    Of course, the scientist is being pooh-poohed, and then there is a twist at the end, that I assume is designed to affirm the worst, and the scientist is correct.

    As far as Hollywood plot devices, it is far less ridiculous than most movies of this type, nothing to get excited about, and I must admit, the guy really knows how to use a camera, which is quite unusual these days. I will probably rent the DVD some day.

    The kids picked ZOHAN, much to my disappointment, I can’t stand Adam Sandler movies.

    I was shocked, that movie is REALLY funny, I’d give it 4 stars for a comedy, I laughed my ass off.

    It doesn’t take itself seriously for even one minute of screen time.

    Defintly a must-rent, and is anti-Zionist safe for the most part.

    We were going to hang out for THE HULK but it was too long to wait, so we didn’t see it.

  27. #27 Andrés
    June 14, 2008

    It’s well known that there’s only one thing Shyamalan can do.

  28. #28 J
    June 14, 2008

    Shyamalan is without a shadow of a doubt one of the greatest thinkers of all time. His films are — each and every one of them — deftly built repositories of jaw-droppingly profound insights. He has taken human thought to spectacular heights that were previously undreamt of.

    It is certain that Shyamalan’s latest movie will stand as one of the great events in the history of science.

  29. #29 scooter
    June 14, 2008

    I love good zombie movie

    The you will LOVE this

    Homeland Security Apocalyptic Zombie Attack Alert, 8 mins How to survive a Zombie attack, starts 30 seconds in.

    “This is NOT a duct tape and plastic situation!!”

  30. #30 eyeofhorus
    June 14, 2008

    I really liked Signs (apart from the ending), when I first watched it it really scared me… and then he wrecked the whole film in the last 10 minutes.

  31. #31 windy
    June 14, 2008

    Why do they escape from the city to the countryside if plants are trying to kill them? Is the toxin coming from potted plants?

  32. #32 Steve
    June 14, 2008

    J -

    Shyamalan is without a shadow of a doubt one of the greatest thinkers of all time.

    You are being sarcastic, right? He had one good movie – The 6th Sense. I’ll give him an A for creativity, but he fails to produce a truly thought provoking film because the logic and science runs into the realm of Comic Book thinking almost immediately.

  33. #33 Torbjörn Larsson. OM
    June 14, 2008

    Seems Shyamalan had only one good movie in him. It was a perfect series with the “5th Element” too.

    This really jumped out to me:

    Night was inspired by reading Albert Einstein’s biography and discovering Einstein had rejected religion at first, until eventually he saw “the hand of God” in the gaps between scientific explanations. In The Happening, Shyamalan tries to recreate this surrender to faith by saying, sometimes you just can’t explain it when shit happens.

    Is he serious? Einstein was wasting the later part of his life in search of a theory that would replace QM’s view of “shit happens” with another explanation.

    Syamalan is just another religious nut who can’t acknowledge his contradictions.

  34. #34 Jors
    June 14, 2008

    I saw this last night. The movie is all introduction. I kept waiting for something to happen, but nothing ever did. I was wondering what the Shyamalanic plot twist was going to be, but there wasn’t even one of those — his first movie without a twist. It is as if there was an editing mistake which cut out the last quarter of the film. Seriously, I don’t get it.

  35. #35 eric
    June 14, 2008

    I, unfortunatly, actually saw the movie last night. I previews had me pretty excited about it, and I managed to convince my bf to see it with me. Big mistake…I can without a doubt say it was one of the 5 worst movies I have seen in my life. My bf said that he had heard it was supposed to be B-movie-esque, but you’d never guess that from watching it. It was just horrible…the acting was over the top, the script was bad (although there were a few funny parts), and it was nothing like what the previews had me thinking. I give it a big D-.

  36. #36 eric
    June 14, 2008

    SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT

    #31 – The plants are attacking large groups of people (cities), then smaller and smaller groups (towns, villages), so the safest places would seem to be the unpopulated areas…

    Outrun the wind people, outrun the wind…

  37. #37 Milo Johnson
    June 14, 2008

    “Shyamalan needs to be slapped silly next time he tries to invent a plot…”

    —How would you know when to stop slapping him?

  38. #38 scooter
    June 14, 2008

    The plants are attacking large groups of people (cities)

    It’s worse than I thought, but just as I’ve suspected, it’s the goddam vegetarians that are going to bring about the endTimes.

  39. #39 Quiet Desperation
    June 14, 2008

    While the plot is still fairly woo-ish

    I’m a pretty hard core skeptic, but I don’t use the term woo for works of fiction. I laughed out loud when Dawkins criticized The X Files for having actual paranormal happenings. Gee, I guess it’s a good idea The X Files never touted itself as science fact. Duh. Seriously, I wanted to bitch slap him.

    Fantasy is fantasy. All you should ask of it is that it is internally consistent because that’s just good storytelling.

    I shocked her by guessing the ending in a second

    I guessed it from the trailer, but still enjoyed the film. I liked to watch how he obfuscated the state of the Bruce Willis character.

    It’s easy to appear highbrow in our not-so-literate culture.

    Sadly, it’s also easy for many people to *think* they are high brow, or that being high brow is more important than anything else.

    ObHighBrow: Did you know the term “high brow” come from Phrenology, a pseudoscience? ;-) I’m just sayin…

  40. #40 T&A
    June 14, 2008

    “Avowed Christian Shyamalan told us that The Happening is really about religious faith, and explained that he chose Mark Wahlberg to play science teacher Elliot Moore because of the actor’s intense belief in Jesus”

    Was that before or after he was pretending to have a 14 inch man hose, and snorting massive amounts of Coke in Boogie Nights?

    I’m just sayin…

  41. #41 KeaponLaffin
    June 14, 2008

    Saw it..terrible. I don’t even know what anyone could ‘read into’ it. It was just a mush of…no actual plot or message or anything I could determine. People dying because they pissed off plants, or nature, or god, or something??? Maybe.
    It’s like a post-apocalyptic zombie movie, without the post-apocalyptic part and no zombies. Whoever paid to get this movie made needs rehab.

    The new Hulk was great! At least the ending of that movie is worth watching. ;)

  42. #42 Jon H
    June 14, 2008

    “Wahlberg is apparently quite a lot worse than just a Jesus kook. He apparently committed a string of racist hate crimes in his thug youth. Not borderline hate crimes, but felony assault hate crimes”

    Eh. Probably fairly typical considering where and when he grew up. Boston is, after all, the location where that famous photo was taken, which appears to show a group of young white thugs about to spear a black man in a suit with an American flag on a pole. (Actually, the flag pole was going to be used as a club, but it didn’t really connect. The photo looks like the guy is about to be impaled.)

    That photo was taken only ten years before these cases Wahlberg was involved in, so it should not be surprising that there’d be a lot of racial animus among poor whites. I bet plenty of his peers never moved past that, and may still be in jail.

    Apart from his choice of films to work in, he doesn’t seem to be a problem adult. He did some stupid shit as a teenager. Big deal, that was 20 years ago.

    Sadly, it was his music career (and that of New Kids On The Block) that made it possible for him to get out of the ‘hood and change his life, and I don’t know if I can forgive *that*.

  43. #43 Longtime Lurker
    June 14, 2008

    A movie by M. Night Shabba-Doo, now THAT would be something:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ml-UAhrS378&NR=1

  44. #44 Julia
    June 14, 2008

    negentropyeater @ 22 — If you’re saying that supernatural-themed movies promote supernatural beliefs among their viewers, I disagree. That seems like the same logic used to ban Harry Potter books on the grounds that they lead children to the occult, and to claim music and movies and video games cause antisocial behavior. I’m not aware that there’s any conclusive evidence of any of those things.

    I haven’t seen The Happening, and won’t until it comes on television and I can mock it for free, but I suspect the most it’s guilty of is being a hilariously bad movie. One reviewer said it was “so bad that I feel compelled to make a spoiler-laden list of its most laughably terrible parts rather than review it.” There are eighteen points on the list.

    I couldn’t care less what Shyamalan’s religious affiliations are. I just wish he’d make good movies.

  45. #45 Cujo359
    June 14, 2008

    I don’t think there’s been a film of Shyamalan’s that I’ve had any interest in seeing since the reviews came in for The Sixth Sense. Sorry you’ll have to see this, but it might provide unexpected amusement, and you’ll understand the jokes in the next edition of Scary Movie.

  46. #46 windy
    June 14, 2008

    I laughed out loud when Dawkins criticized The X Files for having actual paranormal happenings. Gee, I guess it’s a good idea The X Files never touted itself as science fact.

    I thought he objected to the paranormal explanation winning over science every time, not to fiction about paranormal events as such.

    But yeah, most of the time these objections just end up sounding ridiculous, I remember Carl Sagan objecting to Beavis and Butt-Head ;)

  47. #47 Cujo359
    June 14, 2008

    Julia@44 – I think what negentropyeater was trying to say was that this sort of movie can reinforce the beliefs of someone who already believes in that stuff. If that’s the case, then I agree with him/her.

    I doubt it convinces people to believe who wouldn’t otherwise.

    Whether that’s a reason to be concerned about such movies is an open question.

  48. #48 alex
    June 14, 2008

    windy:
    I thought he objected to the paranormal explanation winning over science every time, not to fiction about paranormal events as such.

    yeah, i think he compared it to a hypothetical cop show in which one cop always had a hunch it was the black suspect whodunnit, and was proved right every single time.

  49. #49 JoshH
    June 14, 2008

    “Shyamalamadingdong”

    Ah, come on PZ. Poking fun at people’s names isn’t very classy.

  50. #50 Keith B
    June 14, 2008

    The Happening was probably one of the worst movies I’ve seen in about three years. Only Shamawholelot could take Walberg and turn him into a corny, bumbling 1950s stooge posing as a high school science teacher to achieve his “aww, schucks” ending of peace and love. ALL of the acting was horrible, the plot was messy, illogical and absurd. The humor was out of place, especially after some scenes, like two little kids getting blasted away with a shotgun. The woes go on and on. I really, really wanted my money back.

  51. #51 Dennis N
    June 14, 2008

    C’mon, The Incredible Hulk is out! This movie shouldn’t even get any press. Anyway, I was walking past the theater (in Boston) Thursday, and Mark Wahlberg was there for this movie, but there wasn’t that big of a crowd around him. I’d already met him once before, but if I’d known he was crazy Jesus, I would have tried to meet him again.

  52. #52 Em
    June 14, 2008

    Well, there is at least one future movie he’s gonna make that’s gonna be good… hopefully. “The Last Airbender”, an adaptation of what could be called one of the best animated adventure stories ever.

    I hope he doesn’t totally butcher that story :-\

  53. #53 negentropyeater
    June 14, 2008

    Julia@44 – I think what negentropyeater was trying to say was that this sort of movie can reinforce the beliefs of someone who already believes in that stuff. If that’s the case, then I agree with him/her.

    Exactly. Just keeps the delusions well rooted.
    What do you think happens when one who is already deluded views this movie ? How does he interpret the whole thing ? Does he think, oh this is just a movie, just fabulation, or does he think, oh, there’s some “truthiness” in this ?
    Isn’t this one nice positive reinforcement ?

    American TV & Movies are laden with these pernicious positive reinforcements. Way more than European ones. It’s so obvious when you compare the two. I’m quite certain that this has a very significant effect on keeping these delusions so well rooted in the American society.

  54. #54 scooter
    June 14, 2008

    I found the plot of The Happening far more believable than the Science Fiction Fantasy playing on all TV channels after returning home.

    The preposterous premise was that….

    …. you won’t believe it,

    “Tim Russert was a ‘Journalist!!!!!”

    And people call Scientology crazy.

    I guess “being on TV” now means ‘journalist’

    Sort of like
    Eternal Salvation or triple your money back

    I’ll say one thing about old dead Tim, he wasn’t afraid to speak power to truth.

    Russert –if it sounds like a potato, and looks like a potato, it’s probably a potato.

  55. #55 Andrew
    June 14, 2008

    John H-

    “Sadly, it was his music career (and that of New Kids On The Block) that made it possible for him to get out of the ‘hood and change his life, and I don’t know if I can forgive *that*.”

    You seem to be confusing Mark with his brother Donnie, who was the one in New Kids. Mark strutted around half-naked in Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. But he did it in a very Jesus-affirming way.

  56. #56 J
    June 14, 2008

    American TV & Movies are laden with these pernicious positive reinforcements. Way more than European ones. It’s
    Yeah, yeah, Europe is Virtuous and America is hopeless all-around. We get it the picture — there’s no need to clarify.

    Can we for a change have a thread in which people refrain from airing their dirty anti-American laundry?

  57. #57 Dark Jaguar
    June 14, 2008

    Well I hadn’t intended on seeing the movie anyway but I never thought it’d be so boring as all this. The science bull didn’t help.

    The twist I predicted ended up being far more interesting. I thought it would be something like “there is no disease or attack, everyone is killing themselves out of despair over the fear of the virus getting them next”.

  58. #58 Martin
    June 14, 2008

    Well I saw this last night.

    Forget the crimes against science, the film is simply awful. The acting is atrocious, the dialog is awful. It was so bad, that people in the cinema I was at in Cambridge were actually laughing themselves silly.

    @J: God you Americans are sensitive ;)

  59. #59 SteveM
    June 14, 2008

    My bf said that he had heard it was supposed to be B-movie-esque, but you’d never guess that from watching it. It was just horrible…the acting was over the top, the script was bad (although there were a few funny parts),…

    over the top acting, bad script, doesn’t that define a “B” movie? Yes, Shamylan says he was trying to make a 50′s style B SF/Horror movie. And BTW, not the first with no “twist” ending, Lady in the Water didn’t have a twist.

  60. #60 negentropyeater
    June 14, 2008

    J,

    it’s not a question of virtous and hopeless. Many American movies are great.
    Why do you need to always come with such ridiculous strawman ? Why do you always have to interpret positive criticism about your country as “America is hopeless all-around”.
    You need to seriously get rid of your anti-american paranoia.

  61. #61 negentropyeater
    June 14, 2008

    sorry meant constructive criticism (is that english ?)

  62. #62 Nemo
    June 14, 2008

    What I’ve found odd is that the ads for this movie trumpet “His first R-rated picture!” This is the first time I can recall hearing the rating used as a selling point.

  63. #63 craig
    June 14, 2008

    Yeah. Unbreakable was fun. Sixth Sense was dopey but visually fun. The rest are annoying crap.

  64. #64 Rey Fox
    June 14, 2008

    J: If you don’t want people to think you’re a right-winger (as I read in another thread), then stop throwing the term “anti-American” about. It’s meaningless and silly.

  65. #65 extatyzoma
    June 14, 2008

    this film will perhaps be like cloverfield (which i saw last week) with many people looking for explanations, explanations far above and below the celluloid.

    I saw ‘that’ bloody thing drop into the sea the first time round at the end of cloverfield and that was enough for me to think ‘ah, an alien drops into the sea and hatches’ and the rest is no more significant (though nicely done) than a dog strolling through a bug filled meadow but thats cool as the meadow was new york and all that.

    Cloverfield has its viral marketing fetishists pummeling away with all manner of explanations for the craetures origin BUT like this film and many other the general populus is forgetting one highly significant thing………….its just a bloody film, its relevance to reality is pretty much zero.

  66. #66 Cephus
    June 14, 2008

    The last Shama-lama-ding-dong movie I watched was Signs, which my wife and I stopped at a theater on a hot summer day, driving back from vacation, and it was the only thing we’d sit through and regretted it. It was a horrible movie. His stupid “surprise twist endings” are really idiotic. Sixth Sense was good, although not as surprising as most people act like it was. Unbreakable was bearable. Everything beyond that is garbage and I’d never even rent one of his crappy movies these days.

    But then, we all know most people are ignorant, stupid sheep, so…

  67. #67 Tim
    June 14, 2008

    You may enjoy the Guardian review here.

    My favourite part?
    “Elliott superciliously drones that: “Science will come up with some reason to put in the books but in the end it’ll just be a theory. We will fail to acknowledge that there are forces at work beyond our understanding.” For this typically fatuous anti-rational, anti-scientific piece of smuggery, Shyamalan deserves a clip round the ear.”

    Oddly enough, this is precisely the bit in the trailer that had my girlfriend and I making V signs at the screen (note to Americans – in the UK the two finger V sign is the equivalent of a raised middle finger).

  68. #68 J
    June 14, 2008

    God you Americans are sensitive ;)
    A totally unfounded assumption, probably betraying yet more anti-Americanism. I’m not an American.

  69. #69 Rey Fox
    June 14, 2008

    I thought everyone had been calling him Shama-lama-etc. since at least “Signs”. It’s not exactly clever.

    “Gotcha! I was M. Night Shymalan all along. Just kidding, I was a mascot! Just kidding, I was a forest fire!”
    http://www.picnicface.com/videos.php?videoID=50

  70. #70 Jon H
    June 14, 2008

    Andrew wrote: “You seem to be confusing Mark with his brother Donnie, who was the one in New Kids. Mark strutted around half-naked in Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. But he did it in a very Jesus-affirming way.”

    Nah, no confusion, I just assume that NKOTB’s success helped pave the way for Mark’s recording career.

  71. #71 deviljelly
    June 14, 2008

    In the UK the most listened to film critic is Mark Kermode…. his BBC radio show covered “The Happening” in gory and funny detail on Friday.

    http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/fivelive/kermode/kermode_20080613-1824.mp3

    It’s a must listen show for all proper film fans, great for the car.

  72. #72 Kerry Maxwell
    June 14, 2008

    Well, there is at least one future movie he’s gonna make that’s gonna be good… hopefully. “The Last Airbender”, an adaptation of what could be called one of the best animated adventure stories ever.
    I hope he doesn’t totally butcher that story :-\

    Consider it butchered. Why does it need *adaptation* anyway?

  73. #73 Ames
    June 14, 2008

    Yo PZ! Credit where it’s due! I totally scooped you on this one :-)

    http://acandidworld.wordpress.com/2008/06/13/m-night-shyamalan-science-is-just-a-theory/

  74. #74 Martin
    June 14, 2008

    The Happening is just the latest in, not only M. Night’s string of failures, but Hollywood’s assembly line of “cool trailers, crap movie”.

  75. #75 tony (not a vegan)
    June 14, 2008

    J: I’m not an American

    but you appear to be channeling an american neocon…

  76. #76 OctoberMermaid
    June 14, 2008

    I saw it last night and while it was entertaining, I DID go into it with zero expectations. I was just pleased that nobody punched me in the stomach during the movie.

    It really was stupid, though, and the acting was just bizarre. And there’s the really groan-worthy line about science coming up with an explanation to put in the books, but it’ll “only be just a theory.”

    *Sigh*

  77. #77 co
    June 14, 2008

    I quite liked the first 95% of “Signs”. The ending was crap, though.

    The fun part was this: A friend and my wacky roommate and I drove the eight miles back home after the movie, late at night. Not a normally scary drive, but it was fun to continue being a little bit freaked out after the movie. My roommate suddenly said, “Oh! Look at the lights!” and we pshawed! him. However, we did look, and saw an incredible Aurora Borealis that night, the best I’ve ever seen in WA state. Eerie.

  78. #78 andyo
    June 14, 2008

    I was gonna watch this movie when it came out on bluray, but just because I already ran out of good bluray or (sigh) HD-DVD movies to rent, so I’m just watching anything I wouldn’t have seen otherwise (the Harry Potter movies were a nice surprise in this case). I refuse to watch any more standard-definition movies!

    I didn’t even like Sixth Sense that much. I saw Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others and it was so much better done, but probably suffered from being released after Sixth Sense. I am a big fan of Amenábar’s. That guy is what Shyamalan would like to be, y’know, but without the unwarranted hype.

  79. #79 Em
    June 14, 2008

    > Consider it butchered. Why does it need *adaptation* anyway?

    Apparently, from what I’ve read, his kids like the show, so he decided to make it into a live-action movie. The creators of the show are collaborating with him on the movie, so hopefully maybe possibly perhaps it won’t get butchered too badly?

    *naive optimism*

  80. #80 K
    June 14, 2008

    YEA! I knew I wouldn’t have to wait too long for you to hear about it!

  81. #81 J
    June 14, 2008

    If you don’t want people to think you’re a right-winger (as I read in another thread), then stop throwing the term “anti-American” about. It’s meaningless and silly.
    It’s not silly and meaningless. Someone who uses a thread like this as an excuse to start denouncing America obviously has an anti-American bee in his bonnet.

    Right-wingers use the term “anti-American” far too freely (e.g. by stamping it on those who are against the Iraq war). I, on the contrary, have good justification to use it.

  82. #82 MtotheJ
    June 14, 2008

    I have only heard a little about The Happening. The way I understand it, there is an airborne neurotoxin that makes people commit bizarre suicides. It sounds like a poorly thought out, crappy knock off of The Andromeda Strain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Andromeda_Strain , similar to “Snakes on a Train” or “I Am Omega”.

  83. #83 J
    June 14, 2008

    You are being sarcastic, right?
    Don’t be absurd. Of course I’m not being sarcastic. The undeniable truth, plain for everyone to see, is that Shyamalan is one of the supreme intellects in history. His latest movie is nothing less than a collossal triumph of science and philosophy. This titanic genius has the analytical brilliance of Russell, the imagination of Einstein, the inventiveness of Newton, the mathematical legerdemain of Gauss, and the experimental tenacity of Darwin. Shyamalan transgresses the limits on what is humanly or even logically possible. The Happening has without question ushered in a new era of human thought.

  84. #84 antaresrichard
    June 14, 2008

    Maybe we need Anthony Quinn, George Maharis, Michael Parks, Faye Dunaway, and The Supremes to get back at him!

  85. #85 Sioux Laris
    June 14, 2008

    To repeat myself, DON’T YOU EVER SEE OR TALK ABOUT A GOOD MOVIE?

    I’m all for entertainment, but why the exclusive focus on Hollywood “blockbuster” crap!!!! I mean, the fucking PooC3!!! IJ&tCS!!!

    Let’s talk about something interesting (The Thin Blue Line?), or moving (Ikiru?), or controversial (Battle Royale?), really fun (Singing in the Rain?), at least sometimes.

    Why do the science bloggers and their followers have such crappy taste in film (and music too, usually)? I can only think it’s because they don’t know any better, (kind of like most creationists?).

  86. #86 Wowbagger
    June 14, 2008

    I was caught by the twist in The Sixth Sense but I saw it early on and wasn’t thinking about it – unlike, say, Fight Club where I was determined to pick it to prove a point.

    A lot of movies would have been far better if part of the marketing hadn’t involved giving away the twist.

    warning: mild spoiler alerts

    I liked Terminator 2 (though still prefer the first for originality and appropriate use of Arnie’s skills) but would have jumped up out of my seat at the key point in the asylum breakout scene if I hadn’t already known Arnie was the ‘good guy’ – which is how I suspect was intended. Unfortunately, they made that the selling point and it took away a valuable ‘punch to the gut’.

    Ditto The Island – if we hadn’t known the key plot points and had had a revelation halfway through the movie might’ve been better received. That, and if Scarlett had been allowed to show more skin like she’d wanted to…

    end spoilers

    At least Shamalamadingdong (we’ve been calling him that for years, too) managed to keep his ‘twists’ from being given away in the trailers and promo material.

    I won’t see this turkey, though. I gave up on him after The Village.

  87. #87 NRT
    June 14, 2008

    Scordova is pimping the movie as yet more evidence of the rise and rise of ID over on Uncommonly Dense.
    Yawn…

    “Another pro-ID movie opens on 2,986 theater screens”

  88. #88 Richard
    June 14, 2008

    I’ll admit, I’m a luke-warm atheist, but I’m a passionat pro-science skeptic. I hope Shyamalan doesn’t graduate into promoting ID in the science classroom.

  89. #89 Wowbagger
    June 14, 2008

    Sioux Laris wrote:

    Why do the science bloggers and their followers have such crappy taste in film (and music too, usually)? I can only think it’s because they don’t know any better, (kind of like most creationists?).

    Can you be any more insulting in your generalisations? I (for one) take my film and music pretty seriously and resent the implication. And how often has a poster’s music taste featured in a comment anyway?

    Plenty of comments on this site illustrate that many of the posters have broad tastes in film; there’s been at least one reference to The Big Lebowksi – by someone other than me – in the last few weeks.

    But, to be fair, this is (ostensibly) a science blog and science leads to science fiction; sci-fi films tend to require a bigger budget to allow for the effects and stuff: hence, blockbuster. Which is then aimed at the lowest common denominator so it doesn’t lose money.

    Not that i’m defending blockbusters; I think most of them are awful. Give me clever dialogue and good acting any day.

  90. #90 Rey Fox
    June 14, 2008

    “I, on the contrary, have good justification to use it.”

    Ah, yes of course, as a cudgel against those who dare speak out about the relative strengths of European vs. American television. Please.

  91. #91 Geoff
    June 14, 2008

    The Sixth Sense was his best film because it was — at its heart — about a relationship between a doctor and his patient and explored the ramifications near perfectly. The twist was completely incidental to the plot but made for an interesting dramatic beat. The kid could have been mentally ill and it would have had no less dramatic impact.

    Shyamalamadingdong — I’m going to use that from now on.

  92. #92 John Emerson
    June 14, 2008

    Come on. Wahlberg’s crimes may have been in his youth, but he’s only 36 now, and they weren’t small-time stuff:

    At fifteen he harassed a group of African American school children on a field trip by throwing rocks (causing injuries) and shouting epithets. When he was sixteen (again using racist language) after robbing a pharmacy under the influence of PCP, Wahlberg knocked a middle aged Vietnamese man unconscious, left another Vietnamese man permanently blinded in one eye, and attacked a security guard…..In yet another incident, a 21-year-old Wahlberg fractured the jaw of a neighbor in an unprovoked attack.

    So it’s been 15 years since he is on record for assaulting someone, and now he’s a Jesus creep preaching to everyone else. Let’s wait awhile before we decide he’s a perfectly wonderful person.

  93. #93 Vinny
    June 14, 2008

    Ugh, with all due respect PZ, stick to the Biology. Lucas-bashing is for terminal Fanboys who get dressed up as Neo and attend comic book conventions.

  94. #94 James F
    June 14, 2008

    NRT @ 87 wrote:

    Scordova is pimping the movie as yet more evidence of the rise and rise of ID over on Uncommonly Dense.
    Yawn…
    “Another pro-ID movie opens on 2,986 theater screens”

    Not surprising; every now and then they claim that an evolutionary biology paper in Nature is pro-ID.

  95. **SPOILERS**

    Okay, so the crap science made suspense of disbelief impossible, but I have to admit, masses of people calmly and reasonably going about killing themselves was damned creepy.

    What worked along these lines was the first bit of Steven King’s “Cell” – a created sound that wipes peoples minds? Believable. An attack which can call every cellphone? Beliievable. Combining the two – also believable.

    Then it gets into mystical woo-woo.

  96. #96 Nick Gotts
    June 15, 2008

    Interesting… I’d never heard of him, or any of his films, or Wahlberg (though on looking him up on Wikipedia, I find he used to be known as “Marky Mark”, which is vaguely familiar. Admittedly I’m not a film buff, and have no interest in celebrities, but is Shyamalan perhaps one of those US moviemakers who doesn’t sell abroad?

  97. #97 Eulalie
    June 15, 2008

    I still love Shyamalamalamadingdong as a derisive nickname.

    But, honestly? When the guy writes a movie critic as being evil, you can tell he’s asking you to leave your brains at the door.

    Where he goes wrong is in not giving it a plausible explanation to himself. If he can’t have the plot make sense, then no one else will think it does.

    That applies to ID and pseudoscience as well.

  98. #98 Clarissa
    June 15, 2008

    PZ’s post contains the usual ad hominem name calling, nothing new there.

    But I am starting to wonder…dos he even realize that ad hominems are a class of logical fallacy and do not consitute an arguement at all?

    Propaganda yes…argument, no.

    I really don’t think he does, which is very strange coming from an Associate Professor.

  99. #99 KeithM
    June 15, 2008

    I liked Terminator 2 (though still prefer the first for originality and appropriate use of Arnie’s skills) but would have jumped up out of my seat at the key point in the asylum breakout scene if I hadn’t already known Arnie was the ‘good guy’ – which is how I suspect was intended. Unfortunately, they made that the selling point and it took away a valuable ‘punch to the gut’.

    You already knew Arnie was the good guy by that point because you’d seen him rescue John. That said, your statement otherwise holds true: everything about the filming of the scene where John and the T-800 meet is set up so that him firing on the T-1000 and saying “Come with me if you want to live” was supposed to be a surprise.

    It’s not like there weren’t enough scenes showing Arnie blowing up stuff that you couldn’t have made an exciting trailer without showing the Reveal, but studios almost always blow it.

  100. #100 Etha Williams, OM
    June 15, 2008

    @#98 Clarissa

    But I am starting to wonder…dos he even realize that ad hominems are a class of logical fallacy and do not consitute an arguement at all?

    I am starting to wonder…do you know the difference between an insult and an ad hominem?

    Actually, I don’t really wonder. It’s pretty obvious that you don’t.

    Here’s a hint: PZ criticizes MNS’s story-telling abilities, refers to a relevant review with spoilers demonstrating the “vacuous and muddle-headed” nature of this movie, in which MNS continues to “see Portents and Significance in inanity.” Based on this, he insults MNS.

    An ad hominem argument would be exactly reversed: it would be to insult MNS and use that insult as grounds for an argument against MNS. Eg, “MNS is dumb, therefore his movies suck” rather than “MNS’ movies suck in a demonstrably anti-intellectual manner, therefore the evidence indicates that he’s stupid.”

  101. #101 Andreas Johansson
    June 15, 2008

    American TV & Movies are laden with these pernicious positive reinforcements. Way more than European ones. It’s so obvious when you compare the two. I’m quite certain that this has a very significant effect on keeping these delusions so well rooted in the American society.

    Europeans watch a lot of American movies too …

  102. #102 Der Bruno Stroszek
    June 15, 2008

    @ Eulalie – I think it’s that kind of anti-intellectual populism that winds me up the most about Shyamalan, actually. He wants to be taken seriously as a deep thinker, and like so many people who don’t make the grade in that way he thinks he can get there by attacking people smarter than he is. Hence The Happening, by the sounds of it.

    At the very least, it reminds me of a wonderful sentence in Nathan Rabin’s review of Lady in the Water in the Onion AV Club’s ‘My Year of Flops’ feature. After noting that the film repeatedly asks its viewers to think like a child and turn off the critical parts of their brain, he said it’s unusual to be told you’re too smart to understand a movie.

  103. #103 Emmet Caulfield
    June 15, 2008

    Thus spake J:

    Right-wingers use the term “anti-American” far too freely (e.g. by stamping it on those who are against the Iraq war). I, on the contrary, have good justification to use it.

    Contrasting American and European movies, noting that the former support woo more often than the latter, is “a good justification”???

  104. #104 Josephine
    June 15, 2008

    Is the “act” of plants “evolving” supposed to be some kind of “anti-evolution”-propaganda?
    I interpret it that way as I otherwise have problems seeing why the term “evolution” occurs in an anti-evolution film.
    No matter what, they seem to fully have mis-understood the concept of evolution.

    It really is too bad that some people do not understand that movies only are fiction (some worse than others) and are to be interpreted that way. Though, when a religious reference comes along, then all of a sudden a movie is not fiction any more, it is an alternate truth based upon the religious’ views of the world.

  105. #105 negentropyeater
    June 15, 2008

    Europeans watch a lot of American movies too …

    Correct. And :

    1) Europeans are far from rid of their delusions, but they are slowly getting there

    2) Europeans don’t consume exclusively American TV series, shows and movies, unlike Americans

    Look I’m not attacking all Movies, TV series and shows that have a supernatural content per se, I’m attacking those such as this one that leave the deluded with the impression that “oh ! there’s some truthiness in all this”, or “what about if it were true ?”, these pernicious suggestive claims that are wrapped with the sugar coating of entertainment.
    There’s a big difference between this kind of movie, or TV series, or shows which make such suggestive claims, for the deluded mind it is like a reward for his addiction, and movies like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, that do not make such pretentious claims.

    So I repeat it ounce again, American Movies, TV series and shows, have a much higher likelihood of supporting such delusions, than European ones.

    It’s actually the most efficient way America maintains the rest of the world sufficiently deluded, but let’s give a big round of aplause to Mr Shyamalam, he deserves it, afterall, for the deluded ones, who are just like addicts, he gives them the sugar-coated rewards that they need.

  106. #106 J
    June 15, 2008

    1) Europeans are far from rid of their delusions, but they are slowly getting there.
    2) Europeans don’t consume exclusively American TV series, shows and movies, unlike American.
    I don’t know what exactly you mean by “delusions”, but let’s take a look at British TV. Popular recent movies include Bend It Like Beckham, various Harry Potter, The Full Monty. All hardly intellectual. Just as dumb as anything out of American pop-culture, in fact.

    The most popular TV shows include The X Factor, Big Brother, and Pop Idol. Again, just as shallow-minded as anything out of American pop-culture.

    American movies (though not necessarily TV shows) are overwhelmingly popular in Britain. I’m an Englishman and I’d wager that over 95% of the movies I’ve seen were American-made. And I expect that’s normal. That’s because the US has a real movie industry, unlike Europe.

    As for your claim that Americans tend to exclusively watch American TV — that’s true but misleading and unfair. In Britain we watch British TV + American TV, in France they watch French + American, in Japan it’s Japanese + American, etc. It’s not as if outside of the US people watch American TV to widen their horizons and acquaint themselves with an unfamiliar land. They watch American TV only because it’s so bloody good.

  107. #107 negentropyeater
    June 15, 2008

    Popular recent movies include Bend It Like Beckham, various Harry Potter, The Full Monty. All hardly intellectual. Just as dumb as anything out of American pop-culture, in fact.

    But do they, like this movie “the happening” and many other popular American Movies, TV series and shows, support woo and other pretentious claims about the supernatural for the deluded minds ?

    That’s because the US has a real movie industry, unlike Europe.

    Talk for Britain, who gradually gave up their movie industry, but what about other countries that do not speak english ?
    Example France :
    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cin%C3%A9ma_fran%C3%A7ais
    Market share of french cinema in France increased in 2006 to 44.6% (hardly the 5% you suggest…)
    And more recently ?
    “La part de marché des films français est estimée à 62,9 % sur les quatre premiers mois de 2008, contre 53,9 % sur les quatre premiers mois de 2007″
    62.9% market share during the first 4 month of 2008, compared with 53.9% in 2007 !
    Talk about resistance to American invasion.

    As for your claim that Americans tend to exclusively watch American TV — that’s true but misleading and unfair.

    What’s misleading and unfair ?

    It’s not as if outside of the US people watch American TV to widen their horizons and acquaint themselves with an unfamiliar land.

    But in France, or Spain, or Germany, where I can easily find Iranian, or Spanish, or Chinese, or Japanese, or American movies it does help to have this variety. What about in the USA, where only if you live in Manhattan or San Francisco, will you ever have the chance to widen your horizons ?

  108. #108 Adam
    June 15, 2008

    Signs unintentionally gives a good counter-lesson. You learn in the end that god killed Gibson’s wife, ruined his brother’s baseball career, psychologically tortured his daughter and caused the lady in town spit on people, all to prepare to kill aliens who are allergic to water. The movie is about realizing that bad circumstances only seem bad from our limited perspective. In the broader context of god’s plan, the circumstances aren’t bad, they’re good, because god is good, as are his creation and plan.

    Christians take the lesson to heart.

    Signs teaches you how to undermine the lesson. You ask why, if god intended to kill aliens, he didn’t just send a morning drizzle? Shift context and repeat.

  109. #109 Emmet Caulfield
    June 15, 2008

    J @#106,

    I’ve never been in either France or Japan to form an opinion, so I must defer to your knowledge of those countries, but it seems to me that in other non-English speaking countries, there’s a good deal more programming that is neither in English nor the local language. The populations are much more accustomed to subtitles and don’t mind them as much as English-speaking audiences seem to. For example, you see many more French, German, and Italian movies on Swedish or Dutch TV than you do on English TV, where you tend only to see excellent films like, say, Nikita or Life is Beautiful, and almost never see really good serials, Das Boot being the only exception that springs to mind.

    What constitutes a “real” movie industry? What is “not real” about Federico Fellini, Bernardo Bertolucci, Luc Besson, Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, and Alfred Hitchcock?

    For a little added ad-hom, if, by your own admission, only 5% of the movies you’ve seen have been non-American, how can you possibly be in a position to denigrate other coutries’ film industries?

  110. #110 Bacchus
    June 15, 2008

    Douchebag. ‘Nuff said.

  111. #111 J
    June 15, 2008

    But do they, like this movie “the happening” and many other popular American Movies, TV series and shows, support woo and other pretentious claims about the supernatural for the deluded minds ?
    Don’t know about the rest of Europe, but in the UK, yes there’s definitely a lot of woo. Derren Brown, although he hilariously tries to present himself as anti-woo, is in fact promoting it with his patently bullshit explanations of incredible tricks, which disturbingly high numbers of people in Britain buy into. And don’t even get me started on the myriad dopey shows about ghosts.

    Market share of french cinema in France increased in 2006 to 44.6% (hardly the 5% you suggest…)
    Don’t misrepresent me, please. I was talking about my own country, not France. Obviously in a non-English-speaking country you’d expect American movies to be generally less popular. Still considerably more popular than movies from other foreign countries, though.

    But in France, or Spain, or Germany, where I can easily find Iranian, or Spanish, or Chinese, or Japanese, or American movies it does help to have this variety.
    You can get your hands on whatever movies you want easily enough in the United States, where there’s less censorship of the film industry than in Europe. I’m no movie buff, but I suspect Hong Kong movies are fairly popular in the US, as well as the occasional Japanese. At least I see no reason to believe they’re less popular in the US than in France, Germany and Spain. Supply statistics on this score, if you can find them, instead of coming up with easily contested assertions.

  112. #112 negentropyeater
    June 15, 2008

    J,

    I’m an Englishman and I’d wager that over 95% of the movies I’ve seen were American-made.

    And this final admission gets you caught in your own mess.

    When is the last time you have seen a non American movie ?

    But no, you’re an “expert” at comparing American movies with foreign ones.

    Do you think that’s the kind of “expertise” that is highly valued on Pharyngula ?

  113. #113 Emmet Caulfield
    June 15, 2008

    J, hoist with his own petard:

    Don’t know about the rest of Europe

    compare

    the US has a real movie industry, unlike Europe

    Don’t misrepresent me, please. I was talking about my own country, not France.

    compare

    in France they watch French + American

  114. #114 negentropyeater
    June 15, 2008

    J,

    as I wrote in an another thread, I have nothing personal against you. You’re confrontational, I like that.

    But please admit, that sometimes, you’re really talking out of your ass.

  115. #115 J
    June 15, 2008

    J, hoist with his own petard:
    No, Emmet, you’re being intellectually insincere, not for the first time.

    I said I guess that over 95% of the movies I’ve seen were American. Then I went on to say “And I expect that’s normal” I should have said “normal for a Brit”.

    So no, I’m not hoist by my own petard, as you could effortlessly have seen if you didn’t interpret my posts so narrowly and uncharitably.

    But no, you’re an “expert” at comparing American movies with foreign ones.
    I’m no expect, but neither are you, by the looks of it. You’re the one who originally made the damning comparisons.

  116. #116 J
    June 15, 2008

    But please admit, that sometimes, you’re really talking out of your ass.
    Get over yourself. Fucking arrogant, bigoted Neanderthal.

  117. #117 Emmet Caulfield
    June 15, 2008

    No, Emmet, you’re being intellectually insincere, not for the first time.

    No, J, your own words patently make a liar of you. You’re talking bollocks, not for the first time.

  118. #118 Matt Penfold
    June 15, 2008

    I would like to point out that in terms of numbers of films made each year, American is an also-ran.

    The Indian film industry far outstrips it. In both the number of films made, and I suspect in quality as well.

  119. #119 negentropyeater
    June 15, 2008

    I’m no expert, but neither are you, by the looks of it.

    But how can you judge, if you admit yourself that you don’t know what you’re talking about ?

    Get over yourself. Fucking arrogant, bigoted Neanderthal.

    Ok, I admit I shouldn’t have said that. Excuse me.

  120. #120 J
    June 15, 2008

    No, J, your own words patently make a liar of you. You’re talking bollocks, not for the first time.
    Good to see that the “reasonable” charade has gone now, Emmet. At last you show your true colours. At bottom, you’re nothing more than an anti-American bigot.

    I garbled post #115, so I’ll explain again.

    I’m an Englishman and I’d wager that over 95% of the movies I’ve seen were American-made. And I expect that’s normal.
    This part of my post was indeed just about Britain. I should have said, “And I expect that’s normal for a Brit.” Obviously I have no idea whether it’s normal for, say, the Japanese to watch over 95% American movies. (I’ve never even been to Japan.)

    Then Negentropyeater commented on my “95%” remark. I responded that that only referred to my own country (which it did). Why isn’t this plausible? How on Earth could you possibly know I was lying, let alone state that I’m “patently” lying?

  121. #121 J
    June 15, 2008

    But how can you judge, if you admit yourself that you don’t know what you’re talking about ?
    Look, you were the one who originally did the comparison. Are you making the claim that non-US foreign movies are more popular outside the US than in the US? All I can say is that you’ll need hard data to convince me. I personally don’t buy these supposed a priori demonstrations of the inferiority of American culture.

    Ok, I admit I shouldn’t have said that. Excuse me.
    Very well, I apologize too.

  122. #122 Emmet Caulfield
    June 15, 2008

    Good to see that the “reasonable” charade has gone now, Emmet.

    Sometimes I fail to contain my irritation. It’s hard to take accusations of being “intellectual insincere” from someone who’s squirming and weaseling as much as you.

    At last you show your true colours. At bottom, you’re nothing more than an anti-American bigot.

    Nonsense. If I was an American, I’d be pretty pissed off at a non-American like you taking it upon yourself to level those kinds of baseless allegations.

    How on Earth could you possibly know I was lying, let alone state that I’m “patently” lying?

    First you make a generalisation about European cinema and TV, then you’re only talking about Britain and don’t know about Europe. First you give France as an example, then you’re not talking about France. First you’re informed enough to denigrate European film, then you’re not a film buff.

    You’re flip-flopping and weaseling and it is, I would say, patently obvious to everyone with more than one functioning neuron. When you get called on it, you have the brass neck to accuse me of “intellectual insincerety”.

    In fairness “liar” is probably an excessively, em, “uncharitable” characterisation, but not for the first time, you’ve made an excessively strident and ungrounded assertion and, rather than backing down when it’s pointed out you, you start trying to squirm out of it and think everyone else is so stupid they won’t notice.

    You seem to regard everyone here as a chump and a fool who can’t see the game you’re playing. Have a little more respect for peoples’ intelligence and you might attract less scorn.

  123. #123 Der Bruno Stroszek
    June 15, 2008

    Derren Brown, although he hilariously tries to present himself as anti-woo, is in fact promoting it with his patently bullshit explanations of incredible tricks

    I’ve never understood this objection to Derren Brown. He’s a magician. Of course he doesn’t say how he did it. How many magicians do you know who come on stage at the end of their act and give away all their secrets?

    Myself, I thought that his Seance show demonstrated effectively that a whole range of so-called ‘paranormal’ occurences can be hoaxed by a skilled performer.

  124. #124 negentropyeater
    June 15, 2008

    J,

    let’s forget the bickerring and see if we can understand each other. Let’s take an example.

    When I make a statement such as;

    2) Europeans don’t consume exclusively American TV series, shows and movies, unlike Americans.

    Am I implying that ;
    - there aren’t any Europeans who consume exclusively American movies (such as yourself),
    or am I talking in general terms, that is,
    - the population of Europeans don’t consume exclusively American TV series, shows and movies, unlike the American population.
    Which means that in Europe, some do, some don’t consume exclusively American movies, TV series and shows, on average it’s let’s say to give a number (out of my ass) 50% for the market share of American movie, TV industry over the total market for movie and TV business. But in the US, it’s most probably something like 95%.

    I COULD provide you with a more thorough research, but I think as a ball park it would be around the numbers I quoted. I gave you one example France, movie business, I could do the same for the TV business, and repeat it for each and every country. But what for ? What would it change about my argument ?
    I worked 12 years in the TV broadcasting and associated consumer electronics industry, than started my own business in that field (which I sold), I’m out of it now for a few years, I have no interest to lie to you, or impress you, just for the sake of winning an argument. I have some old strategy reports in some boxes I could look for, with all these numbers in all the details you wish for.

    So, coming back to the point, when you come and state, that, no, in Britain (and in your particular case), it’s not true, they do consume exclusively American stuff, I know that already. Especially in the case of the movie production business (not so much the case for TV production).
    But how does that affect my general comment about Europeans ? And even in the case of Britain, they still have a rather flourishing TV production business which is not as impacted by woo as the American one.

  125. #125 negentropyeater
    June 15, 2008

    J

    so you see why some people react to these kinds of sentences :

    I personally don’t buy these supposed a priori demonstrations of the inferiority of American culture.

    I mean I really don’t want you you to take it personally or anything like that but, do you understand why this is a strawman argument ?

    Did I imply in any of my arguments that the American culture was inferior ?

    I said that the American TV and movie industry was more supporting woo. Is that, in your opinion the same as saying that the American culture is inferior ? Are you not misrepresenting what I said ?

  126. #126 J
    June 15, 2008

    You’re flip-flopping and weaseling and it is, I would say, patently obvious to everyone with more than one functioning neuron.
    There was no flip-flopping, you pathologically self-deceiving, pathetically dishonest wretch. I indicated that I should have written ONE SENTENCE somewhat different. One sentence.

    First you make a generalisation about European cinema and TV, then you’re only talking about Britain and don’t know about Europe. First you give France as an example, then you’re not talking about France. First you’re informed enough to denigrate European film, then you’re not a film buff.
    You resume your habit of hallucinating inconsistencies. The “95%” remark was only about Britain. (That really too hard for your puny brain to apprehend?) The fact that you would make so much out of one little ambiguity does show that you are being intellectually insincere. Deeply intellectual insincere.

    I think the few simple statements I made about the European film industry require absolutely no special expertise. No idea what you’re smoking, but apparently the contradiction in my owning up to not being a film buff only exists in your mind.

  127. #127 J
    June 15, 2008

    the population of Europeans don’t consume exclusively American TV series, shows and movies, unlike the American population.
    Yes, that’s why I said that in France they watch (French + American) TV. In Britain it’s (British + American) TV, in Japan it’s (Japanese + American) TV. (American + American) TV = American TV. You understand what I’m saying now?

    It doesn’t seem like there’s much disagreement between us, after all. I just think you’re giving excessive weight to the fact that outside America people watch movies/TV from mostly two different countries.

    I might respond to your posts more fully later tonight or tomorrow.

  128. #128 Matt Penfold
    June 15, 2008

    I suspect the fact J has seen so little European, or non-American cinema says more about him, and what would seem to be his rather parochial attitude. Dealing with any film that does not have English dialogue would seem to be beyond him.

    What is it with the hard of thinking and subtitles ? Why do some people find them so hard to deal with ?

  129. #129 negentropyeater
    June 15, 2008

    Why do some people find them so hard to deal with ?

    In some countries, such as in the Benelux or Scandinavia, where many TV series and movies are with subtitles, children get used to it early on and nobody finds it hard to deal with.

    People who’ve never dealt with it and start late in adulthood have usually much more difficulties.

  130. #130 maxi
    June 15, 2008

    I saw the new Audrey Tatou film, ‘Priceless’, on Friday. Superb, absolutely superb! And I can also recommend ‘Caramel’, a very funny girly movie set in Beruit. Both subtitled, both by far the best things I’ve seen at the cinema recently. In fact, of my last 3 trips, I have seen 1 American film (Iron Man) and 2 foreign language films.

    J, I don’t think you’re trying hard enough!

  131. #131 Emmet Caulfield
    June 15, 2008

    Re: #126.

    The relevant history, as I see it, begins with:

    J@#106:

    That’s because the US has a real movie industry, unlike Europe.

    J@#106:

    In Britain we watch British TV + American TV, in France they watch French + American, in Japan it’s Japanese + American, etc.

    The characterisation of Europe not having a “real movie industry” is absurd. This is pointed out to you in #107 and #109 in fair and measured language. In #111, You ignore #109 and accuse negentropyeater of “misrepresenting” you and demanding statistics. In #112 negentropyeater casts doubt on your assertions based on your own admission of ignorance of the subject matter. I provide evidence in #113 that negentropyeater has not misrepresented you at all, and that you are contradicting yourself.

    To the casual observer, I would say it’s pretty clear that you’ve over-reached and over-generalised in your initial assertions, but rather than a retraction, you attempt to accuse other people of misrepresentation #111 and insincerity #115. Your line of argument is termed “talking out your ass” #114, and “talking bollocks” #117, both legitimate terms for throwing some ill-founded preconceptions out as if they were facts.

    You then insult negentropyeater #119 and me #120. Surprisingly to me, negentropyeater retracts “talking out your ass” #119 and you retract your reaction “Fucking arrogant, bigoted Neanderthal.” (an entirely proportionate response. NOT!) in #121 where you attempt to restate the argument from “That’s because the US has a real movie industry, unlike Europe” to:

    Are you making the claim that non-US foreign movies are more popular outside the US than in the US?

    WTF? You’re claiming that “the US has a real movie industry, unlike Europe” is magically turned into everyone else supposing “a priori demonstrations of the inferiority of American culture.” when nobody even so much as hinted at any such thing. Truly bizarre!

    It looks like you’ve got “anti-American” on the brain, some kind of bizarre persecution complex by proxy. Nobody can say something to rubbish your fatuous assertion about European cinema without being accused of being an “anti-American” bigot and assuming “inferiority of American culture” and you’re not even American. Beyond bizarre!

    I’m entirely happy to let the reader decide exactly how reasonable you are being and whether you are talking bollocks, weaseling, squirming and flip-flopping, or whether I’m a “pathologically self-deceiving, pathetically dishonest wretch”.

    End of argument from my side. I’m going to accede to negentropy’s call to “forget the bickering”.

  132. #132 andy
    June 15, 2008

    Huh. Seeing the trailers- I assumed this was some kind of a take-off on that crazy and wonderful Japanese flick, Suicide Circle. Thanks for the heads-up as to the actual content. And if they were going to do a plants-take-over-the-world movie, why not remake Day of the Triffids?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_Circle

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_of_the_Triffids

  133. #133 J
    June 15, 2008

    What is it with the hard of thinking and subtitles ? Why do some people find them so hard to deal with ?
    Thinking: I study mathematics and theoretical physics, and frequently have pointless debates about philosophy. Despite what you say, I believe I’m quite able to undertake trains of thought.

    Subtitles: I have nothing against them. I tend to watch American movies so often only because they’re far popular and I don’t hear much about subtitled movies. (The ones I’ve seen were a mixed bunch.)

    So, basically, your charges are utterly without foundation.

  134. #134 J
    June 15, 2008

    “…because they’re far more popular”, that’s intended to be.

    (Can’t be too careful. Evidently, any slight ambiguity committed by me will be seized upon and interpreted in the most damning possible manner.)

  135. #135 Matt Penfold
    June 15, 2008

    J,

    So you admit to being ignorant about foreign language films ?

    I suggest then you shut up about them. The fact that you ignorant and live a rather shallow and vacuous life as far as cinema is concerned is your fault, not ours.

    I doubt you have even heard of the Cohen brothers.

  136. #136 Christophe Thill
    June 15, 2008

    I love almost everything Shyamalan did. I just (sort of) hated “Signs” for the blatant religious message: the Big Guy setting up an elaborate plot in order to recover one lost sheep. Oh boy, was it stupid. But the “Brasilian candid tapes” showing the alien were absolutely great. I have no problem with Shyamalan’s faith, as long as it’s not shoved into my face too brutally, as in “Signs”. After that, I was anxious to see if he was going to get ever worse, but in my opinion, he came back on his feet. Almost everybody hated “Lady in the water” : I loved it. And I liked “Happening”. It even made me stop hating Mark Wahlberg (as an actor, I mean; I didn’t know abouit the rest). If there’s one thing Shyamalan is good at, it’s weaving an atmosphere. There’s plenty of it here. Tru, I was shocked by what is supposed to be a science teacher (“an act of nature we can never fully understand”… yuck!). But in my opinion, this has nothing to do with intelligent design. Just a severely mangled view of evolution. Wel, guess what? I can go with that, because it’s a science-fiction movie, and there’s something called “suspension of disbelief”. If someone told the story under the guise of “science”, I’d just laugh it off. But it’s not. It’s a movie. It’s made to plunge you into a world, and events (question : horrible things happen, what do you do?), and make you feel what it would feel if you were really in it. No matter what Shyamalan himself says. It’s just his own take. He doesn’t necessarily hold the truth about his own movies. His intentions are one thing, but I just care about what I see.

  137. #137 Cephus
    June 15, 2008

    Europe doesn’t have a movie industry, at least not on the scale of the American industry and certainly their movies aren’t as widespread, nor do they make anywhere the amount of money worldwide that American movies make. It’s interesting that when they made Dragon War in Korea, it was the most expensive film they *EVER* made in this history of Korea and it only cost about $5 million or something to that effect.

    Like it or not, the world just doesn’t make movies the way America makes movies and the box office figures prove it.

  138. #138 mandrake
    June 15, 2008

    “Thinking: I study mathematics and theoretical physics, and frequently have pointless debates about philosophy. Despite what you say, I believe I’m quite able to undertake trains of thought.”

    There *must* be a law for this. When someone who is not specifically asked, refers to 1. His/Her IQ 2. The degree of higher education he has achieved 3. The amount of time he spends “studying” and/or “discussing” smart things, shouldn’t I be able to call Somebody’s Law on them?

  139. #139 Chet
    June 15, 2008

    Is “J” Robert O’Brian’s sock puppet? Anybody else get that vibe?

  140. #140 Jose
    June 15, 2008

    Well I’m not reading the review or the comments because I know this movie this movie is going to be awesome. I mean, it’s rated “R” for gods sake! Actually, from the previews, I thought this was a documentary about Massachusetts the day after the last Super Bowl.

  141. #141 mandrake
    June 15, 2008

    “The Indian film industry is the largest in the world in terms of ticket sales and number of films produced annually.” (citation: Central Board of Film Certification of India)
    However, most people who see them are in India or countries with large Indian populations. Also, the revenue is much less due to several factors, including the low ticket prices in India, & the lack of the franchise/movie/merchandise/rental/tv formula that is generally followed here.

  142. #142 Emmet Caulfield
    June 15, 2008

    Europe doesn’t have a movie industry,

    That is simply not true.

    at least not on the scale of the American industry and certainly their movies aren’t as widespread, nor do they make anywhere the amount of money worldwide that American movies make.

    That’s different. The statement “Europe doesn’t have a film industry” is false, but I would not dispute the statement “Europe doesn’t have a movie industry on the scale of the American movie industry”. Nobody said that the film industries in European countries are “on the scale” (leaving aside what exactly that means) of the American film industry, but they are not domestically irrelevant. I’m sure a lot of French people would assert that French has a vibrant film industry, the Cannes Film Festival, for example, is pretty well-known internationally. Who could say France doesn’t have a film industry? Even a piddly little country like Ireland has a film industry from which the occasional film escapes to UK/US audiences.

    A few European countries have indigenous film industries making films for the domestic market that do quite well (about 1/3rd of domestic box-office) including France and Italy. Even in the UK, 1/4 of domestic box-office is claimed for UK films. I agree that mainland European films very seldom “travel” to English-speaking countries, but one cannot simply deny the existence of the European film industry on that basis.

    It’s interesting that when they made Dragon War in Korea

    Last time I checked, Korea wasn’t in Europe :o)

    But I accept the point. The budgets of European films are typically very small by American standards. Huge blockbusters are, I would’ve thought, pretty much the sole preserve of American cinema.

    The other complication is co-productions. Are the “Harry Potter” movies, for example, to be considered “British” (and therefore European) or American? The BFI lists them as “US/UK” productions.

  143. #143 Steve
    June 15, 2008

    Amen, PZ! Lucas completely hosed the Star Wars prequels, and Shamalan has produced nothing but shite. I guess that’s what people want….

  144. #144 J
    June 15, 2008

    I would not dispute the statement “Europe doesn’t have a movie industry on the scale of the American movie industry”.
    And I meant something exactly along those lines when I said, “That’s because the US has a real movie industry, unlike Europe”. Admittedly it’s an unclear and overexcited statement, but you could have deduced its meaning yourself with little effort. Obviously I couldn’t have been saying that Europe’s movie industry isn’t real in the sense that it “doesn’t exist” (that would be totally insane). At the very least you could have asked me what I meant before accusing me of “patently” being a liar.

    Your entire argument against me seems to rest on (a) my statement that Europe doesn’t have a “real” movie industry, and (b) my claim that my “95%” comment was intended to be applicable to Britons only.

    In short, you’re taking any tiny ambiguities in my initial posts and drawing from them the worst, most insulting interpretation possible (namely, that I’m flip-flopping).

    WTF? You’re claiming that “the US has a real movie industry, unlike Europe” is magically turned into everyone else supposing “a priori demonstrations of the inferiority of American culture.” when nobody even so much as hinted at any such thing. Truly bizarre!
    Again, you’re insincere. Here is what started this storm in a teacup:

    American TV & Movies are laden with these pernicious positive reinforcements. Way more than European ones. It’s so obvious when you compare the two. I’m quite certain that this has a very significant effect on keeping these delusions so well rooted in the American society.
    Doesn’t matter how valid this is, or what exactly Negentropyeater intended. The point is that, coupled with the later disparate emphasis of Americans’ ignorance of foreign TV, a very snobby, looking-down-one’s-nose attitude is being displayed toward American culture.

    You know, it’s not inconceivable that this mood could be seen, from some point of view or another, as — that very important word, which you find so useful — condescending. It’s a different story, isn’t it, when the condescension is emanating from your own position. Quite frankly, Emmet, you’re full of shit.

  145. #145 Emmet Caulfield
    June 15, 2008

    J@#144,

    More squirming, weaseling, and insults.

  146. #146 Wowbagger
    June 15, 2008

    KeithM #99, wrote:

    You already knew Arnie was the good guy by that point because you’d seen him rescue John. That said, your statement otherwise holds true: everything about the filming of the scene where John and the T-800 meet is set up so that him firing on the T-1000 and saying “Come with me if you want to live” was supposed to be a surprise.

    You’re right; I stand corrected – though, in my defence, it’s been a while since i saw it.

    Oh, and don’t forget Australian filmmaking in all of this: Baz Luhrmann’s Australia comes out later this year; go see it – some of it’s shot in Bowen, the town I’m from.

  147. #147 Nath
    June 15, 2008

    The similarities between this movie’s “science” and ID is in their both being exactly the opposite of science. We don’t know what cause it (or an Intelligent designer did it) so give up and stop searching for the reason.

    What I’m surprised at is that not many people have pointed out that this movie, right down to the movement of scenes, is Hitchcock’s The Birds without the, you know, birds.

    Here is my review:
    http://skepticsandpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/06/whats-happening.html

  148. #148 Mr. Frazzlebottom
    June 15, 2008

    But it is just a movie! Most movies violate science and physics! Most TV shows due too! Most violate COMMON SENSE too!

    Just like when a bullet sends a body flying backward, or thunder occurs simultaneously with all lightning strikes, etc., etc., movies and TV are all HORRIBLY BAD PORTRAYALS OF THE REAL WORLD!

    The problem is when ignorant people BELIEVE FANTASY to be real!

  149. #149 Mr. Frazzlebottom
    June 15, 2008

    Oh yeah…

    How cold someone science minded say that The Hulk movie is “awesome” while saying the Happening movie is “terrible?”

    They are both absolute FANTASY and neither have any basis in science!

    The Hulk movies — and all action hero movies — violate physics on a regular basis and I can not stand to watch them. I’d rather watch a SUPERNATURAL based movie any day.

    Also, if there are evolution deniers in the real world then why should they not be in movies (and books, etc.)?

  150. #150 Steve_C
    June 15, 2008

    wow. someone’s bottom is frazzled.

  151. #151 Brian X
    June 15, 2008

    Mr. Frazzlebottom:

    Walt Disney once produced a short called “The Plausible Impossible”. The fundamental point was that if you create a universe, it has to relate enough to our daily world and itself to be plausible, even if it isn’t technically possible.

    It’s actually pretty closely related to the Uncanny Valley — too much mixing of the real world and cartoon science is really, really grating. As an example, take The Matrix as an extreme case — anything went, because the world of the Matrix was a simulation that was so immersive it made Keanu Reeves look like an actor. Star Trek is a middling example — its physics push the outer end of what’s plausible, except when its writers invent things like the Particle of the Week that are insultingly obvious ad hockery.

    Then you have writers like Shyamalan and Michael Crichton, whose books and movies are loaded with slammed doors where there should be intriguing mysteries. In those cases, curiosity is presented as a danger rather than a virtue, and the premise comes unraveled as logic breaks down. We expect this in a monster movie — most, even the slasher flicks, are fundamentally high camp, and therefore stock characters and epic stupidity are expected. But in a movie with pretensions of making a grand point about science — The Day After Tomorrow would be another one — it’s an insult to the viewer’s intelligence.

  152. #152 andyo
    June 16, 2008

    If we’re gonna generalize, it’s simple. Hollywood movies are about money and mass consumption, and French cinema is about pretentiousness and silent shots of worried faces. Everything else is something in-between. There are very good exceptions to both extremes though.

    By the way, J, this might be anecdotal, but arguably the current most famous Japanese director (of “serious” movies, not those horror ones), Takeshi Kitano, was made famous mostly by European audiences. In Japan he is primarily known for being a TV comedian. There is a significant, very influential movie industry in Europe too, albeit not at the Hollywood scale.

    One thing I really dislike about European movie business is that for most of the movies (at least in places like Spain) they dub foreign-language movies, at least in the mainstream theaters. I don’t know how much of that is true for English theaters.

    One thing to note also is that in Latin America, Hollywood movies also dominate, but access and promotion of Latin American and foreign films from everywhere else is a lot higher than here in the U.S. (Though I live in L.A., I actually think in other places, that don’t harbor film festivals and such, access to non-Hollywood movies is even harder.)

  153. #153 negentropyeater
    June 16, 2008

    but access and promotion of Latin American and foreign films from everywhere else is a lot higher than here in the U.S. (Though I live in L.A., I actually think in other places, that don’t harbor film festivals and such, access to non-Hollywood movies is even harder.)

    Has anybody ever wondered what is happening here ?

    Why are Americans the only ones who consume almost exclusively Movies and TV productions from their own country ?

    - is it simply, because they are so much better, and they don’t need to bother with products from other foreign cultures ?

    - or is it simply because they aren’t interested with foreign cultures, don’t want to bother with subtitles, the distributors do not provide access, and this situation perpetuates itself into a quasi perfect de facto protected market for hollywood, who then has at its disposal a huge monopoly market from which it can recover all its high fixed investment costs

    Can’t people simply recognize that the fact that Americans are by and large not interested with movies and TV productions from foreign cultures creates a self perpetuating very clear market advantage for hollywood ?

    In the long run, who benefits from this ? The American people who seem almost incapable of widening their horizons, or Hollywood who reaps monopoly profits ?

  154. #154 andyo
    June 16, 2008

    I think it’s the same reason why Unitedstatesians love “American” football, while the rest of the world does “proper” football (a.k.a. “soccer”), and why Formula One, World Rally Championship and maybe even LeMans and Dakar are the most popular car championships in the world, but Americans haven’t a clue about them and are content with left-turn-only Nascar and Indy races. Oh, and monster trucks.

    I think Americans (oops, sorry, Unitedstatesians) actually have all they need to live comfortably so most of them don’t bother to look elsewhere for entertainment or even cultural knowledge. It’s good to be able to get by living like that, I guess, but more exposure to the outside cultures probably would avoid what Lewis Black references here.

  155. #155 kryptonic
    June 16, 2008

    andyo #154

    I think Americans (oops, sorry, Unitedstatesians) actually have all they need to live comfortably so most of them don’t bother to look elsewhere for entertainment or even cultural knowledge.

    Hey, I resemble that remark. I am a big, big MotoGP and World Superbike fan, so there! Anyway, not all Indy races are “left-turn-only” and NASCAR sucks but even they have a race or two on road courses.

  156. #156 J
    June 16, 2008

    Why are Americans the only ones who consume almost exclusively Movies and TV productions from their own country ?
    - is it simply, because they are so much better, and they don’t need to bother with products from other foreign cultures ?
    Yes, that must be at least part the reason. American movies and TV productions demonstrably are better. This is shown by their unrivaled success on the world market. No other country even comes close in this regard.

    More squirming, weaseling, and insults.
    Ditto, you wretchedly dishonest weed. It’s funny, by the way, that you had the cheek to bring up the concept of “disproportionate response”. You made sure to steer clear of it when a few “condescending” remarks of mine incited crazily hate-filled reactions, didn’t you, you hypocrite?

    Not to mention that the response wasn’t obviously disproportionate. Neither is this. Maintaining that someone is “patently” a liar when you have absolutely no evidence supporting your charge is profoundly aggravating and insulting. More so than any vulgar put-down I can conjure.

  157. #157 J
    June 16, 2008

    or is it simply because they aren’t interested with foreign cultures, don’t want to bother with subtitles, the distributors do not provide access, and this situation perpetuates itself into a quasi perfect de facto protected market for hollywood, who then has at its disposal a huge monopoly market from which it can recover all its high fixed investment costs
    Have you any evidence supporting this hypothesis? Is there any evidence that non-US films in America sell worse than foreign non-US films elsewhere in the world?

    At least some non-American films can flourish in the US. The Lord of the Rings, Crouching Tiger, Harry Potter, and The Ring come to mind. Do these kind of films fare worse in America than the rest of the world? All the speculation in the world won’t get you as far as one relevant statistic.

    The reason for my earlier “disproportionate response” was that you are clearly the one making the factual postulates (or speculations). I’m just saying I don’t accept your a priori justification, and need to see the data before being convinced.

  158. #158 Emmet Caulfield
    June 16, 2008

    J @#156,

    Please see the last two paragraphs of comment #131.

  159. #159 Longtime Lurker
    June 16, 2008

    The simple, sad fact that that EVERYONE has missed the point about “The Happening”.

    The only thing that concerns me about this movie is- being “R” rated, does Zooey Deschanel show her boobs in it?

    Channeling “wOOt” here :O

  160. #160 andyo
    June 16, 2008

    I think Zooey is more of the “cute-and-maybe-smarter” type rather than the ones we only care for their curves and looks, that is why is a bit more disheartening when she makes such comments. I mean, it wasn’t very surprising when Jewel went wooey woo either, but at least she’s a big-boobed blonde, we expect less of her.

    By the way, it’s the same thing women would say about Wahlberg and Tom Cruise, so I think it goes both ways.

    By the way, from that Jewel interview referenced by Ben Goldacre in the link above, this, um, jewel:

    When I ask her what she is reading at the moment, she mentions those poets again and her research into ‘super-string theory’. No JK Rowling or even Yann Martel for Jewel. What is the attraction of quantum physics? ‘Theology,’ she replies, explaining that she is intrigued by the 1500s, the era when science and spirituality were first separated, when Copernicus and Mercator were busy mapping the world, and ‘empirical knowledge began to reign supreme – knowing something through truth and fact and experiment, instead of spiritual and religious implication’.

    But now, she says, eyes shining with enthusiasm, ‘in super-string theory and unified theory they’re getting to where they have to answer mystical questions again. They’re saying an atom can go [in] two directions at once. It’s impossible. They’re saying that [an] alchemical experiment is affected by the observer. It’s coming back to: how are we affecting our circumstances? What is the creative force in the universe? Because they’re seeing that there is one. It seems to me mysticism and science are being forced to remarry. It’s very exciting…’

    Is Jewel Kilcher too clever for pop music?

    I’d say just marginally, just because she does know something called “super string theory” even exists. Alchemically, though, she’s just as nutty as these Jesus freaks.

  161. #161 andyo
    June 16, 2008

    Hey, I resemble that remark. I am a big, big MotoGP and World Superbike fan, so there! Anyway, not all Indy races are “left-turn-only” and NASCAR sucks but even they have a race or two on road courses.

    Posted by: kryptonic | June 16, 2008 10:10 AM

    But wouldn’t you say you are one of the minority? I did say “most.” By “left-turn-only” I meant Nascar and the Indy 500, both pretty much inarguably the most popular racing events in the U.S. by far. No offense whatsoever was meant to someone like you. (I should probably say no offense was meant whatsoever.)

  162. #162 Kseniya
    June 16, 2008

    but at least she’s a big-boobed blonde, we expect less of her.

    Sigh. Less what?

  163. Panel 1 (revised). “Wow, Zooey sucks at math.”
  164. Panel 2 (revised). “Wow, blondes suck at math.”
  • #163 andyo
    June 16, 2008

    Well, besides the fact that the comment was meant half-tongue-in-cheek, I did say that it’s the same for men. I just don’t put much interest in good-looking men to be disappointed in what they say when they say it. These TV people have an image, and we just work with the image. I don’t think it’s sexist, we all do it (don’t we?).

  • #164 Aaron
    June 16, 2008

    I caught this over the weekend, and thought as Mark Wahlberg’s character was teaching ‘science’ class that he has to be about the worst science teachers in history. Whether it was Shymalan’s(sp?) intention or not, he did give credence to the further muddling of ideas/speculations as ‘theories’ as opposed to scientific theory. In the bee discussion as students are speculating about possible causes for the disappearance of bees, he shrugs his shoulders and says, “but these are all just theories right? We won’t ever know the answer”. Which I doubt was a veiled reference to ID, but rather ignorance on teh part of the film maker(s). In addition, when listing the steps of the scientific method for his students, he says nothing about prediction and hypothesis testing, his steps essentially amount to “define your variables, observe your variables, interpret”, which is vague enough I guess, but I felt it was lacking, to say the least.

  • #165 Kseniya
    June 16, 2008

    Aaron, that science/theory/method stuff irritated me, too. It got the movie off to a really bad start. I half-expected to Wahlberg’s character to continue with, “And every scientist knows that good science doesn’t contradict Scripture!” (Yes, I’ve seen a movie in which a science teacher – albeit, one from the late 19th century – says exactly that. Yes, it was a religious-themed film.)

    AndyO: No big deal; there’s no need to get into a thing about it – it’s just that the whole Barbie Bimbo thing gets tiring after a while. Does “everyone” do it? To some extent, yes, I suppose, but not without bias.

  • #166 P.C.Chapman
    June 16, 2008

    I just finished Isaccsons biography of Einstein last night. His “religion” was an awe at the immensity of the universe and ALL its contents.

  • #167 ian
    June 17, 2008

    “The Happening” pulled down a modest $30 million this weekend, but Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan’s movies have grossed, worldwide, some $1.6 billion, Clearly the nay-sayers are in the minority here.

    And once again, it’s just a movie. It’s not a statement, it’s not a prescription for life, it’s not a lecture. It’s blind escapism designed for no other reason than to fill Hollywood’s coffers.

    If Americans are taking science, history or any other lessons from movies, they’re the ones who need to be addressed, not Hollywood.

    I find it amusing that you’re assuming that the character played by Wahlberg is the best science teacher in the world. Are you saying that there are quite literally no science teachers like him? That’s how “unrealistic” this movie is? I doubt it.

    An “act of nature” doesn’t imply an actor, unless one chemical acting on another implies an actor, or water acting on iron and making it rust implies that water has intellgience.

    Movies are typically a product of the society in which they’re born. For example, if we have an idiot religious society, we’re going to get idiot religious movies. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hope or try for better things, but in order to get better things, we really need to look at the source and try for a better society.

    And really – it’s just a movie, guys.

    Seriously.

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