Been on a bit of a film binge lately, at least by my usual standards. Two writeups here, more to come.

Heist is Yet Another Con Artist Movie by David Mamet. This time we're in fairly standard caper territory rather than the more personal swindles of The Spanish Prisoner or House of Games. It's plot twist after plot twist after plot twist, which is entertaining enough at first but eventually reaches a point where Mamet might as well walk in out of the wings and declare, "Look how many of these things I can pack into a single screenplay!" It's like a dessert that aims to be so amazingly rich and decadent that it stops actually tasting good. Still, better a surfeit of con-artist plot twists than of fart jokes.

Unbreakable is the first M. Night Shyamalan movie I've seen. Why this one? Because I like superhero comics and Unbreakable is about them. Though one of the clever techniques of the film is that— no, wait. It could have been one of the clever techniques of the film that for quite a while it's not clear which plot thread will come to the fore. See, the film begins with the protagonist walking away unharmed from a train wreck that killed everyone else aboard unharmed, and for quite a while it seems as though the storyline will revolve around how this miracle will help to heal his family, whose dissolution seems to be pretty much a done deal. Except... we know this is kind of a sideshow, because Shyamalan opens with a text piece about comic books. So the protagonist's transformation into a superhero (complete with costume, sort of) isn't an interesting left turn, but rather a destination marked on the map before the car is even started. Sigh.

Also, Shyamalan is really in-your-face about how clever his shots are: his camera peers between train seats for a narrow view of the seats behind, or points at the reflections on a dead TV screen for an entire scene, or rotates with an upside-down object so that it stays upside-down even as it is rotated... normally I like this sort of thing, but here it was a bit irksome. Even more irksome is the way not a single moment of the film seems to be there for its own sake — every offhand comment in the first half of the film comes back in the second. It's like Shyamalan spends the whole film mounting guns over mantelpieces and then taking them down to shoot people, leaving little room for anything else.

I'm making it sound like I'm panning both these movies. I'm not. Overall, I enjoyed both.

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