Lady In the Water M. Night Shyamalan

M. Night Shyamalan is an uncommonly talented director with uncommonly bad ideas. His latest, widely mocked effort is sort of an anti-masterpiece, a masterfully presented story that shouldn’t have been told in the first place. Paul Giamatti assays the role of an apartment superintendent with a tragic past who finds a mystical water-dweller called a "Narf” (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is trying to get home without getting eaten by a monster called a "Scrunt.” All sorts of lewd things can be done with those names but Shyamalan chooses instead to be deadly serious as Giamatti runs around the apartment complex finding the various Joseph Campbell side characters who will complete the ceremony that will send the Narf back to her homeland. That he casts himself as a visionary writer (and Bob Balaban as a film critic who meets a bad end) is par for the megalomaniacal course, but his near-religious faith in some appallingly banal ideas is what lifts this out of being merely bad to the realms of floridly ludicrous. It might be worth the rental to see this once-in-a-lifetime glimpse into a director’s mind; Shyamalan is as naked in exposing his flaws as he is oblivious to them, and the results are jaw dropping. DP Chris Doyle’s camera never falters in recording the icky sentiments, meaning that the solemnity is as piquant as the ridiculousness of the whole enterprise. It’s a special film, unlike any "run of the mill” studio bomb. Extras include a six-part "making of” that fully explicates Shyamalan’s terrible ideas, a gag reel, an audition clip, a deleted scenes reel and a featurette with the director explaining and reading from his Lady in the Water children’s book. (Warner)