When directors are too in love with themselves

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

When Inglourious Basterds was released to theaters a couple years ago, I was excited.  I was stoked to watch some Nazis get the crap beat out of them by Brad Pitt.  After all, the trailer had wall-to-wall violence, and Quentin Tarantino is an excellent filmmaker.  Turns out the trailer was as misleading as you can get.  Brad Pitt’s barely in the movie and half of the freaking film is in French.  But I rewatched it recently to see how it was when I watched it without the expectation for wall-to-wall Brad Pitt killing people.

So what did I think?

Tarantino is so in love with himself it blows my mind.  He wrote the movie in addition to directing it, and he seems to think his script was gospel, because he couldn’t possibly take anything away from it.  For instance, there’s a scene in a bar that could have done exactly what it needed to in 2-3 minutes.  Introduce a scenario, build tension, Mexican standoff, etc.  But instead, the thing goes for 13 MINUTES.  By the time we get to the climax of that scene, I didn’t care anymore.  The tension was diffused simply by the fact that they tried to maintain it for too long.  If somebody else had edited the movie and told Tarantino to speed things up, the movie would have been so much better.  They literally could have cut 40 minutes from the movie and taken away NOTHING.

And then what happens at the end of the movie?

Brad Pitt looks into the camera and says “You know what? I think this might be my masterpiece.”  Quick cut to “Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino”.  Seriously, the man stops just short of stepping onto the screen and trying to fellate himself.

But honestly, I’ve seen worse.  How much worse?

Lady in the Water (2006)

2005 was a rough year for film director and friend of the site M. Night Shyamalan.  He had a major falling out with Disney, who distributed his previous film The Village and completely botched it.  They marketed it as a thriller when it was anything but.  Plus many critics were critical of the films extremely slow pace and what they thought was a very hokey “twist”.  Personally, I liked the movie and thought that it was a victim of the misleading trailers, (again).

But faced with major studio pressure and serious criticism, what did the Shamhammer do?  He made Lady in the Water.  Which sucked, incidentally.

The fact that the movie blew isn’t what made me mad about it.  It was two particular characters.  There is a supporting character who is a movie critic.  He is a complete idiot, a jerk, hates every movie he sees and (spoiler alert) dies a terrible death.

Besides the movie critic, there’s another supporting character of note.  Shyamalan usually gives himself a small cameo in his movies, a la Hitchcock.  In Lady in the Water, rather than a small cameo, he gives himself a substantial role.  Specifically, a role in which he plays a writer who is destined to change the world.  Holy balls.

How conceited can a filmmaker get?  You cast YOURSELF as a writer destined to change the world and kill off a movie critic after you get a bit of negative criticism?  Such a character in his first movie after getting some flack would be cocky, but to then cast himself is just the most self-important thing I think a filmmaker could possibly do.


For Attebiz Movie Reviews, I’m the J-Man.

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