What a drag it is getting Old in M. Night Shyamalan’s spooky new thriller

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Yahoo Lifestyle 22 July, 2021 - 11:00am 18 views

"Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong" About... M. Night Shyamalan

Rotten Tomatoes 22 July, 2021 - 01:11pm

(Photo by © Buena Vista/courtesy Everett Collection)

To say it’s been an up-and-down ride on the Tomatometer for M. Night Shyamalan would be an understatement. The idiosyncratic writer/director made a huge and terrifying splash with his sophomore film, the Certified Fresh The Sixth Sense – which made a bucketload at the box office and earned Oscar nominations for Best Film, Best Director, and Original Screenplay – and followed it up with a string of critical hits in the form of Unbreakable and Signs. Then came the Rotten The Village, Lady in the Water, and two notorious big-budget flops, The Last Airbender and After Earth, 5% and 11% on the Tomatometer respectively.

Of course, as one would expect in a Shyamalan tale, there was a twist to come: Returning to his lower-budget roots, the director scored a hit with 2015’s The Visit, an economical and unnerving kids-in-peril tale, and then delivered the Certified Fresh Split, which would not only be his scariest and most effective thriller in years, but act as a stealth continuation of the Unbreakable story and set up its conclusion in Glass.

Now comes Old, adapted from the graphic novel Sandcastle, about a collection of vacationers who find themselves trapped on a private beach where their body clocks have gone haywire: something about the mysterious beach is aging them rapidly, so that every hour that passes pushes their lives – and bodies – forward by about two years. What follows is a series of jaw-dropping WTF shocks, big philosophical questions (if you only had a few more hours to live…), and of course plenty of twists we won’t give away here.

To mark the arrival of a new M. Night Shyamalan movie in theaters – and it is only available in theaters – we’re dedicating a very special episode of our podcast Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong to the director who has been keeping us on our toes for more than two decades. Looking at his entire career, co-hosts Mark Ellis and Jacqueline Coley will reveal the Shyamalan movies that they feel the critics got wrong (hint: one of their choices may involve a certain gated 19th-century commune) and talk about his best moments and most mind-blowing twists.

Plus, we welcome a special guest in the form of Alex Wolff, who is not only a Shyamalan super fan but delivers a standout performance as teenage Trent in Old. (He also co-stars with Nicolas Cage in the acclaimed drama, Pig, also currently in theaters.) What Shyamalan film does he love the most? And what was it like to work with one of our modern masters of suspense? Tune in to see.

Old is in theaters from Friday July 23, 2021. Pig is currently in theaters. 

Check out some more episodes of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong:

Jacqueline Coley is an editor at Rotten Tomatoes, with a focus on awards and indie coverage but with a passion for everything, from the MCU to musicals and period pieces. Coley is a regular moderator at conventions and other events, can be seen on Access Hollywood and other shows, and will not stand Constantine slander of any kind. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter: @THATjacqueline.

Mark Ellis is a comedian and contributing editor for Rotten Tomatoes. He currently hosts the Rotten Tomatoes series Versus, among others, and can be seen co-hosting the sports entertainment phenomenon Movie Trivia Schmoedown. His favorite Star Wars movie is Jedi (guess which one!), his favorite person is actually a dog (his beloved stepdaughter Mollie), and – thanks to this podcast – he’s about to watch Burlesque for the first time in his life. Follow Mark on Twitter: @markellislive.

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Vicky Krieps Is On Her Own Time

The Cut 22 July, 2021 - 07:00am

“My grandfather was in the concentration camp, so when he came out he was very rebellious and very angry,” she says during a long Zoom conversation. “The whole family was kind of influenced.”

Though Krieps had been working consistently for a decade, she didn’t become Hollywood-famous until she was 34. Paul Thomas Anderson cast her off an audition tape she sent in, planting her opposite Day-Lewis, the world’s most intense screen actor. In many ways, Phantom Thread, with its S&M-lite romance, thrives on Krieps’s enigmatic poise — so much so that she needed to run away and hide after the movie’s press tour finished. “It’s as if Paul had found me in this small café somewhere in the ’50s,” she says, evoking the memorable scene in which Alma first meets Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis). “I was so dreamy as a child. I feel like I was stuck in a different time, almost, so the shock was too big to suddenly be present. Even if the response was positive, people were almost like, ‘But who is she? What is this?’ People were looking at me as this thing.”

Krieps avoided hiring an American agent until early 2020. She attributes the choice to fear, but it could just as well have been another act of nonconformity. In an age when everyone seems to be chasing some semblance of fame, why submit to the cliché? Of course, because Krieps made such a lasting impression circa 2017, the floodgates opened as soon as she decided she was ready.

Old, a new M. Night Shyamalan concoction that hits theaters July 23, marks her biggest stateside role since Phantom Thread. Next month, she’ll appear as a political activist — hence her youthful recollections — in the Netflix action thriller Beckett starring John David Washington and Alicia Vikander. Meanwhile, cinephiles have their eyes on Bergman Island, a relationship drama that premiered to raves last week at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. And she has a crucial role in The Survivor, a biopic about World War II–era boxer Harry Haft (Ben Foster) that will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

If Phantom Thread summoned Krieps’s unyielding composure, Old demanded the opposite. She plays a museum curator vacationing at a tropical resort with her husband (Gael García Bernal) and their two children. The couple, Prisca and Guy, are headed for divorce, unable to navigate the obstacles foisted on them by time. When the resort manager (Gustaf Hammasten) invites them to an exclusive beach where they’re meant to spend the day lounging in privacy with a few other guests, Shyamalanian mysteries intervene. A dead body washes ashore, the kids start aging at alarming rates, and the guests realize they are stranded on the island with no cell reception. Krieps spends much of the film in a panic.

Krieps, who studied drama at Zurich University of the Arts and now lives in Berlin, found her way to Old thanks to a bit of kismet. She had auditioned for the current Apple TV+ horror series Servant, which Shyamalan produces and sometimes directs. In a total coincidence, Shyamalan happened upon her tape, which was somehow sitting on his computer desk, while prepping Old. Considering it a sign, he asked her to test for the movie.

“The part I’m looking for is a fresh cadence of expression that’s not built on previous tropes,” Shyamalan told the Cut. “If you sat with me and watched my auditions, you would swear that everyone got together and said, ‘Let’s all say the lines like this.’ And then suddenly there’s someone that doesn’t sound like anything else, that’s coming from a completely different nomenclature — fresh, their own, specific, not of this time, not of this place. And you go, Wow. It’s like you’ve never heard the dialogue before. That’s what Vicky does. This is not someone who’s been fed how to be and is using the food from pop culture to decide how to say a line and what the inflection is.”

Shyamalan’s sentiment mirrors how Krieps sees herself: She is not some conventional Hollywood actress you slot into a role like a puzzle piece. Her heterodoxy let Shyamalan achieve an immigration subtext that he didn’t even realize he was looking for. After casting Krieps and Bernal, who is Mexican, he encouraged them to use their natural accents. Their fictional children, on the other hand, would have American intonations — a result of generational assimilation, much like Shyamalan and his own parents. Krieps appreciates that movies, so far, have let her maintain her natural speech, not because she wouldn’t want to perfect an accent but because it prevents her performances from seeming too careful. “I have a tendency of always speaking pas propre — not clean,” she says. “I think life is about things not being perfect, so I don’t like myself to be excelling in any kind of accent.”

When she was growing up, Hollywood was a world away for Krieps, barely even a fantasy. Now it’s becoming her reality. Women who love Phantom Thread tell Krieps they have “a female crush” on her, and she receives letters from people who treat Alma like a member of their own family, impressed that the character refuses to sit around idly when her partner won’t go dancing on New Year’s Eve. Krieps is finally prepared to embrace the attention, to sit on the metaphorical beach and take what comes her way.

“I don’t want to be scared anymore,” she says. “And actually I’m curious. I want to know. I’m curious about life. I needed to be ready. There was so much I had to learn.”

What Is the Twist in ‘Old’?

The Ringer 22 July, 2021 - 05:15am

The premise of M. Night Shyamalan’s latest horror film seems straightforward enough, but it’s Shyamalan—surely there’s something else going on here

Miles Surrey: In the opening seconds of the Old trailer, Gael García Bernal’s character is bemused by the hotel’s brochure stating that children aren’t allowed at the beach. It’s a bizarre policy, to be sure, but the family nevertheless defies it. You know the rest: The characters get trapped on the secluded beach and suffer some vaguely ominous consequences related to rapidly aging. The viewer is supposed to be sympathetic to their plight, but could this nightmare have been avoided by simply following the rules?

As the pandemic has slowly reopened some corners of society, we’ve seen an influx of unruly customers at their absolute worst, whether they’re getting kicked off airplanes or making a server cry. Old wants you to focus on the scary beach, but perhaps the real menace is a family on vacation who believes they’re entitled to do whatever they want. (Are we sure they aren’t staying at the White Lotus resort?) M. Night Shyamalan’s latest twist is that the customer isn’t always right—and if hotel guests aren’t careful, they will be slowly digested like they’re caught in a giant Venus’ flytrap. That’s because, in a coastal spin on The Ruins, the beach is a living organism with an appetite for nosey tourists who should know better. And with how customers are behaving these days, the Old beach is staying very well-fed.

Andrew Gruttadaro: I’m pretty sure this is about Instagram. (Stick with me.) Vicky Krieps’s character states in the trailer that she found this secret beach “online.” Soon after that, we’re specifically shown a character on the beach taking a selfie:

Aric Jenkins: What can I say about this trailer besides the blatant absurdity of the editor layering in “People are blacking out this way!” just as the only Black guy in the movie appears on screen. I’m not going to lie, I get Jurassic Park vibes from this island. Something about the locale seems so familiar. And we all know how old dinosaurs are. But this isn’t a time-travel film—the Sacred Timeline here is clearly moving forward at a rapid pace. So what shocking reversal is M. Night about to hit us with this time? I’d bet good money he walked into the Universal Studios offices and said, “It’s Jurassic World 4 meets Planet of the Apes.”

That’s right: Eons on this island fly by so quickly that all of these characters—as well as all other biological species present—go extinct, only to restart the entire evolutionary process. Dinosaurs roam the earth again! Eventually a new batch of humans from the outside world comes across the isle; they speculate this remote location, against all odds, harbors a unique protective climate that shielded this group of dinosaurs from the meteor 65 million years ago. But wait! There lies the remains of decomposed human skeletons. Surely our early ancestors, perhaps an ancient seafaring people looking for new trade routes, met their fate at the hands of these rare velociraptors? But my god … there’s also Oakley sunglasses buried in the sand. And iPhones. You maniacs! Modern humanity has been here already. All the time.

Michael Baumann: It can’t be easy being M. Night Shyamalan, trying to come up with new plot twists after so many of your movies had plot twists. Given Shyamalan’s well-documented Sixers fandom, I searched the trailer for clues that this could be an allegory for Ben Simmons’s refusal to shoot jump shots, but found none. So I’m just going to forge ahead with the most obvious answer: Old is about the inevitability of death and aging, the only solution to which is not to fear it.

Why don’t they just walk off the beach? They can’t, obviously, because the beach isn’t real. It’s a mass delusion, or a social experiment, or the result of alien abduction—the specific cause doesn’t matter. But whatever supernatural or metaphysical force is keeping them on the beach will be solved only when Vicky Krieps learns to stop worrying about the passage of time and no longer fears both her own mortality and the impending adulthood of her kids.

Daniel Chin: Old is a film about the sands of time, which is rapidly running out for this group of unfortunate strangers. But as it turns out, not all of these poor souls found this isolated beach by merely stumbling upon it online. This beach is a vacuum in time and space that functions as a sort of 24-hour hourglass for its inhabitants, and so these vacationing families and Instagram models were lured there for a scientific experiment conducted by an organization that specializes in this sort of paranormal stuff.

The twist to Old is that it’s one long, elaborate Lost spinoff centered on Ken Leung’s Miles Straume. Go back and watch the trailer again and you’ll see that Leung is oddly singled out for knowing more about the beach than he’s letting on—the Hereditary kid seems absolutely certain of this. Miles chose not to move on from Limbo (or whatever the hell happened at the end of Lost, I honestly still don’t know) and since his existence defies all logic, he had nothing else to do but go back to working for the DHARMA Initiative and study another mysterious beach lost in time. Yeah … that’s definitely it.

Shea Serrano: My guess is that actually it’s not the olden days—they’re all just living in a little reserve in the woods during modern times. There aren’t any real monsters, it’s just the villagers dressed up in costumes pretending to be monsters to keep the other villagers from venturing too far out into the woods and realizing that it’s modern times. (Oh, wait, shit, that’s the plot of The Village.)

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