Three's the charm...or maybe not

Saw a screening of Signs, the new M. Night Shyamalan film. Didn't find it to be as good as his previous two movies, The Sixth Sense or Unbreakable. The trademark suspense and mystery is there, but it doesn't pay off.
There's a fine line between inspiring a sense of wonder and coming off as hokey. Signs was the latter for me. Also, he's got to stop casting himself in all his movies--he's not that great an actor, and he can afford to hire some real acting talent. Get over yourself, M. Night. You're a good director, so stay behind the camera.

Spirited Away on DVD

Hayao Miyazaki's latest is out on region 3 DVD and region 2 DVD now!

Lowe leaving The West Wing

Rob Lowe is leaving The West Wing over a salary dispute. It's so hard to tell what the details are in a case like this. It's certainly possible he didn't push for a raise but was characterized as doing so through an intentional media leak. All I care is that Lowe's Sam Seaborn will be no more early in 2003. That's a shame.
I'm as strong a proponent as there that the director and writer are the key determinants of the quality of TV shows and movies, but that's mostly because they have the ability to court first-rate acting talent. In television, where an actor will play the same character for hour after hour, year after year, it's harder to replace them and maintain the same feel. The X-Files wasn't the same when Duchovny and Anderson left, and much of the quality difference in the Bond films was due to Connery versus some of his weaker successors.
Having now seen the first season and bits of season two, I can notice a dropoff in quality this season. Not the actors fault. The writing is inconsistent. Sam doesn't play as large a role now, but while he wasn't an Emmy nominee like many of the other actors, his was the emotional everyman at the heart of the ensemble cast. It won't be easy maintaining the quality of that show through seven seasons, but it will pass the 80 episode mark (or whatever the number is which marks economic megasuccess for TV shows--I think it's eighty, the point at which you can capture massive syndication fees). Let's hope they can work something out.