[Film: The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan, 1999]
The Unaccountable Masterpiece:

On the Writing, Themes, and Acting of M. Night Shyamalan’s Bafflingly Excellent The Sixth Sense

 

Haley Joel Osment Sketch by M.R.P. - The Sixth Sense - M. Night Shyamalan - writing, acting, themes, plot twist

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.
[High-res prints available here]

Introduction:

If Y2K had been the civilization-crippling event it was projected to be, and The Sixth Sense was being screened in front of a huddled collection of survivors in a dystopian auditorium on a jury-rigged projector, Shyamalan’s stunted career would be considered an artistic loss on par with the early deaths of Wilfred Owen, Jimi Hendrix, and John Keats.

As the twenty-first century began and wore on, however, the man who Newsweek Magazine once labeled “The Next Spielberg” churned out poorer and poorer examples of writing and directing, ultimately hitting a protracted 10-year-long rock bottom from 2005 to 2015. To give modern context to the relative evaluation of The Sixth Sense in this analysis, here’s a quick refresher on the movies that M. Night Shyamalan both directed and wrote (or adapted) during that darkest decade:

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[Film: The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan, 1999]
The Unaccountable Masterpiece:

On the Writing, Themes, and Acting of M. Night Shyamalan’s Bafflingly Excellent The Sixth Sense

was last modified: July 7th, 2022 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Wizorb, Tribute Games, 2011]
Through the Looking Orb:

Wizorb and the Tradition of Short, High-quality, Arcade-style Games

 

Introduction:

Wizorb, an independently made arcade-style block breaker with light RPG elements, has the lowest aggregate review score of any of the games in my top 25 most played Steam games by almost 20%. Critics accuse the unassuming $3 title of failing to innovate on the block breaker formula, but more heinously (in the realm of video games), they accuse it of being boring.

Now, if Wizorb is indeed a boring, stale offering, it is very curious that it has held my attention for over thirty hours. So what do I see in this game that others are glad to overlook? I see nothing more and nothing less than a prime example of the format of game design and distribution that I would love to see sweep across the entire industry.

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[Game: Wizorb, Tribute Games, 2011]
Through the Looking Orb:

Wizorb and the Tradition of Short, High-quality, Arcade-style Games

was last modified: August 26th, 2020 by Daniel Podgorski

[Work: Candide or Optimism, Voltaire, 1759]
The Unexpected Joy of Despair:

Comedy and Tragedy (or Pessimism and Optimism) in Voltaire’s Candide

 

Voltaire Sketch by M.R.P. - Candide - comedy and tragedy - idealism and pessimism - philosophical optimism

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.
[High-res prints available here]

Introduction:

“Voltaire was the wittiest writer in an age of great wits, and Candide is his wittiest novel.” – John Butt

With a few notable exceptions toward the middle, this brief, influential work by Voltaire spends every chapter spinning a denser and denser web of horrors and misfortunes for its principal characters, and for everyone they meet. Wars break out, destroying lands, cities, and people; innocents are burned and lashed as heretics; lovers are repeatedly separated and brutally punished; and murders and disfigurements occur often and without warning.

Yet, through all of the horrors, I would be hard-pressed to name five books I’ve encountered and found funnier or more charming than Candide. It is rare when three pages pass in sequence without eliciting laughter. The novella is packed densely with stinging irony and sharp satire, directed almost entirely at philosophical optimists who posit that humans live in “the best of all possible worlds.”

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[Work: Candide or Optimism, Voltaire, 1759]
The Unexpected Joy of Despair:

Comedy and Tragedy (or Pessimism and Optimism) in Voltaire’s Candide

was last modified: March 26th, 2020 by Daniel Podgorski