The films from writer/director M. Knight Shyamalan are always a crap shoot. When he finds his stride, as he did with “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs,” his movies create an effective and otherworldly atmosphere. When he loses his grasp, as with “The Last Airbender” and “The Happening,” it’s hard to believe that it’s the same filmmaker. His latest thriller is “Glass,” a dark comic book movie that provides the conclusion to a trilogy that also includes “Unbreakable” from 2000 and 2017’s “Split.” As you might expect, the results are a mixed bag.

 

Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson return from “Unbreakable” and James McAvoy reprises his brilliant role as a man with multiple personalities in “Split.” Shyamalan’s complicated plot amounts to a thesis on comic book superhero origins. It requires an inordinate amount of time and dialogue to explain, turning the actors into narrators instead of characters. Even though the movie is overlong, there’s little real character interaction.

 

While “Glass” isn’t bad, it just a disappointing conclusion to an ambitious premise that became too convoluted for its own good.

 

For patient viewers, the Korean film “Burning” offers many rewards. A sure thing for an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, “Burning” is both a thriller and an effective character study involving a young man whose girlfriend returns from an African trip with a rich, enigmatic stranger who disrupts their lives. The wealthy stranger is played by Steven Yeun, best known for his role as Glenn Rhee on “The Walking Dead.” There’s a lot going on in this low-key drama that effectively builds tension as our protagonist attempts to solve the mystery of his girlfriend and the secretive stranger who admits to a love of burning down abandoned greenhouses. In “Burning,” filmmaker Chang-dong Lee offers an effective slow burn.

ON Freeze Frame | January 18, 2019 | Noon on "Arts Magazine"

Freeze Frame: “Glass” (PG-13), “Burning” (R)

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The films from writer/director M. Knight Shyamalan are always a crap shoot. When he finds his stride, as he did with “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs,” his movies create an effective and otherworldly atmosphere. When he loses his grasp, as with “The Last Airbender” and “The Happening,” it’s hard to believe that it’s the same filmmaker. His latest thriller is “Glass,” a dark comic book movie that provides the conclusion to a trilogy that also includes “Unbreakable” from 2000 and 2017’s “Split.” As you might expect, the results are a mixed bag.

 

Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson return from “Unbreakable” and James McAvoy reprises his brilliant role as a man with multiple personalities in “Split.” Shyamalan’s complicated plot amounts to a thesis on comic book superhero origins. It requires an inordinate amount of time and dialogue to explain, turning the actors into narrators instead of characters. Even though the movie is overlong, there’s little real character interaction.

 

While “Glass” isn’t bad, it just a disappointing conclusion to an ambitious premise that became too convoluted for its own good.

 

For patient viewers, the Korean film “Burning” offers many rewards. A sure thing for an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, “Burning” is both a thriller and an effective character study involving a young man whose girlfriend returns from an African trip with a rich, enigmatic stranger who disrupts their lives. The wealthy stranger is played by Steven Yeun, best known for his role as Glenn Rhee on “The Walking Dead.” There’s a lot going on in this low-key drama that effectively builds tension as our protagonist attempts to solve the mystery of his girlfriend and the secretive stranger who admits to a love of burning down abandoned greenhouses. In “Burning,” filmmaker Chang-dong Lee offers an effective slow burn.

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