It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
I wonder if I would have been any good as a theater critic. Movies I can handle because they stay up there on the screen, and you can approach them as more or less permanent works of art. But every performance of a play is different, and those are real people up there - flesh-and-blood actors putting themselves on the line in front of live audiences. If they get a review that tears them to shreds, they still have to go out and perform the next night.
These considerations are inspired by "Those Lips, Those Eyes," which is a movie about the theater-specifically, about some young people involved in summer stock in Ohio in the early 1950s. There are two ways in which the egos of the actors are involved here: 1) The movie is about the vulnerability of actors, and their sensitivity to criticism, and 2) the movie's basic problem, alas, is the performance of the young man who plays its hero.
The movie is the story of Artie Shoemaker, a wide-eyed, naive kid who's supposed to be in school but who drops everything to become an assistant stage manager at the summer theater. His summer and his life are changed forever because of two people he meets there: Harry Crystal, the star of the show, always hoping for a break from a Broadway agent, and Ramona, one of the chorus girls, who gives Artie his initiation into the rocky complications of sex and/or romance,
The story is pretty routine. If all young actors did not, in fact, start out as assistant stage managers in summer stock in Ohio, it somehow seems that way after you've seen enough show biz biopics. (All British actors. of course, started out carrying spears in rep with Sir Larry-but that's another story.) And because "Those Lips, Those Eyes is not aiming for deep psychological insights. we get more or less a routine show-biz story. Its appeal depends almost entirely on the appeal of the performers.