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Friday, February 13, 2015

Magic in the Moonlight (2014)

I am reasonable certain that Woody Allen and I would not get along.  The feeling would be mutual.  His personal life is unknown to me in it's most intimate details, but what we know for sure, that he married the daughter of his long time lover, does raise questions, especially after what he acknowledges is years of therapy.  However, many creators of works that I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy are less than exemplary people in their personal lives, so I will continue to watch movies made by a man whose work I have enjoyed literally all of my life.

I do like the move that Allen has made to Europe, with a mixture of American and European actors.  This movie is set in his favored time period, the first half of the 20th century, and most of the action takes place in the south of France.  It is 1928, and the magician Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth) is enjoying widespread acclaim in the guise his stage persona, the Chinese conjurer Wei Ling Soo.  He has the added protection of an elaborate costume to protect him from being widely recognized in public, which works both for and against him. He is a man with many talents, but he is an insufferable and  arrogant man who is so absorbed with his righteousness that he is oblivious to the discontent that he sows around him.  Stanley despises claims by phony spiritualists that they can perform real magic and he gleefully unmasks them.  He knows every trick in the book, except one.  He inadvertently trusts the wrong man. At the behest of his friend, Stanley he travels to the Côte d'Azur to expose a young medium named Sophie (Emma Stone). However, Stanley gets conned, at least for a while.  He is surprised, shaken, and amazingly gracious when confronted with evidence that Sophie's gifts may be real.  The movie has a good supporting cast in Hamish Linklater and Marcia Gay Linklater, both of whom were in The Newsroom together.  It rolls to a gentle and witty ending and is quite enjoyable.

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