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Colin Firth Strong, Emma Stone Weak in Woody’s (NO) “Magic in the Moonlight”

“I want MAGIC” screams Blanche du Bois in Tennessee Williams classic “Streetcar Named Desire”. And I was screaming “I want magic, too!” As Woody Allen’s latest “Magic in the Moonlight” unspooled before me and I didn’t laugh once.

It LOOKS Magical. The cinematography of Darius Khondji is simply swoon-worthy. The Riviera never looked so lovely! Truly! But aside from a very, very strong performance by Colin Firth, it’s not much fun. Although Eileen Atkins as his sensible aunt (they’re both British of course) is also very good. But this film that looks like it should be a comedy, is simply not funny at all.

Firth has the challenge of getting up in yellow-face and being a stage magician  named Wei Ling-Soo, who makes elephants disappear and saws ladies in half, and is an extremely pessimistic curmudgeon. He spews venom constantly throughout the film in all directions, which is arresting, but not funny. Unlike the other recent magician in an Allen film, the great Splendini, in “Scoop” who Allen played himself. “Scoop” was set in London with Scarlett Johansonn in the female lead, a role Emma Stone essays so poorly here. “Scoop” was funny and good-natured as “Magic in the Moonlight” is bitter and grim. Good qualities in a drama, like “Blue Jasmine” but not is a half-baked pseudo-farce.

How can this much heightened sarcasm be not funny in a Woody Allen film? Well, for one thing his character seems an utter realist, if not a downright atheistic. Yes, that’s right. This is a film that is about atheism. Or a comedy about atheism. WTF? It’s seems like it should be by Ayn Rand and black and white and set in the ’40s.

Not the glamorous 1920s, a period Allen returns to again and again. And he’s done it better. I just watched “Midnight in Paris” for the umpteenth time last night and it delighted and chilled me all over again. I actually got goose bumps from it and from Mlle. Marion Cotillard’s superb performance.

And there were actually French people in it. And they spoke French! Imagine that! In “Magic in the Moonlight” we have the beautiful French countryside, but no French people are in it. At All.

And Emma Stone is very, very weak in this. As a supposed psychic, she’s a little spacey, a little kookie. Her red-hair flies beautifully in the wind. She has lovely large eyes, but Woody seems to have a problem with her overly large forehead which is covered up throughout much of the movie by her own bangs, which is fine and series of tam o’shanters, head-bands and hats with extremely low brows, which would look fine on Marion Cotillard, but on Stone they make her look odd. She is photographed soooo well in fact, she looked liked she’s acting, but she isn’t. The cinematography and costumes were acting FOR her.

I didn’t ever think I would miss Scarlett Johansonn, but in this film, I did. Stone is really out of her depth here, and she shouldn’t be.

I just attended a press conference for this film with Emma Stone notably absent. And Colin Firth when asked about working with her, just skipped the question entirely. “My Best Day?” he was asked, ” I guess the scene in the planetarium at night. I was wet. And I felt wet, so that was good.”

Unfortunately, it’s (no) “Magic in the Moonlight” that is all wet. Sadly.

Every OTHER film of Woody’s recently has been terrific. “Midnight in Paris” was a masterpiece. “To Rome, with Love” was a dud. “Blue Jasmine” won Cate Blanchett an Oscar for Best Actress, and so we were due for another disappointment, and unfortunately, we got it.

I can’t wait for the next one, however. That’ll be good again.

Woody did a press conference in New York today. He NEVER does that. I sensed Flop Sweat and I was right. But Colin saved the day, and Jacqui Weaver was buoyant, too.

Woody said “Life is meaningless.” And he meant it. And then added “Now that I’ve depressed you thoroughly, have a nice weekend.”Magic in the Moonlight 1Magic in the Moonlight 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oscar Nominee Ang Li “Life of Pi” gets in touch with us!

 

From Ang Lee himself, getting in touch about his gratitude for his being nominated for Best Director and Best Picture for “Life of Pi.” It got many techical nominations, too! ELEVEN Nominations total! ONE behind leader “Lincoln’s TWELVE!And lest we not forget I have to mention that this film OPENED the New York Film Festival 2012! GO NYFF!

“I am deeply honored and frankly a little overwhelmed by all of the nominations that ‘Life of Pi’ has received this morning. So many talented people gave everything they had to this film, both in front of and behind the camera, and to see all of them receive this kind of recognition is something I am incredibly grateful for.”

 

Some fun facts about LIFE OF PI:

 

  • Film is approaching $400 million worldwide gross
  • Film is approaching $100 million domestic gross and Ang Lee’s highest-grossing film to date
  • LIFE OF PI is Ang’s most Oscar nominated film of his career
  • Ang Lee is the only director in the race this year to receive nominations from the Academy Awards, BAFTA, Golden Globes, DGA and the Broadcast Film Critics.
  • While many have assumed that the film can’t win because it has no well-known actors, including an experienced lead actor, the film has made a sweep of key factions including DGA, PGA, WGA, BAFTA, ASC, VES, AFI, ADG, HFPA
  • Previous films including BRAVEHEART, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING And believe it or not NONE of these films had acting nominations!No, reallY!

– LIFE OF PI fits with the precedent of films that win Best Picture with no acting noms for the following reasons:

  • Large technical achievement (BRAVEHEART and LOTR: ROTK)
  • No big star in the cast (SLUMDOG)
  • Predominantly cast featuring people of color (SLUMDOG)
  • Considered a great directorial achievement (All of them)
  • Non-American stories (All of them)
  • Ang is being recognized for his achievement with this film by VES (Visionary Award), MPSE (Filmmaker of the Year), and the International 3D Society (Harold Lloyd Award). He was also recognized this year as VARIETY’s “International Filmmaker of the Year” at the Mill Valley Film Festival, and he received a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres insignia.
  • Film is not a story specific to one country or region – it’s a world wide story
  • Film based on best-selling book that is now back near the top of the NEW YORK TIMES Best-Seller list
  • Film is Ang’s first foray into the world of 3D
  • Famous quote from W.C. Fields about never working with animals or children, but LIFE OF PI has both animals, a young lead actor, and water – and the film successfully uses all three
  • Film crew was comprised of over 3,000 members from all over the world, including members for 21countries worldwide.

 

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