Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Video review: "Magic in the Moonlight"
Woody Allen, who started out as a TV punchline writer while still a teenager, has moved restlessly between comedy and more somber fare all his career as a film director. I’ve enjoyed a lot of his dour stuff, such as “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “Match Point.”
But his newest, “Magic in the Moonlight,” is one of his most light-hearted and purely entertaining movies in years.
Set in the upper-crust world of the 1920s, it’s the story of a magician named Stanley who’s also a man of science. Played unctuously and splendidly by Colin Firth, Stanley makes a hobby of exposing charlatans who pretend to have psychic abilities. His latest target, a young would-be seeress named Sophie (Emma Stone), proves to be his greatest challenge – and an unlikely love interest.
Though Sophie’s manner while doing her act is amateurish and transparent, her divinations have the disturbing habit of being unerringly accurate. Soon Stanley, who places more trust in Nietzsche than religion, is wondering if his life of agnosticism about the great beyond has been a tragic mistake.
It’s a great-looking movie, filled with sun-dappled gardens and shorelines, terrific period costumes and lots of pretty people to look at.
Filled with wry humor, delightfully clumsy encounters and a whole lot of extravagant mannerisms, “Magic in the Moonlight” is best described in one word not lately applicable to Woody’s work: fun.
Alas, as is often the case with the Woodster’s video releases, there is only the bare minimum of bonus features. And they are the same for both DVD and Blu-ray versions: A making-of featurette, “Behind the Magic,” and publicity footage from the film’s red carpet premiere in Los Angeles.