Monday, January 08, 2007
While the comments rage below in "Superman Can't Have Sex", allow me to review a movie which is coming out today on DVD. Fortunately, having been presented an advance copy for screening, I missed this at the theaters, I can say that once you lay down the cash for your own copy, you will be wondering how you missed this during it's first run.
"The Illusionist" asks us about the nature of magick. Presenting us first with an enigma in the character of Eisenheim, an illusionist plying his trade on stages throughout Eurpore in the early 1900's. Portrayed by Edward Norton, he is a manifestation of lost love and innocence while at the same time the keeper of secret knowledge. Are his stage illusions slight of hand? The stuff of smoke and mirrors? Or is he, the son of a poor carpenter, returned from a sojourn in the forest, something greater? No easy answers here. No simple resolutions. This is fairytale and metaphor filmed in sepia.
Paul Giamatti, who is quickly becoming the hardest working man in show-business (he was involved in six projects in 2006 alone, including the disasterous "Lady In The Water), plays Chief Inspector Uhl who is in a cat and mouse game with Eisenheim, hoping to outwit the magician, to prove whether or not all is illusion. A moral man, representing reason, Uhl also represents the necessary impossibility of trying to impose logic on the illogical. He does so out of loyalty to the Crown Prince, whose lady is currently surrendering to a love triangle with the mysterious Eisenheim, and to his station in life to maintain social order.
I liked this tremendously, and have yet to see the other film that came out this year about magic, "The Prestige". I do look forward to that DVD release as well. "The Illusionist" though has made a strong first impression and will be difficult to follow. Gorgeously filmed, lovingly crafted, this is going to be worth several viewings. If only to watch again next to "The Prestige".