Monday, January 08, 2007

"The Illusionist"

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".


SQT said...

I haven't seen the Prestige or the Illusionist. I've heard the Prestige is very good, but this is the first I've heard from anyone who has seen the Illusionist.

I'll have to put it in my netflix queue.

ShadowFalcon said...

I've seen both.

The idea of two magician movies at the same time was too good to pass up and I'd just read "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel".

I loved the Illusionist, you think its one things and turns out to be totally different. So I totally agree with this review.

I also really enjoyed the Prestisge, very dark but also fantastic. The actors are perfect, the story unexpected and the overall execution - very enjoyable.

Both movies are really different and besides the word "magician" totally different.

I'd recomend both

choochoo said...

I also loved "jonathan strange and Mr Norell," and I really want to see both movies. It seems to be just my kinda thing:)

Angela/SciFiChick said...

I hated the Prestige with a passion, but I'm looking forward to seeing this one.

jedimerc said...

I have heard both were pretty good... I just was waiting too much for 'Casino Royale' and ignored them :)

SQT said...

Well, Casino Royale was pretty much THE **IT wasn't it?

Deslily said...

well google is finally letting me in again!..

Yeah I haven't seen either of those movies but now I do want to see the Illusionist! Thanks for the tip Stewart!

Skittles said...

I haven't seen either lol

jedimerc said...

Well, Casino Royale was pretty much THE **IT wasn't it?

No arguments there :)

Stewart Sternberg said...

Angela, I get the feeling you and I have some truly divergent interests in sci fi and fantasy. I'm curious though, why didn't you like Prestige? I havent seen it yet.

Professor Xavier said...

I wanted to see both but missed them in the theater. I'm glad the Illusionist has come out. Hopefully I can pick that up this weekend.

SQT said...

Netflix is the best I tell you, the best!

We just got The Illusionist in the mail today. I probably won't get to watch it until the weekend, but it's something to look forward to.

Oh, and I watched the first episode of Farscape last night. Cooool.

Crunchy Carpets said...

Yet another good movie I missed in the theatre.

God. We used to see a movie at least once a week.

Now I can barely sit down to watch a dvd.

I like the idea of Netflix...i wonder if they have it in Canada

Angela/SciFiChick said...

Stewart -
I'm not a fan of dark, disturbing stories where there are no clear-cut good guys and bad guys. I absolutely hate movies with sad endings. (Which means I hated Titanic, when all my friends loved it.) I watch/read to not only expand my imagination, but to escape reality. If I wanted something sad and depressing, I don't need to turn to a movie for it!
Yes, I guess I have a different taste in the scifi/fantasy genres.

Titania Starlight said...

I'm a Netflix fan also. The Illusionist is in my queue! :o)~

SQT said...


I like happy endings too, but I must admit, I love a movie that blurs the line between good and evil. I don't know why.