Now showing at Electric Picture House Market Street,Wotton-under-Edge,Gloucestershire GL12 7AE 01453 844601
- Magic In The Moonlight
Magic In The Moonlight 3 stars
Celebrated magician Stanley Crawford answers a plea from his good friend Howard Burkan to travel the French Riviera and debunk a psychic medium called Sophie Baker, who has promised to help wealthy widow Grace Catledge make contact with her late husband. Posing as businessman, Stanley heads for the Catledge villa and witnesses Sophie's boggling feats of mind-reading and clairvoyance that defy rational explanation.
- GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
- CastColin Firth, Emma Stone, Hamish Linklater, Marcia Gay Harden, Simon McBurney, Eileen Atkins.
- DirectorWoody Allen.
- WriterWoody Allen.
- Duration98 mins
- Official site
There is a soupcon of magic and moonlight but considerably more insecurities and bluster in Woody Allen's playful yet lightweight romantic comedy set on the sun-kissed 1920s French Riviera. The writer-director's frequent forays away from his beloved New York to European soil have been decidedly hit-and-miss affairs and Magic In The Moonlight disappoints more than it delights.
Allen affectionately evokes the era from the opening croon of the Cole Porter classic You Do Something To Me performed by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra, and the writer-director loads the soundtrack with upbeat jazzy tunes that telegraph the characters' emotions like You Call It Madness (But I Call It Love) by Smith Ballew and His Piping Rock Orchestra to underscore a blossoming central romance.
Regrettably, sparkling one-liners are in short supply on the Cote d'Azur and the on-screen chemistry between Colin Firth and Emma Stone is lukewarm, never threatening to set our pulse racing like her smouldering pairings with Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love or real-life beau Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man.
The film opens in 1928 Berlin, where magician Stanley Crawford (Firth) delights a sell-out audience in his guise as Chinese conjurer Wei Ling Soo. Backstage, he berates his crew for their incompetence and lives up to the description of his best and perhaps only friend Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney) as "a genius with all the charm of a typhus epidemic".
Howard entreats Stanley to accompany him to the Riviera to debunk a psychic medium called Sophie Baker (Emma Stone), who has promised to help wealthy widow Grace Catledge (Jacki Weaver) make contact with her late husband.
In return, Grace has pledged to fund an expensive institute fronted by Sophie's mother (Marcia Gay Harden). Swatting aside warnings about Sophie's beauty - "A pretty face never hurt a cheap swindler," retorts Stanley dryly - the magician bids fond farewell to his fiancee (Catherine McCormack) and heads for the Catledge villa posing as businessman Stanley Taplinger.
In no time at all, Stanley is almost as smitten with Sophie as Grace's lovesick son Brice (Hamish Linklater) and the celebrated magician struggles to find a rational explanation for her boggling feats of mind-reading and clairvoyance.
Magic In The Moonlight is a valentine to Allen's lifelong fascination with tricks and illusions, and he engineers one moment of misdirection to quickly untangle the knotty central plot. An even bigger trick would be convincing us that Firth and Stone make a perfect match but it's doubtful Houdini could have pulled off that gross deception.
Supporting cast, who have a canny knack of scoring Oscar nominations in Allen's work, are subdued, even Eileen Atkins in the plum role of Firth's straight-talking aunt, who can sniff romance on her nephew like cheap cologne.
Pride 5 stars
Mark Ashton is the charismatic and outspoken leader of impassioned campaigners, who operate out of the Gay's The Word bookshop in London. Reading news stories about the miner's strike, Mark recognises a cause to champion. "Mining communities are being bullied just like we are," he tells his coterie and they form LGSM - Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners - with the intention of raising funds for a randomly selected Welsh community.
- GenreComedy, Drama, Historical/Period
- CastBill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Dominic West, Ben Schnetzer, George MacKay, Jessica Gunning, Paddy Considine, Imelda Staunton, Joseph Gilgun.
- DirectorMatthew Warchus.
- WriterStephen Beresford.
- Duration120 mins
- Official sitewww.pridemovie.co.uk
Theatre director Matthew Warchus, who succeeds Kevin Spacey as artistic director of the Old Vic in London next year, will need to de-clutter his awards-laden mantelpiece. His second feature film is a barnstorming culture-clash comedy drama based on the inspirational true story of a group of gays and lesbians, who supported the miners during the 1984 strike and raised thousands of pounds for beleaguered communities, which dared to stand up to the Thatcher government.
This uplifting story of solidarity in the face of adversity and police intimidation is an absolute joy; an unabashed, irresistible crowd-pleaser in the magnificent mould of The Full Monty and Billy Elliot that rouses the audience to bellowing laughter while choking back a deluge of hot, salty tears.
Pride embraces and subverts stereotypes, deftly weaving together stories of personal triumph and anguish as the spectre of Aids casts a long shadow over the gay community.
Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) is the charismatic and outspoken leader of young, impassioned campaigners, who operate out of the Gay's The Word bookshop in London run by Gethin (Andrew Scott). Reading news stories about the miner's strike, Mark recognises a cause to champion.
"Mining communities are being bullied just like we are," he tells his coterie comprising Mike (Joseph Gilgun), Jonathan (Dominic West), Jeff (Freddie Fox), Steph (Faye Marsay) and closeted new boy, Joe (George MacKay). They form LGSM - Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners - and rattle tins for a randomly selected Welsh community.
Mining representative Dai (Paddy Considine) invites Mark and co to the Dulais Valley where committee members Hefina (Imelda Staunton), Cliff (Bill Nighy) and Sian (Jessica Gunning) embrace the fund-raisers with open arms. However, some of the locals are repulsed.
"We're being backed up by perverts," sneers homophobic mother Maureen (Lisa Palfrey), kindling conflict between some of the neighbours and the LGSM.
Pride is a life-affirming ode to tolerance, acceptance and self-belief that defiantly lives up to its title, waving a flag for stellar home-grown filmmaking.
Performances are exemplary, ignoring a few wobbles with the Welsh accents, including a fiery turn from Schnetzer as a fresh-faced trailblazer and sobs aplenty from Mackay as the catering student, who cannot conceal his sexuality forever.
Scriptwriter Stephen Beresford strikes a perfect balance between hilarity and heartbreak, sharing polished one-liners among the ensemble cast including Menna Trussler as a clucky old dear, who labours under the illusion that all lesbians are vegetarians.
Warchus' film builds to a rousing crescendo that delivers a knock-out emotional wallop and opens the floodgates. As Frankie Goes To Hollywood professed during that turbulent summer of 1984: "When two tribes go to war/A point is all you can score." The characters in Pride score their points with unbridled passion and wit.