Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Movies: “The Prestige” “The Illusionist”

Directors: Christopher Nolan, Neil Burger 2006
What are the odds that Hollywood would produce—or at least distribute—two films about magicians set roughly around the same time (late 19th, early 20th centuries) and same venue (UK, Europe)?
Nolan’s film pits Hugh Jackman against Christian Bale, each trying to outdo the other to claim greatest trickster of all time. Revenge is the great motivation here. It’s certainly entertaining, but depends (literally) on a deus ex machina that is just silly (invented by Nikola Tesla no less—and played by David Bowie). Nolan’s “Memento” was another tricky film but with more depth.
“The Illusionist” is the better movie. Shot in places to resemble a silent film (it uses dissolves and flickering shadows at either end of the screen), this really is a love story with a better twist than “The Prestige.” That’s assuming what we see at the end is real, of course.
One of the problems with magic tricks in movies is they lose the immediacy of a live performance—and the movie audience assumes the tricks are special effects, which they are. It’s a little like listening to a ventriloquist on the radio. That said, either film is a notch above some of the stuff heading our way this summer, based on some of the trailers I’ve seen.


Post a Comment

<< Home