Woody Allen like threads of thin, bright steel. Now, at what appears close to the close of this comic/tragic filmmaker's career, comes a light-hearted, lovely-to-look-at entertainment that tackles this theme head on. MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT, in many ways Allen's most mature work (the filmmaker is shown below), is also among his very best.
Colin Firth (shown above -- and below, right, with Simon McBurney). This grand acting job -- among the best to be given by a Brit in some years -- is worth at least two of The King's Speech (a simple-minded movie that I thoroughly enjoyed, by the way). Mr. Firth inhabits just about every scene in this film, and his performance crackles with energy, specificity and a fierce intelligence. When, at last, some cracks appears in the gentleman's facade, it may break your heart at how hard this character -- a famous magician sporting the Chinese name Wei Ling Soo but here known simply as Stanley -- tries to hide them. Sure, this is light comedy. But Firth, while making it fun, also makes it matter.
Eileen Atkins, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater (at left in the penultimate photo) and Jackie Weaver -- with special mention of Emma Stone, (below, right), who pairs beautifully with Firth, as she continues her I-can-do-just-about-anything climb up that stardom stairway.
Great Gatsby. (Is this Allen's first use of the widescreen format? If not, it's certainly his best use of it.)
Sony Pictures Classics and running 97 minutes -- opens this Friday, July 25, in Chicago (AMC River East 21), Los Angeles (The Landmark and Arclight Hollywood), New York City (Angelika Film Center, Lincoln Plaza Cinema, and City Cinema 123) and Brooklyn (the BAM Harvey Theater), and Washington DC (Angelika Film Center at Mosaic), with a nationwide rollout to follow over the weeks to come.