Saturday, October 25, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Review: Allen casts a limp spell in ‘Magic’

By
From page B2 | July 25, 2014 |

Woody Allen’s late period has been defined by a quality you wouldn’t have expected from the man who produced the inspired chaos of “Bananas” or the Fellini-esque carnival of “Stardust Memories”: tidiness.

For years now, Allen’s films have been light farces (“Midnight in Paris,” ”Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) or neatly structured parables (“Match Point,” ”Blue Jasmine”). They breeze in innocuously in the summer, promising pleasant entertainment and not much more.

“Like drinking lemonade” is how Allen has described his escapist aims for his movies. His “Magic in the Moonlight,” a romantic comedy bathed in the sunset glow of the French Riviera and starring two of the more effervescent faces in movies — Colin Firth and Emma Stone — is, no doubt, sweetly sugary — if ultimately flat — stuff.

The film begins in 1928 Berlin with the chaotic backstage life of a haughty, grouchy Chinese illusionist, Wei Ling Soo, played by the magician Stanley Crawford (Firth). It’s a promising start: Here is Firth, in regal, oriental garb and long mustache, disparaging autographs as “for mental defectives.”

More of this, and “Magic in the Moonlight” could have been a very funny movie. But Wei Ling Soo doesn’t again perform, and instead the rest of the film feels oddly missing the jokes it seems built to convey. Crawford — a self-described “rational man” who believes in his art, not in actual magic — sets off to the South of France to unmask a medium, Sophie Baker (Stone), gaining renown for her prescient “mental impressions.”

They meet at the sumptuous Cote d’Azur home of the Catledge family, whose rich bachelor Brice (Hamish Linklater) swoons unapologetically for Sophie. A dance of distrust begins between the cocksure Crawford and the lithe, charming Sophie across a vivid, widescreen backdrop of cars, clothes and coastline.

Crawford, whose fiancee hasn’t joined him on the trip, is both supremely confident in his realistic worldview (Nietzsche, he says, resolved “the God problem rather convincingly”) and abundantly unhappy. Audiences will surely see where the film is going as it sets up a quite rigidly explored dichotomy between blithe believing and scientific certainty.

It’s an argument for illusion in our lives, no matter how fraudulent; for love, no matter how illogical. “Magic in the Moonlight” is a disbeliever’s earnest plea to believe.

These are, of course, ideas Allen has long explored, and “Magic in the Moonlight” often feels like the kind of tidy New Yorker humor story the filmmaker might pen. Even with bright performances and lively chemistry between Stone and Firth, the movie is stale with the fixed rhythm of the written word, not alive to its images, despite the rich setting. (A quick aside: Is it possible to not have good on-screen chemistry with Stone? From Ryan Gosling to Spider-Man, she bewitches everyone.)

Allen is in complete control of the film, both its comic pacing and its philosophical quandary. But perhaps that’s the problem: Like Crawford, “Magic in the Moonlight” needs to be less in control of itself. The film doesn’t believe in magic enough.

“Magic in the Moonlight,” a Sony Pictures Classics release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “a brief suggestive comment, and smoking throughout.” Running time: 100 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

 

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
 
Cut-a-thon to help fight cancer, abuse

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Fall Harvest Festival brings children back to school

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Optimist Club brings youth together for Halloween golf

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

School board candidates forum set next week

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A4

 
 
Staying active may prolong your life

By Scott Anderson | From Page: B8

 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

.

US / World

Suspect arrested in death of 2 California deputies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 5 Comments

 
KC-10 from Travis lands in Houston, smoke in cockpit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

Reagan astrologer, Joan Quigley, dies at 87

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
Jury says castrated sex offender should be freed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

School gunman was Homecoming prince, students say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
Lava creeps toward road on Hawaii’s Big Island

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Remains belong to missing Virginia student

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Dallas nurse receives thanks, hug from Obama

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 14 Comments

NY, NJ order Ebola quarantine for doctors, others

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Gunman in Canada attack complained about mosque

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Egypt declares emergency in northern Sinai

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Militant group said to be using chlorine bombs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Putin accuses US of undermining global stability

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
.

Opinion

Return Garamendi to Congress

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8, 27 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoons: Oct. 25, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

SEIU shouldn’t own Board of Supervisors

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 7 Comments

 
Vote, and make a difference

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

Yes on Measure A

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

 
Spering best choice for county supervisor

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8, 8 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 25, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Oct. 25, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
My mother-in-law wants me to convert to Catholicism, but I don’t want to

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

Hello Kitty turning 40, and the birthday bash will be ‘supercute’

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: B8

 
.

Entertainment

TLC cancels its ‘Honey Boo Boo’ series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9, 1 Comment

 
P.D. James’ riff on Jane Austen comes to TV

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B9

 
.

Sports

Vintage rolls past Armijo, 55-8

By Mike Corpos | From Page: B1

 
Mustangs fall flat in rout by Wildcats

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1, 4 Comments

Royals beat Giants 3-2 for 2-1 World Series lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Vargas to take on Vogelsong in Game 4 of Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Falcons hang with Wolves in 34-8 setback

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Hamilton helps Vanden sink Vallejo, 35-0

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B1

Unfazed, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh doing it his way

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Lloyd leads US women past Mexico 3-0

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Raiders’ Woodley, Young expected to be placed on IR

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Henley’s putting gets him lead at Sea Island

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Judge halts New Jersey’s sports betting plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Joe Maddon exercises opt-out, won’t return to Rays

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jamie McMurray bests Chase drivers to win pole

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Attorney: NFL, Ravens not helping union in Rice probe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

SCC women’s soccer team falls to Mendocino 3-1

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

US official: Auto safety agency under review

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Ford profit falls in third quarter on truck costs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Procter & Gamble taking out its batteries

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
UPS expects double-digit surge in Dec shipments

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

US new-home sales close to flat in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Obituaries

Mark Dean Lindsay

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
.

Home Seller 10/25/14

Real estate transactions for Oct. 25, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2