Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Magic (1978)

Director: Richard Attenborough

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Burgess Meredith, Ann-Margret, Ed Lauter

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Abracadabra, I sit on his knee. Presto, change-o, and now he's me! Hocus Pocus, we take her to bed. Magic is fun...we're dead.

Plot: A ventriloquist is at the mercy of his vicious dummy while he tries to renew a romance with his high school sweetheart.

My Rating: 8,5/10

Would I watch it again? uh huh

I have known of this film since it premiered on HBO when I was a kid about 30 years ago and I can't believe I waited this long to watch it. Anthony Hopkins' work in the 70s solidifies him to be one of the finest actors of the past fifty years. Just watch the TV mini series, QB VII (1974) and you'll see. Whenever he's on screen it's riveting. When he's off, it's boring. It's an amazing experience to watch him when he's really "on" his game. Wow. Hell, the next time you watch SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991) pay extra close attention to him and watch every little thing he puts into it. It's a wonderful performance.

Fats: Hey, you know what I think?
Corky: What do you think?
Fats: We're gonna be a staaaaaaar!

In MAGIC, he's a tour de force. It's hands down one of the finest performances I've seen. Hopkins' talent here is brutal. Burgess Meredith is also doing some solid acting that surprised the shit out of me. I've seen him do some great things from the 40s and 50s but I can't remember the last thing I saw of his where he was THIS good. Stunning. He nails it. Ann-Margret and the rest of the cast do a very good job but it's these two guys that really out-shine everyone. I can see watching this again by the end of this year, easily.

The use of shadows is outstanding!

There's a scene where Ben (Meredith) visits Corky (Hopkins). Ben sees immediately that Corky has really gone off the deep end and is using his ventriloquist dummy, Fats, to facilitate his alter ego. Ben is incredulous. They sit down and very quietly and calmly, Ben asks Corky if he can go five minutes without having Fats speak. It plays out in real time and IT...IS...TENSE! My insides were a mess. I didn't think he could do it but then maybe he could. It's a remarkable scene with these two actors at the top of their game go head to head. It creeps me out just thinking about it again.

"Make Fats shut up for five minutes"

Jerry Goldsmith's score gets under your skin and has it's finger on the pulse of Corky and his destructive mental spiral. Outstanding. The way it creeps under the surface, sublimely making it's way into your head is about as erie and uneasy as it gets. From the first moment you hear it as the film begins you get the feeling things aren't going to go well. Nice main title sequence, btw, as you see lots of old magic memorabilia.

Just look at how Hopkins's love struck Corky is framed with Fats! NICE! Just from this shot you can feel Corky's emotion.

They did a great job on the dummy, Fats. He's creepy as hell. One thing I liked about Hopkins is that he leaned some magic for the film and he does it very well. The little things he does with a deck of cards, the sleight of hand with coins, and the ventriloquism add to the believability to what Hopkins conveys with his performance. What a beast of an actor.

MAGIC did not receive a single Academy Award nomination!
MAGIC did not receive a single Academy Award nomination!
MAGIC did not receive a single Academy Award nomination!

The Sky DVD has quite a few extras. Unfortunately, none of them include any participation from the cast aside from a few bits here and there from the time of the filming.

No comments:

Post a Comment