Thursday, September 27, 2007

Death Defying Acts

Conjuring and the movies

In a recent article, Variety acutely remarks how “the recent success of The Illusionist and The prestige located an audience for costume dramas revolving around stage sleight-of-hand and gimmicky suspense narratives, rather than the usual drawing-room or court intrigue”. Now, the imagery of magic can feed the visuality of designers and the talent of writers, (as the great novelists behind the two recent pictures), but what if the gift of imagination is not the priority in following the new trend? This is what looks to be the new “Death Defying Acts”, a movie just presented at the Toronto Film Festival and soon in the worlwide theatres. It is a fiction around Houdini and a lady pretending psychic powers. But, always according Variety, “result is a brisk, well-produced pic that lacks depth; nor does it provide the fun of deliberate, flamboyant one-dimensionality. There's no real tension, nothing specific to root for”.

It seems that to find an exciting marriage between magic themes and movies, we have to go back to the 1930s and Tod Browning, who rooted admirably his stories and characters, his criminals and renegades, into the spirit, philosophy and psycology of magic and carninvals in all his immense depht and contrasts (we’ll be soon back on that).
What seems happen today, is an excuse at least for contemplation:”if pic offers little of substance”, states the same magazine, “its packaging can't be faulted: Lensing, production design and costuming are all very attractive”.

The movie trailer:

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