January 28th, 2007

Viking Spongebob

(no subject)

Too much of a good thing last night. Was feeling pretty good before going to the munch, to Borders and then to my sweetie's to snuggle. I was exhausted when I got home and had to keep drinking--and getting rid of--fluids to make myself feel better. But...

I bought "the Illusionist."

I had rented it and determined that I had to get it. And I watched it today while determiming whether I wanted to head out into the sub-freezing weather to buy stuff for the upcoming weekend (I didn't; I spent the afternoon watching "House.") Anyway, "The Illusionist" is the tale of stage magic, politics, murder, revenge and romance, set in late Nineteenth-Century Vienna. In many--perhaps most--respects, it is simply breath taking, but it's not the usual sort of action tripe.

This is not mindless entertainment; it will require willing participation
and thought by the viewer. It's by the same people who did "Crash," and
like that film, it requires repeated viewings in order to fully understand and appreciate what is being told. In the end, it all fits together as well as "Lucky # Sleven" did (and which I also recently saw on DVD and then ran out to buy).

The acting was phenomenal, underplayed and realistic. It took me halfway through to recognize Ed Norton, who to me will always be the wacky loon of "Death to Smoochy." Hairstyles, beard styles and costuming all allowed the actors to submerge themselves into their characters.

True, some of the costuming seems a little off, but that could just be my
ignorance of the era. The set designs, however, are a wonderful clutter,
certainly bringing to mind decoration of the Victorian Era, painted in
rich, golden and moody colors. A lot of the sets are actual places in
the Czech Republic. The film's creators did a lot of research into
clothing, etiquette and technology. As the director said, they tried to be
as accurate as possible, without being burdened by it. There are
concessions to entertainment, but they seem fairly minor to me.

While the film is neither fast paced nor exciting; it is rather
slow-moving and certainly engaging. The magic tricks are, for the most
part, practical effects, with a little CGI, and they were guided
by well-known magic and magic historian, Ricky Jay (_Cards as Weapons_
and _Fireproof Pigs_). I especially liked that there was none of the
modern-day condescending smarminess that you see so often in historic
films. It is set in a time of political upheaval and agitation, and that is conveyed without the foreshadowing that a lesser effort might have attempted.

I recommend this beautiful little film, but you have to be in the right
mood, no doubt!
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