Monday, 12 April 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 207

306 - The Prestige - 4 stars
"Are you watching closely?", and you will need to pay close attention to this tale that features Batman versus Wolverine in a battle of duelling magicians.
Nolan is one of my favourite filmmakers, working equally well in complex narratives like this and Memento, and saving the Batman franchise showed he can do blockbusters too.
If he can be faulted somewhere, it can be with his female casting choices. Katie Holmes was the worst thing in Batman Begins, and here Scarlett Johannson is little more than a pretty distraction and a pawn in the magicians' game, which actually is her role in the show.
Luckily the rest of the cast are superb. This was one of the first cinematic outings for the wonderful Rebecca Hall and Michael Caine lends great support.
Jackman and Bale are excellent as the feuding magicians; Jackman plays the suave, debonair Angier to a tee and Bale excels when not hampered by his gruff Batman voice.
"The secret impresses no one, the trick you use it for is everything".
It is impossible to really discuss The Prestige without a huge #SPOILER# warning, but I will try. There are two twists as it were. One is so incredibly simple that you'll be kicking yourself you didn't see it sooner, while the other trick leaves a slightly bitter taste in the mouth.
"Now you are looking for the secret. But you won't find it of course, because you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled."
Once you get over the initial disappointment of the science fiction explanation that doesn't sit well with the rest of the film where magic is presented as practical effects and sleight of hand, it is great to rewatch and catch all the things that you should have seen the first time around.

395 - Casino - 2 stars
Underwhelmed. That would be my one word review.
Whilst Scorsese brings an incredible level of detail to this tale of the fall of the 'old' Vegas, run by the mobsters before becoming the gaudy Disneyland like world of today, I felt it was let down by an over-reliance on voiceover, and 3 hours it was far too long.
Although it was necessary in order to win the record for most swearwords in a movie, including 422 'fuck's.
Whilst an unremarkable Scorsese film, one scene in particular will always stay with me. The vicious beating of Joe Pesci and his brother with baseball bats before being buried alive. One of the most uncomfortable viewing experiences I've endured.

Days remaining - 158 Films remaining - 205

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