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The Illusionist


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Two perspectives on The Illusionist:

Jonathan Rosenbaum :spoilers: :spoilers: :spoilers:

Steven D. Greydanus

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Uh, wow.

This is the first serious strike against Rosenbaum that I've read. A 4-star "masterpiece"?

I've vacillated myself on the merits of this movie, but its pleasures, even at their most delectable, aren't those of a masterpiece. Not in my book.

I'm really surprised. But I don't want to dampen the excitement that this review might stoke in others. The film was well received by the audience with whom I saw it. Indeed, I was a little taken aback at the negative-to-middling reviews of the film in today's local D.C. papers.

Anyway, one thing about Rosenbaum's review needs to be said, even SCREAMED here: It contains MASSIVE :spoilers:

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Christian wrote:

: I've vacillated myself on the merits of this movie, but its pleasures, even at their most delectable,

: aren't those of a masterpiece. Not in my book.

Agreed. (Haven't read the linked reviews yet.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I saw this at Sundance this year and was thoroughly -- thoroughly -- disappointed. I serious cannot imagine anyone calling it a masterpiece. Sure, Giamatti and Norton are great actors, so they're not going to bring their B-game to much of anything, but that's about all I could say positive about it.

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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Just for the record: I really enjoyed this movie. A friend and I saw it without having seen any trailers or reviews, and we walked away gratified (and genuinely surprised by the ending). It was almost similar to a Shyamalan movie, or at least one of Shyamalan's earlier movies. I loved the cinematography (was it sepia-tinted?).

And both Edward Norton and Paul Giammatti are excellent. Jessica Biel's not bad either, contrary to most of the reviews I've read. It's Rufus Sewell who I didn't like; he's a poor-man's Jude Law, and I've never been too convinced by his acting (then again, maybe that's because I associate him with that awful Zorro sequel).

-"I... drink... your... milkshake! I drink it up!"

Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood

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Dadblame it... this movie isn't opening in Seattle for a while yet.

It played the festival, but I didn't want to spend more than, oh, a year's subscription to Paste just to attend the big to-do.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Is it possible? Is Seattle really going to have to wait for a film that has already opened in Vancouver?

A whole new era is dawning ...

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Is it possible? Is Seattle really going to have to wait for a film that has already opened in Vancouver?

A whole new era is dawning ...

It's already opened in Victoria too! Shocking!

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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According to Yahoo Movies, this film grossed a little less than a million dollars on a mere 51 screens. That's a decent per-screen average. If they release it a little wider it could potentially become quite a sleeper hit.

I'm just glad that one of those screens happens to be in Boston. :) I like this movie a bit more in hindsight.

Edited by Jeff

-"I... drink... your... milkshake! I drink it up!"

Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood

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According to Yahoo Movies, this film grossed a little less than a million dollars on a mere 51 screens.

Fairly full house at the show I went to this afternoon. I think it will probably do well enough to be considered successful.

While I'm not quite as enthalled as my wife, she saw it as something of the quintessential movie going experience -- entertaining, requires some thought, nice love story, nice intrigue. I was a bit disappointed that even as Uhl reflects on how the great illusion was set up (and makes it all believable), it doesn't

show how the onstage holograms were done -- a bit technologically advanced for the time.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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It's not quite a masterpiece, but I enjoyed it. I thought the film had a strong sense of place; you really felt like you were in Vienna a hundred years ago

except for the holograms

. Norton and Giamatti were excellent, and Jessica Biel wasn't too bad either. I thought that visually the illusions were quite well done. The ending did remind me a lot of the ending of

The Usual Suspects

, but I liked watching that scene unfold.

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I enjoyed this one, but was I the only one who saw the "twist" right away,

as soon as we didn't see Sophie actually get stabbed in the narrow alley

? In the end it's a good film, but hardly a masterpiece.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

Twitter.
Letterboxd.

Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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I enjoyed this one, but was I the only one who saw the "twist" right away,

as soon as we didn't see Sophie actually get stabbed in the narrow alley

? In the end it's a good film, but hardly a masterpiece.

No, you're not. Beyond not liking the "framed" look of the cinematography, which bothered me from frame 1, the moment you describe is probably about when I started really not liking the movie.

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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Saw it, and, in spite of the obviousness of the "twist," I really enjoyed:

Norton's understated performance

Giamatti, who is such a joy to watch

Rufus Sewell... man, I love this guy

the cinematography

and the soundtrack.

And, my gosh, Eddie Marsan is getting a lot of work!!

Here are just a few of the films Eddie Marsan has been in recently:

The Illusionist

Miami Vice

Mission Impossible 3

The New World

V for Vendetta

Vera Drake

21 Grams

Gangs of New York

My favorite character he's played is the lonely, broken-hearted man from Vera Drake who falls in love with Vera's daughter. Their walk in the park is so hilarious and somehow touching at the same time.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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and the soundtrack.

Oh, thank you for reminding me JO. Both my brother and I agreed that the film's score was the highlight of the film: understated, yet memorable. But praising Phillip Glass around here is so obvious that I forgot to mention it . ;)

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

Twitter.
Letterboxd.

Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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Saw it, and, in spite of the obviousness of the "twist," I really enjoyed:

Norton's understated performance

Giamatti, who is such a joy to watch

Rufus Sewell... man, I love this guy

the cinematography

and the soundtrack.

Agreed on all of this. Despite my earlier statement about vacillation on this film

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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  • 11 months later...

Just rented this movie. Really enjoyed Rufus Sewell's performance (I even loved his under the radar entrance into the theatre) and then Paul Giamatti (I kept on thinking of Chris Elliot) and then Edward Norton (kept on thinking of JO...lol). Jessica Biel is pretty enough for someone to go the great lenghts Eisenheim did to get her. I'm glad no secrets of the illusions were revealed or at least the need for it. I think I would have been distracted from the story had they done anything like that. And I guess the question of who the bad guy is seems a little blurred. In other words, yes, Leopold is the bad guy and you understand that. But isn't Eisenheim as well?

Remember that song from the 70's group 10Cc, "The things we do for love..."?

Brandon

"God is so great and merciful that he does not require that we name him precisely. God is even willing to be anonymous for a time. Remember how God led the Three Wise Men from the East to Christ? The Wise Men did not know the God of Israel or Jesus. They worshipped the stars. So God used a star to lure them."--The Twelve Steps for Christians

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