Magic in the Moonlight (2014)

magic-in-the-moonlight-2014-movie-posterDirector: Woody Allen

Genre: Romance, Comedy

Runtime: 97 Minutes

Main Cast: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Hamish Linklater, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Erica Leerhsen, Eileen Atkins, Simon McBurney

Plot: Set in the 1920s, Colin Firth plays a talented magician who spends his spare time debunking psychics. His pal Howard tells him about a young American psychic played by Emma Stone who has Howard absolutely convinced, so he abandons his family holiday to expose this psychic as the fraud she is.

My Thoughts: It wasn’t intentional but until a few months ago I’d never seen a Woody Allen movie. Maybe they’ve simply never appealed to me, but I wanted to change that so I started with Cafe Society (2016) and then moved on to Magic in the Moonlight (2014). I wouldn’t say I’ve been converted into a huge Woody Allen fan now but both movies were enjoyable enough. Are there any Woody Allen fans out there who can suggest where I should look next?

Anyway, I might not have loved it, but I really enjoyed Magic in the Moonlight. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Colin Firth play such a hilarious, stuck up his own arse guy, but he makes it work so well! There’s definitely something hypocritical about a guy performing tricks for a living who does so whilst dressed as a Chinese man who just so happens to get a kick out of calling psychics frauds, but that just adds to the humour of it all.

Emma Stone is mesmerising as usual, she’s been my favourite actress for a long time now. Weirdly enough one of the only movies I’m still yet to see of hers just so happens to be another Woody Allen flick. Although the movie feels really slow, I was compelled to keep watching to find out whether she truly was a real psychic or a fraud. The conclusion is worth it!

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Overall, I felt it fell short of being truly remarkable. The romance arc didn’t feel genuine enough to me, and although it had its funny moments there weren’t enough. Likewise, the mystery element wasn’t as strong as I would have hoped. Regardless, I still had fun watching it, and it’s not a bad movie in the slightest.

Best Bit: The twist reveal was my favourite part. Although I’d pretty much come to the conclusion myself by that point, it was still satisfying, and the chair trick took me by surprise!

Worst Bit: Brice was the most annoying character I’ve seen in a while. Ugh. Grow a spine, man! He was like a drooling puppy, but not in a cute way. Plus I wouldn’t care if it was Bradley Cooper or Justin Timberlake, anyone playing a ukelele and singing right in front of me is enough to make me cringe.

Fun Trivia: Wei Ling Soo, Stanley’s onstage persona, is a reference to Chung Ling Soo, the stage name of William Ellsworth Robinson (1861-1918), a popular magician in the U.S. and Europe for many years. Chung Ling Soo also tried to debunk spiritualists, and even wrote a book about it in 1898.

My Rating: 3 and a half spinning chairs. Just double check before you sit down, however, that you’re not about to sit in Colin Firth’s lap.

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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

mamma-mia-here-we-go-again-movie-posterDirector: Ol Parker

Genre: Comedy, Musical

Runtime: 114 Minutes

Main Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Andy Garcia, Lily James, Alexa Davies, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Dominic Cooper, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Hugh Skinner, Pierce Brosnan, Josh Dylan, Jeremy Irvine, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Cher, Meryl Streep

Plot: Taking place 5 years after the original movie, Sophie is planning a grand opening party for the Bella Donna hotel. As her plans come crashing down, she learns more about her mother and how she met Sophie’s 3 fathers.

My Thoughts: I don’t even know how I found myself watching this at the cinema last night. I’m not an ABBA fan and would struggle to name 10 of their hits, but I watched the original movie about 2 years ago when it was picked for a family movie night, and despite finding it completely cheesy, it had a certain charm to it that made it hard to not like it.

Here We Go Again brings much of the same charm, if not more. If you can look beyond the cheese and the subpar acting (no one was really trying their best here) then there’s a lot of joy to be found. The cast is huge, there was no way I could cut it down for the post without doing someone a disservice, and if seeing Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård doing the Titanic pose doesn’t warm your heart and turn your frown upside down then nothing will!

What I thought was so clever though was how well the ‘young’ actors and actresses did. I mean Lily James is just stunning no matter what she does, and the boys had the characteristics down to a T! It was Jessica Keenan Wynn who stole the show for me though as a younger Christine Baranski. It was almost scary how similar she was.

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Best Bit: The Greek Passport Control guy was hilarious when he judged everyone’s photos. The bit never got old, in fact, it got funnier every single time.

Worst Bit: Not being an ABBA fan I only knew a handful of the songs, so I felt pretty left out when the people either side of me in the cinema were bopping along and hoping no one noticed them singing.

Fun Trivia: Meryl Streep and Lily James, the two actresses portraying Donna, are distant relatives – ninth cousins, three times removed to be precise.

My Rating: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was a 3.5 out of 5 up until now, when writing this post made me realise I enjoyed it more than I thought. A solid 4 out of 5 crazy outfits it is!

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