The Prestige

If you're only going to see one movie this year about turn-of-the-century stage magicians, see this one. It does have a lot in common with The Illusionist. Both movies feature beautiful period settings, solid performances, and one actress who is very attractive but not very good at acting (The Illusionist's Jessica Biel and The Prestige's Scarlett Johansson). The big difference is that The Prestige has enough story to drive a two-hour movie without dragging, whereas The Illusionist does not. Plot is so crucial to this kind of movie. No matter how good the performances are, a movie with a bad, slow, or transparent plot won't have the audience talking about it afterwards or seeing it again to catch everything they missed the first time around. The Prestige delivers on this front and sustains it with an excellent performance by Christian Bale (as well as some good ones from Michael Caine and Hugh Jackman).

Viewed: 10/21/2006 | Released: 10/19/2006 | Score: B

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The Last Kiss

It's been 18 days since I saw this movie; I think that qualifies as the latest I've ever been with a review. Just to allay any possible suspicions, the delay was entirely due to my own laziness and had nothing to do with the film. After Garden State fans lauded Zach Braff as the voice of his generation, so it comes as no surprise that there was a lot of buzz surrounding this one. Some people expected something huge, some figured that he wouldn't be able to manage it a second time. Which one did it end up being? Well, I'm not sure. It turns out that The Last Kiss has a lot in common with Garden State. Both are coming-of-age stories and both, in my opinion, show a certain amount of self-deceptive immaturity. The difference is that Last Kiss is about a slightly later stage of life--the beginning of family life instead of first independence. Garden State had the sense of reaching for profundity that brought to mind late night talks I had with my friends in high school and college, talks that seemed full of wisdom at the time but that the clarity of hindsight shows were actually naive. And that naivete made Garden State's immaturity kind of cute and fresh. By contrast, Last Kiss seems like it should be old enough to know better. In some ways, though, that may actually work in its favor, since it kind of goes along with the age group it depicts. Will this one turn out to resonate as well with the early-30s crowd as much as Garden State did with the twenty-somethings? Only time will tell, I suppose. In any case, I think I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the excellent cast. I imagine most people will have gone to this to see Braff, but in my mind the real standouts were Jacinda Barrett and Tom Wilkinson.

Viewed: 9/15/2006 | Released: 9/14/2006 | Score: B

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