Friday, January 01, 2010

“The Prestige”-ious 200th Column – A Movie Club Review!

Hello everybody… Happy New Year and welcome to our 200th column!

We started NWOW back on November 10, 2005 and 11 days later we presented our first movie review… The First of our Star Wars reviews - Phantom Menace as we reviewed all 6 in chronological order. We have done a few other movie anthologies since, and from the feedback I get, the movie columns are quite popular among the NWOW readers.

But Nate has been a very very bad boy and has been neglecting the movie reviews. We are currently in the middle of the Christian Bale movies… our first review since March 6th (American Psycho) and only our second since October 17, 2008! when we reviewed Empire of the Sun.

Interestingly enough, today’s movie The Prestige is one of my favorites. I have owned the DVD since it came out, I have seen it a few times already, but I needed to sit down with pen and paper to jot down my notes about this incredible flick. This week I took my traditional vacation between Christmas and New Years and the other afternoon, after getting delayed en route to a matinee of Up in the Air (which I ended up seeing a day later), I decided to spend the cold winter afternoon on the couch in my snuggie watching “The Prestige”.

Here is the trailer…

The movie is directed by Christopher Nolan who did the incredible “Memento”.. and once again the story does not unfold in chronological order. We see that Bale’s character... Alfred Borden is in prison, and as he faces execution we discover that he has been convicted of killing another man, Robert Angier played by Hugh Jackman. We soon discover that Jackman and Bale are competing magicians in turn of the century England… not the century we started 10 years ago… the one before that.

The two fellas start out as friendly coworkers.. working as magician’s assistants who are “audience volunteers” They classify the magician they work for as rather vanilla, while at the same time watch with googly eyes as a Chinese magician (must not have been that much going on besides magic in those pre vaudeville days)… catches their attention because of an incredible trick he does at his show involving fishies in a fishbowl.

The two men watch the Chinese magician limp out from his theater into a waiting 1900s model car after the show… and even though he can barely walk with help from his assistants they start to wonder if to quote Doug Henning… the difficulty walking in all… “an allusion”… especially when they figure out what appears to be the only way to logically do the trick… walk around bow legged (or bowl-legged) with a fishbowl between your legs. ... But this appears to be doable only if the magician has incredibly strong legs that would enable him to walk while carrying the bowl under heavy leg obstructing clothing. This leads our boys to speculate that the Chinese magician is able bodied but pretends to be handicapped while in public. Wasn’t there a wheelchair bound shoplifter in the news recently who was caught red handed when he stood up and put merchandise in a hidden compartment under his chair?

And there you have one of the keys as both of these young magicians rise to the top – appearing one way “in public” while in reality hiding secrets about themselves to help sell tickets… However magicians deal in allusions, and one of these fellas decision to “keep a secret about himself” just may not have necessarily been inspired by seeing the Chinese magician.

The two become rivals when during their “audience volunteer” stint Bale’s character accidentally ties a knot that Jackman’s wife (a magicians assistant) can’t quite untie. This is especially a big problem when she is tied up and lowered into a big tank of water. When she can’t get out… the on stage trick engineer…(Michael Caine) has to break the glass to rescue her.. but the subsequent events of that day turn a friendship into a rivalry..

Jackman puts on a disguise and decides to check out Bale’s show but ambushes him while he is performing a magic trick that involves catching a bullet. That results in a long rivalry between the two which also is part of Jackman’s sad obsession with topping Bale’s tricks. We see in flashbacks that “in the end” Bale is on trial for killing Jackman… who drowns during a performance… not behind a curtain on stage, but instead beneath the stage where he drops into a water filled tank below through a trick door in the floor while he is tied up! . The movie then uses flashbacks to tell the story of how these two fellas try to one up each other every chance they get…. in an attempt to be The Best Magician.

And to achieve that Best Magician status is to properly achieve “The Prestige”… the punchline to the trick that usually results in huge ego feeding applause. Prestiges tend to involve making things disappear and then bringing “them” back….which sometime involves a beautiful white dove who has a lookalike return as part of the prestige.

Speaking of making things disappear… how do you like the audacity of those Brazilian kidnappers who seem to have notion that should get visitation rights for that poor little Goldman boy they took away from his dad. Now that the kid is home, I hope a grand jury pulls a Roman Polanski and indicts those kidnappers so if they come to NJ to get the kid, they end up getting arrested again!

In “The Prestige” the ultimate show stopping trick is a pre-Star Trek teleporter. This is where a person gets from Point A to Point B in a time frame that defies logic.,, sort of like when your wife tells you to take out the garbage and it ends up outside in less than an hour. Each man has his own unique way of doing this rather incredible trick…. And while Bale figures out how Jackman does it… Jackman develops an incredibly sickening obsession with figuring out every last detail about Bale’s method. That obsession takes him on a boat to Colorado (Don’t forget we are pre Wright Brothers) where he meets a scientist (played in a jaw dropping performance by an unrecognizable David Bowie) who invents a way for Jackman to do the Teleporting trick… which not only defines the movie’s entire plot, but when revealed to the viewer produces a “Whatchu Talking About Willis” moment. The moviemaker might think that revealing “the prestige” moment will generate applause.. but instead the viewer gets the urge to restart the DVD (or hide in the movie theater) so you can watch the movie again to see how the pieces fit into the puzzle.

Bale, Jackman and Caine are excellent in this movie…. as is the actor who plays Bale’s right hand man. Scarlett Johanson plays a magician's assistant/groupie who works for both of them at different times... She also attracts their male libidos and has an affair with both men - sort of like the T Shirt store owner's girlfriend in Thursday Night's episode of Jersey Shore. And as for Bowie – any time an actor plays a role so well that you don’t realize that is him till the very end… you know you are watching an incredible performance! And he is not the only actor accomplishing that feat in this movie….

And if you have never seen the movie and decide to see it – reread the review after you see it… you might find some clues laid right out in front of you… but like the movie.. you don’t quite catch it right away… because the key to an illusion is not really knowing where to look

This movie is just fantastic and this is coming from a person who is not a big fan of these period pieces… On a scale of 1 to 4 bladders meaning how less likely you would be to leave in the middle to go to the bathroom… The Prestige is a 4 bladder movie!!

PUMPSTRADAMUS PICK OF THE WEEK: Pumpy goes for his 4th straight winning year this weekend as he enters the final week with a record of 8-7-1. Since Jackman went to Colorado in “The Prestige”…we go there too this week as the Denver Broncos are 13 point favorites over the Chiefs. Sayeth The Pump: “I just got my year end income statement and I was so upset I took out my kerchief and sobbed!… So in honor of my kerchief… take The Chiefs!”

UNBIASED GIANTS FAN OF THE WEEK: Well we totally foshnizzled last week.. going 0-3 to drop to 22-26… 3-9 in the last 4 wks! The Giant game is irrelevant so this week we will visit the other Meadowlands inhabitants and 2 college games.

Bengals 10 doggies over THE JETS – The Jets will not cover this spread.

Boise St. 7 ½ doggies over TCU in the Fiesta Bowl – Gotta get in the habits of watching Monday Nights on FOX since 24 is just a couple of weeks away,

Alabama 4 over Texas – Can you believe its 20 years since Brent Musberger got canned at CBS??… Bear Bryant will be kvelling from the heavens when all is said and done!

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