Another year, another Woody Allen. Same as it ever was. Coming off another professional high Blue Jasmine but a personal low, will people turn out? Woody films are always hard to predict, reception wise both critically and at the box office (I'm still so alarmed at how successful To Rome With Love was despite being so so terrible), from abject failures to Oscar nominees. But let's talk about Magic in the Moonlight ... or at least our futurist perception of it based on its new trailer.
The Yes No Maybe So™ breakdown is after the jump...
• If they weren't such a mismatched pair age-wise, Colin Firth and Emma Stone would seem like ideal screen partners since they both have such effortless romantic charisma and light touch comic gifts.
• The supporting cast: Eileen Atkins, Marcia Gay Harden, AND Jacki Weaver? Abundance! Glorious abundance.
• And apart from Marcia Gay, Eileen & Jacki seem to have things to do as a chill agnostic...
You've always been so certain about the world and I've always tried to teach you that we don't know..."
And as a true believer. Don't you just ♥ Jacki's true believer face?
• the sun-kissed photography (via Oscar nominee Darius Khondji of Evita fame on his fourth Woody Allen picture) is highly welcome
• Those opening few seconds when the premise is laid out and Colin Firth in yellowface theatrical overkill all scream rich comic possibilities ahead...
• ...but, um, where are the jokes?
• Are there any jokes in this trailer or did I just miss them from not laughing?
• You guys. How to put this? I love period spiritualism in movies -- seances, charlatans, psychics, and magicians -- EXCEPT WHEN WOODY DOES IT. I think this not-quite trope but recurring screenplay toy of his results in some of his worst films: At various times the trailer recalls You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger (I'd rather not), The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (curse is right!) and Scoop (the least of the offenders but still so unsubstantial).
• At first glance this movie seems like it might vaporize into thin air... to never be thought of again
• As per usual Woody has no trouble snagging stars for his projects though I continue to wish he'd stick to a common group like he used to because the concept of a theatrical troupe of players who directors shuffle into new roles is so wonderful. For what it's worth, Emma Stone will be back for a second round next year. (Cue: infinite pieces about how she's his new post-Scarlett muse -- ugh. I say you have to get at least 3 pictures behind you, or 2 masterpieces, before you can qualify as such). Though I loved Emma at first (she's so superlative in Easy A) her career since has been shockingly lackluster as if she's modelling it on Scarlett Johansson or Rachel McAdams after their initial breakthroughs... though sometimes it does take time for actors to find their place in the scheme of things. I'm surprised to find myself more interested in how well Colin Firth does here, since he does period well and he's an atypical choice for the Woody surrogate in that he has such effortless leading man charm and rarely seems like the "anxious" type.
• That final exchange in the observation booth where the night sky is either "menacing" (him) or "romantic" (her) also screams rich possibilities...
...though this trailer neither sells me on any sort of (fraudulent) menace or (transcendent) romance. So I'm torn.
I'm a 'maybe so' though it's a Woody Allen so I'll see it. I'm a completist, which causes me no end of suffering (see also: To Rome With Love). Are you a Yes a No or a Maybe So?