Monday, April 02, 2007

Sidebar:

You know, it's hard to make myself displace a post that begins with a mayfly orgy, but I can't seem to stop plotting this post out in my head. Might as well get it out on paper, so to speak.

See, this weekend, Pesh came over and brought The Prestige.

Now, anything that has Michael Caine in it will get my notice. That man is...just...damn. My admiration runneth over, there. So it's already up one in my book. Add Hugh Jackman in period clothes and Christian Bale? Yeah. I'm watching that. It's just too fascinating a cast to pass up.

To Pesh's credit, she didn't give me any hints or lead me in any way as I watched. I spit out a few surmises as the film rolled, as she'd already seen it, but she didn't betray it in any way. Thus, I will try not to do so here. It will be tricky -- heh, no pun intended -- but I'll do my best.

My instinct, as I watched, was to root for Jackman's character, Angier. After all, he lost first. Some would say that he lost worst, too, but that depends on how you rate loss. Love...fingers...it's all relative. You can always love again, but you can also learn to work without those digits. Either way, you'll never be the same.

Which is the whole friggin point, I think.

It's not so much what you'll give up to feed your obsession as how that obsession changes you. How much you will allow yourself to change. And why your obsession takes you. I think those things are at the heart of this complexly time-lined flick.

Of course, what did we expect, coming from the same guy who directed Memento?

Jackman as Angier is...simply stunning. He gets to display a range of emotion and character arc that we've never seen before. Sure, he can do studly as Wolverine. Sure, he can do sensitive in Kate and Leopold. Yes, I've watched it. Shutcher yap. And sure, he can do smart-assed and a little dark, like in Swordfish.

But Angier is something else. He is everything, all the time.

And then there's Bale as Bolden. And Fallon. But that's another story. I didn't want to root for him. I didn't want to hate him, of course, but I didn't want to love him, either. His hard-hearted nature pissed me off. His nonchalant treatment of his wife on those occasions when she knew he was lying about loving her -- and oh, wasn't that a crucial hint! -- left me cold even as it made me smirk. But his obsession equalled Angiers, and I could argue that his ingenuity beat Angier's all to hell.

Angier may have been a better showman, but Bolden sure as hell managed to show him up at his own game. Oh, well played, old man!

In a way, this movie is like a series of hazardous pranks between the two. The traps they set for each other are childish, but the results therein are dangerous not only to them but to the audience. Broken fingers, missing fingers, a broken leg, being buried alive, and actual death...pssh. All in a day's work for these two. If their little games weren't so damn deadly, I'd say they declared April Fool's Day all year.

It's actually kinda funny. I spent a good chunk of the movie wondering who would do what to whom next. *grin* Then again, I'm sick like that.

But in the end, I admitted freely to Pesh that it was Mr. Caine's character, Cutter, that I was rooting for. The poor guy hadn't a clue what was going on, and I felt for him. I had a decent idea. The twist wasn't surprising so much as ghastly good fun. But I still felt for poor Cutter, who had somehow raised heathens from the gentle flock. He warned each about their obsessions, about going overboard in their need to best the other, but neither listened. He was a one-man Greek chorus.

And in a very large way, he was the only one to come out alive. Does that make sense?

It may not, even if you'd watched the flick. Heheh, which is why I enjoyed it so much.

Admittedly, it's not for everyone. There are slowish places -- though, omigod, was that David Bowie as Nikola Tesla?? -- and some of the time leaps give you pause. If you aren't paying attention, you'll get lost.

Luckily, I was spellbound, so that wasn't a problem for me. Fascinating cast, fascinating plot. Just fascinating. That one will be added to my collection, though it will require rearranging a whole shelf of DVDs.

*sigh*

I guess it's worth it, though. Did I manage to confuse the hell out of anyone? See how hard it is to talk about this movie with any sense without giving anything away?? It's like trying to explain a magic trick without telling how you did it!

Which is, of course, why it's called The Prestige. The whole movie is a magic trick. Heh, but it's up to you to decide which part of it is the prestige. I could tell you, but....

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