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Magic in the Moonlight
Emma Stone came on the scene a few years ago, a modern comic actress with a classic appeal. Her performance in Easy A, a fun, breezy tribute to ’80s brat-pack films like The Breakfast Club and Say Anything, showed her to be a very assured screwball-type lead, but then for some reason she took an immediate turn into more serious work—with mixed results. Now she’s back in her sweet spot in Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight, a period piece about spiritualism and its skeptics. Stone plays Sophie, a young woman who has wormed her way into the affections of a wealthy family by virtue of her cheerful attitude, her cute looks, and her supposed psychic powers. Colin Firth plays Stanley, a man who has made his name as a debunker of spiritualism, who comes to the wealthy family’s estate in the south of France in order to uncover Sophie’s tricks. Soon, though, Stanley finds himself becoming convinced that Sophie is, in fact, legit. After last year’s celebrated hit Blue Jasmine, which dealt with the problems of working-class characters, Magic in the Moonlight appears to be a return to Woody Allen’s usual preoccupations with the financially elite and their self-made turmoil.
And So It Goes
Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton star in Rob Reiner’s latest film And So It Goes. Anyone who has read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five will inevitably associate this new movie’s title with death, but it’s clear that this is not what is intended, despite the advanced ages of the leading man and woman. Here it is not so much the fatalistic “so goes all flesh” as it is the “so goes life.” And So It Goes seems meant to be yet another Hollywood rewrite of the Ebenezer Scrooge story, where a greedy and loveless old man—here a real estate mogul named Oren, played by Douglas—is transformed into a giving and loving man by some awakening of his conscience. In this case, the awakening is precipitated by the unexpected arrival of a 10-year-old granddaughter Oren didn’t know he had, and whom he initially tries to palm off on his neighbor Leah, played by Diane Keaton. But he finds himself unable to completely forsake his sweet granddaughter, and increasingly unable to forsake the sweet Leah either. No word on how many sizes Oren’s heart grows at the end.
Very Good Girls
What would summer be without a titillating teen sex drama? Starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen, Very Good Girls is a story of two girls about to go off to college who make a pact to “lose it” before the end of summer. Warning: this is not played for laughs. Chick flick alert!