Movies: Magic in the Moonlight

In an interview, once, I was asked about how I manage stress at work. I replied with the first thought that came to mind: read, look at what to me are beautiful images, anything that has nothing to do with what I’m working on. I wanted to add, you know, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, 500px but seeing that my potential employer is a development organization, I decided not. Instead, I qualified my initial response to the panel in what I believe the interviewers liked to hear but which is at the same time truth for me:  the effect is as if I’ve taken a power nap to which they nodded in sober agreement as was expected.

I also wanted to add, movies but stopped myself in time recalling that the question had a qualifier, ‘at work’. Who watches movies at work? People at Google, perhaps, as part of it’s creative inducement process?

So anyway I watched a movie, recently, after office hours of course. It had been an exhausting week and I needed to take my mind off work if only for a couple of hours. Scanning the available titles I came to Magic in the Moonlight which I thought had a soothing ring to it and what’s more Woody Allen directed.

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The story is about a world-famous not-your-ordinary-typical magician Stanley (Colin Firth) because of his rationalist and scientific approach to magic and how he came to believe in, well, the magic in magic.  The catalyst came from a most unlikely quarter too– a young woman (Emma Stone) reputed to possess real magic, a clairvoyant.  Rational Stanley was convinced she is a fraud and was determined to expose her.

There are some quotable lines in the film, as during the confrontation between Sophie and Stanley. In that scene, Stanley had finally proved that Sophie was a fake although not for the reason he thought it was as her “debauchery” was in fact an elaborate plot to make fun of his rationality. Stanley accuses her of ruining his reputation (before this scene, he had gone to the press to say he had been wrong in his assumption of her hence she was authentic). Sophie counters that his reputation was all ego and despite what happened he was happy and learned to see the world as an optimist would. Stanley denies this saying all his optimism was an illusion. Sophie reminds him of what the author of the book he gave her to read wrote which is that “we need our illusions to live”. He means lies, Stanley informs her. But Sophie insists, you’re much happier when you let some lies into your life. Stanley is adamant and says, we can’t go right deluding ourselves. Sophie then quotes Nietschze, ‘but we must if we are to get through life’ and adds, in the end who knows what’s real and what’s not? When Stanley stands to leave, she asks if he won’t forgive her. Only God will forgive you, he responds. But you said you don’t believe in God, she reminds him. Precisely my point, he tells her.

The story took place in 1928 and filmed on location in idyllic Provence. Emma Stone as Sophie is very different here. And she’s dressed in gorgeous 20s costumes.

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The movie doesn’t require much mental engagement – what I needed – and except for the sarcastically funny lackluster opening scene where Stanley as the magician Wei Ling makes an elephant disappear and then himself,  the story is as believable as real life love stories.

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