Magic is directed by Richard Attenbough and stars that guy who played Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins. That’s all I knew about this psychological horror movie before my eyes did the watching. Let’s see what BEAR’s brain thinks of this film, in the form of another meandering review.
The movie opens with Corky, a magician who bombs in front of an audience at some club. He gets stressed-the-F-out ’cause no-one pays attention to his amazing card act. They all just act like he wasn’t there. I, a BEAR, understand that the audience doesn’t have to watch you if they’re not interested – you’re meant to be entertaining to them, so the blame could be that you’re act’s a bit shit, mate. Anyway… so he flips out like one of his cards in the magic tricks he performs does (if they were looking) and goes home to his manager, Ben, who is asking lots of questions about the gig, and can tell that the guy is blatantly bullshitting him, saying it went well when it obliviously didn’t. I think Ben even uses the word “bullshit” when halting the guy’s feeble papering over the cracks, at one point.
The next time he performed there his act is a complete success! He’s being scouted in the crowd by someone who gets him to bring his act to the TV screen. And you the reader may be asking, “How’s the audience loving his card tricks all of a sudden?” Well, it’s not just card tricks he’s doing now – he’s also got a ventriloquist act going on. And the star of the show isn’t him, but Fats, the rude-but-loveable dummy, whom sits upon his lap. They ate that shit up, y’all!
(Corky and Fats. N.B Corky is on the right. I thought I should just say that because they look so eerily similar, it’s like the maker of the dummy had seen Anthony Hopkins some place before, or perhaps channelled him [through a TV screen].)
Corky is happy (obviously) to accept the deal to be performing his act in a TV studio, but runs away when he’s told he has to take a test to see if he is mentally okay before they put him live on the air. “He must be hiding something,” I think to myself when watching at this point in the movie (in fact, I’d predicted the ending by now – I’m smarter than the average bear. Take that in the beehive and smoke it, Yogi!)
“He’s the villain! never forget that!” says Fats to Ben (Manager)
“Well, Ben did play The Penguin in the old Batman TV series.” Says I, a BEAR
Where does he runway to? Another country? To squat in some abandoned hostel? To hideout at bear’s cave accommodation? No. No. No. He goes to the place where he grew up in when he was a little sprout. The first thing bear noticed was the idyllic surroundings. I mean, I’m not even there, but I sure as hell would like to go fishing there (BEAR likes tranquillity, and could tell you that there are about enough fish for me to munch on in that big lake, for me to never go hungry again. Teach a BEAR to fish with his BEAR paws, and so doe thy bear never starve – a parable from the BEARble? Ok so why would he go back to this place, apart from the fact he grew up there, and that it’s got a placidity and beauty encapsulate within it? Maybe, just maybe, it’s because his childhood-unrequited-love is still there. Her name is Peggy Ann, and they went to school together way back when. He thinks he has a chance doesn’t he? Wrong! He’s immediately cockblocked by her husband, Duke. Duke went to school with Corky as well, which adds salt to the wound/gets on his goat, etc. But he puts on the brave face and interacts with them, and entertains them a whole lot with that wooden-faced person he shoves his hand up of – Fats, the dummy.
Corky just can’t hold it together by this point, and this is when his manager (Ben, AKA The Penguin in Batman, AKA Mickey, Rocky Balboa’s boxing trainer) tracks him down and finds him in his cabin. He makes a deal with him: if he could go five minutes not being Fats’ voice, then he won’t have to see a psychiatrist. He tries to, but admits to him, “I can’t make it,” when only half way through the time. His manager leaves. Then the voice of Fats comes back into play, all guns blazing. Fats convinces Corky that he has to kill Ben, or else the game is up. And like an obedient little dog Ivan Pavlov would have been ecstatic by, he does; and throws Ben’s cadaver into the lake (weighing it down with something BEAR can’t remember). Later, Peggy Ann’s lover, Duke, is in a boat with Corky, and they fish on the lake. Duke reels in something heavy, and Corky starts to panic, making excuses to head back to the cabin. Luckily, it was just a boot; but then Duke spots a body on the bank. It’s Corky’s manager, Ben. Duke gets Corky to run back and call for help, thinking that he might still be alive. Duke then goes back to Corky’s room, where Corky stabs him through the curtains (he was hiding the whole time).
I’d like to mention that I found the finding of Ben’s body on the bank an unconvincing scene, in a film which I would still rate rather higher, regardless. When Duke checks to see if Corky’s manager is still alive by checking his breathing and pulse, I can’t believe he thought that he may still be alive. All you have to do is look at the empty shell – he’s dead, Duke! Dead as the Dodo. Dead as a doorknob. Dead as…dead! I digress…
What could possibly happen after Ben has been killed by Corky, as well as the love obstacle to his sweetheart, Duke? Well, dur – he tries to get with her. Pretty logical when you think about it really. And at this point, she’s already made her mind up to be with Corky, which prompts him to ask her to leave the lake and live with him, some place else. The problem though is that she wants to say goodbye to Duke before going, which means she’s willing to wait around for Duke to come back from his ‘little fishing trip’. “I don’t think Duke’s gonna be coming back any time soon, dear – he dead,” BEAR snipes at the screen which moves like an unstable painting possessed by the underworld (TV?) Of course, they have to argue over this as Corky is anxious over the whole situation (well, he did throw his body in the lake, so…). She doesn’t want to see him any more, and retreats to her cabin, locking herself in her bedroom so Corky can’t get to her.
Corky, back in his own cabin, gets lectured by Fats the dummy, and this evolves into the definitive outcome that Corky must kill Peggy Ann. Fats persuades him it’s for his own good, but Corky, though a servant to Fats’ will, is fighting this voice with all the mental strength he can muster. Even so, it gets to the point where he returns to her cabin, and he is waiting outside her bedroom with a flick blade in his hand. Can you guess what’s happening here? If you haven’t noticed thus far, this film is messed up, but BEAR can’t help but be intrigued by such movies – I don’t know what it is exactly, but possibly it’s ’cause I can see that Corky is a broken soul from the get go, and so feel pity for him. Also, because I could see it all from the start, it becomes like a weird in-joke to myself. A joke with no laughter, nonetheless.
He tricks her into believing that he’s left her cabin, and she opens the door. As she does, he remains hidden behind the corner, as we see her pick up a carved wooden heart from the floor. The heart, is a representative of his own heart. Corky is metaphorically giving her his heart, and he feels there is a victory as she has accepted his heart.
He returns back to the cabin, and tells Fats that he couldn’t kill her–because, she accepted his heart–and instead, as he is aware how distorted his reality has become and how dangerous he is, he instead has stabbed himself. The interesting thing with this scene is that Fats thinks he’s dying too. Yes, Corky has an understanding that Fats is just a voice in his head he cannot control, but at the same time, Fats has a mind of his own. It’s like Corky has compartmentalised himself to the point they are two people, but he can still see they are one and the same – both parts of him. And so they wonder to each other who will slip away first, and the film ends there.
This film is an insightful look on the fragility of the human mind. How one person, because things don’t go their way, may react in varying degrees of aggressive behaviour, as exemplified in the first open mic scene in Magic, and with the killings of Corky’s manager, and Duke. All Corky really wants is to be accepted, to be loved, and he tries to achieve this by trying to entertain… because he knows if he shows his true self–the insanity behind the mask of the dummy–no-one would want to stay around. In a way, we are all like Corky: insecure, human. Yes, he’s a psycho, granted, but he essentially needs what everyone else wants: love, and acceptance. I’m over simplifying things here, but it’s apparent to me that Corky represents a broken individual so fixated on fame and adoration, that he doesn’t realises he’s on a downward spiral until it’s too late. I’m not saying his desperation for fame gave him his illness, he already had it – his pursuit for fame just exacerbated it and magnified it x1000. Corky’s self-defeating attitude towards rejection (or perceived rejection) from others is the unravelling of his illness .
In conclusion, Magic is a film I would definitely watch again, for it has moments of brilliance in it, and a gripping, engaging story to boot (even though BEAR sussed the end twist fairly early on. No, I’m not bragging, just stating the mere fact).
I reward Magic 8/10