Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight (C-) is a very undernourished romantic comedy about a pompous magician rooted in realism (Colin Firth) endeavoring to out a skilled spiritual medium (Emma Stone) as a fraud while slowly surrendering to her charms. The film feels like a rushed first draft and a trifle of a notion with no standout performances. Squandering lovely settings in Germany and France and the goodwill of likable actors, the film is an unoriginal and labored dud. It’s not clear why Allen would care to share these characters or find them to advance his themes in any substantial way. The film falls into his category of lesser works.
Two reasons to see Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine (C): if you’re a completist of the idiosyncratic writer/director (I am) and to see Cate Blanchett’s layered performance as manic-depressive scorned wife of a Bernie Madoff type (Alec Baldwin). Given the critical adoration of this film, I’d swear there’s some pyramid scheme afoot investing richly in Manhattan’s maestro having a new classic on his hands. There are indeed a few nice moments, and it’s an often fascinating character sketch likely to lead Cate to awards acclaim; but in such a rich canon for Allen, this gloomy bloom isn’t loaded for much of a boom. I will be the first critic to award a “meh” to this summer sleeper.