Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I saw The Illusionist a couple days ago and just finished watching Spike Lee’s Inside Man. It didn’t occur to me going into it, but at some point I realized that the films are very much alike.

Oh, I know, every single plot detail is different, but in the end they are both about illusions and almost every scene is in some way illusionary.

They have other things in common as well. The production values and camera work are excellent. The acting and direction are top-notch. Both movies are able to pull off both the little illusions and the grand finale on first viewing.

The big difference is that all of the illusions in Inside Man stand up to further scrutiny. Once the illusions are revealed, all the plot elements and characters’ actions make sense.

Whereas with the The Illusionist, when the movie is over and you think about it, you quickly realize that it was a bunch of bunk. The characters’ actions moved the story along and provided drama, but ultimately made no sense whatsoever.

They are both enjoyable movies while you’re watching them, but Inside Man has substance and will stay around. The Illusionist, on the other hand, is no more substantial than a CGI generated ghost walking around 19th century Vienna.

Sorry if I seem too harsh. There’s a lot to be said for a very well-produced movie that is enjoyable to watch. I recommend seeing it, by all means. I’m just disappointed because one of its illusions was that it might be high art, but it turned out to be nothing more than good entertainment.

And I’m not saying that Inside Man was high art. It too was good entertainment, ultimately better entertainment, and perhaps it did manage a few moments that transcended the genre.