Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Magician

Today was a half day for me - only at work until midday when the mailbags are tied up and I take 'em downstairs then bam I'm outta there. Did I subsequently take myself off to see a movie? You bet I did, and that movie was called The Magician.
I hadn't heard much at all about this one, only that it was Australian and it was about a hitman, and that it was supposed to be a good bad guy movie, not a lame one like so many of them are. Thank you Quentin Tarantino, you certainly have a lot to answer for, mister.
Filmed in Melbourne, the second best city in Australia, The Magician is about a hitman, Ray. The unique aspect here is that it's shot like a documentary. A guy called Max is making a documentary of Ray as he goes about his hitman life. Maybe Scott Ryan, the guy who wrote and directed this movie (and also plays Ray) was inspired by the Belgian movie Man Bites Dog, where two film students make a doco about a serial killer, following him around as he goes about his serial killer life.
OK, so here we have Ray, and he is a hitman. His job seems to be to kill people who for whatever reason refuse to pay other people the money they owe. He is a *toecutter*, like Chopper. And in the same way that Chopper only hurt or killed criminals, so does Ray, which makes us law-abiding citizens not feel so bad about liking them, and yes Ray is a very likeable character the same way that Chopper was, or is. What Ray (and Chopper) does is not very nice that's for sure, but those people are criminals, it seems as though they are destined for a violent end sooner or later anyway, so what does it matter who brings that about? And isn't it even better if that *punisher* is a likeable fellow, with a good sense of humour? You see, these toecutters are not like serial killers at all, who go after regular citizens. Although I have to admit the serial killer in Man Bites Dog was somewhat funny and likeable, so yes it does get tricky, not all cut and dried, so to speak. But is it really so hard to believe a monster could have some good points? We don't want to think it's possible, do we?
Anyway, in The Magician, as Max goes around with Ray and observes and comments on and asks questions about his hitman life, a sort of friendship develops between them. They have a lot of laughs amid the carnage, like when Max asks Ray if he has ever been to Mardi Gras. Ray says no he has never, what does Max think he is, a poof? So Max wants to know if Ray has anything against homosexuals. No, not really, he says, whatever blows your whistle. Then Max admits he wouldn't mind going to Mardi Gras and Ray says well maybe they can go together. A funny scene.
With the scenario of this Max guy making his doco about Ray, a hitman, it's natural to wonder throughout the movie what the hell is going to happen to Max. It seems like a dangerous thing to do. Then again Max is not a criminal and doesn't owe anybody any money so he might be safe. But is Ray really gonna let Max get away with this incriminating footage? Well, one of the coolest things about the movie is how this *doco* eventually made it out to an audience.
Even though it's school holidays here and the movie houses are packed, I was pretty sure that the theatre for this one would not be, and I was right. There were no more than a dozen of us in there, and the funny thing was there were even less people in the audience when the movie ended than there were when it began. You see, after about fifteen minutes, two women in front of me got up and walked out. No doubt it was a bit grim for them. However they should have stuck around because the humour in the movie is excellent, the performances were exceptional, and the relationship between Ray and Max is something else. Movie magic!
I'll advise you to see this one if (or when) you can, it was awesome.

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