“Hotshots” looks at a movie!

Magic in the Moonlight - Movie PosterMAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT is Woody Allen’s latest film, and it has been getting moderately mixed reviews.

Some reviewers generally liked it, some generally disliked it, but I liked it a lot.

It is a romantic comedy, but it contains more romance than comedy.

And if you believe that Allen has his ups and downs in the movies he makes, I believe this film is one of his ups.

It begins in 1928 in Berlin, and we see the stage act of a renowned Chinese magician named Wei Ling Soo, who is actually an Englishman, Stanley Crawford, played by Colin Firth and wearing elaborate Chinese stage makeup and clothing.

The magician makes a live elephant on stage disappear, he cuts a woman assistant in half and proves that her body is in two parts, and he himself disappears inside a box and suddenly reappears onstage sitting in a chair that he swivels around, which will be used again later in the story to a nice effect.

Stanley brags that he invented that last trick himself, and Stanley is a suffering, egotistical, obnoxious person in real life who ridicules anyone who claims to have psychic powers.

When Stanley is told about a young pretty woman who holds seances and makes contact with the dead, he says, “A pretty face never hurt a cheap swindler.”

Stanley is told about Sophie Baker, an American played by Emma Stone, by Howard Burkan, a childhood friend of Stanley’s and also a magician, although not as successful as Stanley is.

Howard says that he can’t spot any trickery in Sophie’s claims, and he invites Stanley to accompany him to the south of France, where Howard believes Sophie will be trying to fleece a rich widow out of a lot of money.

Of course, Stanley jumps at the chance to expose another public phony, and he goes to France using an assumed name to do so.

However, while Sophie conducts a seance and establishes contact with the wealthy widow’s dead husband, neither he nor Howard can find any evidence to expose Sophie.

And when Sophie tells Stanley about things in his life that she could never have guessed, he starts to believe in her powers and to fall in love with her.

MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT might have you believing in the magic of love.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”