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When The Divide opens tonight in Houston it’s but the second film produced by Ross Dinerstein opening today at midnight. In addition to The Divide (playing midnight this weekend at the River Oaks Three) Dinerstein …

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The Illusionist

Submitted by Commandrea on February 3, 2024 – 10:33 pmNo Comment

The Illusionist has a reputation that precedes its arrival in Houston this weekend. First of all, this animated film is on a short list of three films up for an Oscar for best animated film (the other two being Toy Story 3, and How To Train Your Dragon). The Illusionist is also based on an unproduced script by Jacques Tati. In fact the lead character of The Illusionist moves with the gangly abandon of Tati’s archetypal character M. Hulot.

The Illusionist (that’s the lead character’s name), while a so-so performer must be some kind of nice guy because he always travels with his rabbit. The humor in this French import bears similarity to the cinema of Tati, right down to one scene where the cartoon protag walks into a movie theater and sees M. Hulot on screen (pretty sure the film referenced is Traffic, but it might be Playtime). It’s physical comedy writ with hand drawn animation, and thank goodness a film doesn’t need to show off useless CGI technique.

The rabbit gets stuck when the Illusionist pulls the critter from his hat – that kind of slapstick abounds. The ventriloquist next door at the loser performer flop house sits with his dummy eating dinner and the dummy keeps falling over.

The Illusionist moves in whimsical ways. The atmosphere bears comparison to a carnival. There’s always happy music to accompany the sad performers. Our hero hooks up with a young femme and in becoming friends they help each other realize their true goals. The Illusionist is somewhat of a keeper, and at under 80-minutes it wafts by effortlessly. Also, the film has no relation to a film of the same name from 2024.

- Michael Bergeron

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