The Prestige, Christopher Nolan (2006)

Speaking of Ricky Jay and David Mamet. Jay appears in the first scene of this Edwardian costume drama about two rival magicians determined to destroy each other. The plot’s a bit of a muddle, since it insists on SURPRISING! us with SUDDEN UNEXPECTED REVERSALS! about every ten minutes. Nolan could have a learned a few things about the satisfactions of the long con from Mamet’s seminal House of Games or Things Change. When the long con here is finally revealed–actually long cons, plural–it’s fun, but so baroque you’re more like, “hmpf” than “holy cow.” David Bowie is terrific, really terrific as Nikolai Tesla, the tragic father of electricity. (Thanks to Dan for that link.) And Scarlett Johansson is awful but who cares.

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