The Magician – Movie Review

The Aussie New Wave sends out a very indie understated crime thriller.

“The Magician,” the only traceable effort by the budding filmmaker Scott Ryan has elements of several different genres: horror thriller, take-your-kid-to-the office and true crime. The entire film is accomplished professional killer Ray Shoesmith (Ryan) driving around doing what he does best, “sorting people out.”

With him is his friend and neighbor Max Totti (Massimiliano Andrighetto) who is handling the camera and providing some guidance over young Shoesmith who tends to use too much, well, murder, in accomplishing his daily chores, and has to pulled into line occasionally.

Max is making a film of the killer Shoesmith. The agreement is that max gets to make the film of a lifetime, showing real killings taking place and Shoesmith gets to show the world what he is really like; which is not a bad guy, really, once you get to know him. The deal further holds that the film will not be released until after Shoesmith’s death, for obvious reasons. Mainly, if the film is released Shoesmith goes to jail for several lifetimes.

Max, it is assumed, gets off free because his face never shows during the entire film. It is never explained how Max will explain releasing the film, after the killer’s death. Will he say the dog dragged it home? He found it under a rock? Will the police put the voice of the film narrator together with the guy who released the film? OK, probably not. Unless it’s the US FBI, then definitely not.

This is just one aspects of one of the finest, purest and darkest of dark comedies to have come out of the indie woodwork in a long time. According to writer/director and lead actor Ryan, the entire shebang was filmed in ten days on a self raised AU$3000.

Watch the film and you will believe. Of course, the film also is reported to have picked up a nifty $400,000 from the Australian Film Finance system for its completion, which is pretty strange all by itself considering it doesn’t seem to have taken much finishing at all, unless it was lab time.

In any event, the film is great. The first, last and only thing anybody seems to be able to locate by Mr. Ryan, a man who never came in from the cold it seems. Or maybe he took the $400K and ran off into the sunset, leaving the ultra Indie footage to its fate.

The screenplay is almost entirely interview-type footage of assassin Shoesmith with cameraman Max. The topics range from cheeseburgers to children to army life to male undressing as the amateur Max attempts to put together a saleable documentary while his subject is executing a string of capitol crimes from kidnapping to murder.

There appears to be an influence here from the memorable relationship between Vincent Vega Jules Winnfield in the indie monolith “Pulp Fiction.” Now that is one very good burger, but we really should have shotguns for a job like this…

As the two drive around there is sudden brutal mayhem mixed with a softer touch that gets the money back without too much bloodshed. But in most cases, the magician does his magic, turning people with money problems into missing persons who do not attract too much attention from the local constabulary.

The personality of the killer slowly emerges from hiding as the filmmaker is drawn further and further into the life of a professional murderer.

In the end, we are told, the killer was shot, we assume in the line of duty. This is hardly a spoiler, since the deal was that the film would only be released after his death, anyway. In fact, we are sort of sorry to see him go. But, as they say on Broadway, he had a good run while it lasted.

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Directed and Written by: Scott Ryan
Starring: Scott Ryan, Massimiliano Andrighetto (voice only)
Opens October 22, 2010
MPAA: Not Rated
Runtime: 85 minutes
Country: Australia
Language: English
Color: Color