Survive This Shit: “Magic Magic” (2013)

This is what Juno Temple‘s Repulsion looks like. It is an anus.

There’s no cramped apartment, but there’s a moldy pueblo in Chile, instead of trauma flashbacks we’ve got intense animal noises underscored by incessant ambient bologna, and a “twist” ending that must be seen to be COMPLETELY UNBELIEVED.

Also: endure great unease due to inventive direction, see Michael Cera successfully play against type and Catalina Sandino Moreno (a.k.a. Maria Full of Drugs) play an enormous bitch, discover psychosexual situations galore and laugh MANY times at unintentionally hilarious, gratuitous shock.

It is both wonderful and terrible. There’s a lot to love in Magic Magic (from out director Sebastian Silva) and a lot to hate, like all treasures. You’ll dislike it “as a movie” because of all its pieces that fumble about, but know that this is an EXPERIENCE. As only fitting for a journey, here is your GUIDE.
And yes…

You should GO, GO, GO, GO WATCH MAGIC MAGIC RIGHT NOW ON VOD (i.e. Amazon) AND THEN REPORT BACK HERE AND HEED OUR WORDS.

AHEAD SPOILERS AHEAD SPOILERS AHEAD SPOILERS AHEAD SPOILERS

“GUESS WHO” IS PLAYED IN THIS MOVIE AND NO THIS IS NOT 1987

For those who haven’t seen but choose to read ahead: It’s a thriller-horror-psychosexual downfall set “in a little village” at the home of Augustin, his asshole sister Barbara, and their sociopath friend Brink. Augustin’s girlfriend Sarah comes to hang out, bringing her anxious American friend Alicia — our hero. We see all the fucked up shit through Alicia’s POV.

Essentially it’s a hodge-podge of upsets and a girl’s inability to understand it. So, it is A FEAST.

FIRST: THE BAD SHIT YOU HAVE TO ENDURE.

A SNAIL’S PACE.

Come ooonnnnnn….! Come on come on come on. Shave off the birdhunts, repetitive insomnia, dogs that hump or attack Juno, overlong breakfast scenes (do we really need to watch everyone amble their way to the table?) and GET TO THE MEAT OF THE FILM.

SO MUCH SLOW IMAGERY THAT IS NEITHER USEFUL NOR SYMBOLIC.

In conjunction with the snail’s pace. You could NOT have more shots of immobile sheep. Vague horizons and swirling clouds may painfully remind you of The Happening very early on. What’s insanely fun about downspiral-paranoia psychological thrillers are the A/V mind tricks that writers and directors occasionally pepper in to make us feel as insane as our hero (think Exorcist‘s devil face or Black Swan‘s everything). But, I mean, there is a LIMIT. I am not threatened by images of unattended horses or swaying weeds.

“THERE IS NO CELL RECEPTION HERE.”

Said, to camera, by Maria Full of Drugs. Thank you, Maria Full of Drugs.

Browning’s kitty tongue.

EMILY BROWNING.

EEEEE! This little tapeworm. We love her, but she’s used so poorly here as a convenient friend who at times is dependable but at (most) other times is an enemy/cunt. It’s confusing how to feel about her. The performance just comes across as lazy. It’s as if she was on set for four days, half-heartedly did whatever Silva said, and peaced.

Her worst: The Uninvited, an embarrassing American remake of A Tale of Two Sisters that pits her against the hysterically miscast Elizabeth Banks who is, literally, a pearls-clutching villain!
Her best: Series of Unfortunate Events, our favorite early post-Y2K studio-horror turds Ghost Ship and Darkness Falls, and lest we forget her compelling role of BABYDOLL in SUCKER PUNCH?

EMILY BROWNING LEAVES CHILE FOR 2 DAYS FOR AN UNRELATED ABORTION.

Did it hurt? It was my baby, too!

THE ENTIRE ENDING.

How dare they! We spend one-hundred minutes watching the highs and lows of privileged blonde vacation life with exciting hints at terror to come, only to be treated to, in our slack-jawed upset, PEOPLE IN (KINDA RACIST) TRIBAL GARB inexplicably chanting VOODOO and shaking tamborines around a SUDDENLY DYING JUNO over a FIREPIT (!) while the other young castmembers sob in confusion and say “what’s going on”? Nauseating, to say the least. It was so sudden and unintentionally hilarious like entirety of Nicolas Cage’s Wicker Man.

Sippy cup full of anti-possession liquid.

BUT THEN: THE TRULY GREAT.

JUNO (NOTES ON A SCANDALOUS) TEMPLE.

I’ll just get this out of the way before I explode. Selina Kyle’s butch sidekick, the one in the Artful Dodger rags, excels here. Impishness, naive courtesy, and realistic and irrepressible anxiety ALL in the same beat. You believe she’s a sheltered victim-pixie who can’t help but cry after not sleeping for twenty-four hours, and feel terrible that you sympathize with this creature. It’s lovely.

MICHAEL CERA.

Not only does he make a convincing sociopath, but he is intentionally hysterical. His emotional outbursts are disgusting and great, and he wears Christmas sweaters AND a giant fur. He is a genuine, annoying person you’ve met or worked with or been forced to socialize with. If this movie wasn’t kinda forgettable, his performance would be squawked about by all the usual fags.

CATALINA SANDINO MORENO FINALLY PLAYING A BITCH!

You can only pretend to watch Fast Food Nation so many times before you start asking, can she be cast in any role other than a crying young mother or something? And here, SHE DOES. And she is a SCENE-CHEWER. Her character, “BARBARA,” is always vaguely “studying.” Also, at one point she calls Juno a “gringa.”

THE DIRECTOR’S BROTHER, ACTOR AUGUSTIN SILVA.

He serves three purposes and three purposes only – tall, olive, bearded. His beady eyes convey a broken past and a mumblecore future. And a heavy penis.

HIS HEALTHY MORNING TALLYWACKER.

Exhibit Boner:

JUNO’S FUCKING RIDICULOUS SEXY TRANCE-DANCE NUMBER!

Set to The Knife’s “Pass This On.”


MUSIC, CINEMATOGRAPHY, SOUND DESIGN, AND TANTALIZING OPENING CREDITS.

As awful as the hazy-cloudy-Happening shots are, the original score is melodic and hypnotic. That is, for the first two minutes, before it fades into ambient sludge. The sound design is excellent too, as specific as the scratching of Juno’s cheek against her skritchy skratchy wool sweater, onto which she cries and snots. The D.P. Christopher Doyle treats our eyeballs pleasantly.

AND WHY THIS VIEWING IS A GOOD CHOICE:



IN CONCLUSION.

I mean, really. What makes a “bad” movie? This is one in which Juno Temple rubs her pussy on Michael Cera’s face while he is sleeping. It is also somehow produced by Mike White. Aside from shit we have to wade through, it is entertaining and the smallest bit worthy. SEE IT.

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About Ross

Ross studied film at Emerson while working for indie producers, and he critiques shit from a queer POV here and @GingerBredhaus. He also produced 2015 gay horror slasher comedy YOU'RE KILLING ME and creates immersive theater in NYC.