There's a reason why New York Times film critic A.O. Scott made Jezebel's Hot 100. His criticism is consistently insightful, humorous and justifiably biting (like when he reviewed Adam Sandler's latest comedy with a succinct "It will make your children stupid"). The latest target for his ire: Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight.
Of the film, in which a magician who goes by the uncomfortable stage name Wei Ling Soo (Colin Firth) becomes enchanted by the young clairvoyant (Emma Stone) whom he's trying to expose as a fraud, Scott writes:
On one side is the belief in some kind of unseen, metaphysical force governing the universe; on the other is the certainty, shared by the director, that no such thing exists. Not incidentally — and not for the first time in Mr. Allen's oeuvre — the opposed positions are advanced by a dyspeptic middle-aged intellectual and a much younger, relatively untutored woman.
It gets better.
[Firth] has a briefly seen, occasionally mentioned fiancée named Olivia (Catherine McCormack), who is a fellow skeptic and an intellectual peer, meaning that she has no chance with him.
Even if it were possible to watch this movie without thinking about Mr. Allen's personal life — or to avoid arguments afterward about whether he is a creep, a monster or a misunderstood artist whose behavior has no bearing on his work — it would be hard to miss the complacency at its heart and the purely mechanical expediency of its execution.
Like Wei Ling Soo's rapt fans, Mr. Allen's (perhaps to our shame) want to be fooled, misdirected, at least momentarily distracted from uncomfortable truths. When the trick fails to work, or we see through it too easily, we can't help feeling that our time has been wasted, our attention trifled with and our good faith insulted.
Just go read the whole thing.