A touch of magic, part 2

At the Magic In The Moonlight after party with Jacki Weaver, Danny Strong, Alex Karpovsky, Dana Delany and Mia Moretti.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Colin Firth talking to Christine Baranski with Jacki Weaver at Harlow: "They were originals from the 1920s that were sourced in Paris."
Colin Firth talking to Christine Baranski with Jacki Weaver at Harlow: "They were originals from the 1920s that were sourced in Paris." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

In part 2 of the Magic In The Moonlight world premiere at the Harlow after party, hosted by Sony Pictures Classics and Dolce & Gabbana, Jacki Weaver talks costumes, Lee Daniel's The Butler screenwriter Danny Strong makes a life after death connection, filmmaker/actor Alex Karpovsky tells us how much Woody Allen means to him along with the Coen brothers. Dana Delany, having also been at the Tribeca Grand Hotel premiere for Michel Gondry's Mood Indigo the evening before, points out the very different ways the two directors handle their references to Sartre and Nietzsche and Mia Moretti says what she loved about Emma Stone's performance and Aunt Vanessa's (Eileen Atkins) outfit.

Mia Moretti in Dolce & Gabbana at the Magic In The Moonlight Harlow after party on the outfits: "The men could dress like this today and you wouldn't even notice."
Mia Moretti in Dolce & Gabbana at the Magic In The Moonlight Harlow after party on the outfits: "The men could dress like this today and you wouldn't even notice." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Jacki Weaver plays Grace, impressionable matriarch who hired Sophie (Emma Stone) to make contact with her dead husband to inquire about his fidelity, looking as different from her Silver Linings Playbook character as it gets.

Anne-Katrin Titze: How did the costumes aide your performance?

Jacki Weaver: Well, costumes always help a performance, especially when they're gorgeous. They were originals from the 1920s that were sourced in Paris. So they were totally authentic. That really helped.

Emma Stone's Dolce & Gabbana dress for the premiere had an enchanting owl pattern, while Mia Moretti's featured the Acropolis. Perhaps the German proverb of "taking owls to Athens" inspired the dress selection for that evening from Dolce & Gabbana's fantastic fall/winter 2014-2015 collection.

Moretti with spectacular buttons on her shoulders, told me how much she liked that Stone talked like a modern girl in a movie that takes place in the Twenties.

Anne-Katrin Titze: Was there a costume you particularly liked?

Mia Moretti: I loved what the aunt (Eileen Atkins) was wearing when she comes out of the hospital.

AKT: Often in period pieces of that time, the men's clothes look better than the women's. In this case, I really loved many of the women's clothes. You could see they were authentic.

MM: Yes. The men could dress like this today and you wouldn't even notice. With the exception of the swimwear!

The ludicrous and ultimately futile lure of a belief in the "power of prayer" links Stanley (Colin Firth) to the character Allen played in Hannah And Her Sisters (1986) who samples a few religions in his quest for the meaning of life. If second sight turns out to be real, and more than a magic trick, does that mean God exists?

Oliver Stone at the Magic In The Moonlight Harlow after party
Oliver Stone at the Magic In The Moonlight Harlow after party Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Danny Strong, who wrote the script for Lee Daniels' The Butler was also enjoying the after party and told me about his reaction to Magic In The Moonlight.

Anne-Katrin Titze: As a screenwriter, what did you think of the story?

Danny Strong: It felt like there was an exploration of, is there a God? Is there an afterlife? And if there isn't, then you've got to live as fully as you can while you're here.

AKT: Embrace as much beauty as you can?

DS: Embrace as much beauty and as much love as you can before you die. Just in case there isn't anything after.

AKT: I felt that in this film he was going for everything he loves. The 1920s, the songs, Cole Porter, magic tricks.

DS: It's such a romantic charming film and it was shot, with the production design (by Anne Seibel) and the costume design (by Sonia Grande) so dripping with that era, with so much love and passion.

Alex Karpovsky was equally impressed with Woody Allen's latest.

Woody Allen draws a crowd at his Magic in The Moonlight world premiere with Anna Wintour on the move
Woody Allen draws a crowd at his Magic in The Moonlight world premiere with Anna Wintour on the move Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Anne-Katrin Titze: What did you think?

Alex Karpovsky: I enjoyed the movie a lot.

AKT: Do you remember the first Woody Allen movie you saw?

AK: It was probably Bananas? I think that was my first Woody Allen movie. He is one of my biggest influences. He and the Coen brothers are probably my biggest influences in terms of the movies that I make myself.

AKT: How so?

AK: He specifically has the navel gazing in his own way. You know, the neurotic, really funny, really perceptive guy. In his early films especially he played a caricature version of his own self. That's something that I also do in my own movies. It's something that excites me.

AKT: It's something that the Coen brothers don't do.

AK: It's something that the Coen brothers don't do. My movies are nothing like the Coen brothers' movies but I'm a big fan of the very specific and unique sensibility that they created.

Fed Up's Katie Couric on the Magic In The Moonlight red carpet at The Paris Theatre
Fed Up's Katie Couric on the Magic In The Moonlight red carpet at The Paris Theatre Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: Woody Allen surprises me every time. It's never predictable what kind of film follows the previous one.

AK: There's something unpredictable. I think he's an incredible actor. I miss him as an actor. We haven't seen him in a long time in his own movies.

AKT: Do you think Simon McBurney [who plays Stanley's magician pal Howard Burkan] was playing him in this one? Or Colin Firth?

Grace (Weaver) doesn't seem to mind that her son Brice (Hamish Linklater) wants to marry the charming clairvoyant. Sprinkled throughout the movie, Linklater gets to croon 1920s love songs (Thou swell! Thou witty! Thou sweet! Thou grand! Wouldst kiss me pretty? Wouldst hold my hand?) to his flame with the verve resembling Peter Lawford's second fiddle charms in Easter Parade while competing with Fred Astaire for Judy Garland.

AK: It could have been Colin. It could have been Hamish. It's hard to say. It's an interesting question because when you don't see him in a movie you start wondering which actors are filling his shoes, or which constellation of actors. He's very specific as an actor and no one could really duplicate him. I miss that and I would love to see that one more time.

AKT: What is your relationship to magic?

Dana Delany at the Magic In The Moonlight Harlow after party: "Mood Indigo has Sartre and Magic in the Moonlight has Nietzsche."
Dana Delany at the Magic In The Moonlight Harlow after party: "Mood Indigo has Sartre and Magic in the Moonlight has Nietzsche." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AK: This probably makes no sense, but I'm a believer with no experiences. Most people are believers because of something that happened to them and that's really changed their mind or forged that sort of faith. I've never had an experience but I do believe. I can't tell you why. I'd sound silly if I tried to explain it.

AKT: Is it up and coming? Are you waiting for the magic to show itself?

AK: I believe in the limitations of reason, the limitations of science, the limitations of almost anything that's man-made or even man-explored. I feel like there are things outside those parameters and if you want to call that magic or spirituality, or God, or whatever, I don't care what label you put on it. I do think there's something beyond the paradigm of science that is real.

AKT: It's funny how Woody Allen in this movie is exploring this. He seems to be trying with a belief in magic tricks to prove God.

AK: It's very ambitious. Without giving anything away, the end of the movie makes it clear that his prevailing world view is still very much intact.

Christina Hendricks with Dolce & Gabbana's Federica Marchionni at the Magic In The Moonlight Harlow after party
Christina Hendricks with Dolce & Gabbana's Federica Marchionni at the Magic In The Moonlight Harlow after party Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Firth's irascible illusionist Stanley talks about "Mr. Nietzsche" while he and Emma Stone's deceptively wide-eyed Sophie ride around the South of France in gorgeous cars, stop for local peaches on the roadside, and are stranded because of a thunderstorm in a magnificent deserted celestial observatory. He is a sealed vessel, she challenges his world view more than she sparks his desire.

Anne-Katrin Titze: I saw you last night at the premiere for Michel Gondry's Mood Indigo. Do you see any common threads between the two films?

Dana Delany: They are very different movies. Maybe that they both take place in France?

AKT: Both films in their vastly different approach talk about the meaning of life.

DD: Mood Indigo has Sartre and Magic In The Moonlight has Nietzsche. I feel that Mood Indigo turns very dark and in the end embraces Existentialism. Woody Allen goes in the other direction.

In part 1, at the world première red carpet for Magic In The Moonlight at The Paris Theatre, Woody Allen talks about the influence of Houdini's circle of friends on him, Colin Firth acts surprised when he is asked about not singing, Emma Stone remarks on the costumes and Regis Philbin tells me why he is here.

Magic In The Moonlight opens in the US on July 25.

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