A mockumentary that follows Ray Shoesmith, a Melbourne hitman who is simultaneously ruthless and caring, likeable and volatile. 'Filmed' by his media student neighbour for a university ...
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A mockumentary that follows Ray Shoesmith, a Melbourne hitman who is simultaneously ruthless and caring, likeable and volatile. 'Filmed' by his media student neighbour for a university assignment, Ray is under contract to kill a low life of the Melbourne underworld when a more tempting offer is made...Written by
Scott Ryan has fashioned a spectacular debut film on literally the sniff of a wet rag. The Magician displays a level of ingenuity and confidence rarely seen in the Australian film industry. This film certainly makes a mockery of all the crud that has been churned out lately with significant AFC funding.
The Magician is a very funny mockumentary about a hit-man, Ray. The film is really nothing more than a series of vignettes which show Ray carrying out his occupation and chatting with the documentary filmmaker, Max. This film really should have been an exercise in boredom. However, The Magician manages to be one of the most entertaining Australian films to see the light of day in a long time, almost entirely due to the efforts of writer/director/actor Scott Ryan. Scott Ryan is mesmerising as Ray. This character manages to be abhorrent, hilarious and strangely moral without ever slipping into parody. As well as making a convincing hit-man, Ray is also the perfect mouthpiece for Ryan's witty jabs at everything from the legalisation of drugs, to the prevalence of gays in Hollywood.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the film for me is that it is so Australian-centric, for want of a better word. This film isn't trying to imitate Tarantino (like ever other debut film featuring a gun fight), nor is it making a desperate grab for international attention, like most of the dreary "quirky" (i.e. crap) comedies receiving funding from the government. The result is a highly distinctive film that feels completely original.
There are a couple of minor problems with the film that most likely stem from the tiny budget. With the exception of Scott Ryan's fine performance, and perhaps Ben Walker's engaging turn as Tony, the other actors are clearly amateurs. The character of Max is also somewhat perplexing. There is no explanation for his rather amoral and perversely non-judgemental approach to documentary film-making. The extensive use of Max's hand-held camera is also somewhat disorientating to begin with. My biggest complaint would have to be the film's ending, which seems forced and came around much too quickly.
I'm glad that films like The Magician can still get made in this country and I hope that it works as a calling card for the outrageously talented Scott Ryan. I'm really perplexed why it (or "Wolf Creek" for that matter) didn't win a swag of AFI awards. I guess that both films made the mistake of actually being entertaining.
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