I caught a couple of movies this past week or thereabouts, so I thought I’d quickly share my impressions of these silver screen wonders with you, my flick-catching public. Up to bat for this pick-up game are Little Miss Sunshine (starring Steve Carell of 40-Year-Old Virgin and The Office fame) and The Illusionist (starring Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, and Paul Giamatti).

Little Miss Sunshine
is a strange indie flick that follows a young girl as she embarks on a journey to win a national beauty pageant, appropriately named Little Miss Sunshine. While that may not sound very appealing to the vast majority of people out there, the dark humour and quirky events along the way make this well worth the price of admission. Steve Carell is great as Frank Hoover, a renowned Proust scholar and a recent suicide survivor. Abigail Breslin is unforgettable as little Olive Hoover, Frank’s niece and Little Miss Sunshine contestant. While primarily a comedy, there are a few darker moments and lines where some may be disturbed.
Grade: A-

The Illusionist takes place in turn of the century Vienna where Eisenheim the Illusionist (played by Edward Norton) earns himself quite the name as an extraordinary magician (some even call him a wizard with supernatural powers). He can “speed up time” and grow an orange tree in mere seconds, turn his gloves into crows, and make a sword stand on end. Naturally, there is some conflict, of course, when he discovers that his childhood sweetheart is destined to marry an evil Crown Prince. I found this movie to be a little too formulaic, far too predictable, and a little lacking in proper storytelling. This is not to fault the acting of Mr. Norton or Mr. Giamatti (the latter of which plays a chief inspector), but I was hoping for more. Sure, the special effects are pretty spiffy, but nothing extraordinary. It just wasn’t enough.
Grade: C+.