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The Independent Critic

Joe Tyler Gold, Valerie Dillman, Jonathan Levit, Sascha Alexander
Joe Tyler Gold
Tammy Caplan, Joe Tyler Gold
86 Mins.
Gold Cap Films

 "Desperate Acts of Magic" Never Quite Finds its Magic 
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Jason (Joe Tyler Gold) is not the magician he really wants to be. Bored with life as a computer programmer, Jason dreams of becoming a professional musician. 

Stacy (Valerie Dillman), on the other hand, achieved the dream of becoming a professional magician only to be spit back out by the male-dominated magic establishment. As a result, she's reduced to fending for herself on the streets while either appealing to tourists or conning the locals. 

Jason and Stacy have something to prove. The Brotherhood of Magicians competition offers both of them a chance at their long desired success, but will the sparks that fly between them help them or hinder them? Do they really have a chance of reaching their dreams or will Stacy pull Jason into her criminal ways? 

Put together by the team that gave us Never Say MacBeth, Desperate Acts of Magic benefits greatly from the magic itself which isn't particularly surprising given co-writer/director and co-star Joe Tyler Gold's background as a former birthday party magician. While the film's uneven pacing will drive some insane, there's an off-kilter quality about it all that feels right and Gold captures that off-kilter quality quite nicely. Gold's performance as Jason kind of resembles that of a guy who shows up at an open stage and absolutely kills 'em with what looks and feels like almost no effort at all. 

In fact, that's a feeling that radiates throughout the low-budget indie Desperate Acts of Magic - It's a film that feels so comfortable that you find yourself wondering if anyone's actually trying that hard (they are) and if anyone has a clue what they're doing (they do). While the film doesn't quite gel on the level of the more innovative and spontaneous Never Say MacBeth, it's still a film that should please magic fans and those who've appreciated this team's previous work. 

The film's real spark comes from Sascha Alexander as Ellen, a recruit of Jason's without a lick of experience whose mere presence in the film makes you smile every single time she pops up on the screen. Valerie Dillman as Stacy and Jonathan Levit as Jason's best friend round out the film's major players. 

While it's expected that any low-budget indie will have tech issues in the areas of lighting, sound, lensing and such, Desperate Acts of Magic does a decent enough job of capitalizing on the magical nature of its material despite avoiding out of necessity high budget special effects and techno-gimmicks. It's doubtful that Desperate Acts of Magic will leave you in awe, but it's got enough of a spark and just enough magic to leave you feeling entertained. 

© Written by Richard Propes 
The Independent Critic