I am a little bit biased as I have lived here for almost 12 years, but I love movies set in New York City. There really isn’t a better place to shoot a film because the vastness of the city makes New York a fully functioning microcosm for the world and society at large. Onur Tukel takes advantage of it to tell a story about some of our most daunting problems at present in Black Magic For White Boys. Those being sexism, racism, and income inequality/gentrification.
The “protagonists” (if you can call them that comfortably) of Black Magic represent some of the more obnoxious or downright dangerous people you can meet. There is Oscar (played by Onur Tukel himself), a man-child of epic proportions who wants to do absolutely nothing with his life, but enjoy it. He’s able to do so because of a vast inheritance from his father. Then there’s his friend, Jamie (Jamie Block), a real estate developer who sees no problem in the kind of weasley deals he makes with property owners and tenants and believes in nothing but the power of laissez-faire capitalism. Then, there is Larry The Magnificent (Ronald Guttman), a long-time French expatriate who runs a small theater in the East Village in which he performs his magic show that has lost a lot of popularity in recent years.
“You may ask yourself, ‘What do two douchebags and a magician have in common?’”
You may ask yourself, “What do two douchebags and a magician have in common?” Well, without giving too much away, Jamie and his wife Wendy (Annie McCain Engman) go on a double date with Oscar and Chase (Charlie LaRose), who Oscar had never met before that night. While at the magic show, Larry decides to go against his wife’s wishes and uses real (or black) magic to make Jamie disappear from his seat and reappear in a box on stage. Jamie is endlessly fascinated with how Larry made him disappear. With the power of money on his side, he enlists Larry’s powers to “take care of” some problem tenants. The tenants are rightfully angry because Jamie informed them of an unnecessary but still perfectly legal 30% rent hike.
This is but one subplot out of several in the ridiculous black comedy universe of Black Magic For White Boys. There is also time to comment on our society’s obsession with prescription drugs, via a French drug-dealer named Fred (Franck Raharinosy), who gives several different members of the cast drugs to increase fertility and height in two cases and to decrease headaches and the worst macho behavior ever in two others. Additionally, there is a cameo by Kevin Corrigan, one of my favorite actors, as an absent-minded accountant who mismanages all of Oscar’s money.
“It chastises men for their horrible treatment of women throughout all of humanity…”
There’s so much more to Black Magic For White Boys than what I can convey in this review. It provides thoughtful critique on abortion, gentrification, self-confidence, depression, every wonderful and horrible aspect of marriage, and more more more…all through a coal-black comedy lens. It’s a perfect New York movie for what’s happening in our city and country right now. It makes us think about what’s really important vs. what we’ve been made to think is important. It takes big real estate and big pharma to task. It chastises men for their horrible treatment of women throughout all of humanity’s time on Earth. It’s one of the more intelligent comedies you’ll see all year, while simultaneously being one of the silliest. I think it’s very relevant and extremely worth your time, so check out Black Magic For White Boys once it leaves the festival circuit. You won’t regret it.
Black Magic For White Boys (2019) Written and Directed by Onur Tukel. Starring Onur Tukel, Ronald Guttman, Charlie LaRose, Denisa Juhos, Brendan Miller, Colin Buckingham, Franck Raharinosy, Frantzdy Alexandre, Gesley Alexis, Jackie Almonte. Black Magic For White Boys screened at the 2019 Fantasia Fest.
9 out of 10 stars