Lucinda's Spell [1998]

The magic scene sure has changed since Merlin's day. If writer-director Jon Jacobs's Lucinda's Spell is any gauge, modern spell casters are the equivalent of grunge rockers, hipsters doing their own thing on the fringes of society. Set in New Orleans, the drama covers the days before the Eve of Beltrane, and Jason (Jacobs), the last in Merlin's bloodline, must choose the mother of his child during a spell casting contest. Bottle blonde Jason slinks and glowers and poses his way through New Orleans as he hunts for his son, born of a one-night stand five years before, but the picture is all but stolen by Christina Fulton as Lucinda, the New Orleans "sex witch" who just happens to be the mother of his child. With more costume changes than Cher and more characters in her closet than Tracey Ullman, Lucinda plays everybody's fantasy with a breathless vitality, sliding from one persona to the next without losing her essential spark. A modest but colorful production, it never succumbs to the sexploitation one would expect with the tag line "sex is magic," though the smoke-and-mirrors, demon-conjuring climax does suggest a B movie version of Kenneth Anger imagery: sexual but not particularly sexy. Like many an American indie production, there's more conversation than spectacle, but it's a charming production centered on a spirited performance by Fulton, an actress on the verge of a breakthrough. --Sean Axmaker

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