An Honest Liar

March 29, 2015 at 5:43 pm | Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

◊ ◊ ◊

This documentary about famous magician and psychic-debunker, James Randi, started out as a modest affair that ended up, quite inadvertently, becoming something slightly more. “The Amazing Randi,” as he is called, has been doing Houdini-esque escapes and standard slight-of-hand magic since the 50s. However, starting sometime around 1970, he also became obsessed with rooting out charlatans, like Uri Gellar, who profess psychic abilities (or divine revelation). He was very successful at this secondary career and it’s quite a bit of fun to watch him take down these con-men. Randi’s wry sense of humor is, at times, laugh out loud funny. The film becomes more philosophical as it notes Randi’s growing disillusionment with the average person’s ability to think critically. Where it narratively falls apart and simultaneously becomes quite griping is when an unexpected revelation crashed into the story. It’s clear that the film makers had intended to tell Randi’s story, building up the great irony of a man who exposes myths, all while keeping a massive one of his own: that he is gay. In the original manuscript, I am sure that was the big reveal. However, in this version, it is hinted at widely from moment one and revealed anti-climatically fairly early on. This is because the film-makers suddenly discovered, part way through shooting, that they had much bigger fish to fry. The end result is a film that does not build cohesively toward it’s ending but takes the audience to some interesting places. That bigger fish is a shocker, for sure, and opens up some fascinating potential for exploration. Harder hitting journalists would have gone for the throat but these folks are clearly fans of Randi’s and, ultimately, allow him to skirt some compelling questions. Can you be a crusader for truth and a liar as well? Of course. Does it undermine your message? Now that’s a more interesting question. This ended up being such a human story, less about the feats of “The Amazing Randi” and more about James Randi in all of his wonderful complexity. And, while it showed glimpses of a greatness unrealized, this final film was so much deeper and more interesting than the one they set out to make.


Leave a Comment »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: