Put this movie on your ‘must-watch’ list
At 86, James Randi, fraudbuster extraordinaire, is still as sharp as a razor – and he’s the star of a new documentary, An Honest Liar.
Writing for Variety, Dennis Harvey said:
An Honest Liar is a highly entertaining portrait of James ‘the Amazing’ Randi, a magician-cum-escape artist who, like his role model, Houdini, eventually turned his primary attention to debunking professional mystics, telepathists and other ‘supernatural’ charlatans.
Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom’s documentary bounces along enjoyably on a sea of archival clips from Randi’s high-profile career, with latter-day input from numerous celebrity pals (and at least one famous foe). It gains added dimension from the subject’s late-in-life coming out as a gay man [at the age of 81].
According to this report in Variety, Randi proved a big draw at a special screening this week in Hollywood.
In the documenantary, everyone from Alice Cooper to Penn and Teller weigh in on his influence, and the movie contains rarely seen archival footage of Randi appearing in shows ranging from The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson to Happy Days.
A Q&A followed the screening with filmmaker Weinstein, Randi and his husband Jose Alvarez. Weinstein discussed the process of obtaining and utilising the thousands of hours of archival footage he used in the film.
We had the curse and the blessing that Randi lived a great part of his life in the public eye.
He added that one of the film’s biggest expenses was converting tapes and even 16mm film.
One of the film’s major coups was getting an interview with Uri Geller, who achieved fame in the 1970s by claiming to be a psychic and making countless TV appearances where he would bend spoons and keys.
For years, Randi would imitate his tricks to show there was no psychic ability involved, and the two were engaged in a heated rivalry. Weinstein described the pair as a superhero and his nemesis.
They both come from the same place. They’re both doing tricks. And one of them goes to the light and one to the dark side. It’s a classic superhero narrative.
When asked about why he feels the need to reveal fakes, he said, “These people do positive damage to believers.” He talked about one faith healer who collected so much money, he threw out cheques worth $20 or less.
He was cashing the $500 and $1,000 ones – and there were a lot of them.
When asked whom he would like to expose today, he named televangelist Toufik Benedictus (aka “Benny The Hair”) Hinn, above.
He also revealed that he is working on his 11th book, A Magician in the Laboratory, which will include a take-down of anti-vaccination believers.