Pin It
.
Favorites

Film Review: "An Honest Liar" 

"It's okay to fool people as long as you're doing it to teach them a lesson which will better their knowledge of how the world works," James Randi tells us at the outset of "An Honest Liar," an unexpectedly revealing documentary portrait of Randi the man as well as his alter ego, an illusionist known as The Amazing Randi. Directors Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein thumbnail the now-octogenarian Randi's early life for us -- born in Toronto and inspired by Houdini, Randi carved out a nice little career for himself as a magician, with touring and TV appearances on shows like "Happy Days" -- before narrowing the focus to his post-magic calling as an investigator of those who claim psychic powers.

Most famously, in the early 1970's Randi set out to expose as frauds mentalist Uri Geller ("Do you know how many times Randi tried to ruin my career?" he marvels in his on-camera interview) and faith-healer Peter Popoff, who made a fortune preying on the gullible. Measom and Weinsten provide us satisfying footage of people getting their just desserts (including the otherwise innocent Alice Cooper, whom Randi guillotined on stage during the 1973-74 "Billion Dollar Babies" tour), and we also hear from admiring colleagues like Penn Jillette, and Adam Savage from "Mythbusters."

The film's obvious pro-Randi agenda leaves no doubt about the man's noble intentions, but some of Randi's quests do smack a little of ego rather than a desire to protect people. We also meet José Alvarez, Randi's partner since 1986 in both work and life, though Randi has only been publicly out since 2010. Turns out Alvarez had a thing or two up his own sleeve, and in the film's third act we learn that even the most vigilant can be fooled. But you can ask him about it yourself: The Amazing Randi will be on hand for a Skype discussion following the screening.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Dayna Papaleo

Browse Listings

Submit an event
  • Re: RTS is thinking about creating 'mobility zones'

    • I would suggest RTS create a couple of loops in the suburban villages. For example,…

    • on February 18, 2019
  • Re: County exec race will be Dinolfo versus Bello

    • Bello was Irondequoit supervisor for two years and two and 1/2 months, Jan. 1, 2016…

    • on February 15, 2019
  • Re: County exec race will be Dinolfo versus Bello

    • So, Happy, it sounds like you agree with me. There's nothing new and exciting in…

    • on February 15, 2019
  • More »
  • This Week's Issue

    Cover Story:
    Education... means emancipation
    What would Frederick Douglass think now of the state of education in the city he loved? Seven Rochesterians – community leaders, students, and parents – offer their assessment and their advice.
    read more ...

    Tweets @RocCityNews

    © 2019 City Newspaper.

    Website powered by Foundation.