When I first get the Festival Program I read through every movie to see what sounds interesting. And because I believe that the film festival offers something for everyone I try to figure out what my friends would like. When I came across An Honest Liar I immediately thought of Chris. His dad was a magician and ran a magic shop so thought he would be interested. Little did I know how excited he would be. While I have never heard of The Amazing Randi I soon found out he is one of the most famous magicians. Also on a whim we thought we would see if we could get an interview with him while he was in town. Luckily we got the opportunity.
The movie covers a lot of ground in a short 90 minutes. It starts with his career as a magician and escape artists. He quickly became one of the most prominent magicians picking up where Houdini had left off. There is even a clip from one of his first television appearances at the early days of TV. After injuring himself trying an escape he semi retired from performances and devoted his time exposing psychics and charlatans. His main nemesis was Uri Geller who would go on TV shows and bend spoons. Randi's friendship with Johnny Carson led to a memorable show when Geller was scheduled to appear. Randi had instructed Johnny's prop department how to set up a true test for Geller. When Geller was unable to perform any of his "psychic" abilities everyone thought he was done. But still people believed and the two would go on butting heads for decades. Randi continued his crusade exposing faith healer Peter Popoff and showing how even scientists can be fooled when he hired two young magicians to fake psychic abilities in The Alpha Project.
Each event is really interesting and could almost be a whole documentary by themselves.
In addition to his professional career the movie gives us a glimpse into the man himself. And as one would expect he is just as fascinating in his personal life. He met his partner Jose Alverez in Florida one day and the two formed an incredible relationship. They have been together for a long time and in 2010 Randi came out and in 2013 when Gay marriage became legal federally the two got married in Washington DC.
The movie is a fascinating look at Randi's life. Again the word amazing comes to mind. In a scant 90 minutes they cover a whole lot of ground. And if I have one complaint it's that there is so much they only briefly touch upon or leave out completely. It's understandable given the time constraint and as the director told us a good documentary leaves you wanting more. And that it did. I have now watched tons of YouTube videos featuring Randi. And the more I learn the more I am fascinated by the guy.
Overall: 5/5 if you never heard of The Amazing Randi this is a great introduction. Even if you know about him there will be a few surprises that you didn't know.