Pin It
Favorite

Real Magic 

Card trick master Ricky Jay is obviously an excellent documentary subject

click to enlarge The real magic man.
  • The real magic man.

Watching this documentary will not give you any insight into how Ricky Jay actually does his craft. He’s the best sleight-of-hand guy around, someone who can boggle your mind with only the help of his hands and what he calls his 52 assistants (a deck of cards). He can make aces take on lives of their own. He can throw a playing card so hard and so accurately, it will pierce the skin of a watermelon. And he’s equally adept at the old cups-and-balls routine.

But Deceptive Practice doesn’t consist of any Penn & Teller sort of revelations. It’s about, as the title suggests, the people behind Jay; the great magicians he grew up watching and emulating, and the chosen few who took him under his wing to teach him their secrets.

The film has plenty of footage of Jay as a performer — when he was 7, still using his real name, Ricky Potash, and when he was 14 and calling himself Tricky Ricky — along with TV appearances over the years (some of them with below-the-shoulder hair), as well as clips from his dazzling one-man close-up shows in which he’s as much a raconteur as he is a magician. But there’s also remarkable archival footage of his teacher-heroes: Dai Vernon, Charlie Moore, Al Flosso, Slydini, Cardini. A particularly funny one of the goofy Flosso shows him cracking up the almost always stone-faced Ed Sullivan by making coins flow from his nose.

The film looks in on Jay during private meditative moments, sitting in some nondescript dressing room in front of a mirror, calming his pre-show nerves by repeatedly shuffling and fanning a deck of cards. “Practice, to me,” he says at one point, “was never anything but pleasure.” But he also takes many opportunities to quietly yet enthusiastically open up about and pay homage to those important men in his life, and to rue the fact that the style of personal mentoring he was privileged to receive is likely gone.

Some viewers might be disappointed that we don’t learn much about Jay. We find out that he caught the magic bug from his amateur magician grandfather Max Katz, but there are only brief mentions of the antagonistic relationship between him and his parents, and nothing about the difficulties of a show business career. Perhaps the most revealing instant is when Jay says, to himself as much as to the camera, “It really is a very peculiar profession.” 

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in Film

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Sarah Bethe Nelson, Hannah Reader, Loomer

Sarah Bethe Nelson, Hannah Reader, Loomer @ Neato Burrito

Mon., Aug. 3, 9 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Ed Symkus

  • Winning Reboot
  • Winning Reboot

    Somehow, Arnold's return to the Terminator franchise makes for solid sci-fi
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • Dog of a Story
  • Dog of a Story

    Max wastes a promising idea on forgettable characters
    • Jun 24, 2015
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Subtraction by Ad Dishin'

    Vacation loses its comedic momentum through marketing overkill
    • Jul 29, 2015
  • No Stopping Him

    Graham Nash has written songs that moved a generation, and he's still creating
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Film


Review


festival at sandpoint


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation