An Honest Liar

2014

Biography / Comedy / Documentary / History

8
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 97%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 89%
IMDb Rating 7.5 10 7558

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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Ira Israel 10 / 10

I loved this movie

This week a stunningly beautiful, brilliant and poignant new documentary about James Randi comes out and it is as riveting as any narrative film I have ever seen. "An Honest Liar: Truth and Deception in the Life of James 'The Amazing' Randi" paints a luscious portrait of James Randi and a fascinating history of the crusades that he has waged in the name of honesty - as well as two provocative discrepancies in his personal life.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

And sometimes revealing untruths is even stranger than anything you can wrap your mind around.

James Randi is a vigilante. He is exceptionally bright, gifted, articulate, audacious and relentless in a quest for truth that often consists of denouncing psychics/magicians who fall below his moral barometer. He feels that taking advantage of the limitations of consciousness as entertainment is perfectly acceptable; however, taking advantage of the limitations of consciousness to scam people for financial gain or trying to pass it off as "science" is utterly abhorrent.

James Randi devised elaborate hoaxes over many years to prove that renowned scientists could be easily fooled by magicians into thinking that such gimmicks as psychokinesis (supposedly moving or influencing objects with one's mind) were real and not optical illusions.

For four decades Randi took particular umbrage with master showman Uri Geller and publicly implored him in his book "The Truth About Uri Geller" and on multiple television appearances to stop referring to himself as a psychic. His main disgust was at the money wasted by lauded institutions such as Stanford University investigating illusionists such as Gellar. In the end, it is Uri Geller who sells fake diamonds on QVC while James Randi's Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge remains intact.

Reviewed by InterlinkKnight 9 / 10

Great way to learn about Randi's story

I admire Randi since I was a kid because he was passion about the truth, and his effort to expose BS. I always hear about he was a magician, but never got the chance to see him in those days. Gladly, this documentary tell his story from the beginning to the present, so there is a lot of footage of his magician days.

The story sometimes jumps back and forward, but I think in a good way. Overall is told chronologically.

A long story compress in so few minutes. But don't feel like was too short or too long.

Also is great to see people that was involve in all those stories talking about it in the present.

If you are a fan of Randi, for sure you most watch it.

Reviewed by Paul Allaer 6 / 10

"Fighting the fakers"

"An Honest Liar" (2014 release; 95 min.) is a documentary about the life and works of James "The Amazing" Randi, a magician and escape artist along the lines of the infamous Houdini. Like Houdini, Randi later becomes a fierce opponent/prosecutor of those who lie to and manipulate the public for personal and monetary gain (such as the so-called faith healers and those who proclaim to channel the dead).

Couple of comments: this documentary is co-directed by Tyler Measom (previously of "Sons of Perdition") and Justin Weinsteiny (previously of "Being Elmo"). In the early part of this documentary, we get an introduction as to Randi's background. Let me admit upfront that I had never heard of him. He left school at age 17 after having seen a magician's show in Toronto, deciding that he wanted to become "the next Houdini". By all means, Randi built a fabulous career (there are multiple clips from the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson). But things get a lot more interesting of course, once Randi decides (in the 1980s) to devote his efforts to exposing the cheaters and manipulators. The expose on self-proclaimed faith healer Peter Popoff is nothing short of brilliant (and stunning). "We're fighting the fakers", exclaims Randi. Towards the end of the documentary, when we get a taste of Randi's current personal life, there are a couple of further twists which I did not see coming.

"An Honest Liar" recently opened at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and I finally had a chance to see it on its second weekend. The early evening screening where I saw this at was quite well attended, somewhat to my surprise. In the end, I found "An Honest Liar" an okay documentary, but not as compelling as certain other recent documentaries like "Finding Vivian Maier", just to name that one. Still, if you are into documentaries, "An Honest Liar" is worth checking out, be it in the theater, or eventually on Amazon Instant Video or DVD/Blu-ray.

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