Magician Keith Barry gets big space in Leanne Moore’s Showbiz Roundup – a must read for Irish entertainment fans.
Mr. Barry is back in his home country after walking the red carpet with David Copperfield at the premiere of Now You See Me. Mr. Barry served as chief hypnotism and magic consultant for Woody Harrelson and the film’s writers.
We hear the movie is a “magic-based heist movie” — a genre we would like to see expand — and Mr. Barry dedicated more than six months to help the team “a very real edge to the film.”
Mr. Barry will begin his 12-night run of The Dark Side at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre starting on July 10th. We initially thought the title referred to toast but apparently it is tied into magic and mystery rather than irregularly heated slices of bread. Good choice, Mr. Barry. According to a study we just made up, there are far more people who will pay to see magic and mystery than toast.
We are told of a British journalist who dined with Mr. Jay in a café on a hot, sticky day. (The article doesn’t say “sticky” but we believe it was implied and will stand by our interpretation).
He related a story about Max Malini, “who once borrowed a woman’s hat, placed a silver dollar underneath it, then lifted the hat to reveal that the coin had transformed into an enormous chunk of ice. And at that moment, the journalist recounts, Jay lifted his menu with a flourish to reveal his own 1-foot-square block of ice, which materialized as if out of thin air. The journalist was so astounded by ‘this supreme piece of artistry,’ she says, that she ‘burst into tears.'”
The Journal says Mr. Jay keeps his secrets – particularly when it comes to magic effects or personal matters – but does perform some pretty amazing things for the camera and the audience beyond. It “unfolds like a magical mystery tour of Jay’s professional art and artifice. On camera, he transforms a paper moth into a real insect, flings a card at 90 miles per hour to pierce the skin of a watermelon and dazzles audiences with his specialty — astonishing card tricks — with maneuvers so virtuosic they defy the imagination.” Continue reading “Magician Ricky Jay Can Make You Cry, He’s So Good”→
It is a familiar story to magicians, the incessant physical training and weight maintenance to achieve the perfect body for magic. For actor Jim Carrey, however, the rigors of our art were daunting.
He told People (the magazine, not just a collection of individuals standing near him) his strict diet gave him a great body but “it’s not a happy place to be.”
“It’s not a natural place to live in that kind of shape,” he said. “It looks great. It’s fantastic and gets a lot of attention, but you have to eat, like, antimatter to stay in that kind of shape.”
Indeed, many magicians have found the diet and exercise required to maintain the perfect “magician’s body” just too demanding and have left the profession. Michael Jordan once commented that he had hoped to be a magician but found the constant physical conditioning “just impossible.” “It was like trying to hit a curve ball in triple-A; I just couldn’t do it.”
Magic historians credit Harry Houdini with setting the standard for the “magician’s body.”
“Before Houdini,” said one magic scholar, “magicians looked like the average audience member. Some were in great shape, some were in terrible shape and some looked like they were in great shape but were really in terrible shape. There were none who looked like they were in great shape but were really in terrible shape.”
Houdini’s emphasis on physical conditioning forced him to run several miles a day and perform calisthenics. He ate right and did not smoke. In his youth, he was a competitive runner and circus performer. Those two avocations sculpted his body to near Adonis perfection and set his own personal standard for a lifetime of physically demanding discipline.
It was not commonly known that Harry Kellar could bench press in excess of 200 lbs or that Adelaide Herrmann could perform one-handed push-ups with either arm.
“In those days, most magicians kept their superb bodies under wraps, so to speak. Audiences were not attracted to performers because of their physiques,” one commentator noted. “Only freak show performers removed enough clothing to show anything.”
Mercury News Movie Critic Charlie McCollum broke our heart just now — or at least dampened our excitement for this weekend with his review of Burt Wonderstone – the newest magic-themed movie.
Mr. McCollum writes:
“You would think that a film about magicians would have some magic to it. And you would think that a movie boasting such artful laughmasters as Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi and Alan Arkin would have some real comedic heft.
“In the case of “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” you would be wrong on both counts. It is not a dreadful film. There are just enough laughs and clever moments to keep it north of the Adam Sandler line of comic ineptitude. But it is so wildly inconsistent that it always seems on the verge of completely falling apart and losing what little attachment it has to reality.
We note that the “Adam Sandler line” is our reference point for bad movies as well.
We had hoped the star power and great story idea would make this a must-see film of the spring. Alas, it is apparently not what he hoped.
Mr. McCollum cautions:
Carrey has the acting chops to go to the dark side (which is where Gray ought to be), but in the end, he comes off more Looney Tunes than dangerous lunatic. No one makes unpleasant more relatable than Carell, but there’s nothing he can do with Burt to make the magician’s sudden transformation from raging egotist to nice guy even remotely plausible. Only Arkin really makes something of his role, with his deadpan delivery making his moments on screen far funnier than they should be.
There’s no question that you will laugh at times throughout “Burt Wonderstone.” But if you are looking for something truly magical, you will come away disappointed.
It is a magic story as old as time. Superstar magicians dominate all other acts in the mythical village of “Las Vegas” and become complacent from their success and guaranteed box office draw.
Young up-and-comer magician (Jim Carrey) looks to challenge the flashy duo, causing a crisis of confidence. The magic partnership breaks up bringing economic devastation to both magicians.
Fortunately, an attractive and loyal assistant (Olivia Wilde) encourages the senior magician to return to basics; to find the love he once held deep in his show-biz heart for magic and for his partnership.
The Hollywood production people sent us a blurb (remember the old days when it was illegal to send blurbs using the U.S. Postal System?) describing the plot line in two pithy paragraphs thusly:
Superstar magicians Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) have ruled the Las Vegas strip for years, raking in millions with illusions as big as Burt’s growing ego. But lately the duo’s greatest deception is their public friendship, while secretly they’ve grown to loathe each other.
Facing cutthroat competition from guerilla street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), whose cult following surges with each outrageous stunt, even their show looks stale. But there’s still a chance Burt and Anton can save the act—both onstage and off—if Burt can get back in touch with what made him love magic in the first place.
We look forward to seeing Jim Carrey as the young buck, Steve Gray. He performs magic from a new paradigm like cutting off his face or not using the bathroom for almost a week. According to one critic, his character is a melange of David Blaine and Criss Angel.
We also understand that David Copperfield appears in the film as himself and has contributed a new illusion to the story.
We are looking forward to this Friday, May 13th’s opening of the new magic documentary Make Believe.
There hasn’t been nearly the buzz we expected but that buzz that wuz is good.
IFC reviewed the film in today’s edition and loved it.
Make Believe is entertaining enough purely from sharing in the joy of its stars, making sure that something permanent and good remains even in a medium where most everything is meant to disappear.
The documentary follows the teen competition at The World Magic Seminar and introduces the “real world” to our little realm where talent shines and practice pays off.
Krystyn Lambert is one of the six teens featured in J. Clay Tweel’s documentary and her mother provides a great, pithy description of the world of magic and magicians: “a little world of oddballs.”
Despite her movie star looks, outstanding talent, and academic success, Krystyn Lambert seems to agree with her mother’s assessment. She confided in a 2010 Los Angeles Times article that she had not yet seen the film and “is well-aware she may come across to some as a ‘psychotic overachiever.’ But she doesn’t mind. She’s changed a lot since the film began shooting in October 2008, she said. And for the first time in her life, she said, she’s found a place outside of the magic world where she fits in – college.”
According to Variety, Steve Carell of The Office, Bruce Almighty, and The 40 Year-Old Virgin fame, is bidding for the ‘Burt Wonderstone’ role in a new magic-themed film.
The plot seems interesting: Burt Wonderstone is the typical Las Vegas magician working through some issues on his way back to the top. Chief among those nagging concerns is his accidental killing of his partner.
Mr. Carell has cache and clout in Hollywood. The script sat on shelves in New Line Cinema’s offices for four or five years looking for that special something to attract investors.
The film does not yet have a director, producer, key grip, best man, clapper-loader, caterer, or unit accountant but it has Steve Carrell. Apparently the rest will follow in his footsteps. Everyone likes a winner and Mr. Carrell’s film and television track record looks solid, bankable.