Depp as Houdini in New Film

Inside Magic Image of Harry HoudiniHoudini as Johnny Depp is how some of the snarky trade journals are setting the story from here in Hollywood that the famed actor is in negotiations to lead The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero.

We have gone on record as liking Johnny Depp and disliking almost all snark about anything always. Accordingly we are looking forward to the film based on William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s book.

We are apparently alone among the top Hollywood journalists, though. Writes Screen Crush:

Depp will play the legendary magician in the new film from Dean Parisot, the director of ‘Red 2,’ which features Houdini as not just a magician, but an investigator of the occult — so it’s definitely territory with which Depp is familiar, given that he gets to wear a hat and spend time in the supernatural realm.

We don’t consider such snark to be affirming and supportive of humanity – or even that clever.

Houdini did not wear hats as often as Harry Kellar or Max Malini or even Chung Ling Soo (off stage). We reached out to Lionsgate – the production company – as to whether Mr. Depp is scheduled to wear a hat in more than 40 percent of the scenes. Surprisingly, we have not heard back from their usually very efficient publicity department. We will update this story as soon as we receive word.

Some of the coverage implies the movie will be adding a new dimension to the Houdini myth by portraying him as a debunker of Spiritualism. Students of the great magician’s history know his persistent battle against the nascent occult movement was just as important as his magic and escape work.

We think Mr. Depp will make a fine Houdini and the Kalush / Sloman book is rich with possibilities for great scenes. We are looking forward to the film without regard to the hat issue.

Mr. Depp is set to film sequels to Alice in Wonderland and The Pirates of the Caribbean soon and so it is not clear when he will have time to take on this new project. This scheduling problem led the Screen Crush reporter to ask snarkily, “No idea where this Houdini film will fit into his schedule, but maybe he can pull some free time out of one of his silly hats.”

No one likes a hater or a hat hater.

Magician Ricky Jay Can Make You Cry, He’s So Good

Inside Magic Image of Deceptive Practices Movie PosterInside Magic Favorite Magician Ricky Jay is so good, his magic can make people cry.

That’s how The Jerusalem Journal begins its very positive review of Deceptive Practices: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay.

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.'”

Deceptive Practices lovingly created by filmmakers Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein will open this Friday, May 17th in Los Angeles. You can check out the official movie site for listings in other areas and states here.

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.”
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