Monday, May 20, 2013

Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay

I feared the new documentary "Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay" would rehash a lot of material from Jay's David Mamet-produced "52 Assassins" and "Rogues' Gallery" shows, both of which I saw at the Geffen within the past several years. There are some card tricks from those shows, but "Mysteries and Mentors" smartly focuses on the mentors, the century-long lineage of prestidigitators Jay has studied about and with.

He likens his education in magic to the sensei-master relationship in the martial arts, advising that the only way properly to learn magic is at the feet of someone you deeply respect. For the young Jay growing up in New York, those mentors were Al Flosso, Cardini, Slydini; he later moved to L.A. to train with Charlie Miller and Dai Vernon. Ubiquitous yet private, he agreed to make this film to pay tribute to all these men who taught him the importance of discipline. (Miller would have him cold-cut an ace out of a deck hundreds of times in a row; even now, he derives pleasure and serenity from trick-shuffling cards for hours at a throw.)

There are a lot of funny anecdotes and archive footage in "Deceptive Practice," along with some highly impressive sleight of hand. It's about as good as you'd expect.

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