Google products are integrated so thoroughly throughout the entirety of my miserable existence that the only time I visit the original search engine homepage is when there’s a new doodle. And today there is a new doodle.
“Back to the Moon” is a beautifully animated homage to the works of famed illusionist, director, and cinematography pioneer, Georges Méliès. We covered some of Méliès groundbreaking work in combining magic, theater, and film to produce some of the earliest examples of “special effects” on the anniversary of his birthday last year.
Not only is the short a wonderful work of animation, it’s also the first ever interactive virtual reality and 360-degree doodle. Once you’ve pressed play and the jaunty cartoon version of Méliès has finished setting up the projector, try clicking on the action to pan the camera around. There’s a cute story line that’s easy to follow and pays homage to the tricks and techniques Méliès used in his films, but there’s also a collection of extra animations hidden around the virtual environment. You’ll definitely need at least a couple of play through to catch everything. It’s all very charming.
Dealt, the critically acclaimed documentary about the life of self-described “card mechanic” Richard Turner, is being turned into a feature film, according to an exclusive report at Variety.
Court Five, a production company formed by New Line Cinema alums Jane Fleming and Mark Ordesky, has acquired the rights from Keep On Running Pictures and Ralph Smyth Entertainment to produce a Hollywood film adaptation of the life of the award-winning magician. The report also states that the filmmakers behind the documentary (director Luke Korem, producer Russell Groves, and writer Bradley Jackson) will be working on the film as producers.
“Richard Turner is a one-of-a-kind character whose fierce commitment to overcoming adversity is inspiring and moving in equal measure,” Fleming and Ordesky said in a statement to Variety. “We are thrilled to expand on the terrific storytelling of Dealt to bring audiences even more of his incredible story.”
Production is obviously very early, and as such, no directors, writers, or actors have been attached yet (or whether the adaptation with retain the name of the documentary or be called something else).
Turner’s life story, which involves overcoming blindness to become one of the world’s most renowned card magicians, feels ready-made for a proper film adaptation, especially when the documentary is already as good as it is. Now, the question remains: who do you think should play Turner?
Penn Jillette recently confirmed via Twitter that Director’s Cut will be getting a physical Blu-Ray/DVD combo release in stores on May 29, the same day it’ll be hitting video-on-demand services.
— Penn Jillette (@pennjillette) April 17, 2018
We’ve covered Director’s Cut, the wild, fourth-wall-breaking meta-thriller written by and starring Penn Jillette before here at GeniiOnline, and ever since we found out about it we’ve been dying to know how it turned out. Looks like we won’t have to wait long, as Penn has announced via Twitter that the film will finally be released in theaters and video-on-demand services in May.
"This is it! Check out the new poster for my movie with @AdamRifkin DIRECTOR'S CUT! (Designed by @johnnyoliver81!) Coming to select theaters 5/10-5/11 and VOD on 5/29 from @DreadPresents!" pic.twitter.com/Q2NIhz2U2N
— Penn Jillette (@pennjillette) April 5, 2018
If this is your first time hearing about the film (or you’re need another explanation to try to wrap your head around it), Director’s Cut is a movie-in-a-movie, where amateur film maker (and 100% creep) Herbert Blount wants to make the definitive version of one of his favorite crime dramas. To do this, he kidnaps the lead actress and films all new scenes, which he then splices into the film. The film itself is the result of this bizarre collision of fiction and “reality”. If all this sounds too weird to believe, see it for yourself in the trailer below.
Director’s Cut was originally conceived by Penn as a challenge to himself, according to Entertainment Weekly, “to see if I could justify two plotlines, running simultaneously, and have it be believable.” After pitching the film unsuccessfully to Hollywood, he finally found director Adam Rifkin (Look), and the two successfully Kickstarted the film back in 2014. It appeared at film festivals like Slamdance back in 2016, but a wider release was uncertain until Epic Pictures’ horror label Dread Central picked it up back in 2017.
Now, the film will open in select theaters on May 10 and 11, and will also hit currently undisclosed VOD services on May 29. I for one can’t wait for Penn to find another way to turn my brain into liquid.
Johnny Thompson really does put the “great” in The Great Tomsoni. He’s performed under that moniker for many years, in addition to creating beloved magic tricks and acts, teaching magic, and mentoring some of the best in the business. Thompson took some time out of his current work, which includes producing Penn & Teller: Fool Us, to be the subject of a documentary called Gambler’s Ballad: The Legend of Johnny Thompson.
I made a movie about Johnny Thompson with @pennjillette.
Tuesday April 3 at 9:30AM, you can watch#GamblersBallad: The Legend of Johnny Thompson
on @showtime's #ShowtimeExtreme.
Tune in or set your DVR! pic.twitter.com/vrDe8Dt1Qm
— Emery Rinse Repeat (@emeryemeryii) April 2, 2018
The short documentary is airing this week on the Sho Extreme channel from Showtime. You might have caught it if you were up early on April 3, but there are additional dates for you to have a watch party:
April 4 at 6:30 am Eastern/Pacific
April 5 at 6:30 am Eastern/Pacific
April 10 at 10:30 am Eastern/Pacific
The film gets its title from one of Thompson’s signature pieces, and in the movie, he teaches Gambler’s Ballad to none other than Penn Jillette. Watch closely and you might learn more than just what makes The Great Tomsoni tick. Several other magicians, including James Randi and The Amazing Johnathan, also make guest appearances.
If this movie has got you amped to go even deeper into The Great Tomsoni’s repertoire, or if you just have good taste in magic, then check out this very special two-volume set called The Magic of Johnny Thompson that he co-wrote with Jamy Ian Swiss.
Disclaimer: One of the magicians appearing in Gambler’s Ballad is Randy Pitchford, owner of Pitchford Entertainment and GeniiOnline.
A word of advice to today’s young magicians: Keep at it. Even if you don’t become a full-time professional prestidigitator with a permanent Vegas residency, you may find that the skills you hone in magic end up becoming very useful in other fields. Like, say, directing a widely-acclaimed horror movie.
Ghost Stories is an upcoming movie helmed by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson, and its based on their stage play of the same name. Both Nyman and Dyson have a history in magic. In a red carpet interview, Nyman explains how his past work in magic ties into his more recent projects with horror.
For those of you magic fans who like being terrified for entertainment, Ghost Stories does appear have some light cross-over into the principles of magic. There’s even a bit in the trailer where the voice-over tells us, “The brain sees what it wants to see.” Misdirection made scary!
Luke Korem’s documentary Dealt is a fascinating glimpse into the incredible life of “card mechanic” Richard Turner and his quest for perfection in spite of a condition that has left him legally blind. And while the film has seen limited showing in theaters across the country and has been available to rent or purchase via digital platforms, details about a physical DVD release have been scarce – until now.
MPI Media Group has confirmed via Twitter that Dealt is now available to purchase on DVD thanks to a collaboration with distributor IFC Films.
— MPI Media Group (@MPIMediaGroup) February 19, 2018
MPI Media Group’s website shows that the disc is currently available for pre-order for $24.99 despite a release date of February 13. Meanwhile, Amazon lists the film available for $19.96, but with a shipping time of around one to four weeks. Perhaps the limited distribution has effected stock, and they’re currently unable to keep up with demand. Either way, if you’re looking to get your hands on a physical copy of the film, make sure you order now so a copy can get shipped to you as soon as it’s available.
Here’s an opportunity that doesn’t come along every day: if you live in Fergus or Elora in Ontario, Canada, magician Ryan Joyce is giving you an opportunity to see a free taping of a magic show at the Fergus Grand Theatre.
The invite comes via a special page of Magic Masterclass devoted to the upcoming event, where Joyce lays out how he came to film a video for the free series of online courses, and how it gave him an idea to put on a show.
From the event page:
It seemed criminal to bring world-renowned entertainers to the Fergus Grand Theatre and not share their talents with the community I love.
That’s when Live at the Grand was born.
We are now scheduling to bring the world’s greatest magicians, variety artists and visual entertainers right here to Fergus Grand Theatre and film a show for distribution (think TV, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.) You won’t believe the entertainers who are coming here– to Fergus!
The only catch to gain free entry is that you must dine at a local Fergus or Elora restaurant. Joyce wants the taping to be as much about the community surrounding the event as much as it is the event itself, and your receipt will become your ticket when you arrive at the Fergus Grand Theatre.
Filming for the show will begin in March, and visitors to the event page are encouraged to sign up to receive updates via email, and to share it with anyone and everyone they can on social media and in person. Visit FergusFilming.ca for more information, and check out Joyce’s routine from Penn & Teller: Fool Us in the video below.
Andy Nyman is a man of many talents: magician, actor, co-writer for Derren Brown, and now, leading man in a film adaptation of his own stage play horror show.
It’s called Ghost Stories, and was created by Nyman in conjunction with League of Gentlemen writer Jeremy Dyson for the stage back in 2010, opening to rave reviews and running for five years.
Now, it’s a film produced by Lionsgate UK with Nyman as protagonist Phillip Goodman, and early reports from the 2017 London Film Festival seem just as glowing. Nyman appears alongside Martin Freeman (Sherlock) and Alex Lawther (The End of the F***ing World) in a story focused on a series of three different hauntings.
You can check out the trailer for the movie above, and take a glimpse at the film synopsis here:
Phillip Goodman, professor of psychology, arch-skeptic, the one-man ‘belief buster’ – has his rationality tested to the hilt when he receives a letter apparently from beyond the grave. His mentor Charles Cameron, the ‘original’ TV parapsychologist went missing fifteen years before, presumed dead and yet now he writes to Goodman saying that the pair must meet. Cameron, it seems, is still very much alive. And he needs Goodman to find a rational explanation for three stories that have shaken Cameron to his core. As Goodman investigates, he meets three haunted people, each with a tale more frightening, uncanny and inexplicable than the last.
It seems the kind of creepy puzzle box experience that only a magician could dream up, and I can’t wait to see it for myself. You can look for it soon in theaters, as it premieres in theaters worldwide on the appropriately skin-crawling date of Friday April 13, 2018.
Georges Méliès was born on December 8, 1861 to a family of bootmakers, and would go on to become one of the most influential illusionists and filmmakers of all time. He fell in love with stagecraft and magic at a young age through the works of John Nevil Maskelyne and Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, but his father encouraged him to continue working in the family business. Méliès put his dreams aside until his father passed away, when he took the money he earned from selling his share of the business to his brothers and purchased Robert-Houdin’s theater. There, he spent his time tinkering with his own illusions and experimenting with a brand new invention: the cinematograph.
His work in film was legendary for its time, experimenting with camera movement and operation in combination with his stage inventions to create special effects that were previously unheard of. When everyone else was more interested in making documentaries, Méliès created surreal works of pure imagination, dabbling in science-fiction, fantasy, and everything in-between. All of this culminated in one of the most significant works of early cinema, A Trip to the Moon, which you can watch in full in the video above.
Penn Jillette is a bit of a Renaissance man—in addition to performing magic with his partner Teller, he’s hosted television shows, starred in a nearly-published video game, and even written and produced his own documentaries. In fact, Jillette’s love for documentaries is why he’s hosting the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards today in Brooklyn for the second year in a row. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Jillette waxes about why he’s so jazzed to host this year.
“Hosting this show is very simple for me,” Jillette told THR for a written article in the publication’s montly magazine, recently reprinted online. “It’s not a career move, it’s not a financial move. I just like people who make documentaries, so I want to be around them. I get to rub elbows with people who are really doing smart, good stuff. I don’t get to do that very often. I live in Vegas.”
The awards show, which will honor the nonfiction work of nominees from around the globe such as California Typewriter, a film about cats in Instanbul called Kedi, Cries from Syria, and much more. Jillette, who has produced documentaries such as The Aristocrats (which examines the history of the famous dirty joke) and Tim’s Vermeer (about the 17th century painter), finds himself drawn to these films on a deep, emotional level.
“All we care about is other people and all we want out of art is to get a glimpse into someone else’s heart,” says Jillette. “In documentaries, for better or worse, they often deal with a really bad thing, but for much of the film you’re able to put aside the context and really relate to the people onscreen.”