Yet another in a seemingly endless series of proposed biopics about Harry Houdini is percolating in Hollywood. It will be a feat of magic if this one, unlike the others, actually gets made.
“The plot of the film is still under wraps, but the story will be set at the height of Houdini’s fame in the early twentieth century, with a certain “Sherlock Holmes” tone to the story, according to Deadline. The film looks to focus on the almost “superhuman” personality that Houdini carried with him throughout all his iconic performances. Houdini was best known as a master escape artist, and escaped everything from simple handcuffs to his infamous act of escaping a straight jacket while being hung upside down in a case of water. He even barely escaped being buried alive and almost suffered a breakdown because of the near-death experience.”
If you’re not familiar with the magical stylings of Jon Dorenbos, that may be because until recently, his day job was as a long snapper for the Philadelphia Eagles, but in the off-season he performs comedy and magic. He recently signed a deal with producer Mike Tollin to make a film about his life; the Eagles’ recent Super Bowl win has moved up the timetable for the project considerably.
Holding the record as the athlete who’s played the most consecutive games as a Philadelphia Eagle, Dorenbos recently had to retire from football due to a serious heart condition. Magic was always his exit strategy for his post-football career; as he cheekily puts it, “NFL stands for ‘not for long'”. He’s got the skills to back it up, too, having made it to the finals of America’s Got Talent and appearing on Ellen several times. It’s not immediately obvious how football and magic overlap, but when Dorenbos explains how he finds comfort in repetition, it all begins to make sense:
“I learned to love doing the same thing over and over in search of the perfect repetition, whether it’s a card trick that seemed almost impossible when I started, or football,” he told Deadline. “My ball spins three and a half times and if I hit the same spot at the same speed, the holder need only catch it, and put it down because the laces are out and it’s ready to go. You can add weather, wind, and that 300-pound plus guy opposite you who’s trying to freaking kill you, but they don’t matter. It’s all about the perfect rep.”
Perfect snaps and great card tricks are an odd combination, sure, but the rest of his life story is also prime cinematic material. As you’ll hear in the above compilation of Dorenbos’ appearances on America’s Got Talent, he was raised by his aunt, but what he doesn’t mention is that it was because his father murdered his mother. He turned to cards to help him cope with that tragic time in his life, a sad commonality shared by so many outstanding magicians.
In what is either the worst decision ever – or the best – but Epic Pictures will be releasing Penn Jillette’s “Director’s Cut,” the movie about a crazed superfan who goes to extreme lengths to make his own movie, perhaps as early as spring 2018. If you’re not familiar with the film, here’s the extremely not safe for work trailer:
If you didn’t follow all that (and totally fair if you didn’t), here’s how director Adam Rifkin tried to sum up the film when he spoke with Entertainment Weekly:
Director’s Cut is a movie about a film-obsessed stalker, who is played by Penn Jillette and is fixated on his favorite actress, Missi Pyle. He gains access to the set of her current film by contributing to that movie’s crowdfunding campaign. Once on-set, he kidnaps her, steals all of the footage from the film, and, in his dungeon-movie studio, he films additional scenes of the movie, casting himself opposite his captive leading lady as the romantic hero. He takes footage from the real film, and footage from his amateur production, and cuts them all together into his version of a director’s cut.”
Penn says he wrote the movie as “an intellectual challenge, to see if I could justify two plotlines, running simultaneously, and have it be believable.” He pitched it to various studios, all of which turned him down. After connecting with Rifkin, Jillette turned to crowdfunding to finance the movie, and the campaign’s backers are the only audience he’s really concerned with. “If we can get money from 5,000 people, and please 5,000 people, we’ve done it perfectly,” he said.
Intellectual exercise or hot mess (or both), whatever – we’re 100% on board. It seems a virtual certainty that Director’s Cut is headed for the same kind of cult status as Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. Oh, hi, Mark.