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Every year sees a number of biopics released to the public that take fictional liberties in glorifying or vilifying the film’s subject as per the filmmakers’ views. These films serve their purpose, generally telling a decent story while raking in the money. Far less often do biographical documentaries reach those levels of popularity, despite showcasing real stories told by the actual people involved. Is actor/magician Ricky Jay’s life more important than Abraham Lincoln’s? Perhaps not, but I can read a history book to find out Lincoln’s story.
Variety reports distributor Kino Lorber has acquired the U.S. rights to Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay, the documentary co-directed by Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein. The film, which garnered positive reviews at its New York Film Festival debut last year, will be released at New York’s Film Forum on April 17 before seeing its national release.
Deceptive Practice, which has been in development since 1999, will be told mostly by Jay himself, going back to his career origins as his grandfather Max Katz’s apprentice at age 4, and then chronicling Jay’s widespread career that includes a mastery of close-up magic, astonishing memory tricks, stage performing, and a decades-spanning film career that started with frequent collaborator David Mamet’s 1987 thriller House of Games. The documentary will feature some of his early television appearances and one-man shows, as well as input from friends and collaborators such as Mamet and Steve Martin. Did I mention Ricky Jay is a champion card thrower, able to embed an ace of spades inches deep into a watermelon? It’s surprising there isn’t a card-throwing documentary already out there.
Jay, always a humble and reserved guy despite his captivating stage presence, had this to say: “I’m making a concerted effort not to escape from the frames of the film before it is shown.”