Deceptive Practice; The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay 2012 ****

Providing exactly what the title suggests, Molly Bernstein’s documentary is a playful investigation of the popular magician and his art; as he discusses the various performers who have influenced him, Ricky Jay also reveals much about his own motivations. A scene in which a BBC reporter who professes no belief in magic tricks, describes her amazement at how Jay could produce a block of ice from behind his menu is a restaurant on a swelteringly hot day is all the more interesting for Jay’s unwillingness to share the secrets behind it. And there’s also plenty of rare Jay footage to enjoy; an appearance of the Dinah Shore show features amusing support from Steve Martin, who appears wise to Jay’s antics until a deft card trick puts him in his place. Deceptive Practice is a magic show with brains, a deft slight-of-hand that leaves audiences confused yet entertained.


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