Last night while lying in bed with sleep not coming, feeling a little restless and channel surfing the buttons off the clicker I decided to switch gears and repeat the process on Netflix. After several minutes of reinforcing the notion that I have viewed every movie and or television show ever made, I stumbled across the documentary, An Honest Liar. Being cognizant that this was a bio pic on “The Amazing Randi,” I bandied about the desire to watch a documentary or just find some mind-numbing, visual escape that might put me to sleep; I chose the former and am extremely pleased I did!
Finding the right adjectives for a film one thoroughly enjoys (at least for me) isn’t always an easy thing to do. It never seems to be enough. Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom’s film An Honest Liar Truth & Deception: James “The Amazing” Randi (2014) first and foremost is simply a must see for anyone involved with this thing called Ufology. For up and coming researchers it should be a prerequisite. The film is point of fact—an invaluable tool in educating the researcher in critical thinking, deductive reasoning and approach. Moreover, it enlightens the viewer to anomalistic sociological and psychological behavior that is part and parcel of the human race.
From a research perspective and with the finish of the film permeating the mind’s palate (last night) the first engrams to bubble up were that of the recent Roswell Slides fiasco, along with the shenanigans of self-proclaimed alien abductee, Stan Romanek. Our more mature readers (to be polite) are no doubt familiar with James “The Amazing” Randi in that he spent a large part of his career exposing psychics, faith healers and con-artists/charlatans of various flavors. It was easy to imagine the afore mentioned cases being part of Randi’s résumé and by default being portrayed in the film. With all the hokum that pervades Ufology these days, watching the Randi doc was satisfying in the way one feels in the aftermath of a John Wayne movie—truth and justice always prevail and the bad guys always lost in the end.
From a researcher’s viewpoint, the film was fulfilling on these aspects alone; however, this biographical documentary was so much more! It titillates one’s psyche on several levels and the impressions felt in the wake of the film were anything but that of what one might expect from a nonfiction, educational life story of an individual.
Measom and Weinstein, along with editor Greg O’Toole have not only presented the narrative of this most fascinating man’s life, they’ve done it in a way that draws the viewer into Randi’s world. They’ve taken a genre of film-making and without flash and special visual effects snared the mind and the emotions of the viewer, all the while educating he or she of not only the life and times of James Randi, but also of the underbelly of society and people’s need to believe.