Tribeca Film Festival 2014: Double-Feature “An Honest Liar” and “Art and Craft”

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The tagline for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival suggests that film festivals are the original binge-watching experience. In that spirit, enjoy these suggestions for the perfect double-features at the Tribeca Film Festival, complete with suggested accompanying snacks.

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An Honest Liar

Famed magician James “The Amazing” Randi has used his knowledge to stop performers who claim to have real magical or mystical abilities, from faith healing preachers to pseudo-scientific figures like Uri Geller. His greatest challenge, though, will be facing a lie that fooled him for years.

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Art and Craft

Mark Landis loves classic TV, his mother, and creating elaborate art forgeries. For years, he has traveled around the country, giving away fake Picassos, Daumiers, and more. After Landis fooled the Cincinnati Art Museum, however, art registrar Mark Leininger made it his mission to expose Landis as a fraud, and his desire for justice grew into an obsession that threatens to consume his life.

Why They Belong Together

In An Honest Liar, “The Amazing Randi” has devoted his life to exposing charlatans who profit off of people’s ignorance, sincere religious beliefs, or desperation (cancer, illness, paralysis). A large part of Art and Craft is about Matthew Leininger who has similarly devoted his time and talents to exposing Mark Landis as a fraud, even though Landis isn’t really profiting off of his art forgeries. The damage that Landis is doing to the art world is less obvious, but as harmless as he might seem, his work is full of shortcuts and cannot compare to the original work. When an art museum doesn’t care to do its due diligence, it is a huge problem and harms the legacy of these artists.

Both films also show the easy tricks that psychics/faith healers/mystics and Landis use to fool their targets. They pull back the curtain on these performers to show that the voice of God was a radio earpiece. The bent spoon wasn’t the result of mind powers. The work of priceless art was a combination of a high-quality printing job, a little paint and texturing, and a few well-placed coffee stains. When the illusion comes packaged as a preacher, however, people are willing to believe, and when Landis wore the right suit and dropped subtle hints of old money in his family, museums accepted his art at face value. The message of critical thinking throughout both films is so important, and considering that many of “The Amazing” Randi’s targets are still in business, it is a lesson that hasn’t been learned yet.

Suggested Snack

Elaborately painted sugar cookies and disappearing milk, poured into a newspaper cone

Bonus!

For fans of Community, Mark Landis is like a real-life Abed. All of his learned behaviors and social interactions come from old TV shows, and he seems to think that he can learn to be a priest by watching episodes of Father Brown.

May
04
2014
Rachel Kolb • Staff Writer

I love movies, writing, and breaking into song in public. You can follow me on Twitter @rachelekolb or check out more of my work at http://rachelekolb.wordpress.com.

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