Screening Room, Tribeca Film Fest Edition: ‘An Honest Liar’ and ‘In Order of Disappearance’

(Image courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival)
(Image courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival)

Getting to the Tribeca Film Festival only in its final weekend, but better late to the festival than never. My coverage will be running in pairs at PopMatters over the next few days, usually a documentary along with a narrative film that has little to no relation to the other. Hopefully the randomness of the pairings will help replicate the festival experience, only without the long lines and well-meaning volunteers.

The initial dispatch runs today, here.

First up is An Honest Liar, all about the magician and professional debunker James “The Amazing” Randi, still as spritely and snarky as ever, like a miniature Gandalf for the forces of logic:

Disturbed to the point of distraction by the sight of mystics and faith healers fleecing the vulnerable, even if they weren’t technically harming anyone, Randi became committed to telling the truth. According to Randi, it’s okay for magicians to entertain their audiences, as long as they’re honest that this is what they’re doing. As he puts it, it’s fine “to fool people as long as you’re doing it to teach them a lesson.” This crusade that he calls “my battle” makes for a great tale, particularly when Randi literally follows the patently fake mystic Uri Geller from one TV show to the next…

Stellan Skarsgard in 'In Order of Disappearance (image courtesy of TrustNordisk)
Stellan Skarsgard in ‘In Order of Disappearance’ (image courtesy of TrustNordisk)

Then there’s In Order of Disappearance, a black comedy from Norway with Stellan Skarsgard as an obsessed dad getting revenge on the gangsters who killed his son. Very Coen brothers by way of a third-rate Martin McDonagh impersonation:

Beyond this hard-boiled revenge tale, In Order of Disappearance introduces some distractions, beginning with “The Count” (Pal Sverre Hagen), the prissy gangster who is Nils’ ultimate target. A vegan who hides his cocaine trade behind a line of cupcake bakeries and lathers his home with punchline-bad modern art, the Count is all bluster and rage as his minions are picked off one after the other. This gets old fast…

Nevertheless, due to the audience-friendly mix of ultraviolence and low humor, it’s likely to get a full release later in the year.

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