Review of "Houdini" on HOUDINI From The TV MegaSite
 

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Houdini miniseries

"Houdini" review by Sundi 8/31/14
Airs Labor Day 9/1 and 9/2 on History

HIstory Channel has done it again. The two-night mini-series, Houdini, starring Adriene Brody is good. And I mean really, really good.

 

While I didn’t know much about the famed escape artist of the early 20th century, I knew enough to be intrigued by the story before I sat down to watch. Once I did, however, I got sucked into a movie that has equal parts history (although I’m not one to personally vouch for its authenticity), heart and melodrama: all things I love.

 

The movie follows the life and career of Harry Houdini, nee Erich Weiss, son of a immigrant rabbi from Budapest, who finds fame with death defying stunts of escape. I probably don’t need to tell you who Harry Houdini is, but the movie is about far more than a magician. Brody brings us a closer look at the huge legend of Houdini, who has garnered so much fame in our popular culture that its hard to even imagine him as real person. This movie hones the focus just enough so that we can reconcile the legend with the person.

 

We get to meet his long-suffering wife, Bess, who stood by and watched as he risked his life for fame and celebrity over and over. Their relationship is one of the most interesting aspects of this movie. Houdini obviously loves her, but his relationship with fame gets in the way of their marriage and leaves Bess feeling invisible.  We also get to see a man very close to his mother, and how that relationship helped him navigate his ambitions, while battling against the memory of his oppressive father.  

 

We also get to see an examination of a man who was willing to risk everything, life and limb, to please his fans. He is presented as a man with something to prove, tortured at times by his demons, but chaste, loyal and patriotic. But he is also painted as a real man, with real emotions. This, coupled with his place in American history makes for a very intriguing movie.

 

You should watch this movie. Both nights. You won’t be sorry. Adrien Brody gives a really believable performance as one of the world’s most famous performers, while also allowing us to relate to him past his notoriety. I loved it, and I think y’all will too.

 

For more of my thoughts and opinions about the shows I watch, visit my blog at Entertainment Weekly’s The Community

 

MORE INFORMATION

Before David Blaine and David Copperfield, there was one man whose name was synonymous with being the master of illusion and escape – Harry Houdini. HOUDINI follows the man behind the magic as he finds fame, engages in espionage, battles spiritualists and encounters the greatest names of the era, from U.S. presidents to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Grigori Rasputin.  The drama will chronicle the life of a man who can defy death through his stunts, his visions and his mastery of illusion. 

BIOS

EVAN JONES - "Jim Collins"
 
Evan Jones, who is a familiar face in many feature films we all know, has worked with some of the best directors and actors in the business.  He was most recently seen on the big screen in A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST, starring alongside Charlize Theron and Seth MacFarlane. He was also seen in Tommy Lee Jones' THE HOMESMAN, which premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

Best known as Eminem's sidekick, Cheddar Bob, in 8 MILE, he also starred opposite Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Foxx in Sam Mendes' JARHEAD.  His other notable film credits include GANGSTER SQUAD with Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling; THE BOOK OF ELI with Denzel Washington; THE EXPRESS with Dennis Quaid; RESCUE DAWN with Christian Bale; GLORY ROAD with Josh Lucas; and MR. 3000 with Bernie Mac.  Jones can also be seen in several independent features films including GOING GREEK, SOCIAL MISFITS and WISHCRAFT.

After landing several lead roles in theatre productions offered through his college, Jones decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. Shortly after arriving, he landed guest starring roles on major television shows and in several commercials.

On the small screen, he was a series regular on ABC's OCTOBER ROAD and played in recurring roles in major television shows such as CRIMINAL MINDS, BROTHERS AND SISTERS and GOING TO CALIFORNIA. His additional television credits include guest starring roles in ER, CSI: NY, HOUSE M.D., and many others.
Evan Jones grew up in College Station, Texas and currently resides in Los Angeles.

 

ADRIEN BRODY - “Harry Houdini”

 
Adrien Brody won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of real-life Holocaust survivor Wladislaw Szpilman in Roman Polanski's THE PIANIST. He is to date the youngest person to have received the Oscar in that category. His performance also earned him Best Actor honors from the National Society of Film Critics and the Boston Society of Film Critics, and nominations for Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA Awards. He was also bestowed with the Cesar Award, France's equivalent of the Oscar - the only non-French citizen to do so.

In 2013, Brody filmed AMERICAN HEIST, Wes Anderson’s GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL and Paul Haggis’s THIRD PERSON which premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

Brody was born and raised in New York City, where he studied drama at LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He first came to prominence when he played a leading role in Steven Soderbergh's KING OF THE HILL and for starring performances in two features for director Eric Bross: TEN BENNY AND RESTAURANT. The latter earned Brody an Independent Spirit Award nomination.

He has worked with some of the most prominent film directors in the industry: Roman Polanski (THE PIANIST); Peter Jackson (KING KONG); Ken Loach (BREAD AND ROSES); Wes Anderson (THE DARJEELING LIMITED); Barry Levinson (LIBERTY HEIGHTS); Spike Lee (SUMMER OF SAM); Xiaogang Feng (REMEMBERING 1942); Tony Kaye (DETACHMENT); and Woody Allen (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS).

Some other films in his filmography include: HARRISON’S FLOWERS; LOVE THE HARD WAY; THE JACKET; HOLLYWOODLAND; CADILLAC RECORDS; THE BROTHERS BLOOM; SPLICE; and PREDATORS.

 

KRISTEN CONNOLLY - “Bess”

 
Concurrently to filming season two of HOUSE OF CARDS, Kristen Connolly also shot the independent film A GOOD MARRIAGE opposite Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia directed by Peter Askin.                   

Connolly's expanding list of film credits includes THE BAY, CABIN IN THE WOODS, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, THE HAPPENING, and CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC.

On television, Connolly has made guest-star appearances on LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT, NURSE JACKIE and LIFE ON MARS.  

Connolly's theater credits include MEASURE FOR MEASURE and ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL at Shakespeare in the Park in New York City in 2011, as well as KING LEAR at The New York Public Theater.   She starred this summer as Desdemona in the Old Globe production of OTHELLO.

Kristen is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

 


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