Magic Four kids of Brangelina noisy in London

Posted on Февраль 12, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Imaagine fact, you pay 1000 bucks er night in posh suite on posh Park Lane in London in posh Dorchester Hotel and somebody told you at reception desk, god couple Angie and Brad are accomodate here.Until fact, you are sleeping in posh apartma and at 1am loud noise, stamping and scream with laugh.Not funny, it happened and not murder or cheating husband in flagranti.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were really accomodated at Dorchester Hotel, where afterparty took place after BAFTA, but they preffered to stay apart, enjoying ,simple 35 bucks a head’ Indian eaterie in South Kensington with posh friends such as Robert Downey Jr and Claudia Schiffer.Their ,cuty four children’ cought perfect manners and made noise across all sleeping Dorchester Hotel.Only one nanny guarded twins and another four children during night and it is impossible left small children, when another four bigger kids don’t listen and their mother allows them everything, from not fixed time going to bed, lack of learning — Darling, can you throw away your mess after you finish eating your chips or take away from sofa — from our royal source they eat permanently crisps, junk food and chips with ketchup and plenty of Coke, leaving mess around and soaked ketchup into sofa, throwing plastic plates around falling from their hands straigh away, Angelina Jolie buying Maddox a knife as ,normal stuff.’ Etc.Where is line between strict Madonna pushes kids — no TV, not this and no that and only this type of food and all liberal and free upbringing by Brangelina — no boundaries, no some regime, a must for small children — min.how our royal source said, with her model mates and small babies during fashion weeks, kids are easygoing sleeping in certain hour.I wonder, how real are jokes from People’s magazine about Maddox special room for throwing knives in Long Island for this spring.It needs to be exciting moving from one place to another without work duty like gipsies and no simple rules.Well, I moved in rented holes and apartments in California and Los Angeles for 14 years.I like more life of John Depp and his family from his French estate to English and private island and back to USA and a part of year working on movies than around all globe again and again and want more kids, where unable to manage four with help of nannies, assistants and staff.I wonder, I don’t care Angelina Jolie is ideal for Guy Ritchie, used to have some regime by his mother, who was able manage some things as lady from her second marriage, with Ritchie’s former another extreme — very strict Madonna.That’s called anarch.- you can kill what you want, we haven’t rules.

I can’t wait, how will look rented pad in Long Island, if George Clooney fears from ,vacation of Brangelina’s kids on his Italian Lake Como Villa Oleandra’ for broken windows, etc.Noisy is every child, but small children need ton sleep during night and listen, not messing around in hotel and run away.

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How Special Effects Work

Posted on Февраль 12, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Since I started researching the topic of special effects for my PhD thesis, I’ve been interested in the interactions between stage magic and early cinema. The development of film as a mass cultural medium coincides strikingly with the decline of magic as a popular theatrical form, but magicians were amongst the first to fully exploit the cinematic apparatus as a tool for creating fantastic entertainment. Early film-makers often made records of music hall, vaudeville and carnival performers, perhaps because it made sense to turn the camera on people who were well-versed in the mechanics of addressing an audience and completing an action in an allotted time and on cue (so as not to waste precious film stock!). But it might also be that recordings of stage acts, often with direct gesticulation to the spectator, allowed the viewer to contemplate the distinctions between the recorded performance and the live original. Films such as the Lumière Brothers‘ L’Arrivée d’un Train a la Ciotat (1895), shot outdoors on a railway platform, with a train approaching from the background to the foreground, displayed the camera’s ability to embalm a fraction of time and drag it, pale and quiet into the theatre, providing the marvel of incongruity between the dark enclosure of the theatre and the bright spacious air of these distant locations. The aim was to reconstruct a sense of physical space extending beyond the borders of its two-dimensional canvas. When a magician takes to the stage, there is a promise that integrities of space will be disrupted, either by making something disappear, reappear or transform (whether it be an elephant, a coin, or “your card“). The thrill of seeing a magic trick performed live is reliant upon the physical presence of the magician in a solid space, and the sense that, if we try hard enough, we can locate discrepancies in the performance that will reveal how it’s done; even though we know that it’s not really happening, it is riveting to watch space being twisted: “Where did the card go? It was right there, and now I can’t see it — does it still exist? Did it ever? What kind of world is this where such a … oh, there it is; it was in his other hand all along. Cute.” This dynamic interaction between performer and observer, with the former attempting to divert the latter’s attention from the secret, would seem to be dependent on liveness and presence.

So, what is lost and gained when a magic trick is filmed? How do magic films compensate for the loss of liveness? First of all, there are two types of magic film — the first is when a trick is recorded “whole”, with a fixed camera and no camera tricks. See, for example, David Devant in The Egg-Laying Man, a brief record of one of the Egyptian Hall stalwart’s oldest tricks, plucking a succession of eggs from his own mouth. It’s a bit of sleight of hand, and while it’s clear that Devant is skilfully performing the illusion in real-time, he could easily have re-recorded it if something had gone wrong or if an ill-chosen camera angle had given away the secret at the first take.

The other kind of magic film is that which requires a filmic manipulation in order to effect the illusion. You can see these kinds of effects on profuse display in the films of Georges Méliès (see also my ever-expanding blog post about A Trip to the Moon). One film in particular, L‘Éscamotage d’une Dame chez Robert-Houdin (1896) illustrates so many of Méliès’ trick principles in such a succinct format that I can’t help returning to it again and again, and I like to use to illustrate . In this film, Méliès recreates for the camera one of the staples of his stage show at the Théâtre Robert-Houdin in Paris — the Vanishing Lady, a trick which, in this form, is usually attributed to French illusionist Buatier de Kolta. If you don’t want to know how this trick was done, look away now:

1. The magician places a newspaper on the floor of the stage.
2. On top of the paper, he puts a chair, and invites his female assistant to sit.
3. He drapes a sheet over the woman, hiding her completely from view.
4. He pulls away the sheet and … she’s gone!
5. He removes the chair and shows off the newspaper, still whole, to prove that nothing has passed through it.

Under the sheet is a wire frame that holds the woman’s shape while she disappears through a trapdoor in the stage — the newspaper is made of rubber, with a slit cut in the middle to allow the woman to pass through without tearing any paper. It’s easy when you know how.

For the film version, Méliès stages the trick in almost exactly the same way — he keeps the newspaper as “proof” that the stage is not gimmicked, but instead of disappearing his assistant through a trap-door, he effects the vanishing through a stop-action substitution. This trick is the cornerstone of Méliès’ special effects work, and I’m sure you’re familiar with how it works: by stopping the camera and re-arranging the scene before recommencing the shooting, the magician could give the impression of a continuous space in which instantaneous transformations occurred.

Actually, these effects were not necessarily done “in-camera” — splice marks on the film tell us that the transitions were finessed with some careful editing to ensure the greatest continuity between the separate actions. These may be amongst the earliest match-cuts, though they are matched not to draw comparisons between two separate spaces, but in order to preserve the integrity of the framespace. Even if spectators don’t notice the substitution that removes the assistant (Jeanne d’Alcy, whom Melies would eventually marry in 1926) from underneath the sheet, the next trick is far more obvious. Striking a pose with arms outstretched above the empty chair (the graphic matches of stop-motion substitutions are easier to effect if figures in the frame hold a posture across the change, but in later films he has refined this to an astonishing level of fluidity, and they are played so fast that they are often difficult to detect), the magician conjures instantaneously a grey skeleton. This is a game with death, life and the absolute control of the representational field offered by the cinematic apparatus, but what is striking here is how Melies has toyed with expectation. He has begun a trick in conventional style, suggesting that this is a simple record of a well-known trick, and then diverged to deliver a bit of conjuration that could only be achieved cinematically.

The aim seems to have been to preserve a sense of continuous space and time — the film is, after all, imitating the conventions of a stage performance (the newspaper, the bows to the audience etc.) — but this act of preservation is, I suggest, primarily so that Méliès can subvert expectations of how that space will act. The rest of Méliès’ trick films will take this principle to extremes, using frenzied repetition to create a markedly unstable filmic space in which any object can transmogrify, disappear or spring into life at any moment. Whatever the Lumière Brothers had done to show how their Cinématographe film camera (you can see one here) could extract fragments of time for the world and grant them a powerful sense of actuality, the use of stop-motion substitutions provided a powerful lesson in how malleable the filmed image really was, which should have been heeded as a sign of its limited status as ineffably objective proof of presence and actuality. This, I believe, is not just an exploratory theme of “primitive” cinema fidgeting with its new powers, but a fundamental facet of special effects, wherein a film-maker will take what you know about cinema and twist it, not so much that it will be incomprehensible, but just enough to play upon your expectations.
How Special Effects Work

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Revisiting the Magic of Dostoevsky (TSS)

Posted on Февраль 12, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

After almost a year and a half, I have finally picked up another Dostoevsky. People all over have recommended the company of Prince Myshkin and I think it was high time Ifinally delved into The Idiot, which I have been intending to read for a really long time now.

While I still have around two-thirds of the book left to finish, I can confidently recommend it to anyone as another masterpiece from my favourite author. After reading his three most famous works — Notes from the Underground, Crime and Punishment, and The Brothers Karamazov, I had the choice between The Idiot and The Possessed. Since I was more inclined to visit Dostoevsky’s inquiry into an innocent mind than his take on the political upheavals in Russia, I fell for Myshkin.

Of what I have read till now, I am thankful to the good sense having prevailed over me to revisit the magical world of Dostoevsky, where gripping stories are not eternally divorced from substantive psychological or philosophical discussion. Starting with White Tiger last year, my reading trend had slowly shifted more towards ‘contemporary fiction’, a genre I had for queer reasons stayed away from earlier. However, in due course the realization has dawned upon me that no reading should be guided by the ‘genre logic’. While the beauty of a Kundera or the relevance of an Adiga deserves all the attention, the omnipotence of a Dostoevsky can be ignored at no cost.

There are very few characters in literature that live with the reader for its impact on his psyche. This is apart from those that become a part, in some ways, of the folklore. Raskalnikov, Ivan, and Alyosha are the kind of characters that will never become as famous as literary characters can be. But for most people who have read and appreciated Dostoevsky’s themes, these live with them eternally; not as people, but as questions. Dostoevsky has the uncanny ability to turn ideas that trouble him or the ones that he contemplates without an answer, into his characters. It is this ‘answerlessness’ that gives Raskalnikov, Ivan, Alyosha, and the like their luster, their opulence. Vision stops at them, the mind is forced to look beyond.

Looking beyond, however, is to be an excercise in comprehension. In the last one and a half years that I have known these three questions, every new round of contemplation has brought fresh insights. These insights in turn serve as clues for those eternally unanswerable questions whose impotrance always lie in the act of the attempt to a solution, and never the solution itself. Maybe, that is why Dostoevsky has always been a very ‘involving’ read.

The way the Prince is going, I am sure at the end of it all, I would have added one more to the question bank. I also have an inclination that these characters of Dostoevsky talk across books. In many ways Rakalnikov challenges Alyosha and Prince, while the Prince has a lot to say to Ivan. That, I guess, is something to investigate.

Revisiting the Magic of Dostoevsky (TSS)

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A Reader Asks if Criss Angel Does Real Magic

Posted on Февраль 12, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

A reader from the USA, James Brant, has sent me a letter which I print below.

He is asking a question about Criss Angel that has an easy answer but is difficult to answer, because the answer will not answer his question even though it has an easy answer. (All right, my English teacher will fail me for using the word answer five times in a sentence. If I’m redundantly redundant, forgive me. I have a good reason to do so.)

The reason is called “waffling”.

Yes, I have to waffle on this one, even though I’m known as the Filipino magician in the entire Philippines who talks straight, walks my talk, and talks no-nonsense talks.

James’ question is easy to answer, because every magician in the Philippines, in the USA—heck, in all corners and nooks and crannies of the whole wide world— know the answer.

But the thing is, will I blurt out the answer on this blog?

Not easy to do without exposing Criss Angel. I feel like a girl being asked to prove my virginity. How can I do that without dropping my shorts and exposing myself?

Can’t be done elegantly, I suppose. And so I have to waffle. This blog frowns on all types of exposure—even if it’s Scarlett Johansson exposing herself. In the unlikely event she suggests that idea, we are going to nix it. Honest.

Below is my attempt in the art of equivocation.

But first, here’s James’ letter.

Mr. Leodini, I’ve visited your website and enjoyed it very much.

I have a question that you may be able to answer for me. I’m critiquing some of Criss Angel’s work and in doing so, I’ve come across some of his critics.

To your knowledge, do you know if Mr. Angel uses “plants” (paid actors) and clever film editing to make his demonstrations look real, or is what he does actually genuine?

Thank you.

James Brant

——————————————————————————————————————Hi Hi James,

Thanks for your letter. As you can glean from my introduction above, I’m not inclined to give your question a straight answer. I have enumerated my reasons. I hope you understand.

Still, I will give you five answers based on five different assumptions. It’s a multiple-choice thing. It’s up to you to pick one answer that you like most, one that validates your preconceived notion of Criss Angel.

The reason for the multiple answer is that I’m not sure which are you of the following: a) a joker pulling my leg; b) a scavenger of magic secrets; c) a skeptic; d) a seeker of truth; e) a 12-year old Criss Angel fan.

If you are just pulling my leg, ha-ha-ha.

If you are a seeker of magic secrets, don’t look for answers here. This blog doesn’t expose, reveal or teach magic tricks.

If you are a skeptic, ask your question on Amazing Randi’s site. Hope that he doesn’t get suspicious and skeptical of your intentions.

If you are a seeker of truth, stop seeking for it. The truth will not set you free in this instance. It will just make you feel tricked.

Why would you care how Criss Angel does his amazing feat? If you look at your watch to see the time, you don’t need to open it and look at the gears inside to see how the watch can tell you it’s 7.30 in the morning. Why would you like to know how Criss Angel scales a building? Just be amazed and be contented with the joy that amazement brings.

If you are a Criss Angel fan, write him a letter. Many magicians hate him, especially those who don’t have shows on national television.

I don’t particularly like Criss Angel’s shows, but I don’t hate him or his program. He is doing good for magic. He is promoting the art of magic in a unique and modern medium that reaches millions of people across the globe. True, his magic is played in non-traditional platform, using non-traditional techniques. But for better or worse, he casts his spell on millions of televiewers every time he is on TV, as opposed to many hatemongers who perform only for their shortsighted grandmother and to two or three others they can manage to buttonhole on the street.

Well, those are my waffled but hopefully sage answers to your questions.

Stay magical,



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