Put on your Best Magic Show

“How does she do it?” If you love the thrill of creating amazement in incredulous onlookers, consider putting together your very own magic show! With the wide variety of commercial magic kits, props, and instructional materials available today, this can be a lot easier than it sounds.

There are many types of magical illusions to choose from: penetration (where a solid object seemingly passes through another solid object), levitation, vanishing acts, escape tricks, and the transformation of one object into another. Often tricks combine more than one of these elements, such as making an object vanish and re-appear as something else.

In planning your magic show, firsts determine what type of magician you would like to be. Would you be comfortable performing in front of large audiences on stage, or would you prefer the more intimate setting of after-dinner parlor magic for a few friends? For whom would you like to perform, a group of wily kids who will be delighted with simple coin tricks, or adults (who tend to be more skeptical)? Do you like to perform alone, or would you like a full show with assistants, accomplices and plenty of accessories on stage? Your personality determines what type of magician you are, and the type of magician you are determines which magic tricks are most suited to your show.

For the more theatrical, stage magic is the most appealing choice. Stage magicians have a host of illusions to choose from and perform in front of large audiences. Escape tricks a la Harry Houdini are impressive and suited to these big shows. For a start, you can learn and apply basic escape techniques with rope magic.

If your style is more low-key, then your magic trick selection should involve more close-up, sleight-of-hand with small objects. These kinds of tricks are suited to intimate settings such as dinner and cocktail parties. You don’t have to be a Vegas blackjack dealer to learn how to do basic, yet impressive card tricks. Lots of tricks involve a “spectator card,” a.k.a. a card picked out by a member of the audience and magically located by you later on. Lots of these tricks involve counting cards, but the latest in magic card decks are specifically designed to make card tricks easy.

In between the two extremes of stage magic and close-up magic is the realm of party magic. Party magic, often performed for children, involves plenty of participation from the audience (and possibly accomplices). Some of the most amusing magic tricks, especially for children, involve making coins appear and disappear right before their eyes. Coin tricks rely on sleight-of-hand techniques that you can easily learn with a bit of practice. What you do most, you do best, and this particularly applies to sleight-of-hand magic like coin tricks and ball-and-cup tricks, so practice, practice, practice! There is no substitute for experience when it comes to pulling off magic tricks with ease and flair.

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the same goes for being prepared for when a magic trick goes wrong. Have a simple, well-rehearsed trick in your arsenal that you can call upon when all else fails. Make sure you’ve practiced this trick so many times you could do it blindfolded – that way even if you’re feeling really nervous and thrown off by your previous trick-gone wrong, you can quickly transition into a trick that puts you where you ought to be: back in control of your own show.

When you come up against skeptics who want to take the wind out of your sails, remember the words of magician Joseph Dunninger: “For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation will suffice.” Not everyone will be into magic, so focus your efforts on those who truly enjoy what you have to offer. You may find the performance of magic to be more rewarding than you imagined.

A Glimpse of Midnight Magic

Long-time fans of the series have been waiting for this. Everything that Harry, Ron and Hermione have done boils down to this final two-part movie finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. And being one of those long-time fans of the series, it had long-since been planned that I would be attending the midnight premiere with friends. With tickets purchased in advance and arriving four hours before doors opened, we were ready to see the first half of this highly anticipated sequel.

It’s at these late night viewings that the big-time fans appear. When we originally sat down to wait, there were roughly fifteen to twenty other fans sitting before us. Being the last ones in line we ordered drinks and sat around talking about the books, basically killing time while we waited. Thirty minutes later the line extended all the way down the theater, out the door, around the corner and into the mall (we went to the Alamo Drafthouse at West Oaks Mall). There were some with their laptops re-watching the previous films, others discussing the books as my friends and I were, and some even had copies of the Deathly Hallows to get in last minute re-reading.

There were even those who decided to dress up for the occasion although not as many as I expected had in the bigger cinema theaters in town. Fans dressed in wizard robes and Hogwarts uniforms were among the crowd as we all piled into the theater when we were let in at eleven o’clock.

Now, with an hour to go before the movie started, instead of airing previews of movies to come, short videos of anything and everything Harry Potter were shown instead: Harry Potter Puppet Pals, A Very Potter Musical, mock movie previews of Harry Potter spoofs, even fake news footage about the wizarding community. It was clear to see that this theater knows what the fans want! And just to make this experience all the more entertaining, the theater had added Butterbeer to their drink menu! Very delicious, by the way.

And now, having seen the film and thoroughly enjoying it, curiosity had me looking into reviews on the film. The biggest complaint I had found were critics complaining that the tone of the film was too dark. It was a surprise to hear that this was such a surprise. Considering the fact that this is the final showdown between the Order of the Phoenix verses Death Eaters and, more importantly, Harry verses Voldemort, of course it isn’t going to be as light-hearted as the first few films!

But that aside, The Deathly Hallows Part 1 is every bit of the prelude it was meant to be. Even with the book being divided into two films, there was still source material missing because there still wasn’t enough time to film it all. Disappointing, yes, but the changes here were more forgivable than ones made in some of the other movies. When compared to the other films, this one stands right up there with Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets, whose adaptations were more loyal to their respective books than the others.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is definitely worth the DVD rental because this is one that can be enjoyed more than once. Not to mention when Part 2 comes out, if you have the chance to, go for the midnight premiere. All theatre companies do things differently so you never know what sort of hijinks may happen when you attend!

Movie Ticket Weekly “Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon”

Considering the fact that this is a movie trilogy franchise based on a line of toys from the 1980s, I didn’t expect much out of this third installment save for loud explosions and giant alien robots fighting it out in some major iconic city in the United States. And that is exactly what I got when I saw Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon on Friday so my complaints are few and minimal.

I admit that writing a review for this film is a little more difficult to do when compared to the other ones I’ve seen this summer though. To be honest, the reason being is that beyond the rapid action and computer generated effects that cover the surface; there is not much else to see. At its foundation this movie is the same as the previous two films. The usual human characters do return, such as Sam Witwicky, Lt. Colonel William Lennox and Seymour Simmons, which allows for the same old mixture of viewpoints between humans and aliens. And of course the government is involved so there are plenty of moments where you may end up being frustrated by the constant arguing in circles over levels of power and who has what form of security clearance to do something or other.

You cannot expect a deep, significant plot when paying for your ticket. Seeing as this was released during the week/weekend of the Fourth of July, I can only imagine that Michael Bay was aiming to play up on patriotic enthusiasm from the crowd to see American soldiers fight off these aliens. It’s been done again and again, and it works as selling point in the box office. I remember watching the cartoons as a kid and I did not expect much else from the movie. The cartoons had better stories, to be frank, and even then they were silly. And again, both the cartoons and movies are based on childrens’ toys. Above all else the key selling factor in all this is the nostalgic value.

One complaint I have is that throughout the movie, the product placement was just about shoved down my throat, which has been the norm for the previous two movies. Considering the amount of money that was spent on the computer generated graphics alone, Bay had to get the money from somewhere. But when I’m not being subjected to seeing iPads or Cisco equipment, it was fun pointing out obvious plot twists with my friends as the movie went along. I had my favorite Autobots and Decepticons to watch. I even had the occasional moment where I was biting my nails in anticipation.

If you’re looking to save a few dollars go ahead and skip on the 3D viewing. The 2D was perfectly fine and my bank account is little bit happier with me. But whether you see it in theaters (which I recommend if only for the experience) or when it comes out on DVD, Dark of the Moon was a lot more enjoyable for me to watch than Revenge of the Fallen. Plus, what could be more fantastic than to hear Leonard Nimoy’s voice coming out of a Transformer? Not very much, I say. Not very much.

Movie Ticket Weekly “Cars 2”

Cars 2 is another example of a movie where you’re better off ignoring the big-time critics and go by what the audience themselves are rating it. At the time of this review being written, the top critics rate this film at 34% while the actual audiences give it a 67%, which I find to be the more realistic rating.

Five years have passed since Cars, both since its debut and in the movie timeline for the sequel. Lightening McQueen has won the Piston Cup four more times and is set to participate in –you guessed it– another race. But this one is set more like how the Speed Racer film was with holding multiple single races around the world for a World Grand Prix. It takes the audience to Japan, Italy and England where during the races, a sub-plot of secret agents and an evil car organization trying to take down an industry that has discovered alternative fuel.

I’m sure there is an environmental message in there somewhere, but I was too distracted by trying to get through the scenes involving Tow Mater without face-palming.

Pixar changed the formula this time around to have the movie focus on Tow Mater, as voiced by Larry the Cable Guy. Now I’ve enjoyed watching his stand ups and Blue Collar Comedy Tours, and I didn’t mind Mater in the first movie, but I have yet to watch a movie that he stars in and see it do well. In all honesty, the reason I went to see this movie was for the voice acting of Michael Caine (Finn McMissile), Emily Mortimer (Holly Shiftwell) and Eddie Izzard (Sir Miles Axelrod). And the combination of the three did more than enough to balance out the dragged-on humor of Larry. I would also like to mention that scenes that did involve Lightening (Owen Wilson) were like finding small gems hidden away. This is another example of a film where I don’t regret seeing it but it could have been better.

The story itself is simple and I found myself figuring out who the bad guy was roughly one third into the film it was just that predictable. Then again this is supposed to be a children’s film so I could not go in there expecting a mind-blowing plot twist. And while on the subject of this being a children’s film, what did manage to surprise me was the level of humor itself. It was nothing raunchy or anything of the sort, but there were moments where I glanced down my aisle at the children there and watched as certain jokes or references go over their heads entirely while their parents laughed in their place.

After watching Cars 2 I thought it honestly seemed to be geared more for the parents than the kids. Between the 007 feel of action involving secret agents and the World Grand Prix resembling every other racing movie around, it didn’t meet the usual standards that make up a Pixar production. In true Pixar fashion though the viewers are treated to their usual animated short prior to the start of the movie, and fans of Toy Story will be in for a treat at that!

I would like to give them props when it comes to the soundtrack however. The musical score was composed by Michael Giacchino, who is known for producing the soundtracks for such titles as Super 8, Star Trek, Speed Racer as well as three other Pixar films (The Incredibles, Up and Ratatouille). Also, I was pleasantly surprised to recognize the usage of “Polyrhythm” by Perfume when the characters were at the pre-race party in Japan.

Movie Ticket Weekly “Green Lantern”

Because I am a big fan of the DC Universe I made an effort to attend the midnight release of the Green Lantern film on Friday morning. The fun thing about midnight showings is that some theaters will have events going on prior to the movie starting. I attended the showing at the Alamo Drafthouse in West Oaks where before the lights were dimmed, the owners of 8th Dimension Comics and Game Store provided prizes—such as official movie posters, comics and t-shirts—for the trivia contest they held.

Green Lantern is the one major superhero movie they have debuting this year as opposed to Marvel’s three films (Thor, X-Men: First Class, and later this year, Captain America: The First Avenger). I myself have nothing against Marvel and do enjoy their stories, but I grew up with DC, so I have always been a little more partial to those characters.

Without spoiling the film, it is your basic origin story about one of the classic comic book heroes, Hal Jordan. He was the first human to become a member of the Green Lantern Corp and was a founding member of the Justice League of America. Played by Ryan Reynolds, Hal Jordan is a test pilot who works for a company called Ferris Aircraft. However, his life was changed forever when a spacecraft carrying a dying alien by the name of Abin Sur crashed into Earth.

Walking out of the theater that morning once the movie was over, I was left with an underwhelmed kind of feeling. But before I go into this movie discussion I want to be clear that this wasn’t a bad movie though. I did, in fact, have fun seeing it. It had faults and weaknesses but I don’t regret going to see it, let alone losing hours of sleep before work that day. If you have plans on going to see it, then do so; you may want to keep your expectations low though. Or you can wait until it is out on DVD to rent it.

The movie felt flat in the end, but that isn’t to say it was boring. Every five or ten minutes there was something big happening: huge, loud and, oftentimes, something exploded. For me, the highlights of the film were all of the scenes that took place on Oa (the planet that is home for the Green Lantern Corp) as well as seeing Hal wield the ring’s power.

Because this is the story of how it all began for Hal, he is, of course, the main focus of the story, but I found myself wanting to see more of Kilowag, Tomar-Re, Thaal Sinestro and the rest of the Corp. Tomar-Re, in particular, was my favorite to see. My other concern was I found Hector Hammond’s plotline to be more interesting to follow than Hal’s. He was a normal human who was consumed by the yellow power of fear. Watching his struggle and seeing his humanity slip away due to terror consuming him was the most intriguing part of the plot to follow.

All in all, Green Lantern is one of the weaker movies of the summer. It isn’t terrible and certainly doesn’t deserve the low ratings I have seen around the Internet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this franchise is rebooted in a few years.

Now costume-wise, the movie has proved to show that the majority of it’s budget has gone to the CGI, including the redesign of Green Lantern uniforms. Seeing as we all can’t walk around in CGI costumes Rubie’s has gone ahead and designed uniforms that we can actually wear this Halloween season. We currently carry the Deluxe Green Lantern costume that is modeled after the cartoons and comics in stock. The costumes and accessories that are based on the design from this movie are on order and as they come in I’ll be sure to post updates on our Twitter (frankelscostume)!

Movie Ticket Weekly “Super 8”

Opening this past weekend was the science-fiction/thriller movie Super 8, a film directed by JJ Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg. Considering the two big minds behind this movie, I walked into the theater expecting a fairly decent film involving kids and aliens with some cliché moments on top that Saturday afternoon. And just under two hours later I’m walking out of the theater with yet another title added to my list to buy when the DVD is released later this year.

Set in a small town of Ohio during the summer of 1979, the story revolves around a group of kids spending their vacation putting together their own zombie-film to be entered into a film festival. It’s a movie about a movie if you will.

Or so you thought.

On one midnight of their shooting, Joe Lamb and his friends find themselves witnessing a pick-up truck driving headlong into an oncoming military train, resulting in a chaotic explosion that have them scrambling and running for their lives. Unbeknown to them this accident was not, in fact, an accident. And the cargo being transported within the cars was not of this world.

The beginning of Super 8 up until this event-changing moment moves a little slow. While this may work as a disadvantage for other films, in the case of this story it helps to build it up as well as go into the relationships between the characters. In all honesty I will take a move with character development over a film that is nothing but flashing lights and the latest in shiny CGI. JJ Abrams delivers a story that works with characters that you can care about. With some predictable moments aside, Super 8 does well with what it has. This is a simple, straight forward science fiction tale that keeps you engaged until the ending credits start rolling.

As an added treat, I would recommend staying behind to watch the credits. You get the chance to see the film the kids were making in its entirety. It isn’t very long, running at about five minutes, but it’s enjoyable and campy none-the-less. Not to mention it’s fun to pick out what scenes were filmed during the movie! And while this isn’t exactly a family-friendly sci-fi like E.T., it’s still a film you can bring the younger teens and up to watch.

Unfortunately this was not a strong movie in regards to costumes but if anyone can pull off that alien design somehow I would love to see pictures. After attending my fair share of conventions, anything is possible.

Movie Ticket Weekly “X-Men: First Class”

This is the start of a new weekly blog installment here for Frankel’s Costumes! My name is Maegen and throughout the summer I will be attending the movies every weekend, checking out the newest summer films to review not only the movie but the costumes too. So without further ado, welcome to the first review of “Movie Ticket Weekly” where I take a look at 20th Century Fox’s X-Men: First Class!

Now, I must admit right off the bat that my knowledge of the X-Men universe is restricted to the first two movies and the two animated series. I have yet to go read the comics so my knowledge as to how accurate the plot of the film itself is limited. But, with that said, this was a movie I found myself enjoying immensely despite that. After hearing what had happened with both X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I was very skeptical as to how this would go. I have to say I do not regret paying full price for this and, in fact, would pay to see it a second time with my friends when they do.

With the exception of the last ten minutes of the film, everything was well-paced and easy to follow. There was character development to enjoy, in particularly Raven, and the bromance relationship between Xavier and Erik were the highlight moments of it all. I will refrain from revealing any spoilers but during the montage of the pair seeking out mutants to recruit, there is one meeting in particular that had the entire audience cheering and roaring with laughter when I went to it. The movie does have it’s fair share of faults though. As I mentioned before, it seemed as if the team behind this film felt they weren’t going to get a sequel so they essentially crammed everything important into the last ten minutes. These elements would have done so well if elaborated properly in a second movie. But all around First Class had more shining moments than faults going for them, which is why I can highly recommend others to see it.

On the costume and make-up aspect, the most notable ones are that of Mystique, Beast and Azazel. You’re going to need quite a lot of blue or red body and face paint to paint yourself in the right color. Or in the case of Beast, a lot of synthetic fur. Mystique is the same as she was in the first movie trilogy and it’s just as stunning as ever at the job the make-up artists for that film have done. At this time we do have Emma Frost in stock and I will be keeping an eye out for anymore this year. But as far the others costumes go the only notable designs are that of their suits as they partake in stopping a war from breaking out between Russia and the United States at Cuba. I’m not sure if Disguise (the company who has the rights to the X-Men franchise) will have this available in time for Halloween, but if so, I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

On the downside if I had not known in advance that this movie was taking place in the 1960’s I never would have guessed. The costumes just did not appear to be from the 60s. There were hints here and there, but there just was not enough of a difference in clothing to distinguish what decade it was set in.

But all in all, this is one film you should not miss out this summer. This looks like a good summer for the Marvel Franchise. First with Thor and now X-Men: First Class. Let’s see if they can keep this going when Captain America: The First Avenger debuts later this summer!

 

 

Quidditch

Taking a sport that is supported by the concept of magic and flying brooms from a book series and turning it into playable activity outside those pages takes the dedication that only devoted fans can provide. It may sound silly to others, but then again, people in general can be pretty silly about the hobbies they love. In this case, the fans in question are those of the Harry Potter series. And the sport is Quidditch, but done in the style of Muggles!

Over the past five years, the grounded version of Quidditch has been growing in popularity in high schools and colleges. After Xander Manshel adapted the rules from the original books in 2005, it wasn’t until two years later that Alex Benepe took over for Manshel and founded the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association in 2007. And since then, over a thousand teams from high schools and colleges from thirteen different countries have joined the IQA. The sport has grown in popularity and has even pulled the Quidditch World Cup from the pages, bringing them to reality, too. Just last year, on the weekend of November 13th and 14th, the Fourth Annual Quidditch World Cup tournament was held in New York City. Seven hundred and fifty seven players divided into forty-six teams came together to compete over those two days!

While facts like grounded brooms and no magical dodge balls flying around trying to knock you out may sound like it would put a damper on the game, the Muggle version still retains the same fun and excitement as the ones from the books and movies. For example, the Golden Snitch is no longer a little flying golden orb. Instead, one person is chosen as the Snitch Runner, dressed in nothing but yellow and carries a tennis ball in a sock that hangs from the waistband of their shorts. It is the Seeker’s job to grab the sock from the Snitch Runner and the Snitch Runner has to do whatever it can to avoid it. The more creative of a show they display in evading the Seekers, the better! The point value has been changed from 150 points to 30 but it still signals the end of the game once caught. With the Beaters, they are unable to carry bats due to having to carry their brooms. However, they are allowed to both throw and kick the Bludgers at the opposing team players just as they’re supposed to.

This is only a sample of it too. You can learn more about the sport by visiting the Official International Quidditch Association Website. It is amazing just what can be accomplished when fans are truly dedicated to a fandom that they love. And as silly as it may look, that doesn’t keep anyone from having a blast either watching or participating.

And for those who live in the Houston area, here’s your chance to witness Quidditch live! During the last weekend of May, the 27th through 29th, Comicpalooza will be hosting live Quidditch matches between three IQA teams. Be sure to stop by that weekend and see for yourself!

Sucker Punch

This action packed film comes from the mind of Zack Snyder,  the director behind the Watchmen, and the beautifully shot 300 movie that had men everywhere scrambling to the gym to get the same chiseled abs modeled throughout the film. Mr. Snyder has returned with a vengeance and has brought forth a visually stunning, fantastically choreographed film. The epic tale revolves around Baby Doll (played by Emily Browning), and her determination to remove herself from her prison. In this case her prison is the Lennox House , an asylum, where she has been placed by her step father who rids himself of the rebellious” girl when his attempt to violate Baby Doll’s sister is nixed by Baby Doll (she succeeds in stopping him but shoots her sister in the process).

Baby Doll has little time to take in her new fate when she discovers that her stepfather has paid for scheduled multiple lobotomies (an attempt to remove any special memories of her recently deceased mother and sister). In order to cope with her awful reality, Baby Doll conjures up a world where she must dance for her life before the High Roller comes to visit. In this imaginary world she encounters giant, demonic samurai soldiers; there is steam and gear powered World War II zombies; storming castles with dragons and even robots set up not unlike video game levels that the cast; Rocket, Blondie, Amber, and Sweet Pea must fight their way through.

For a movie that had a budget of roughly eighty-two million dollars, it certainly proved to be eye candy complete with intriguing costume designs and upbeat soundtrack. With that said, make sure to check out all four animated shorts that were released prior to the movie’s debut. They add a little more substance to the action scenes found in the movie. Backtrack to (hands down) the best part for “Sucker Punch”,  the costume designs. These sexy designs in which will be made available for Halloween of this year, courtesy of Rubie’s, are geared to embody the five fearless women. As a part of Rubie’s’ new line for Secret Wishes they are releasing not only the costumes, but also the wigs and accessories of the five hardcore chicks that took over the screen. We have ordered these costumes and hope to have them in in time for the holiday season so be sure to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter to keep up to date! Masks have also been ordered for the steampunk-esque zombie soldiers and the samurai demons so stay tuned!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrIiYSdEe4E

An Artist’s View

There’s nothing more fascinating to me than a behind the scenes look into the creation of film. Makeup Artist magazine has graciously posted narrated video clips from three of the 2011 Oscar nominees for Best Makeup ( including the winners, Rick Baker and Dave Elsey for their great work on The Wolfman). The videos provide firsthand accounts of the challenges the artists faced during production.

Check out what Adrien Morot had to say for Barney’s Version:

There is definitely more to the role of a makeup artist than making the “Angelinas” of  film look their best. Who knew facial hair is considered one of the most challenging tasks by many makeup artists? Because of the time consuming work involved, any makeup artist who has dealt with the task is immediately met with praise by colleagues.

It’s a well-known fact that movies are rarely shot in the order of the script. Because of this, it is no surprise that when it comes to aging a character, the makeup artists’ attention to detail is kicked up a few notches. God forbid that they forget to add a wrinkle or two when the scene calls for it. This minor overlook can result in major consequences if it appears on big screen for a worldwide audience.

For more exciting tales, sit back and watch the videos here. Enjoy.