February 01, 2006

Wordplay media roundup #3

CNET's Michelle Meyers calls Wordplay "an awesome documentary." She's pulling for more edits before the theatrical release—"while the footage was fascinating, some of it was a bit rambling, if not redundant." I'll go on record stating that Al Sanders' pre-finals comments are absolutely crucial to the movie (and I'm sitting a few seats down from him, so I get on screen then).

In the Onion's A.V. Club, Nathan Rabin writes, "of the films The A.V. Club saw, only [Lucky Number] Slevin, [Small Town] Gay Bar, and the quirkily endearing crossword-puzzle documentary Wordplay inspired anything approaching the kind of buzz likely to project them to even a fraction of the crossover success enjoyed by sex, lies and videotape, Napoleon Dynamite, and past Sundance juggernauts."

In Canada's National Post, Chris Knight discusses the prize vs. deal aspect of the Sundance Film Festival: "There are two kinds of winners at Sundance. Some filmmakers go home with a prize, others with a coveted distribution deal, but seldom do they pick up both. • The most talked-about (and quickly purchased) films this year included the documentary Wordplay, about New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz; Little Miss Sunshine, a crowd-pleasing comedy starring Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear; and The Science of Sleep, Michel Gondry's visually stunning movie, set inside the dreams of its protagonist. None was recognized at Saturday's awards ceremony. • The prevailing wisdom is that Sundance juries give their prizes to good films that need a boost, rather than those already headed to theatres."

New England columnist Chris Elliott, after noting that Oprah Winfrey anagrams to "why I fear porn" and attempting to come up with a good anagram of Samuel Alito, mentions Wordplay as "the surprise hit at Sundance this year."

The AP's David Germain wrote about the highlights of the film festival, starting off with the category of crowd-pleasers: Little Miss Sunshine, with Steve Carell and Greg Kinnear, and Wordplay, featuring "a lovable assortment of contenders" at the crossword tournament. (Ellen, Tyler, Al, and Trip are charming people.)