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The linguistic ballet of the crossword puzzle and the obsessive minds that wrestle with them are a source of delight in the charming documentary Wordplay. Though there's no story, the movie has a definite hero: Will Shortz, the editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle, universally acknowledged as the pinnacle of crosswords. Shortz comes across as clever but modest; though he's at the top of his particular world, he retains a bemused perspective on that world's limitations. Though speckled with celebrities from former President Bill Clinton to the Indigo Girls, the most engaging interviews are with puzzle creator Merl Reagle (who gives a fascinating on-screen demonstration of how he starts making a puzzle) and the witty and garrulous commentary by the former public editor for the Times, Daniel Okrent. Like many recent documentaries, Wordplay is built around a competition: The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, an annual event started by Shortz and embraced by people who have devoted an alarming amount of their brain space to filling squares with letters. Though the movie is not as emotionally involving as Spellbound--still the ne plus ultra of nerdy documentaries--Wordplay's window into its particular subculture will be enjoyable to non-crossword fans as well as committed puzzleheads.

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Special Features Deleted scenes Interview gallery "The 5 Unforgettable Puzzles Ever" Featurette Wordplay goes to Sundance Gary Louris music video: "Every Word" Waiting for the New York Times: A short film by Patricia Erens Photo gallery

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GEP79615 Wordplay DVD (2006/Will Shortz Documentary) $19.98 $16.99