Wordplay is a brilliant little documentary about crossword puzzles. Yep, that’s right crosswords, Will Shortz, the people who do them, the people who make them, and the people who gather every year in Stamford, Connecticut to compete at solving them.
I got the film through Netflix not knowing anything beyond that it was about crosswords and that two of my friends had it in their queues. I like documentaries. I like crosswords. I thought, hey, let’s give it a shot.
First off it’s masterfully edited by a man named Doug Blush. If anyone had told me you could have a riveting 2-3 minute sequences with a guy showing how a crossword is made, I would have said they were crazy, but he did it. Filmmakers Patrick Creadon and Christine O’Malley did a terrific job with this film. They managed to get Jon Stewart, the Indigo Girls, Mike Mussina, Bob Dole and Bill Clinton to provide interviews. The top crossword contestants are articulate and witty and interesting in and of themselves. The topic itself is cool. I had no idea how much art goes into constructing a crossword puzzle.
Plus, and this is what I love about this movie. So many different people in all walks of life solve crosswords. As Shortz comments, it’s a solitary pursuit, but at the same time (this is me saying this here), it’s a common pursuit. I have really special memories of my parents and I fighting over the Sunday paper or talking about the clues. I’m by no means a master at them, but I struggle along in my own way and enjoy the process.
The extras on this DVD are almost as good as the film. I particularly loved the stories behind 5 different NY Times crosswords – how they were made and what was different about them.
One of the most engrossing and fun films I’ve seen in a long time.