Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (12)
| Top Critics (5)
| Fresh (9)
| Rotten (3)
| DVD (1)
Visually arresting as it is, the pic stands out mainly for its subject matter, the first documentary on blind chess, even though it fits snugly within the sub-genre of underdog stories.
"Algorithms" is a completely unique film, unlike any other documentary you'll see this year, both for its content and its form. But it is also a deeply absorbing, timeless, universal tale with themes anyone can find inspiration in.
An object lesson in how a remarkable subject can be turned into a less remarkable film.
As with many stories about children involved in a competitive activity, "Algorithms" is partly a portrait of grown-up hopes channeled through kids.
Three visually impaired teenage boys from India who play chess at the championship level are the subject of this slow-moving yet soulful documentary.
It's rare to see such transcendence in a film. And that's exactly why this should be watched and cherished by every movie buff out there.
The narrative moves seamlessly between the games and competitions to the boys' homes, neighbourhoods and cities. When it comes to the sport itself, the film plants you on the 64 squares.
Shot in black and white, and featuring lots of close-ups of fingers reading the chess pieces like braille, the film echoes the meditative pacing of the game.
Shot - a little obviously - in black and white, Ian McDonald's film is otherwise a winning documentary that develops into a story as intense and focused as his subjects.
...while these disparate parts are compelling on a surface level, Algorithms is unable to cohere into a decent, coherent, and consistently paced whole.
But the result is simply a literal draining of additional color from an already pallid piece of work that does little justice to the incredible struggles of these exceptional young men.
If you've ever played chess, you'll appreciate the dedication that the film's blind protagonist devote to the only sport that sharpens the brain rather than destroys it.
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