Directed by Luke Korem
Sixty-two year old Richard Turner is renowned as one of the world’s greatest card magicians, yet he is completely blind. This is an in-depth look at a complex character who is one of magic’s greatest hidden treasures.
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★★★½ review by Michael Sicinski on Letterboxd
There is nothing particularly notable about Dealt as a documentary. In fact it is a standard-issue character study, and its arc is relatively predictable. We learn about Richard Turner, the "card mechanic" who has been obsessively mastering the art of playing-card manipulation from a very early age. We see him perform unimaginably difficult maneuvers with the 52. And then we learn that he went blind as a child and has been rebelling against society's expectations of the "disabled" ever since.
I just happen to find Dealt entertaining, despite its slavish adherence to convention. Turner is a compelling figure, partly because he represents an ideal of masculinity that is tied to a particular moment in history, something unique to my father's generation. He modelled his identity on cowboy movies and the TV show "Maverick," and so his style of being became that of the "honest cheat," the guy who baffles you but never really takes advantage of his superior skills.
It's a notion of honor and nobility that is so time-bound that it practically belongs in a museum. But what makes Turner so fascinating is the degree to which his blindness, for him, represented a disruption of that manly narrative. He was forced to overcompensate, even though no one ever expected him to. As a result, be created himself as an outsized figure of ruggedness and daring, tempered by a genuine warmth and humility that might not have been there otherwise.
And the cards are always in his hand. It's as if they provide a sort of surrogate sight, the flipping sound of the shuffle serving as an echo-location whereby Turner can bring interesting, respectful people into his orbit. He always speaks about wanting his skills to be recognized on their own merits, and he is a brilliant cardsman by any measure. But the fact that he has made a life's work out of tracking and manipulating 52 objects that all feel exactly the same is not something so easily dismissed. If he can "fix" that sameness, see through it and feel the absolute distinctions, than he can smooth out the unexpected challenges of each new day.
★★★½ review by SnowboardJunkie on Letterboxd
Inspiring story of a man who didn’t want to be seen as blind or disabled. Just the accomplishment of his hard work and persistence. He’s a card mechanic. Someone who can cheat at cards. Most see him as a card magician. Which is probably what I see for lack of a better understanding. If for nothing else than the fact his heart would never cheat himself or you. It’s a warming story of determination matched by hard work and passion. Some might even say he’s obsessed.
★★★½ review by Jason Bailey on Letterboxd
Richard Turner is one of the great card mechanics of all time – a 40-years-in performer whose performances are like magic shows, except he’s not just showing tricks, but the moves cheaters use to win at casinos and the card table. He’s spectacularly talented, a funny, gregarious dude who’s always got a deck of cards in his hands (“I have a two to three pack a day habit,” he jokes) and whose sleight of hand is astonishing even *before* you discover he’s completely blind. Director Luke Korem traces his loss of sight, which began at age nine (using effective camera tricks to visually represent his deteriorating state of vision), and his consequent resistance to labels and limits. In some ways, his refusal to be defined by his blindness is admirable, but the filmmaker savvily navigates the tricky question of whether he just doesn’t want to admit to, and come to terms with, his condition. Korem works a little too hard at the end to assure us how inspirational Turner (and by extension, the film) is, but that complaint aside, this is a compelling and frequently dazzling portrait.
★★★★ review by Mario Urban on Letterboxd
A film a bout a remarkable dude who's determined and very good with cards.
He's also blind but that's not the main reason he's remarkable.
★★★★ review by Jeff Widman on Letterboxd
My full review can be found on HorrorGeekLife here:
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