Combustible Celluloid
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With: Richard Turner, Asa Spades Turner, Kim Turner, Simon Carmel, Lori Drag, Michaela Vail
Written by: Bradley Jackson, Luke Korem
Directed by: Luke Korem
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 85
Date: 12/01/2017

Dealt (2017)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Diamonds Dog

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Richard Turner is an amazing figure, a close-up card-trick magician (he prefers "mechanic") who is completely blind. He knows the cards so well, with his fingers, that he can locate any card at any time. Luke Korem's documentary Dealt tells Turner's story, from his days of being inspired by TV cowboys, his reckless, daredevil days — he has black belt in karate — to his gradual loss of sight. He began to channel his "nervous energy" into cards, shuffling and cutting them, until he became a master. The film shows him working out (he's in great shape in his late 50s), and trying to get around with the help of his son Asa (also known as "Asa Spades").

But he's a stubborn subject, unwilling to see himself as a "handicapped" person and enraged when people refer to him as blind. (He doesn't have a cane or a dog, and never learned Braille.) As fascinating and as skilled as he is, he never completely opens up while being interviewed. Thankfully Asa is more than willing to fill in some blanks. And Korem bends and folds his movie into a narrative by showing Turner losing (and then, subsequently, winning) an award from the Academy of Magical Arts, and then finally deciding to learn an audio-assisted computer program, and learning how to walk with a dog. Turner may not have wanted to be inspiring as a blind man, but he definitely is.

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