Cine2Nerdle: How to Cross (2 of 4)
Putting theory into practice.
Here’s the first Cine2Nerdle design I contributed. It features The Dark Knight (across), and Jerry Maguire, Full Metal Jacket, X2, and Brokeback Mountain (down)…
“You complete me” is one of the few quotes used memorably in two movies—Jerry Maguire and The Dark Knight—without the second usage just referencing the first. If you’ve seen both films, it’s a nod. But Heath Ledger’s Joker made the line his own as well as Tom Cruise’s Maguire did.
The name “Joker” is shared by a trainee soldier in Full Metal Jacket with no connection to the famous Bat-villain. (Although he also ends up murderous, his insanity is a sadder, more self-destructive type.)
Finally, “Ledger and Gyllenhaal” refers to two different pairings: Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Ennis and Jack in Brokeback Mountain, and Ledger’s Joker menacing Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Rachel Dawes in Dark Knight. My original idea there was “Ledger wrestles Gyllenhaal,” due to the moments below…
Now, any puzzle designer has to be careful not to get so caught up in proving how clever they are that they lose the audience. So I did use one straightforward crossing: “superhero” with X2, the second X-Men movie. But one of X2’s tags, “Nightcrawler,” is the name of a very different film that also stars Jake Gyllenhaal (but not any Ledgers).
I did two color-themed submissions. This was the better-received and more wordplayish of the two, with Reservoir Dogs as the spanner and Legally Blonde, White Chicks, Orange County, and Jackie Brown as the downs…
Reservoir Dogs’ “dogs” use color aliases (Mr. Pink, Mr. Blonde, Mr. White, Mr. Orange, Mr. Brown, and—unmentioned here—Mr. Blue). Pink is the color of choice for Legally Blonde’s main character, and the other four colors are title words. Quentin Tarantino directed both Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown, but he also played the former movie’s “Mr. Brown,” granting the “Tarantino’s Brown” square its full double meaning (Tarantino is Brown/Brown by Tarantino). Finally, “Black” stands for Jack Black, one of the leads in Orange County, and despite appearances, has no connection to the Reservoir Dogs colors.
I only found the Jack Black-Orange County connection after assembling a small list of movie people with color names, including Betty White, Joel Silver, Macy Gray, Amber Heard, Amy Tan, CeeLo Green, Millie Bobbie Brown, and Pink, and checking their resumes for color-word films. There’s a longer resource here.
Making Cine2Nerdles encourages one to track these category overlaps. How many actor names contain plot elements of other films (Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield, Joey King)? How many movies are named after songs that are better used in other movies? (Not so many of these…all I found offhand was “American Pie” in Born on the Fourth of July and Black Widow, among others, rather than American Pie; and “Roxanne” in Good Burger rather than Roxanne.) I might map these kinds of connections more thoroughly in a later installment.
So far, I’ve only shown you one kind of Cine2Nerdle design, with one spanner crossing the four other movies. However, there is another type, with two spanners crossing three other movies instead, as seen below. (There used to be a third type, with two films crossing only two other films, for a total of four films instead of five. But it was unpopular and died a quiet, unmourned death.)
This results in a couple of unattached squares that can be any old thing—and often serve as red herrings, like the square “Pixar” when combined with “rats,” suggesting Ratatouille. It also creates more crossing squares—six instead of four—and it puts them in two dimensions.
As a result, these “2x3” Cine2Nerdles are harder to create and to solve than their “1x4” counterparts. This makes them unlike crosswords, in which puzzles easier to solve are harder to make. To create a 1x4 Cine2Nerdle, all you need to do is think of a film, find four traits it shares with at least one other film, then think of three more traits for each of the four “crossings,” one at a time.
But to create a 2x3 puzzle, you’ve got to anticipate more connections along the way—maybe not when you decide on the first movie, but definitely by the time you fill in the second.
I’ve done one 2x3 puzzle, so far…but I also offered Cine2Nerdle something even more challenging. An UberCine2Nerdle, if you will.
Ultimately, as you’ll see, it choked on its own ambitions and couldn’t be used! But we might still learn a thing or two from dissecting its corpse…next time.