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Original Issue

Tables for Two


TOP SPIN, a new documentary tracking a trio of teenaged table tennis prodigies on their quest for Olympic glory, will call to mind docs on niche pursuits like spelling bees (Spellbound, 2002) or crossword puzzles (Wordplay, '06). But the film, directed by Mina T. Son and Sara Newens, quickly dispels any notion that table tennis is a leisure hobby. An Olympic sport since 1988, the blink-and-you'll-miss-it brand of table tennis played by Ariel Hsing, Michael Landers and Lily Zhang (FACES IN THE CROWD, Sept. 15, 2014) is nothing like your father's basement Ping-Pong. A tale of underdogs on the international scene, Top Spin serves up a kinetic sports story more akin to Rocky—complete with training scenes and slo-mo action sequences. You'll never look at a paddle in the same way after seeing the strategy, speed and mental stress that goes into the game.