The last time I saw a Rubik's Cube it was flying across my bedroom on a violent trajectory towards my bedroom wall. My desire to solve the damn thing by lining up all the different sides of the cube in harmonious colour overridden by my frustrations at not at all being able to do so.
As I was a young lad it was the prehistoric era before the internet and its thousands of instructional YouTube videos. All I had to help me conquer this cheerily coloured cube of utter exasperation were my wits and my smarts and both were found in short supply.
Back then I certainly didn't know what an 'algorithm' was and, if I'm honest, I barely know what one is now. But I can tell you that to solve a Rubik's Cube you need to know the algorithm. Easy enough, right? Wrong.
Because I'm not saying 'an' algorithm. I'm saying 'the' algorithm. A small, yet crucial, difference. There's more than one way to skin a cat - although why you'd want to I don't know, but it's nice to know you've got options if you did- and there's more than one way to solve a cube. In fact, there's hundreds.
Knowing a single algorithm will eventually get your cube home after a lot of twisting and turning and twisting and turning, but the more of these algorithms you know the quicker you'll be able to unjumble all the colours and move on with your life.
At the highest level of 'Cubing,' which I assure you is a real thing, people are solving Rubik's Cubes in less time than it takes to say the words 'Rubik's Cube'. They move so fast and with such extreme digit dexterity that their cube becomes nothing more than a blur of colour and motion.
Your eyes literally can't believe what's happening because the cube's moving so fast you can't actually see what's happening. It's truly incredible. How fast are we talking here? Blisteringly fast. Less than five seconds fast.
I'm going on about all of this because Netflix's new documentary The Speed Cubers doesn't. You don't learn any history about the Rubik's Cube or how the accessibly brain bending puzzle became a global phenomenon in the '80s.
And for a doco about Speed Cubers, people who have dedicated their lives to solving cubes faster than anyone else, there's a woeful lack of detail on how Speed Cubing became a thing. And forget about learning a few tips on solving one yourself. I've gone into more detail on how to solve a cube here than the doco does.
Karl Puschmann: This year the Film Festival gamble pays off
Karl Puschmann: Are virtual shows better than the real thing?
Karl Puschmann: Does the new look Neon have a shot at taking out Netflix?
This lack of context does have one advantage in that it makes The Speed Cubers a quick watch. At a mere 40 minutes it would take me longer to solve a Rubik's Cube. Although, to be fair, I could sit through the entire The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and still not have it solved...
But don't mistake this for a lack of substance. The doco packs a lot of emotional punch into its fleeting run time.
It follows the lives of reigning speed cubing champion Feliks Zemdegs and his young rival Max Park as they prepare and compete at the 2019 World Championships in Zemdegs' hometown of Melbourne.
What separates this from similar docos about two rivals going at it, stealing World Records off each other and spurring each other on to achieve greater and greater things is that Park's and Zemdegs aren't fierce competitors. They're friends.
What makes The Speed Cubers such a compelling and heartwarming watch is the way Zemdegs, the older veteran at 24, looks out for and looks after, the usurper to his crown.
Early on we learn that 17-year-old Park has autism, with his parents putting his emotional level at around that of a 9-year-old. Fascinated by the Rubik's Cube at a young age he began watching videos on YouTube and was never without one spinning in his hands. Zemdegs was his hero, a rare thing for someone with autism to have.
Park's parents encouraged his cubing because it was pulling him out of his head and helping him learn socialising behaviours. But even they were surprised when he began winning competitions and shattering records.
And after each new record Parks would receive a phone call or a text from Zemdegs congratulating him on his win. A lovely gesture made even more admirable considering it was often his own records being broken.
That's just one of many shining examples in The Speed Cubers of what actual sportsmanship should look like. There's laughter, there's tears, and there's people competing at the highest levels of human ability.
The way these guys manipulate and solve these things has to be seen to be believed. But it's the way they act away from their cubes that truly impresses.