The first edition of Complete Idiot's Guide to Bridge by H. Anthony Medley was the fastest selling beginning bridge book, going through more than 10 printings. This updated Second Edition includes some modern advanced bidding systems and conventions, like Two over One, a system used by many modern tournament players, Roman Key Card Blackwood, New Minor Forcing, Reverse Drury, Forcing No Trump, and others. Also included is a detailed Guide to Bids and Responses, along with the most detailed, 12-page Glossary ever published, as well as examples to make learning the game even easier. Click book to order.  

Married Life (8/10)

by Tony Medley

From the very start, with Doris Day singing “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” this is a captivating, atmospheric thriller about a man, Harry Allen (Chris Cooper), who wants to murder his wife, Pat (Patricia Clarkson), because he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings when he leaves her for Kay Nesbitt (Rachel McAdams). With that humorous premise, this is far from a comedy. There are some amusing lines and situations, but the story is deadly serious.

Told with a voice over by Harry’s best and oldest friend, Richard Langley (Pierce Brosnan), this is a film that surprises up to the end. Once again, Brosnan gives a solid performance. From a guy who was a glitzy but insubstantial presence, an image that was solidified by his appearances in three James Bond films, in all of which he disappointed me, he did a 180 degree career turn with “The Matador” (2005). Cooper, McAdams, and Clarkson are superb, but Brosnan is the glue that holds the story together. Richard defines his own character when Harry suggests that he should find himself a fine girl like Kay for himself, responding, “You know how honest to god wonderful women go running and screaming when they see me coming.” But Richard does take Harry’s suggestion to heart, much to Harry’s ultimate dismay.

Director Ira Sachs (who also has a co-writer credit with Oren Moverman) has created a wonderful 1949-ambience for this period story which is based on the book “Five Roundabouts to Heaven” by John Bingham. The year 1949 is evocatively captured in every scene in “right on” costuming, cars, and set direction.

Early in the film, Sachs makes an effective time lapse with a quick dissolve as Harry, Kay, and Richard are having dinner in a crowded restaurant that dissolves into the waiters cleaning up the almost-empty restaurant with the three still there talking. This is such a better way to show time passing than the clumsy vehicle used by most directors, showing a montage of the characters talking and laughing with quick cuts to indicate the passage of time but no dialogue the audience is able to hear.

McAdams continues to develop into one of the best actresses extant. She reminds me of the equally beautiful Tuesday Weld, who was a much better actress than anyone ever gave her credit for being. Fortunately for Rachel, she doesn’t have the flawed reputation to live down that Tuesday created for herself when she was a teenager, which constantly haunted her career.

This is one of the better movies of the year so far.

February 15, 2008