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.  

January 2009 Thumbnails

by Tony Medley

 The Wrestler (9/10): This is not an easy movie to watch, but what a performance by Mickey Rourke! Director Darren Aronofsky inserts exploitive scenes like the brutal use of a staple gun on Rourke and substantial gratuitous nudity by Marisa Tomei when she could easily have been wearing at least a bikini top without sacrificing verisimilitude.

The Reader (9/10): Highlighted by another great performance by Kate Winslett, this provides a profound take on German guilt about the Nazi era, buttressed by a bravura performance by teenager David Kross, who had to learn English and endure many naked scenes with Winslett for the role, poor guy.

Cadillac Records (7/10): Loosely based on record producer Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody) and the great black rock ‘n’ roll and blues singers he produced, mainly Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright), Chuck Berry (Mos Def), and Etta James (Beyoncé). Although the actors are all professional singers in their own right, maybe it’s understandable since Beyoncé is the executive producer, but they all use their own voices instead of mouthing to the great singers they are portraying. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to hear Mos Def cover Chuck Berry. I want to hear the real thing. Beyoncé is a terrific singer, but I want to hear James herself. I would especially have liked to have heard her classic hit, “At Last,” sung by her. Worse, this is yet another music biopic that plays only snippets of great music, instead of playing each song in its entirety (except for the boss, Beyoncé, who sings all her songs from start to finish). The film whitewashes Chess from the way he exploited his charges (as documented in Berry’s autobiography), especially Waters and Berry, but despite a disjoined first half, this ultimately enjoyable movie picks up in the second half.

Four Christmases (7/10): Despite an abysmal display of ignorance, in which a Christian preacher equates the Immaculate Conception with the virgin birth, and a horrible trailer that seems intended to drive people away, this is a surprisingly entertaining movie with funny performances by Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn and the rest of the exceptional cast.

Doubt (5/10): The story and ending are so ludicrous, defying rational human behavior, they don't measure up to the award-quality performances, by Amy Adams, Viola Davis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Meryl Streep, in that order.

Milk (5/10): This isn’t a biopic of assassinated gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, it’s a canonization. The production notes disclaim any even-handed approach by stating that Milk was “a “friend, lover, unifier, politician, fighter, icon, inspiration, and hero.” So if you want an accurate, warts-and-all examination of Milk, this is not the vehicle, despite an exceptional performance by Sean Penn.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (0/10): Answers the burning question, just how bad can a movie be?

Next month: Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Valkyrie and more.