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.  

Thumbnails June 2010

by Tony Medley

Babies (10/10): Thomas Balmes’ French documentary of four babies living the first year of their lives in four different parts of the world, Nambia, Mongolia, Tokyo, and San Francisco, is captivating. Without a word of narrative, the phenomenal photography tells the story of the wonder of new life, drawing a telling dichotomy between a the way the yuppie San Francisco couple raise their child with bottle feeding, yoga classes, and cleaning her with a lint roller vs. the way the half naked African woman raises her naked child, breast-feeding and hands-on, as the baby crawls in the dirt, plays with goats, and drinks out of creeks.

Solitary Man (10/10): Michael Douglas gives a bravura performance in this compelling story of how charm and charisma can lead a man down a primrose path. Uncredited Olivia Thrilby gives a scintillating performance in a short, but pivotal, role near the end of the film as Jesse Eisenberg’s girl friend. Acutely directed by Brian Koppelman (who also wrote) and David Levien, who based it on the “kings of New York” they observed while growing up. Without giving anything away, it ends the way I would have ended it. As Monroe Starr would say in “The Last Tycoon” (1976), that’s the movies.

The Secret in Their Eyes (10/10): Writer/ Director Juan José Campanella studies loneliness using a rape/murder mystery to tell a story of unspoken love and chances missed. Also thrown in are references to Perónista Argentina and the political favoritism that followed. This is a terrific entertainment. In Spanish.

Letters to Juliet (8/10): Channeling the syrupy 1962 romance Rome Adventure, Director Gary Winick throws in lots of spectacular views of Italy which, combined with Amanda Seyfried’s second excellent performance in a row, make this a fine, if unchallenging, diversion.

Exit Through the Gift Shop (8/10): Is this a huge put on by street artist Banksy (who directed), or is Thierry Gueta (who is the subject of the film, and who took the pseudonym “Mr. Brainwash”) really legit? Who cares? This interesting film shows how the multitudes can be scammed by junk art.

Harry Brown (7/10): Michael Caine is at the top of his form as he goes out on his own in a cruel world to get revenge for his best friend killed by young London toughs. There are a few distasteful scenes, but this is a high-tension film, with some violence, that doesn’t let up.

Robin Hood (4/10): Ignoring the legend that spawned at least one good movie, Errol Flynn’s 1938 saga (in three strip Technicolor, a fun movie in eye-popping color), Ridley Scott and Brian Glazer make the same mistake of 2004’s “King Arthur,” and tell a completely different, boring, ridiculous story. Despite the stars, Kevin Durand as a charismatic Little John gives the most memorable performance, reminding me of a young Sean Connery. When Maid Marion (Cate Blanchett) dons helmet and chain mail to engage in war with the French to thwart an invasion, they went too far; it’s laughable. I wasn't expecting much and I was disappointed.

Iron Man 2 (4/10 for gals; 8/10 for guys): As Destiny’s Child sang in 2008, “all you fellas leave your girl with her friends.” This is a high octane, low intellect, mindless Hollywood movie full of special effects and car crashes and violence. The only performances from the A-list cast worth watching are by Larry Shandling as a cloying United States Senator (but I repeat myself) and Sam Rockwell as the bad guy.

Oceans (1/10): Could the script (written by seven different people) have been more uninformative? Could Pierce Brosnan have read it more soporifically? I don’t think so.