The first and second editions of Complete Idiot's Guide to Bridge by H. Anthony Medley comprised the fastest selling beginning bridge book, going through more than 10 printings. This updated Third Edition includes 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. Available in all bookstores and on Kindle.  


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by Tony Medley

Argo (9/10): For my money, Ben Affleck is one of the best directors in Hollywood with two outstanding films already to his credit, The Town, 2010, and Gone Baby Gone, 2007. Although Affleck did not write the script, this still qualifies as an auteur performance because in addition to directing, he also stars and coproduces. Everything about this film is high quality, a multiple Oscars® candidate. The end credits are worth sitting through to see pictures of the real-life people who lived through this ordeal alongside the actors playing them. The similarity in looks is remarkable, which is why I'm, well, remarking.

Cloud Atlas (7/10): Seeming to channel reincarnation, at almost three hours this neo-epic but convoluted film telling six separate tales is too long and, in the end, too preachy. I felt like I should get a T-shirt that said, "I survived Cloud Atlas." But the acting by the A-list cast is impressive, as are the cinematography, the pace, and cutting back and forth from one time frame to another. Unfortunately, the movie does not make the years of the six episodes, all of whom contain the same actors, clear.

Taken 2 (7/10): Not up to the original, but despite some pretty ludicrous plot holes it is still adequately tense to be entertaining. Among its deficiencies are a gun straight out of the old Republic Studios western prop shop that never needs reloading, villains who are not sufficiently hateful, and Liam Neeson's supernatural ability to find a needle in a haystack time and again.

Looper (5/10): To give this time-warp film credit it is ingenious, but entirely too cold-bloodedly violent. Recent movies paint the future as dark and depressing. While Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt give fine performances, the film really comes alive when Emily Blunt appears halfway through. There are some interesting dialogues, especially those between Joseph now and Joseph from the future. Paul Dano makes a short but effective appearance.

The Paperboy (1/10): This is a trashy movie about trashy people, a movie that basically disdains its plot in order to concentrate on its characters, characters so devoid of good sense and morality that nobody sitting in a theater could possibly have any empathy for any of them. Making the film even less enjoyable is a disgustingly graphic scene in which both Nicole Kidman and John Cusack masturbate.

Fun Size (1/10): The good news about this film aimed at an age level of about 4-14 is that it's only 96 minutes long. The bad news is that it is 96 minutes long.

Here Comes the Boom (0/10): Advertised as a "Kevin James comedy," I didn't see anything funny. Misguidedly aimed at children, it consists mostly of violence, James engaging in the brutal Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), an extreme version of boxing with few rules. This is particularly inappropriate for impressionable children. While the film seems to have a good moral, a man who risks life and limb for the good of his students, it glorifies the vicious fighting in MMA. In fact the final dénouement consists of 10 to 15 minutes of brutal fighting in which James, after being battered to semi-consciousness, comes back to fight viciously, inspiring people in the audience, including his girlfriend, Selma Hayek, and his youthful students, to act like bloodthirsty Romans in the Colosseum 2 millennia ago, yelling for James to pulverize his opponent, apparently giving little value to the fact that his opponent was, after all, a fellow human being subjected to an unmerciful, vicious, graphic beating.

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