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.  


Thumbnails Jun 14

by Tony Medley

God’s Pocket (8/10): Veteran actor John Slattery makes his feature film directorial debut impressively by converting Pete Dexter’s 1983 novel into a dark, well-paced film highlighted by wonderful acting by a talented cast, headlined by Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his last roles. Good as Hoffman is, however, the ones who really hit the mark are Christina Hendricks as his unhappy, troubled wife, and Caleb Landry Jones who gives an award-quality performance as Christina’s scary, mentally unbalanced son. It’s not a happy story, but the acting is memorable.

Palo Alto (7/10): Gia Coppola, in her directorial debut (she also wrote the script based on several stories by James Franco, who also appears as a charming but morally corrupt soccer coach), is not unlike her aunt Sofia in making a film that at first appearances makes one feel lost in a Terence Malick-inspired languidity. But while the film is slow, it is not uninvolving, with a pervasive feeling of impending tragedy. Emma Roberts, Jack Kilmer (Val’s son), and Nat Wolff give standout performances. Middle aged Franco’s pursuit of teenager Roberts is appropriately creepy. Off of this, Gia looks like a real comer as a director.

Night Moves (7/10): There are lots of shots of people thinking, mostly Jesse Eisenberg, who seems to seek out roles like this with a range that barely gets past A (e.g. “The Social Network”). While a little bit of that goes a long way, his thoughtful, mostly non-verbal, process adds to the mounting tension as problems mount and the only way out seems beyond the pale. Eisenberg is overshadowed by Dakota Fanning’s sensitive performance and Peter Sarsgaard’s excellent turn as a loose cannon. Compared with other films in which people think most of the time, this one is well above the norm.

The Amazing Spiderman 2 (4/10): Lowlighted by an absence of sparks between putative lovers Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield, neither IMAX nor 3D adds much to the film, which is devoted in large part to special effects. The 3D is pretty much unnoticeable except for the few times that explosions cause particles to fly out in the audience’s faces, a passé trick first foisted on audiences back at the dawn of 3D in Bwana Devil (1952), which, as I recall, was more enjoyable than this.

The Love Punch (3/10): Without a scintilla of chemistry between former spouses Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson who are supposed to be falling back in love, this attempt at a caper romantic comedy is appallingly implausible, despite a charming opening that is a subtle homage to Brosnan’s stint as James Bond, and beautiful cinematography of the Parisian and French Riviera locations.

Godzilla (1/10): While it boasts a talented cast (people like Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, and David Strathairn), one wonders why? Consisting of virtually nothing but special effects (in fact, I don’t remember a word spoken in the last 45 minutes), even if new director Gareth Edwards had the perspicacity to cut an hour from the film, the remaining 60 minutes would still have been too long.

Neighbors (1/10): This irresponsible, unfunny film is filled with scenes to appeal to sexually naïve teenaged boys to try to make them titter in embarrassment with sexual themes, relying on cheap sex jokes and foul language as a substitute for humor. There are lots of rutting scenes as well as hordes of college kids partying. This is entertainment? Zac Efron (now a shirtless hunk to enchant teenaged girls) has made disappointing choices since he made such an auspicious appearance in 2008’s Me and Orson Welles when he was 21.