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 Jan 15

by Tony Medley

American Sniper (10/10): If this true story of Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle isn’t the best war movie ever made, it’s right up there. Director Clint Eastwood and Producer-Star Bradley Cooper show what war in Iraq and Afghanistan is really like with uber-realistic battle sequences. Highlighted by award-quality performances by Cooper and Sienna Miller it also deals with the effects the war has on wives and families. In a less political Hollywood, this would sweep the Oscars®.

Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles (10/10): An absorbing, riveting look at a man who has become a legend, with copious interviews with people from his life and clips of the great man himself on talk shows and in films he made.

Wild (9/10): As wonderful as Reese Witherspoon is in portraying the story of Cheryl Strayed, the Pacific Crest Trail, over which she walked 1,000 miles, is as much a character as Cheryl and the others. The film was shot on the trail in the Mojave Desert and in Oregon. Some of the vistas are breathtaking. Cinematographer Yves Bélanger used only hand held cameras with no lighting, tripods, dollies, or cranes. It was all shot on location on the trail with available light. In fact, although there are lots of flashbacks to Cheryl’s life back home, 2/3 of the film takes place on the trail.

Big Eyes (9/10): Amy Adams shines as a wife-painter shockingly exploited by her psychopath plagiarist husband, played by Cristoph Waltz, in this true story of the woman who created the Big Eyes paintings which achieved amazing popularity in the ‘60’s.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (8/10): I was so much not a fan of the first one and thought the second even worse, that I can’t remember when a movie has surprised me as much as this. Director Shawn Levy got two new writers, David Guion & Michael Handelman, and the result is a funny, laugh out-loud film highlighted by a wonderful performance by Dan Stevens as a perplexed Sir Lancelot who just doesn’t understand what’s going on.

Into the Woods (8/10): Bringing a loved-by-some (but to me, prosaic) Steven Sondheim musical to the screen in which every song sounds like the same un-hummable melody (even though it won a 1987 Tony for Best Score over Phantom of the Opera, go figure), this is still an entertaining combination of disparate fairy tales with outstanding performances, cinematography, and Oscar®-quality production design by Dennis Gassner’s magical locations in one of England’s oldest forests and other atmospheric locales. Too bad it isn’t in 3D.

Unbroken (7/10): The story of USC Olympian Louie Zamperini was not unique because of what he went through and survived. Admirable as it was, more than 27,000 American POW’s endured similar torment from the brutal Japanese in WWII. What set Louie’s ordeal apart was the fact that he came to forgive his tormentors through religious inspiration by Billy Graham. Director Angelina Jolie completely omits this from her 137-minute movie except for a one sentence graphic at the end that doesn’t even mention Graham. She could have cut ten minutes each from the too-long, albeit efficacious, scenes on the lifeboat and in the prison camp, and devoted those twenty minutes to Louie’s renaissance, which is the point of Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling book.

Annie (4/10): Burdened by mediocre music, uninspired choreography, and a hackneyed screenplay, why would this pedestrian musical (first filmed in 1982) get another shot when there are much better Broadway plays that have been made into rotten movies, like “Camelot,” that are crying to be remade?

Exodus: Gods and Kings (2/10): Fox ignores its ignominious history in which it teetered on the brink of bankruptcy because of “Cleopartra” in 1963 and devotes $140 million to one of the silliest costume movies ever made. With one ludicrous scene after another, this film isn’t even faithful to The Bible, much less history.