'Puzzle' is Well Made, but a Few Pieces are Missing

Based on the film Rompecabezas, Puzzle is one of those little-known independent films that sneaks into theaters with little to no fanfare, although the fact that it is being promoted “from the producer of Little Miss Sunshine” should help it get noticed somewhat. Puzzle is a quiet, little film about a woman who discovers that jigsaw puzzles are the key to changing her life. While the subject matter doesn’t sound all that exciting, the film really isn’t about puzzles but instead about one finding their voice, or so it appears. It’s also a message film that has its own agenda expecting the audience to agree with the choices of the main character and applaud her “brave” behavior. Frankly, it just feels manipulative.

Directed by Marc Turtletaub, Puzzle’s most impactful scene comes within the first few minutes. We see Agnes (Kelly MacDonald) cleaning up the house and they decorating it for a birthday party. Then we see her serving appetizers while being ignored by the guests. …

NBC’s ‘Black List’ Surprises

Megan Boone and James Spader star in "The Blacklist" on NBC.
Photo: NBC/Universal


The first day on the job is hard for everyone, but regardless what you do, be glad that your job didn’t start out like Elizabeth’s.

Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) is a FBI profiler fresh out of Quantico – whatever that means. She is married and about ready to adopt a baby. Everything is falling into place. Then, on her first day, an ex-government agent and a FBI most-wanted fugitive, Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), emerges out of nowhere. The “Concierge of Crime,” as he is called in the papers, deals with criminals all across the world, but now has suspiciously surrendered and will only talk to Keen.

All summer long, viewers of NBC were inundated with commercials for the network’s next big gamble, The Blacklist, the ads were pretty obnoxious and frankly, gave off the wrong vibe. The commercial seemed to appear on the network every five minutes. Everything seemed over-the-top, how could this show be any good? Now, after finally watching the pilot episode in its entirety, I know that yes, it could.

In the beginning of the show, Red explains that he will help them catch a terrorist, Ranko Zamani but only if he can work through Liz. As it turns out, Zamani is only one of many on “the black list,” a list of politicians, mobsters, spies and terrorists, and only Red has access to this so-called list. As long as Liz continues to partner with Red, he will lead the FBI into each of their hands. This also starts the mystery of why he suddenly wants to help the FBI, why he wants to work with Keen and why he wants her to see the “bigger picture.”

Without going into spoilers, The Blacklist was surprising in many ways. It’s violent in ways you wouldn’t expect. The cocky Spader looks right at home in his new role, but he isn’t as obnoxious as he appears in the commercials. Despite what you’ve seen, he isn’t full of one-liners, but he is confident and definitely the one in charge. Boone is nice enough for the role of Keen and though she looks very pretty, she shows us quickly that she also has a tough side.

The Blacklist also has a number of twists and turns that will leave you guessing what will happen next. It isn’t your typical crime drama. In fact, the show feels more like a superhero movie with a whole parade of villains. I will be interesting to find out where this show will take us and find out if Liz can continue working with Red without losing her integrity.

The Blacklist airs on NBC at 10:00 p.m. on Mondays.


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