'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. …

Black Nativity is love song to Langston Hughes

Jacob Latimore, Angela Bassett and Jennifer Hudson
star in "Black Nativity" (Photo: Fox Searchlight)

There are a few misconceptions about Black Nativity, the holiday musical arriving in theaters this week. First, while it sports the same name and is loosely based on the seasonal theater show, it really isn’t the same production.

Originally, Black Nativity was a Christmas play written by Langston Hughes which first arrived off Broadway in 1961, but has had numerous similar productions across the country since then. It is basically a nativity story that features tradition Christmas carols in a gospel styling and an African American cast. Here, the movie is centered on a family drama with the nativity story taking a smaller role. In addition, Instead of being a Langston Hughes production, this modern story is a tribute to Hughes, as characters make references to the man throughout. (As a poet, activist, novelist, playwright and columnist, Hughes is often credited as the leader of the Harlem Renaissance.)

Tyrese Gibson 
The second misconception is that this story is for a “black” audience. While it is true that the cast features an exclusive black cast, the story it tells is for all colors and all generations. While life showing life inside of Harlem will be eye-opening to some white folk, the story is something we can all relate to. It features new music that actually progresses the storyline and feels like an extended music video at times. It is full of truth and light, like the original nativity story, yet told in a contemporary setting. Above all else, it is a story about forgiveness and redemption.


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