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

MOVIE REVIEW
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 Hosts First American/Japan Ninja Warrior Special

 TEAM USA (l-r) James McGrath, Brent Steffensen, Brian Arnold,
Paul Kasemir, Travis Rosen -- (Photo by: David Becker/NBC)
Months of practice can be shattered in mere minutes. That is the reality of the terribly addicting American Ninja Warrior, NBC’s obstacle course competition show. Usually airing during the summer, the network will hold its first ever international competition in a two-hour network special American Ninja Warrior: USA vs Japan, airing Monday, Jan. 13 8-10 p.m. (ET/PT).

Five American athletes will take on five Japanese athletes for the special hosted by Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja Biamila. Jenn Brown will co-host.


TEAM JAPAN (l-r) Ryo Matachi, Yuuji Urushihara, Hitoshi Kanno,
Shingo Yamamoto, Kazuma Asa  (Photo by: David Becker/NBC)
American Ninja Warrior is fairly new here only running for a couple seasons. Sasuke, the Japanese version of the show, has been running for 28 seasons – so they definitely have the upper hand in this competition.

Representing Team USA are James McGrath, Brent Steffensen, Brian Arnold, Paul Kasemir and Travis Rosen. “Arnold wowed audiences in the season finale of American Ninja Warrior in September with his breathtaking runs on the punishing finals course, ‘Mt. Midoriyama,’” said NBC in a press release for the special. “Arnold very nearly completed the course in Las Vegas before a heart-breaking fall on stage three.”

Team Japan will be represented by Kazuma Asa, Hitoshi Kanno, Ryo Matachi, Shingo Yamamoto and two-time “Sasuke” grand champion Yuji Urushihara.

Each contestant will tackle all four stages of the Las Vegas finals course in a new head-to-head format that pits members from each team against one another. In the end, the championship trophy and international bragging rights will go to the victors in this inaugural USA vs. Japan contest.

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