'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. …

American Idol: Behind the Voices - An Interview with Billy Mauldin

A "selfie" of Julie and Billy Mauldin.
You see them every week. Musical hopefuls from all over the country competing to become the next American Idol. Some have never been away from home and most have never been exposed to so many people, (on stage and on the screen), in their lives. Each week they put themselves in the spotlight to be judged by America. Sounds terribly stressful. Fortunately, this year the crew has Billy and Julie Mauldin on their side. I got a chance to talk with Billy awhile back and asked him to share with me some insight on this new adventure.

Each week, Billy and his wife make the journey from Charlotte North Carolina to Hollywood and back again leaving their four children in the care of family and friends. Their mission? To serve as “spiritual advisors” to all of the American Idol contestants. If the title sounds odd to you, you are not the only one. “The whole title of spiritual advisor seemed to wig everybody out and nobody knew quite how to define it,” says Mauldin. “But our approach, Julie and I, is to take our time and just build relationships with them and let them see that we are authentic and therefore, they can trust us. And when they’re ready, they’ll open up to us if they want to or if they are interested in it.”

Though this is the first year for Idol to have spiritual advisors on hand, the ministry itself isn’t too new to Mauldin. Billy has been serving in a similar outreach ministry for 15 years: Motor Racing Outreach (MRO).


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