'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. …

'Cold in July' is a Chilly Thriller

Cold in July movie review
Sam Shephard, Michael C. Hall and Don Johnson star in "Cold in July." (IFC Films)
Sometimes the less you know about a movie, the better. That’s the case with Cold in July, the new Indy film directed by Jim Mickle, which makes this review a bit tricky not to share too much. Based on the novel by Joe R. Lansdale, Cold in July begins with action…immediately…with a married couple awakened in the middle of the night to find an intruder. Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall, in a very un-Dexter-like role) shakes while he loads his handgun. He’s not use to using it. Richard finds the intruder in the living room. He becomes startled and shoots the man, Freddy Russell. Startled and shaken, Richard is brought to the police station to speak to Officer Ray Price (Nick Damici) while his wife Anne (Vinessa Shaw) stars home with their young son.

Richard is cleared and returns home to help his wife clean up the mess. He returns to work as the mild mannered owner of a frame shop, but his day is far from normal. News of the event is all over town and he becomes a hero of sorts. A title he isn’t too thrilled to have. The couple purchase new security, purchases a new couch and settle into their new normal. However, it turns out that Freddy has a father (in the form of Sam Shepard), who is not too keen on what just happened, and by the way, he has violent past.


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