'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. …

ABC Hosts 3 Disney Specials This Week

Dick Van Dyke hosts "Mary Poppins" on December 12, 2015.
Dick Van Dyke (ABC)
It is always interesting how many TV holiday specials have nothing to do with the actual holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Still, the month of December is ripe with new specials that are worth saving some time for. Besides, you need something to watch while you're stringing those cranberry and popcorn garlands. 

This week, ABC is promoting three Disney specials– not that I’m complaining. 

Toy Story to air on ABC December 10, 2015
Toy Story at 20: To Infinity and Beyond
This tribute to Pixar Studios will share the history of the company itself, but will focus on the making of Toy Story and its sequels including a “sneak peek” of Toy Story 4. It will feature interviews with voice actors Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, John Ratzenberger and R. Lee Ermey, songwriter/musician Randy Newman, director Joss Whedon, chief creative officer of Pixar John Lasseter and Ed Catmull who is a computer scientist and current president of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

The special airs on Thursday, December 10th at 8:00 p.m. and is followed by a showing of Toy Story at 9:00 p.m. You might want to DVR it for your kids who no doubt have school to attend to the next day.
Mary Poppins to air on ABC December 12, 2015.
The Wonderful World of Disney: Mary Poppins
If you can excuse the shameless cross-promotion of Disney and Target, you just might like this special. The Oscar award-winning musical, Mary Poppins will air on network television for the first time in over 13 years and this one comes with an added bonus feature: more Dick Van Dyke. Van Dyke, who portrays Bert, the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins, will host interstitials throughout the broadcast and will be joined by (ahem) Target’s mascot, “Bullseye.” (Not to be confused with Bullseye featured in the Toy Story movies) The fun part is Van Dyke will venture through some of the Disney’s Archives and will share some of the original props used in the movie.

Originally released in theaters I 1964, the film received 13 Academy Award nominations and won five for Best Actress (Julie Andrews), Best Song (“Chim Chim Cher-ee”), Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Music Score. The special airs on Saturday, December 12 at 8:00 p.m.

Snow White special to air on Sunday, December 13, 2015 on ABC.
Behind the Magic: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Hosted by Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays Snow White in ABC’s Once Upon a Time series, narrates this special that gives an “unprecedented look” at the making of the Disney’s iconic animated film. It will feature John Lasseter (Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney & Pixar Animation Studios), Disney Legend/Songwriter Richard Sherman (“Mary Poppins,” “The Jungle Book”), and Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck (Directors, “Frozen”).

The special explores the moment where folklore met filmmaking. With dynamic visuals, including clips from the 1934 movie, film and audio recordings, and snapshots from Disney’s own personal archive, the special creatively showcases how the team at Disney stayed true to the message of the original story while tackling the creative and technical challenges of putting this humble fairy tale on the silver screen, creating history. The special also features live-action moments based on the original tale, shot with dramatic special effects treatments, as well as some cut scenes and characters from the animated film.

The special will air on Sunday, December 13 at 8:00 p.m.


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