'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. …

Condescending 'Bull' is Overly Annoying

Review of "Bull."
Annabelle Attanasio, Geneva Carr and Michael Weatherly in Bull. (CBS)
I like Dr. Phil McGraw. I don’t like Dr. Jason Bull (Michael Weatherly) whose character is said to have been inspired by Dr. Phil. And that is just the start of the problems I have with the CBS drama. Bull feels like something we’ve seen before but better as if the network put both CSI and Judging Amy together in a blender and came up with this

Bull is also said to have been inspired by Dr. Phil’s early career heading a trial consulting firm which for me, left a bad taste in my mouth. Even CBS describes Dr. Bull’s character as a “puppet master” who combines psychology, his intuition and high tech data (lots of high tech data) and uses this found knowledge to help create mock juries for the Trial Analysis Corporation to get a better idea on how the jury is going to rule in each case. The employees there are able to dig up dirt on every jury member which is pretty creepy. Everything that this team does feels like a manipulation and I hope that real trials are not done this way.

Like Dr. Phil, Dr. Bull is smart but unlike Phil, Bull is too smug for his own good. Neither he, nor anyone on his staff is likeable in the least despite phrases like, “Don’t give up on people. They’re all we’ve got.” The point of this business is to win the case regardless if the suspect is guilty or not. Of course, we’re assuming that each of Bull’s clients are innocent to begin with.

Though Bull has a diverse staff including Marissa Morgan (Geneva Carr) an neurolinguistics expert, Danny James (Jaime Lee Kirchner) a former NYPD detective, Cable McCrory (Annabelle Attanasio) a computer hacker and Chunk Palmer (Chris Jackson) a fashion stylist, they all come across similar where every line that they utter is either snarky or lofty, but no compassion. They are obviously the “smart” ones while every character outside of this bunch are stereotypical two dimensional idiots. There’s the arrogant lawyer, the overworked and mousy assistant, the smart-mouthed teenager, the clueless mother and on it goes. 

What should be a fascinating look into the world of court cases, the show is instead very cynical. It surprises me that McGraw, who serves as an executive producer and was on set for the filming of the first episode, would want to be associated with it. It's hard to know just how realistic Bull really is as well, but it just feels "off" to me. If this show is really based on reality, others like myself who believe in “innocent until proven guilty” will not want to wade in this pool.

Bull premieres tonight at 9:00 p.m. on CBS.


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