'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. …

‘America Inside Out with Katie Couric’ Explores Muslims in America Tonight

Review of the TV series, "America Inside Out with Katie Couric.
Aasif Mandvi and Katie Couric talk on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. 
(National Geographic/Rebecca Hale)


Sometimes, watching fictional entertainment on TV is like eating dessert while watching a non-fictional show can feel like eating vegetables. National Geographic’s America Inside Out with Katie Couric is one of those newsy, educationial-ish shows that is above par in that it only not educates but does so in a fairly light manner. This is largely due to Couric’s charm while remaining professional at all times. While it can’t be confirmed by watching tonight’s episode, I suspect that she treats everyone she meets with respect and an open mind.

Airing on National Geographic Channel, America Inside Out’s episode, “The Muslim Next Door” focuses on the difficult subject of race and religious relations with those of the Muslim faith. While the U.S. has been home to many people who practice the Muslim religion for many years, things have never really been the same since the September 11th attack in 2001. Couric begins the episode lightly by talking to comedian Aasif Mandvi about the trials of Muslim Americans including a proposed travel ban and rhetoric that President Trump offers which seems to only cloud the issue. She then travels to a Muslin community in Raleigh, North Carolina which was a scene of a hate crime that involved a young model. The episode continues with Couric visiting a Muslim mosque where a couple of Christian protesters had planted themselves outside. With the help of Couric, these two end up having a meaning conversation with the church members and walk away with a better understanding of who their neighbors really are.

Other stories crammed in the 60 minute broadcast include Couric talking to a Muslim hip-hop artist, an Olympic medalist and tech entrepreneur; and tells the story of a doctor in a rural Minnesota town who takes it upon himself to fight the misunderstanding that has subjected his children and wife to bullying. Discussions also rise about what the Muslim religion actually teaches it adherents.

While promoting the fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, Couric doesn’t shy away from talking about real concerns that many of Americans have and balances “fears with fairness” while showing what it is like to be Muslim in America. It is definitely worth watching.

Other episodes coming in the coming weeks include talking about the role of women, being PC correct, re-writing history, the fear that some white people have of losing control and how everyday technology is affecting our lives. While not exactly dessert, this is one show that I look forward to watching all of the episodes.

America Inside Out with Katie Couric airs on Wednesdays on National Geographic Channel. Check your local listings for the exact times.


promote my blog