originally published in the Raleigh News & Observer

“Nothing is as it seems.”

So reads the marketing tagline for the pleasantly twisty Italian thriller “The Double Hour.”

Love is murder.

And that’s perfectly true for the first four-fifths of the film, which executes a series of clever narrative switchbacks that keep the viewer on high alert. But then something strange happens and everything appears to be exactly what it seems, after all. Or is it?

It’s all part of the fun, I suppose. The set-up: Retired cop Guido (Filippo Timi) meets Slovenian chambermaid Sonia (Ksenia Rappoport) on the speed-dating scene in Turin, Italy.

As the vulnerable widower and the shy immigrant tentatively move toward love, Guido invites Sonia to pass the time with his at his day job – security guard at a largely unoccupied woodland estate.

Here’s where it gets tricky. If you want to see “The Double Hour” and enjoy all its surprises, don’t read any further. A few spoilers follow, but the film has so many twists that revealing a few won’t hurt. Read the rest of this entry »

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originally published in the Raleigh News & Observer

It’s no secret that the newspaper business is in trouble. Dozens of papers across the U.S. have folded in the face of rising distribution costs, declining ad revenue and competition from digital sources.

“Page One: Inside the New York Times” is a fascinating documentary that roots into the challenges the industry faces, by focusing on America’s flagship newspaper, The New York Times.

You don’t have to be a policy wonk or media nerd to enjoy “Page One” – but it helps. From the first frame, director Andrew Rossi dives into the deep end of the pool, trusting that his audience is sophisticated enough to keep up.

Read the rest of this entry »