Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun


"American Hustle" (R for sexuality, pervasive profanity and brief violence) David O. Russell wrote and directed this crime drama about a couple of con artists (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) forced by an overzealous FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) to infiltrate a New Jersey underworld inhabited by mobsters protected by a crooked, big city mayor (Jeremy Renner). Support cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C.K. and Michael Pena.

"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (PG-13 for intense violence and frightening images) Second installment of the fantasy trilogy based on the J.R.R. Tolkien classic finds Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and company continuing their epic journey to Lonely Mountain for a showdown with a fearsome dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch). Cast includes Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett and Stephen Fry.

"A Madea Christmas" (PG-13 for profanity, crude humor and sexual references) Tyler Perry's back in drag in this adaptation of his holiday-themed play, set in a small Southern town, as a moralizing, motor-mouthed granny straightening out sinners while spreading Christmas cheer. Ensemble includes Tika Sumpter, Larry the Cable Guy, Anna Maria Horsford, Kathy Najimy and Chad Michael Murray.

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We need a return to simple acts of kindness

LucyShaw-160Dear Lucy: It's Christmas time and everybody is trying at the last minute to get donations for all kinds of things. It starts at Thanksgiving when we get sent on a guilt trip to help feed people. Is it me or is this the only time that people are expected to give? It all seems so fake.
– no more to give

Dear No More To Give: Recently, out of curiosity, I looked up the origin of "Black Friday." Among other things I learned that it has something to do with that particular Friday being the last big chance for retail businesses to turn a profit for the year. And then there is the tax incentive to get some giving done to go on your year-end tax return. And finally there is guilt or the idea that we should have some feelings around giving to the less fortunate.

I mention all of these because giving is not an easy or automatic thing for many people. In a society where "me" is number one, it takes more and more to squeeze out kindness.

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The 1 percent factor: A way to help boost retirement savings

CharlesSimsJr-160In a survey of workers who participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, 71 percent said they wanted their employers to increase their savings rate automatically by 1 percent each year. Some plans have auto-escalation features that increase workers' contributions by a percentage point on an annual basis.

Regardless of whether you save by default or by choice, increasing your retirement contributions could make a big difference in the amount you accumulate during your working years.

Although there's nothing magical about a 1 percent annual increase, it may be a manageable way to get closer to an appropriate contribution level for your age and personal situation. Industry estimates suggest that workers need to save 13 percent to 15 percent of salary throughout their careers to fund a retirement lifestyle equivalent to their pre-retirement standards of living. People who don't start saving until later in life may have to save a higher percentage.

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Is my business in trouble?

CarleeMcCullough-160The fact that businesses come and go is no surprise to anyone. Taking the current economy into consideration, many businesses are suffering. As business owners, we are trained to hang in there and ride out the storm. We are taught to sacrifice and put everything into the business.

To an owner, the business is like a child that was birthed. A failing business is a painful thing to endure because it is no longer fun. Both the owner and employees dread coming to work.

Win by any means necessary is the motto for many owners. Unfortunately, the conversation involving when to shut the business down is all too rare. Few want to admit failure or defeat. They do not even want to think about closing down.

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This week’s DVD releases

fast and_furious_6-wide_600Top Ten DVD List for December 10, 2013

"The Hunt"

"Fast & Furious 6"

"Despicable Me 2"

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