Breakfast for many people is a quick grab and drink before facing the day. Some have coffee machines on a timer that brew the coffee just as the person is waking up. I have known a few individuals who barely function upon awakening. They have to sit for a while, maybe with a cup of coffee, before deciding on whether to eat something or wait until later. This is a foreign concept for me; as soon as I am awake I am heading to the kitchen to eat breakfast. The only time much thought would be put into a breakfast meal would be on the weekend, I imagine. I only say this because I do not work on the weekends except for teaching a class or two. Weekends are the only opportunity if I want to get together with friends or family over breakfast or brunch. For me breakfast during the week is a set routine of cereal and orange juice. I never think about the specific food items and while eating I am either reading or watching television. I know I have to eat but there are many times I am thinking about that day’s movie review. Before I know it my cereal bowl is empty and I have a few drops left of orange juice in the glass. You see I do not think about the texture, taste or the amount of cereal to be eaten; it more resembles a Pavlovian reaction. My eyes open from sleep so it is time to eat; it is simple as that. The reason I am mentioning this is because this sequel requires the same mindset: no thought. RETIRED assassin Arthur Bishop, played by Jason Statham (The Expendables franchise, Spy), had a choice; do nothing and only one person would die or kill three hard to access individuals to save one particular person. He decided to change the odds. This action crime thriller had an interesting cast. Besides Jason there was Jessica Alba (Fantastic Four franchise, Valentine’s Day) as Gina, Tommy Lee Jones (Jason Bourne, The Family) as Max Adams, Michelle Yeoh (Babylon A.D.; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as Mei and Sam Hazeldine (The Raven, The Monuments Men) as Crain. On the plus side I enjoyed the different locations used for filming, such as Brazil and Australia. Those familiar with Jason’s style of acting in these type of roles will not be disappointed; the movie was pretty much watching Jason beating everyone up. I am afraid his acting was on autopilot. The script was predictable from beginning to end; the only thing that kept my interest was the elaborate assassination scenes. Truthfully there is nothing one needs to think about while viewing this film. You have the good guys and the bad guys and each are trying to kill the other. I had wished there would have been more scenes with Michelle and that Jessica had an even more physical role to the one she had here. With the script being so formulaic however there was little room to make this wish happen. If you are in the mood to just sit and watch explosions and people fighting then this would be your film.
1 ¾ stars
I wonder if the playground half covered with gravel had anything to do with it. Growing up not only did I never think about soccer, it was never part of anyone’s conversation. Now granted I attended a small elementary and high school, but even if someone wanted to play soccer it would have been challenging. The public schools I attended were in the city; they were plopped down in the middle of a city block with houses all around. There were no grassy fields, no baseball diamonds; heck, we were lucky if had a few bushes pushed up to the side of the building. As I mentioned before my elementary school’s playground was part blacktop and part gravel. There were no team sports and the majority of our physical activity was done in the gymnasium with its over excessive, varnished wood floor. The floor would creak so much when we were playing any type of game that it sounded like a backyard of chirping crickets. I think we may have played some kind of indoor version of soccer that we called Dodgeball, but the rules were different and I tried to avoid playing it because of the bullies in class. They used the opportunity to pretend they were kicking at the ball but really were going for someone’s leg, causing usually a bruise to form later in the day. So you see I never thought or cared about soccer all the way through into my adult life. If the games in this dramatic biography are typical of the average soccer game then sign me up for season tickets. FROM an earlier review this week where I talked about not needing money to being a success, if ever an example was needed to show this was true then this film about soccer legend Pele, played by newcomer Kevin de Paula, would have been the perfect choice. His story totally surprised me as this film covered his years growing up in the poor slums of Sao Paulo, Brazil; where he did not even play with a real soccer ball. I had never heard of the style of soccer associated with Pele. It was amazing to see; I felt like I was watching a performance artist up on the screen. Also starring Vincent D’Onofrio (Jurassic World, Full Metal Jacket) as Feola, Diego Boneta (Scream Queens-TV, Summer Camp) as Jose and Colm Meaney (Law Abiding Citizen, Stand Off) as George Raynor; the acting was almost secondary in my opinion. I do not think this sport film covered anything new; so if one is already familiar with Pele they may become bored with this story. Since I had no knowledge of the man or his sport, I was fascinated watching everything. I will say there were scenes that I thought were poorly filmed making the action look cartoonish and the dramatic ones seemed typical and predictable. So here is my bottom line: I do not think this was a well-made film; but here is the thing, the story kept me engrossed and provided entertainment for me. Isn’t that what a soccer match is supposed to do?
2 ¾ stars
Photographs are the vehicles that bring pieces of the world to our consciousness. Like a garden in full bloom, some pictures form perennial memories that come up in our thoughts from time to time. There are others that bloom large in our mind that only last for a short time before withering away into the autumn then winter of its life. My attraction to photography started at a young age. Early on my purpose was to capture moments in my and other people’s lives like cobblestones that would help build the path of our lives. In college I found other ways to use a camera to create art. There was one class where our goal was to shoot the ordinary and make it into the extraordinary; I went crazy in this class, shooting and developing photos every weekend. One of the photos was hung up in our school gallery. It was a close-up picture of bananas, but after blowing the size up and framing it, it looked like it was an old discarded toilet. For me there is a difference between scenes shown on a newscast versus a photograph. Seeing something on TV, even if it is disturbing, tends to be fleeting or separate from one’s self. I find photographs are more powerful, capturing more emotional deepness in my opinion. Maybe it is because of all these reality based shows these days, but I tend to assume most things being broadcast are being shown through a filter. Looking at a photograph can be a moving experience. PHOTOGRAPHER and cinematographer Sebastiao Salgado (The Spectre of Hope, Looking Back at You-TV movie) has been taking photographs for over 40 years. Through his camera lens he has seen some things no one should have to see; yet each one can become a chapter in a book about the world around us. This Oscar nominated and film festival winning documentary was amazing and hard to watch at the same time. Co-directed and written by Wim Wenders (Pina, Wings of Desire), there were some scenes that were quite uncomfortable to view such as the civil conflicts in Africa. However Sebastiao’s photographs on a whole were so beautiful; filmed in black and white gave them a special stark intensity. There were photos of events I had seen on the news, but displayed in this format made them more personal and intimate. The section of the movie that dealt with the Brazilian forest was fascinating to me. The other aspect of this film that I appreciated was listening to Sebastiao and Juliano Riberio Salgado (Paris la Metisse; Nauru, An Island Adrift-TV movie) talk about the photos and what was going on at the time. Watching this beautiful film felt like I was taking a walk through time; some of his photos will become new perennial memories in my mind. English, French and Portuguese was spoken through parts of the movie.
3 1/2 stars
Something happened to me when I was in South Dakota. Driving on roads that stretched all the way to the horizon, with no speed limits; I transformed into a race car driver. At 103 mph it felt like I was flying, giving me a rush I had never experienced before in my life. When I returned home, my driving was forever altered. As long as there was no one else in the car, I took the posted speed limit signs to be mere suggestions. The faster I could drive, the more exciting it was for me. This movie was strictly an adrenaline rush. I felt like someone slapped a testosterone patch on me; I wanted to get behind the wheel of one of the cars in this thriller of a movie. I did not remember the movies that came before this installment and it did not matter. The story was written to allow maximum driving time. Vin Diesel (The Chronicles of Riddick, xXx) was given a minimum vocabulary for his role as Dominic Toretto. Having been broken out from a prison transport bus, Dominic and his group got involved in a car heist that went wrong, down in Brazil. Not only did the group have to battle corrupt crime boss Hernan Reyes, played by Joaquim de Almeida (Behind Enemy Lines, The Conspiracy); but they were also being pursued by federal agent Luke Hobbs, played by Dwayne Johnson (Tooth Fairy, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island). The acting was minimal; this film was made for crashes, bloody fights and speed. Knowing that ahead of time, just fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride for it was damn good.
3 stars — DVD