IT WAS A CHALLENGE I WAS determined to accomplish successfully, despite having no experience in creating such a dessert. Friends were coming over and since I planned to bake a dessert using a key ingredient that one friend loved, I felt it was only fair to bake another dessert that the other friend would enjoy. The recipe was for a pie that had layers in it, where I had to partially bake one layer before putting the next layer on top. In addition, during the baking process, I had to mix ingredients together for a topping that would go on last and had to be watched carefully to avoid burning during the last 10-15 minutes in the oven. I was nervous through the whole process of washing, cutting, stirring, folding, separating and measuring various items. By the time I got the pie in the oven my shirt looked like Jackson Pollock had used it for a canvas. The last 10 minutes I was constantly turning the oven light on and off, plus opening the oven door to peer at the bubbly batter inside the walnut infused crust. Since I had never made this recipe before I was not exactly sure what it was supposed to look like when it was done. Seeing the top jiggle slightly threw me off, making me think the pie was undercooked; however, I decided to trust the recipe and the oven that the pie was just right. It was and I could not have been happier making something so complicated for my skill set. ACCOMPLISHING A CHALLENGE SUCCESSFULLY IS A strong aphrodisiac. When my friend took a second piece of pie, I knew I could finally be proud of it. I was telling my friends about it being a new recipe and how I wanted to challenge myself. One of my friends said they understood because they were doing a similar thing by taking on a major project; they were building a pool table. I was stunned with the news because I only knew my friend to dabble in woodworking, making simple pieces like chess boards and votive candle holders. To build a pool table, that was impressive. But after my achievement, I understood; it is such a good feeling to do the impossible as they say. Though I cannot understand why some people would do this, I guess that feeling has such power it can drive a person to become a rock climber or cliff diver. Pretty much anything that pushes a person to exceed their expectations is a wonderful learning experience. The question is if it will be a good thing or not; for example, what takes place in this action thriller. ENGINEERING GENIUS THOM, PLAYED BY FREDDIE Highmore (Finding Neverland, The Art of Getting By), received an offer that would test his ability beyond anything he imagined. With Astrid Berges-Frisbey (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) as Lorraine, Sam Riley (On the Road, Maleficent franchise) as James, Liam Cunningham (Clash of the Titans, Game of Thrones-TV) as Walter, Jose Coronado (The Body, The Return of El Coyote) as Gustavo and Luis Tosar (Take My Eyes, Even the Rain) as Simon; this movie followed a typical template, but the execution of it was exciting. The idea of mixing the events taking place at the Bank of Spain with its history alongside the Football World Cup finals and the throngs of cheering people was a great idea. I enjoyed the acting, especially from Freddie and Liam. The directing kept the story going at a decent clip with a few fun turns thrown in to add more tense scenes. With the idea of the story being a solid one, I found myself more engaged with this picture and enjoyed it. And with the success of my baked pie, I could appreciate what motivated the players in this rousing film.
2 ½ stars
SHE WAS PROUD OF HER GRANDCHILDREN; I heard her talk about them enough times to know. They were respectful and polite which made me like them right from the start. According to their grandmother, the boy was a star player on his school’s football team and his sister was the school’s photographer. When I met and spoke with the 2 siblings, I learned the grandmother’s description of their school activities was exaggerated a bit. The girl enjoyed photography and had submitted one of her photos to the school’s newspaper; it was one of several to be chosen to accompany an article about the plant life around the school building. The boy was on the football team as the grandmother had mentioned; however, he was one of the 2nd string players on the team. Most of his time was spent sitting on the bench. So, the grandmother expanded the truth, I get it. She was not the first grandmother I met who used hyperboles when it came to her grandchildren. It did appear to me; however, she spoke a lot about these kids. It is one thing to mention one’s children or grandchildren if it comes up in a conversation; but, without solicitation or prodding one talks excessively about them then I start to wonder what could be fueling it. YOU THINK YOU KNOW A PERSON, but then something happens that forces you to re-evaluate everything you thought regarding this individual. This is what happened to me and explained why the grandmother talked a lot about her 2 grandchildren. Her and I were part of a small group of people who had met for lunch one day. During the meal many topics were discussed. However, it was during the subject of racial tensions when the grandmother said something that led me to believe the reason behind her excessive talking about her grandchildren. She had said a derogatory remark about another race. I was shocked because up until that time I never considered her to be a prejudicial person. As I sat there processing this new information the conversation drifted off to something else. No one questioned her about her comment, but I had to because what she said did not make any sense to me. I asked her how she could make a derogatory remark about a person’s skin color when her grandchildren had the same color of skin. She said it was not the same. Her grandchildren were born from a mixed-race couple; evidently, she was not comfortable about it which explained the constant talk about her grandkids. All of this because someone looks different? She has something in common with one of the characters in this adventure fantasy. AGREEING TO MARRY PRINCE PHILIP, PLAYED BY Harry Dickinson (Beach Rats, The Darkest Minds), would be the easiest part compared to having each of their families sitting down together for a dinner. Aurora, played by Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon, Super 8), would have to convince her Godmother Maleficent (Changeling, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), to meet the humans she so distrusted, for good reason. With Michelle Pfeiffer (Hairspray, What Lies Beneath) as Queen Ingrith and Sam Riley (On the Road, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) as Diaval; this family film was beyond colorful. The opening scenes may take one’s breath away because they were so filled with colors and creativity. Along with my amazement of the visual aspects to this picture, I thought the cast was wonderful. Angelina, Michelle and Elle were so good together that I could see them doing another film together. My only complaint had to do with the story and script; it was uneven and convoluted at times, besides sharing similarities to another story made famous as a Broadway musical. Despite this, I found the movie entertaining. It had great special effects, was visually stunning and had a killer performance by Angelina, Michelle and Elle.
When I put food on my dinner plate, I do not want the different servings I took to touch each other. For example, I do not want the mashed potatoes to be mixed in with the sugar snap peas, nor do I want anything touching my turkey burger. It is okay, you can call me crazy; I have heard it before. I do not care because the first time I saw a TV dinner tray with its individual compartments for the different food items, I thought it was the ideal way to serve people their meals. Being a visual type of eater, if something does not look good to me I will not touch it. Now I certainly do not force my feelings onto anyone else and will gladly sit with someone who is spooning a conglomeration of food items into their mouth. Actually, it never occurred to me to mix different foods; heck I did not think one could mix different silverware. If you are wondering if I have these same types of rules in other areas of my life the answer would be yes. I have always been most comfortable when things around me have a sense of symmetry. Now here is the funny thing; though I am still the same way about food, a slow change has been taking place in me over the past years when a friend asked me if I had seen this video mashup of two singing artists’ songs. I had never heard that word before so I looked it up and found it meant a mixture of disparate elements. When I finally saw that video I was fascinated; it was such a creative and cool idea. It is because of that video I started looking at things differently. Isn’t that bizarre? Is it any crazier than the mashup done in this romantic horror film? WHEN Elizabeth Bennet, played by Lily James (Cinderella, Broken), first met Mr. Darcy, played by Sam Riley (Maleficent, On the Road), she found him to be such a snob. Though her mother was hoping to see her daughter wedded off, Elizabeth did not need a man; she could take care of herself quite well as a matter of fact. I was so surprised by this action movie that took author Jane Austen’s (Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park) classic story and infused it with the zombie genre. The story pretty much was kept intact but I did enjoy the sly humor and the fact that Elizabeth and her sisters were now skilled in the marital arts. The writers were not going for a parody or comedy; they kept the story as level as one can with flesh eating zombies and they made it work actually. Take the story for what it is, this film may not be high art or a new classic; but for a fun viewing experience with a twist and a teardrop, this mashup was pretty good. Several scenes with blood and violence.
2 1/2 stars
With one aggressive act can a deep buried anger breakout from its vault inside the body. Flowing like white hot lava, it courses through and scorches the veins within a matter of seconds. The whole body becomes a pulsating furnace, emitting a constant heat fueled by the bellowing breath of hatred. If one does not have the tools to dismantle and disperse this generator of hatred, one will always see life through the smoke of anger. I remember acting this out when I had a toy that was not working properly; beating it against the floor or with any nearby heavy object to teach it a lesson. A majority of my earlier life was spent living with a burning anger. As a result I was able to quickly see it in others. My friends and I were riding in a car driven by the brother of one of the friends. A car driving in the opposite direction sideswiped us, knocking off the side view mirror. My friend’s brother spewed out a stream of obscenities as he violently turned the steering wheel, driving the car into the oncoming traffic. I was stunned by his hot blind anger heating the air around us, incinerating any and all of his common sense. That day I learned anger can be an all consuming emotion that manipulates every intention if left unchecked. The proof can be seen in this action adventure fantasy. Angelina Jolie (Salt, Changeling) was made to play this role, the evil Maleficent character from Walt Disney’s classic movie Sleeping Beauty. Though the story began when Maleficent was an innocent youth, it would show the events that led her to become a spiteful, hatred-filled adult. Despite Angelina’s strong presence, she had to share the screen with the amazing special effects. One of the reasons I liked Sam Riley (On the Road, Control) as Diaval was because he took the brunt of fanciful visuals. Elle Fanning (Super 8, Ginger & Rosa) was lovely as Princess Aurora and blended perfectly with Angelina. My major complaint about this film was the inadequate script. With the ability to take the character of Maleficent to great heights, the script failed Angelina. The lack of dialog created very little drama for her, along with the other actors. At one point the film went from embellishing the Sleeping Beauty story to a poor version of the musical Wicked. In addition the story veered into a dry disconnect that made very little sense. I was disappointed by this movie. Maybe it was because I have seen some truly angry and evil people in my life; the only difference was there was nothing magical about them.
2 1/2 stars