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
WHEN I was little all I wanted was to have a common, average full name; something like John Smith or Robert Jones. I was the only one in my elementary school to have my first name, though there were a couple of boys who had names similar to mine. Teachers never asked a Jeffrey or Deborah to repeat their names but with certain teachers I had to repeat mine a 2nd time so they were sure they heard correctly. Thinking back now I am not sure why it was important for me to want a different name unless it was to be less noticed. It was not like my name was hard to spell or even pronounce. AS we graduated out of elementary school we were joined with students from other schools. There was one boy who had the same last name as a local food company and he was picked on because of it. I remember sitting and imagining if he was getting teased for a food product what would happen to a student who had the same last name of an infamous person from history; such as Churchill, Hemingway or Mussolini? Interestingly I knew a couple of people who were connected to famous individuals but no one knew because they did not have the same last name. There was one friend who was able to trace his family history back 6 centuries. He showed me a couple of artifacts that had been handed down generation to generation; it really blew my mind since my knowledge of my family’s history only goes back approximately a couple of hundred years. Tracing a family’s history can be eye opening, both for the relatives or bystanders. The reason I say this is because there is a famous family business headquartered in my city. The descendants have lived around here for years and a friend of mine is the accountant for a couple of them. Just from a couple of stories told to me, this family has some messed up genes in their gene pool. But they do not as far as I know have an ancestor like the one in this fantasy adventure. CAL Lynch, played by Michael Fassbender (The Light Between Oceans, Steve Jobs), was surprised to discover he had an ancestor named Aguilar who was an assassin. Cal was more surprised when he met him. This action film based on a video game had a heavy hitting cast joining Michael. There was Marion Cotillard (Allied, Rust and Bone) as Sofia, Jeremy Irons (The Man in the Iron Mask, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) as Rikkin and Brendan Gleeson (Suffragette, Troy) as Joseph Lynch. With such a good cast it was a shame the nonsensical script was so poor. It was a patchwork of fights, romance, history; it jumped from one to the other. I enjoyed the exterior shots and I did not mind the story, but this film was barely coherent. The actors tried their best I believe; however, I was bored through parts of the picture. Maybe the video game is fun to play but this was not a film one needs to pay full price to see. In my opinion this was a movie studio and family dysfunction.
1 2/3 stars
Whether they were read, seen or told to us; fairy tales are stories that have stayed with us from our childhood. Who did not want to be a princess or a prince when they were a little kid? I was convinced that when I grew up; one day, I would swoop in and rescue who would become the love of my life. There was something about fairy tales that not only gave me a sense of hope; they provided me with an outlet to let my imagination grow and explore new passageways through my mind. Right from the beginning of this movie, I felt a kinship with writer and director Pablo Berger (Torremolinos). Using the tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves as a foundation, Pablo took the story and pushed it towards a dark, humorous, creative drama; that was a visual masterpiece. Some of you know I was not a fan of the silent film The Artist. Where I thought it was more of a gimmick for that movie; in this one, I absolutely loved the silence of no spoken words. The soundtrack came to the forefront to steer the story to some incredible heights. Set in Spain during the 1920’s; famous bullfighter Antonio Villalta, played by Daniel Gimenez (Bad Education, A Painting Lesson), had a beautiful daughter named Carmen. There was only one person who did not like the young girl and that was her evil stepmother Encarna, played by Maribel Verdu (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Blind Sunflowers). The richness of this black and white film only increased the enormous screen power of Maribel. This Oscar nominated movie was magical to me; I had no sense of time passing and felt I was taken to a different world. Absolutely beautiful to watch, I am willing to say this film will become a modern classic. Spanish with English subtitles.