IN MY EXTENDED CIRCLE OF FRIENDS and family, there are two people who when together make everyone laugh. When a group of us get together for a meal or a social evening, it doesn’t take these two individuals long to start feeding off each other’s energy. Their humor spans from satire to bawdy to intellectual to silly; I have only seen one person who is faster at a comeback than these two people, Robin Williams. A word of caution is in order; you never want to have food in your mouth when these two go at it, because there is a good chance you might start choking while you are laughing and guffawing. When I am around them, I enjoy listening to the bantering and dialog because in the middle of the comedy aspect there are kernels of truth in their sly remarks. You may have experience in this regard, where you have a friend or relative who says the one thing that others are afraid to say. And that is what I appreciate about these two individuals; using a cliché here, they are not afraid to address the “elephant in the room.” I will say they are masterful in how they can bring up uncomfortable topics in a way that is palatable for those who would not appreciate facing the topic head on. DURING THE LAUGHTER AND COMMENTS, I may in my mind think of a comment to add to the dialog whizzing around the room. It is all about timing, however; more times than not, I keep the comment to myself because it is too hard to overpower the high-volume level that these two people maintain. What I tend to do is turn off my brain and go along for the ride. It is like a train ride; all I need to do is sit back and enjoy the scenery, in this case the conversations, as it passes by. The thing that impresses me the most is the way the conversations may be repeating items that the group has heard before, but these two individuals are able to present a repeated topic in a new and fresh light with their choice of words. For example, I have heard about this one relative’s long deceased dog for years; yet each time one of these skilled talkers brings up this dog, there is always something added to the story to make it sound like it is the first time I am hearing about this dog. I felt the exact same way about the banter taking place in this action, comedy thriller. THE WORLD’S GREATEST ART THIEF IS forced to work with a top profiler of the FBI to catch the person who wants to take his title away from him. With Dwayne Johnson (Jungle Cruise, Skyscraper) as John Hartley, Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool franchise, Woman in Gold) as Nolan Booth, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman franchise, Keeping Up with the Joneses) as The Bishop, Ritu Arya (Last Christmas, Doctor-TV) as Inspector Urvashi Das and Chris Diamantopoulos (The Three Stooges, About a Boy-TV) as Sotto Voce; the story for this movie does not provide anything new from what we have seen in other films. However, the chemistry between the three main stars and the dialog the writers gave them, made this an enjoyable film experience for me. I did not have to think much, just sit back and watch some mindless entertainment. Ryan and Dwayne were doing typical roles suited for themselves; so, it was not a stretch for their acting capabilities. The key to watching this picture is to not have any expectations. Also, if you are fond of witty quips and satire for humor, then this would be a movie for you.
2 ½ stars
NOT KNOWING WHERE SHE LIVED ONLY added more fear about what she could do to us. My friends and I were afraid of her to the point if we saw her walking on the sidewalk towards us, we would cross the street to the other side to avoid making eye contact with her. She would be spotted around the neighborhood, always pulling a shopping cart behind her that usually had a bag or two in it. I never saw her around my elementary school, but I would see her sometimes walking down my street which always scared me. If I was alone, I would run back inside our home; if a couple of friends were with me, we would hide and watch as she made her way down the street. Her gray hair was usually piled high on top of her head, always covered with some type of hat. Even with keeping my distance away from her, I could see that her eyeballs looked too big for their sockets; they always looked like they were about to fall out, which only added an extra level of creepiness to her. There were a few large moles on her face and neck that were dark, giving the appearance of attached leeches that were sucking the blood out of her skin. Another distinctive feature was her short, bowed legs. She looked like she could easily roll off her legs. THE FIRST TIME I SAW HER, I did not immediately think she was a terror. To a very young me, she looked quite different from other women, but I did not have any opinion about her. It was the older kids of the neighborhood who told me and my friends to stay away from her because she was a mean witch. Being as young as we were, we believed them and started to follow their lead. I remember one winter when I was walking home from school, I saw a couple of older boys hiding behind a parked car. The woman was walking across the street from them and as she passed them the boys stood up, threw snowballs at her then ran down the alley away from her. I did not know what to do; however, I was grateful that I was ahead of her; so, she knew the snowballs did not come from me. Based on what I was told, I was afraid she might kidnap and torture me. The entire time I lived in the neighborhood, every kid knew about her. It was not until my high school reunion where I found out she was a friend’s grandmother. How in the world did such a story about her come to fruition? I had to wonder if it got started the same way as the story did in this horror thriller. THOUGH A POOR AREA OF CHICAGO was recently gentrified, there still was lingering a story about a horrific event and what was created from it. No one in the neighborhood was safe. With Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (The Matrix Resurrections, The Trial of the Chicago 7) as Anthony McCoy, Teyonah Parris (If Beale Street Could Talk, Dear White People) as Brianna Cartwright, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (The Kid Who Would be King, Misfits-TV) as Troy Cartwright, Colman Domingo (Selma, Lincoln) as William Burke and Kyle Kaminsky (DriverX) as Grady Greenburg; this sequel presented a fresh, new approach to the franchise. I thought the filming and the style of the film was a great contrast to the story line. Due to the years that have passed, I did not have a good memory of the original film; so, I am not sure if I missed any inside story/event in this movie. There were several scenes of blood, but they were brief and not in too much detail, which I appreciated. I enjoyed the suspense aspect with its steady buildup. Based on the things I saw in this film; I much prefer sticking to my old neighborhood than a re-gentrified one, like the one depicted in this picture.
ONE OF THE THINGS I MISSED most this past holiday season was spending time at the movie theater. In the past, I would spend one of my days off from work at the theater, watching as many films as I could in one day. Due to the current times with COVID and the variants, I have not been comfortable sitting in a crowded theater. In the good old days, I could sometimes catch 5 movies in one day. Maybe some of you might think that is too intense to do, but for me it was like therapy; I loved getting lost in story after story, while taking off enough time just to catch something to eat before I went back into the next showing on my list. What made this work of course was the fact the film studios always release their blockbusters around this time; so, the Academy of Motion Pictures would have the studio’s film fresh in their minds for the beginning of the voting period for an Academy Award nomination. Truth be told, even if the picture was not high on my list, if it fit into my time schedule to make the day’s viewing work, I would go see it. Surprisingly, I have only a couple of friends who could handle watching multiple movies in one day. Usually, a friend might only meet me for one or two films before they had to bow out and take a break. SINCE I CHOSE TO STAY HOME this holiday season, I wanted to experience that blockbuster type of movie experience. Luckily, I was able to rent the film I am reviewing today. It still is playing at the theater and the fact it is two hours and 43 minutes long, I could hit pause at anytime so I would not miss any scene. There is something about a James Bond movie that always has a special mystique when it premieres. In my family, a new 007 picture always meant a family outing to go see it. Even if we were on a vacation out of state, if the movie was coming out, we would find time to go see it no matter where we were at. I always experience a bit of nostalgia whenever a new Bond picture comes out because of all the memories I have of the previous pictures; especially of the ones that starred Sean Connery and Daniel Craig. With their longevity in the role, there is for me something extra special about the film when they starred in it. While I began watching this newest film in the franchise, I was feeling nostalgic and sad as the scenes unfolded. HAVING FOUND A SENSE OF PEACE in retirement, it did not last long when an old friend came calling on James Bond, played by Daniel Craig (Knives Out, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), asking him for one last favor. With Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, Knives Out) as Paloma, Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Need for Speed) as Lyutsifer Safin, Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color, The Lobster) as Madeleine and Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel, Powder Room) as Nomi; this action, adventure thriller came packed with its trademark big action/fight scenes. Craig’s Bond is more of a brawler, grittier 007 compared to the others. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of heart on display in this story. There were some poignant moments I felt. My big complaint was with the script and the villain. Though Rami was decent, I found the character was not menacing at all. His character was a bit bland, and the script did not help as it tried to pack too much into the story, to honor Daniel’s portrayal of Bond, hence the too long running time. Despite my misgivings, I am glad I was able to see this movie and if you are especially a fan of this franchise, you would not want to miss this one. And even if you are not a fan, based on the star rating below, you might want to see it as well.
THE NEWS STORY REPORTED WAS HORRIFIC. I was watching the news on television as the reporter was standing across from a charred structure. The following is what she reported. A fire broke out in the apartment building and the father of one of the families living in the building was credited with saving several children. He had no training; he simply acted on instinct. First, he got his family safely out and away from the building. Knowing the other residents, he quickly ran back into the building to assist those neighbors who needed it. With smoke billowing and the fire spreading quickly, the father was grabbing any unattended children, bringing them down and out of the building despite the smoke irritating his eyes and lungs. I was wondering as the reporter was talking, how far away was the fire department from the building and how long did it take for them to eventually get there. The reporter continued the father was personally responsible for saving besides his family, five young children from the building. However, the story ended on a sad note; the father did not survive. After bringing out his 5th child, the father went back into the ravaged building to look for any other children. He never came back out. I FOUND THE NEWS STORY INCREDIBLY sad. What a heroic feat the father had done for his family and neighbors; it was heartbreaking he had to lose his life in the process. Though I do not believe my story is anywhere on the same tragic level as what the news reported, I distinctly remembered the day I almost drowned. On a family vacation, we were staying with out of state relatives. One day it was decided we would go to a resort’s swimming pool. I was not even in kindergarten yet, so I do remember I was quite young. My swimming ability was limited to playing in the shallow end. At the end of the day, I decided to wash off my flip-flops. I walked over to the edge of the pool that was closest to me; it turned out it was the deep end. I sat down with my feet in the water and leaned over to rinse off my sandals. Before I knew it, I fell into the water. I had no time to think as I sunk below the surface. Still clutching my flip-flops, I started waving my arms up and down in the hopes I could get back to the surface of the water. The very next thing, I felt two arms hugging me from behind and up to the surface we went; it was that fast. A stranger had saved me who was nearby. It amazes me how instincts take over in times of need. If you choose to see this science fiction thriller, you won’t believe what the dad does to save his kids. WITH THE POPULATION UNDER AN ALIEN threat, a father commits to do anything he can to save his two boys. With Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Malik Khan, Octavia Spencer (Thunder Force, The Shape of Water) as Hattie Hayes, Lucian-River Chauhan (Heartland-TV, Gabby Duran & the Unsittables-TV) as Jay Khan, newcomer Aditya Geddada as Bobby Khan and Rory Cochrane (Black Mass, Love and a .45) as Shepard West; the beginning of this film started off with a bang, it was exciting. The acting was ably handled by Riz with the surprise that the 2 young boys did such an admirable acting job as well. For me, I enjoyed the first half of the movie more than the 2nd half. It was almost as if two different stories were playing out. Unfortunately, it did not work; instead, it lost the excitement factor for me. It was sad because the acting was so good as was the idea behind the story. Too bad there was not someone through the entire making of this production available to save this movie.
AT FIRST GLANCE, I THOUGHT THERE was a miniature guillotine sitting on their kitchen counter. I was over at a friend’s house after school, and we had gone into the kitchen to get a snack. Sitting next to their toaster oven was this small, blue colored contraption that had a partially exposed razor blade attached inside of its open cover. I asked my friend about it and he said his mother used it to cut pills. This was the first time I had ever heard about someone cutting their pills. It never even occurred to me that a pill could be cut in two. When I was a little kid, if I needed to take a pill, I had to have it dissolved in water before I could swallow it. I wanted to see how this device worked but my friend said he did not want to play around with it. I suggested if he did not want to cut one of his mother’s pills, maybe a celery stalk could work. He nixed the idea, and I did not want to push it any further. However, I started wondering why a person would cut their medicine dosage. Was my friend’s family poor and could not afford their prescriptions? Did the drug make his mother sick, so she cut them to lower the side effects? So, all I did was ask him why she cuts pills; he said when she starts feeling better, she likes to take less and save a few pills in case of a relapse later. THAT WAS MY FIRST EXPOSURE TO someone manipulating their medical advice, but it would not be the last. I knew someone who needed an organ transplant; essentially, he was told if he did not get one, he would not live beyond one more year. I cannot tell you the things he did, but he wound up getting the procedure in the nick of time. Another person I knew needed a new drug to help him with his life-threatening illness. The expense to administer the drug was in the thousands; so, they only agreed to receive half a dose. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to have to cut corners when it comes to one’s health. How does someone decide whether to have a roof over their head or use most of their savings to help prolong their quality of life. I am sure we can all have a lengthy conversation about the world’s health care and drug systems and I certainly hope no one ever has to go through what the family had to in this dramatic, action thriller. WHEN A POSSIBLE LIFESAVING DRUG WAS pulled back by the drug company, there was little hope for Ray Cooper’s, played by Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Dune), wife to beat her illness. Ray was determined to find the cause for the sudden removal of this miracle drug. With Isabela Merced (Instant Family, Dora and the Lost City of Gold) as Rachel Cooper, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven, Murder on the Orient Express) as Amos Santos, Adria Arjona (Life of the Party, Pacific Rim: Uprising) as Amanda Cooper and Amy Brenneman (The Jane Austen Book Club, Foster Boy) as Diana Morgan, the bones of this story were solid. However, the execution of it was clumsy. I liked the idea and thought the action scenes were exciting, but there was nothing new presented in this film. Jason was okay but I felt the script did not provide more opportunity to display a larger range of emotions. The surprise twist in the story was unsatisfactory; I found it unbelievable. As I mentioned earlier, the intention to bring this story to the big screen was noble, but it arrived dead on arrival.
1 ¾ stars
I WAS NEVER THE TYPE WHO could go from one relationship to another to another, with very little downtime between. If the love relationship I was in ended, I would need time to grieve and deal with the sadness before venturing back into the dating pool. There was one long term relationship I had that I thought was leading to a permanent commitment; I was wrong. For several months I stayed close to home, not going out much even with my friends. I took that pain and funneled it into those home projects that I never had time for during the relationship. Oh, and I also watched a steady stream of movies. To tell you the truth, I cannot even imagine going on a date after a recent breakup. Knowing me, I would at some point mention my past relationship and the struggle I was having with its ending. And we all know one of the biggest red flags on a first date is to mention your recent breakup and how it is affecting you. I will say, after the grieving process has run its course, that first twinge you feel that plucks one of your heartstrings after meeting someone new, feels like the onset of that first spring day after a dreary winter season. WHERE I COULD NOT JUMP RAPIDLY into a new relationship right after the end of another, I have a friend who never had an issue doing it. After being in a long-term relationship for several years, they broke up and within a couple of weeks she had met someone new. They dated for approximately 4-6 weeks and then got married. To say I was stunned, would be an understatement. I so desperately wanted to ask her if she knew him that well where she wanted to marry him. Or ask her if she thought this would be considered a rebound situation. In case you were wondering, their marriage only lasted 3 or 4 years before they got divorced. I cannot fault a person who runs with their emotions, nor would I want to ever judge a person who is experiencing love. From my experiences, I know love is a powerful emotion that can drive a person into uncharted territories of their heart and to a certain extent their mind. I knew someone who would change his entire wardrobe based on the person he was in love with at the time. I did not understand it, but evidently it meant something to him. I felt the same way about the main character in this drama. AFTER THE THEFT OF HIS TRUFFLE hunting pig Rob, played by Nicolas Cage (The Frozen Ground, Leaving Las Vegas) was determined to get her back, even if it meant returning to his past life. With Alex Wolff (patriots Day, Jumanji franchise) as Amir, Adam Arkin (The Sessions, Chicago Hope-TV) as Darius, newcomer Cassandra Violet as Lori and Julia Bray (The Brain That Wouldn’t Die) as Bree; this movie captured my attention like the way a home cooked smell grabs me when I first walk into the house; I know there is something cooking that I will have to wait until it is done before enjoying it. The script was a slow burn attention seeker. It started out slow but the more the story unfolded, the more I was going deeper into it. Nicholas was incredible in the role and reminded me that he has the capability to produce a quality piece of work. This film is listed a thriller besides drama, and I can understand the reasons why; however, I do not want to build up anyone’s expectations that this picture will be an intense mysterious story that will have the viewer at the edge of their seat. Instead, what one will see is a deep and personal story wrought with emotions.
3 ½ stars
A FOND CHILDHOOD MEMORY OF MINE was the many times I went to the auto show. Having built and painted a fleet of model racing cars, I loved seeing all the new cars inside the convention center. The faster a car could go, the more I was attracted to it. I would impatiently wait by a sports car, wishing the attendees sitting inside would get out, so I could sit behind the wheel and pretend I was speeding down a long highway. There was not one compartment, switch or knob that I left untouched. At some of the displays there were hired people, dressed in fancy clothes, who would walk around the car and talk about it to any passing person. To emphasize the point, they would eagerly open a car door to invite the individual to come and take a seat in the “latest,” most “advanced” automobile that is out on the street today. I took all of this in, fantasizing that one day I could get hired to talk about all the cars on display. Adding to my excitement, would be all the pamphlets and paraphernalia that the different auto manufacturers would pass out. By the end of the day, I usually had two full bags of stuff that I collected throughout the exhibit. I HAD ANOTHER SPECIAL MEMORY FROM my times at the auto show. In the cafeteria where we would stop for lunch, they sold one of my favorite cookies but in a smaller size. I loved the idea of my favorite cookie being in a bite-size form because they were so easy to pop in my mouth. And they would not leave any crumbs. I always made sure I finished the bag before we would continue our way through the convention center. Even to this day, I remember those little sized cookies. Now, when I go to the grocery store, there are so many options to my favorite cookie that it becomes overwhelming. I remember when they changed the packaging and proudly proclaimed “New & Improved” across the top. They tasted the same to me. However, with their latest version, I must tell you I did not think they tasted as good as I remembered. After so many years, I hope I am not just getting bored with them; they did not excite me like I know they did in the past. I feel the same about this latest installment in the film franchise despite my love of fast cars. AFTER HAVING SETTLED INTO A QUIET, idyllic life in the country, a crisis forces Dominic Toretto, played by Vin Diesel (Bloodshot, The Last Witch Hunter), and the crew to deal with a terrorist that can match their fight and driving skills. With Michelle Rodriguez (The Assignment, Battle Los Angeles) as Letty, Jordana Brewster (American Heist, Home Sweet Hell) as Mia, Tyrese Gibson (Black and Blue, Transformers franchise) as Roman and John Cena (Vacation Friends, Daddy’s Home franchise) as Jakob; this action, crime adventure took the stunt driving to a new level. I enjoyed watching the over-the-top car scenes; however, there were so many of them that it got repetitive for me. There was no place for logic nor was there any time to focus on the characters. It was humor, race, pause for words of wisdom and repeat. The script could have gotten some help if it had incorporated more of Charlize Theron’s character because one of the “evil” characters was not very evil in my opinion. The cast appears quite comfortable with each other and I imagine they are enjoying themselves during the filming process. I am afraid compared to the prior installments in this film franchise, this latest one was more of a basic model instead of being top of the line. There was an extra scene in the middle of the ending credits.
2 ½ stars
WE WERE SITTING IN THE RESTAURANT that we had not been to in three years. I was the one who remembered where they were located. When we made the reservations, I asked my friend if he was going to get the same entree, he got last time; he said he could not remember what he had eaten there three years ago. Now you may be wondering what is wrong with me that I could remember what he had ordered. Here is the thing; there are certain events or things where I can remember them down to the littlest details. At this restaurant three years ago, I had ordered the Salmon Rice Bowl and my friend had ordered Egg Noodle Spaghetti with Meatballs. He could not stop raving about his meal, saying it was one of the best spaghetti and meatballs meals he had ever eaten. I thought for sure he would have remembered it since I could, and I did not even taste his meal. Because I have always had this ability to remember things in detail, my friends had to point out that I was not the “norm.” I can remember what guests wore at a party I attended 30 years ago. The mind certainly can-do extraordinary things is all I can say about it. The weird thing is there are times where I cannot remember what I did a couple of days ago, yet I can recall something from decades ago. ANOTHER FRIEND OF MINE REREADS THE same books and watches the same movies over because she cannot remember them. I find this puzzling. With all the movies I have seen in my lifetime, I may not be able to tell you every detail about it; but I can tell you whether I liked it or not and roughly what it was about. The same goes for the books I have read; I cannot understand how she cannot remember seeing or reading them. And I want to state she does not have a medical issue that would be the cause of her forgetfulness. I am not placing judgement here; I just find it a fascinating situation. For example, back in the late 70’s I saw a horror film that frightened me. I had a hard time afterwards looking at louvered closet doors without feeling a chill go up my spine. The movie was tense and scary, just what one wants in a horror film. Having that memory still of the first of what became a film franchise, I wanted to see this movie, which I am reviewing today, to experience that scare factor once again. HAVING THOUGHT THE KILLER MICHAEL WAS dead, the childhood town of his begins to experience the same type of terror that was all too familiar. With Jamie Lee Curtis (Freaky Friday, Knives Out) as Laurie Strode, Judy Greer (13 Going on 30, Ant-Man franchise) as Karen, Andi Matichak (Assimilate, Miles) as Allyson, Will Patton (No Way Out, The Postman) as Officer Hawkins and Anthony Michael Hall (The Dark Knight, Foxcatcher) as Tommy Doyle; this horror thriller made it a point to share the original story clips within its plot. As for the scare factor, I felt nothing like I did with the original movie. It seemed to me as if the writers relied on scene after scene of gruesome killings. It became quite predictable; so, there was nothing I found surprising. I disliked the ending of the film, finding it ridiculous. The only character I had interest in was the one portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis. If you have never seen a movie out of this franchise, you might find parts you like in this picture. I on the other hand was bored most of the time. There was an extra scene in the middle of the ending credits.
1 ¾ stars
WITH ALL OF THE JOBS I have had, from working in a shipping department to selling kitchen and bathroom products door to door, I have always had a sense of pride with the work I produced. Seeing results from actions I took always spurred me on to do better. Working in the credit and collections field, there has always been a tangible level of satisfaction I felt whenever I saw payments coming in from the customers I contacted. The other strong sense of pride I feel concerns the various fitness classes I have taught. Seeing a member, who has been participating in my class repeatedly, physically and mentally change before my eyes has been one of the most satisfying events in my life. I understand there is perspective and though I am not doing brain surgery or irradicating a disease, there has been many positive moments I have experienced in the world of fitness. It is funny, I had a member who went through a transformation during their time in my classes. At one point they shared part of their story with me, and I must tell you, I quickly discounted their accolades for me when they said they were an air traffic controller. Talk about having the responsibility of someone’s life in your hands, every plane they control is a major life event for them. in my opinion, it is an intense job. ANOTHER JOB THAT I CONSIDER INTENSE, is being the operator at a 911 call center. The reason I say this is because I knew someone who worked as one. The stories I would hear would easily make for a startling story line in a movie. There was the call from a crying woman who barricaded herself in a room to keep her abusive husband from beating her. Another call came in from a good Samaritan who witnessed a hit and run car accident, asking for medical help for the injured. He and I were each talking about our jobs one day and I came to find out he got little satisfaction from the work he was doing. I asked him why he felt that way because from where I stood, I thought he was close to being a land-based angel. The reason he felt that way was due to the fact he rarely ever saw the final results to the call he took. Many times, he would only have to contact the police or fire department; he never really found out what happened to the individuals he spoke with on the phone. He felt my job in fitness was more exciting. I did not see it that way; see what you think if you wish to watch this dramatic, crime thriller. REASSIGNED TO WORKING AT THE 911 call center, a police officer takes a call that would stir up such emotions that he could not let the call go. With Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals, End of Watch) as Joe Baylor, Riley Keough (Logan Lucky, Mad Max: Fury Road) voicing Emily Lighton, Peter Sarsgaard (The Sound of Silence, Garden State) voicing Henry Fisher, Christina Vidal (See No Evil, Magic Man) as Sgt. Denise Wade and Adrian Martinez (Focus, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) as Manny; the main driver of this picture was Jake’s performance. It was one of the better performances I have seen from him. The premise of the story was captivating; however, I thought the script was muddled. Some scenes did not ring true to me and I thought the flow of them was disjointed. As a result, there were times I was riveted to the action, but then suddenly a change would make me lose interest. Nonetheless, there is no denying Jake put everything he had into this film since he was in nearly every scene. For such an important line of work, I had wished this movie would have honored it in a better scripted way.
2 ½ stars
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