Movie – Africa United



During international tournaments, I especially enjoy the opportunity to watch the African football teams. Yes I’m keen to know how their skills are improving but I especially relish seeing their determination, the team work and their patriotism. They seem to want the win and to do their counties proud more than any other nation. They have the hunger, literally no doubt at some point in their life, unlike a large proportion of their European prima donna counter parts.

So I like the idea of Africa United just from the title. The fact that I learn that it’s about a group of kids who journey thousands of miles to get to the 2010 world cup just adds to the appeal.

It starts with a safe sex message, delivered by one of the young stars of the film but done with such humour, we can but smile.

We follow this young ‘football manager’ across Africa, guiding his gifted and well to do best mate who has been invited to audition for the footballing opening ceremony. Along the way, they make new friends and lose others.

The film tackles child soldiers and sex workers as well as the aforementioned HIV clinics. Despite all that is put across their path, the children’s journey is peppered with humour, camaraderie and above all warmth. It is a message-filled movie, as one would expect and as such has sad moments and those that had me on the edge of my seat with frustration but overall, I came out with a smile.

7½/10

Smile factor 9/10

 

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Book – The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

Generally speaking, if a book appears on the Booker prize list I stay away from it. I find it hard to concentrate on reading (on anything) at the best of times and if a whole paragraph is used to describe how a cup is chipped and why that is significant, my mind wonders off to all the cups I have, the ones, I have broken, the special ones picked up on my travels…..

Darn it; I’ve used a whole paragraph to describe why I can’t concentrate.

Having said that, I enjoyed this story and if I understand it right, it’s about 3 gentlemen; Libor who is twice as old as the others and recently widowed by the love of his entire life; Samuel, also widowed although not the same kind of relationship due to his philandering and Julian.

The story is told through Julian’s longing to be a Jew or sometimes even thinking he is one. Unlike his two married Jewish friends, he has remained a bachelor despite fathering two grown up children with whom he has virtually no relationship. The book tells each man’s stories of their relationships, their friendships, their career choices and their Jewness.

Julian is constantly agonising as by no means has he lived a pure life and is paranoid that it will all end prematurely anyway. He has skipped from job to job and pays particular high disregard to his former long term employer, the BBC (I’m guessing there’s something the author was trying to tell us). He now works as a lookalike of any celebrity that is male and of similar build it seems, whereas his more driven friends are a hugely accomplished; author/TV star respectively and their retired teacher.

It is actually a very good read – well obviously it is; it’s in the short list for Booker Prize and I’m glad I read it.
I imagine you will be too.
7/10 Inspiration factor 7½/10

Movie – The Expendables

The story so far

The story line did not have a bearing in my decision to watch this film.

This is what did;

Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis.

Rourke is a bonus.

When I unintentionally see the trailer, I realise what I thought would be a throwaway film full of one liners and in-jokes is in fact a fairly serious action film

The basic story is that Sly Stallone leads a group of what appear to be mainly ex-army men who hire themselves out for various jobs. This time, they are hired by – let’s call him, Mr Church, to depose an army general of faraway land.

Stallone goes with his right man, played by Jason Statham in his usual role to check out the job and inevitably go back to do the job. Many many many people die, there are tons of explosions, a few car crashes and all the expected action scenes but spectacularly shot.

What I love is that none of the usual bad cliques are in the film, but all the good ones are. Of course the best moment is the 60 seconds that the mighty Schwarzenegger, Willis & Stallone are in the same scene. It’s completely thrilling and all I want from the film.

Of course it would be great if there were more scenes like this and I’m surprised there isn’t a bigger role for Willis seeing as he’s still an action actor.

Mickey Rourke does have a larger part although not in action mode, more in Mickey Rourke mode. Now in retirement, he’s a tattooist and a central point for the guys to meet and add to their body collection. I’m really pleased he’s in the film and Terry Crews is a fantastic addition to the action gang.

I’ve never been a fan and I’m stunned that Stallone is a talented film maker. This is how all action movies should be made.

Sequel? I hope so perhaps next time with larger roles for the action movie trio.

8½/10    Smile factor 10/10

Book – The Truth About Melody Brown by Lisa Jewell

Because there’s a girl’s name in the title, it’s written by a female and the story is about a woman, one would assume this is chick lit, a phrase I dislike as much as ‘RomCom’.

I dislike it because I assume it to be a ‘Bridget Jones’ or ‘Shopaholic’. Not that I dislike those, in fact, they are the only two I have read of this genre albeit, before I realised it was a genre. I thought they were just comic novels but aimed at women. I’m put off because whilst I am happy to have read these, I don’t want every book to be about shopping, not being able to get a man and bleating on about being single or worse, all of the above.

So I dislike the term because just as the RomCom tag means I have probably missed out on some very funny movies, the chick lit label means it’s possible I have missed out on some great books.

This would have been one of them.

It’s such a painful admission to dislike it as I probably write it.

I don’t know where exactly but I did read about this book and something must have appealed to me. It’s one of those stories that is so simple yet full of complications, I wonder why no one else (me) didn’t think of it. Lisa Jewell throws enough spanners in the works to make this almost thriller like.

The book alternates between now and then; Melody Brown is 9 years old when her family home burns down. She grew up having blocked out all the memories before that moment and thinking the people she lived with…well I won’t spoil it.

She’s now a single parent, living in Covent Garden, London (oh the glamour) having lost contact with her parents when she found herself pregnant, nearly 18 years ago.

The then story kicks off when Melody’s parents break up and she and her mother move into a squat on the Kent coast. A myriad of characters come into her life but none of these are part of Melody’s memory, until she goes to see a live hypnotic show and is asked to be up on stage to take part. Only when she is transported back to being five years old does her mind start to unlock and the book tells of her first 9 years of memories slowly, painfully and sometimes excitedly coming back over the approaching days.

Melody stars putting back the pieces together as lost family and friends start entering her thoughts.

I don’t find it as sad as some reviewers but I do agree it’s uplifting. It’s what they call in the trade, a page turner.

I’m looking forward to reading Ms Jewell’s back catalogue. Any you recommend first?

8/10     Inspiration factor 9½/10