“ST. VINCENT” A MOVIE REVIEW–A SURPRISE   Leave a comment


It’s always a pleasant surprise to walk out of a movie thinking, “That was a lot better than I thought it would be,” and that was my reaction to “St. Vincent”.

I am not a fan of Bill Murray and it didn’t help that once again he was playing a curmudgeon and that It didn’t help from the first shot most of the audience laughed at everything he said and did, even when not funny! I don’t remember at what point it happened but all of a sudden he stopped playing Bill Murray and became Vincent.

Along with being negative about going into a movie starring Bill Murray I was also hesitant about seeing  Melissa McCarthy once again playing a loud mouth, vulgar woman doing anything for a laugh but from her first appearance on the screen she is playing a true character, Maggie, a about to be divorced mother who is doing what she can to take care of her son, Oliver, played by Jaeden Lieberher.

Lieberher, an 11 year old, underweight, is bullied his first day in a new school and, due to the screenplay, is put together with Vincent. Okay you get a precocious young boy and an old curmudgeon you know where this movie is heading but Lieberher almost steals “St. Vincent” from Vincent!

As a teacher priest, Brother Geraghty, (Chris O’Dowd) , a bookie Zucko, (Terrace Howard),  Daka (Naomi Watts), a ‘lady of the night’ and paid friend of Vincent’s who is pregnant, Sandy, (Donna Mitchell), from Oliver’s classmates to all the extras every part is perfectly cast, with the exception of Watts accent, and her being Russian, doesn’t add to the film though she does.

The screenplay by Theodore Melfi holds no surprises, but his direction of the actors and their inherit talent is spot on, and will get the tears where he wants them.

In all probability Murray will/should get starring award nominations as might McCarthy will get supporting nominations and Jaeden Lieberher certainly deserves accolades in his role as Oliver and a future career in movies.

“St. Vincent”, and Bill Murray, were a lot better than I thought they would be!

Posted October 24, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Birds Are THE Best Pets To Have Part 2   Leave a comment

Please DON’T do what I did and that was to buy the birds first and then read up on them. One of the biggest mistakes I made was getting two budgies as they had each other and didn’t need me so I didn’t become part of their ‘flock!’ I missed out on a lot because I bought Butch and Sky as a pair so I wouldn’t be bothered by them too much. It took a long time before they interacted with me though they both did learn ‘step up’, meaning to get on a perch/finger which is important for all pet birds to learn.

First let me tell you birds are very easy to take care of starting with their cages. I would line the floor with 7 layers of paper every Sunday so all I had to do every morning was pick up the top layer and they had a clean floor. Once a month I would take the cage(s) downstairs, hose them down plus clean the perches. They were not high maintenance at all! Yes poop was a problem though I have heard that some people trained their birds to poop I specific spots but I didn’t. When I let them out of their cage I draped a towel over my shoulders but I should have added a shower cap on my head!

I had no trouble converting them to pellets so I really didn’t have the mess of bird seeds all over the place. I would occasionally give them seeds as a treat but not enough to dirty the floor..

One of the first things I learned was that it was easy to tell the differences between the sexes on most birds. In the case of budgies the males had a blue cere–that is right above the beak–while the female had a brown cere. The male Zebra Finch as an orange patch on each check while the female doesn’t. In the cockatiels the males have a bright orange patch on their cheeks while the female’s is duller and they have bars under their wings and spots under their wings but both are hard to see.

Sorry ladies but in the bird world the males are the more colorful ones–just look at the peacocks!

One of the many benefits of having a bird as a pet was that I met Jill on line and she lives in Fort Lauderdale. We became friends and she once surprised me by giving me a cockatiel. Also in the previous post if you look at the part 1 slideshow the eggs hatching were her budgies and she gave me 2 of them! In both part 1 and part 2 you will see a picture of her green neck conure Andie that I took care of for awhile and though it took a bit for her to warm up to me she finally did.

I did learn one lesson very quickly regarding finches–they are worse than rabbits!! I started out with two and before I knew it I had 21. I quickly separated the males and females into their own cages.

Another bird you see in the slideshows was an African Grey Parrot whose owner had to go into the hospital for a couple of weeks so I took care of it. It was then I learned that birds can lay infertile eggs without any males present, sit on them and after a couple days they would ignore them. They can cause problems for the bird if they do it too often.

All in all having birds was a smart move on my part–they really are great pets to have and will interact with you as any other animal would. It’s been a couple of years now since I have had to give them up and I miss them!

I have kept one cage—just in case! :O)

Posted October 22, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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BIRDS ARE THE BEST PETS TO HAVE PART 1   Leave a comment

I know I wrote a post about my birds but I am unable to find it so I will do a brief recap, or maybe it will be a new post, before I get into the heart of this post.

I have always had a pet, usually dogs, starting with mutts and the last one I owned was a pug. I have had salt and fresh water fish tanks but by the time I moved into Gateway I just didn’t want the responsibility of a dog plus you had to put down a $500 deposit and fish didn’t appeal to me any more as keeping the tanks clean were a pain. I was never a cat person though I have always liked looking at them and I remember when Mike had gotten two kittens and we would spend hours watching them interact.

I was working at Big Louie’s and talking about pets one day when another server suggested a bird. I had never given a second thought to getting a bird. I did know I couldn’t get one of the big birds as at that point I had been taking blood thinners and a bite from a parrot could cause me problems. He suggested a parakeet and after a few weeks I thought I would go off to a bird store and look around.

Long story short I got 2 budgies–what Americans call parakeets–and the rest was history. It wasn’t long before I had 2 budgies, 2 cockatiels and 21 Zebra finches!

It would be about 6 years before my lung doctor told me I had to get rid of the birds due to my having COPD and a few breathing problems. They were so much fun and I still miss them!

Every evening I was home I would let the tiels and budgies out of their cages and they would fly around nibbling on frames and posters, perching on placards so thin it was amazing. At around 10 PM they knew it was time to get back to THEIR own cages as it was snack time. I couldn’t let the finches out because they were too small and quick and could get lost or in trouble. As it was I had a problem with them but I will talk about that in part 2.

It didn’t take very long but all the birds got on my schedule going to sleep around 1 AM and not peep out of them until I woke up and take the covers off. You have to know that birds are at their loudest at sunrise but not mine!

Things I learned about birds—finches are worse than rabbits!–and how easy they are to take care of plus I wish some humans had a ‘bird brain’ as birds are not only smart but easy to train in part 2.

I’ll explain about some of the photos in the slideshow but keep an eye out for Andi, Jill’s bird and the budgies hatching a new family.

Posted October 21, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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THE PERFECT DAY   Leave a comment

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(ALLEN ON LEFT AND ME ON RIGHT DOING PUBLICITY FOR “ANNIE”)

There is pure joy coming into an unexpected perfect day and this was one of them.

I slept in a little later than usual, got up, did my usual look in the mirror and saying out loud, “You’re okay Martin!” and getting that smile on my face.

Had orange juice and coffee then checked my emails and posted a couple of blogs plus making a few draft posts to get ahead.

Around one o’clock, looking outside, I decided to take two of the many magazines piled up on my table and go seat outside and do some reading.

I wish I could describe the feeling that engulfed me when I walked out of the building towards the water. The warmth of the sun seemed to wrap around me while a breeze kept it from being too hot. My legs didn’t hurt, I didn’t have a care in the world and life just seemed to be glorious.

I sat on the bench and started to read one of the magazines but I couldn’t concentrate as the combination of the sun, the breeze, the blue water and sky, the large green tree and just the feeling of peace seemed top ask me to relax and just look around.

In addition to relaxing and looking around I took my camera and did a short video so that I would remember this day. This is the video–this is the day.

No matter what may happen this day, the rest of this month, the rest of 2014, I know I will carry this perfect day, Sunday, October 19, 2014, with me until the next perfect day comes a long and I know it will!

Posted October 20, 2014 by greatmartin in personal life

“THE BEST OF ME”–A MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment


In “The Best Of Me” it is 1992 and Amanda (Liana Liberato) and Dawson (Luke Bracey–looking too old) become high school sweethearts. She comes from a wealthy Louisiana family while he is described as ‘poor white trash’ by his father (Sean Bridgers), with her father, Jon Tenney, trying to buy Dawson off, not succeeding. For unknown reasons Dawson leaves the town and Liana.

Twenty years later we meet Dawson (James Marsden) who is now an oil rig worker who just escaped death and Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) is married, has a son, lost a younger daughter to leukemia and whose husband (Sebastian Arcelus) is a drunkard.

Based on a book by Nicholas Sparks, with the screenplay by J. Mills Goodloe and Will Fetters, we know true love won’t run smooth. Along the way we meet Dawson’s two redneck brothers played by Hunter Burke and Rob Mello, Gerald McRaney, as Tuck, his mentor and the reason for Amanda and Dawson getting together again all these years later. The writers throw in all the cliché twists and turns that good romance novels/films have hopefully in paying off with the audience in tears. There are two surprise twists that unfortunately are telegraphed before they happened.

The soundtrack tries to work on the heartstrings while Louisiana is photographed in all its hanging moss glory, skies with millions of stars, the actors looking their best and

A HUGE mistake, which might not have been as obvious had the movie not constantly shifted between 1992 and 2012, is the fact that the younger Dawson, not only looking too old, has no resemblance to the older Dawson plus none to his father and two brothers. At least the young and older Amanda both have long curled hair so there is some resemblance. All the actors do what is required of them and there is chemistry between the younger Amanda and Dawson along with the older pair.

“The Best Of Me” is not an unforgettable romance movie but gives the audience what it comes for, though logic has to be left at the door when walking in. Having to choose between this movie and “Fury” we made a good choice.

Posted October 17, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“PRIDE”–A MOVIE REVIEW–A WINNER!   Leave a comment

“Pride” is the very close to perfect movie that it seems only the English know how to make. It pulls at your heart strings, makes you smile and laugh, then ends making you want to cheer!

The movie is based on a true story about a group of Lesbians and Gays from London who go to Llandello, Wales, after collecting money to help the striking miners, showing solidarity between two groups who are marginalized, oppressed and shunned, especially by the government.

The film opens with the Gay Pride March in 1984 and ends with the Gay Pride March in 1985. In between we see the interaction between the Gays and miners, some of the latter accepting the former while some are against them. There is really only one villain as through various actions, conversations and incidents most come to accept each other.

Most of the characters are clichés from the boy on the verge of coming out to the man in the village who has lived his life in the closet but the actors make you forget what you know is going to happen. Each actor gets a ‘star’ turn and though some have bigger roles, such as Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Ben Schnetzer, Paddy Consindine, Andrew Scott, Dominic West and George MacKay than others all earn a well deserved acknowledgement so be sure to stay for the credits.

It is almost a perfect movie but the director, Matthew Warchus, and the screenwriter, Stephen Beresford, try to cover too many characters and don’t have, or take the time, to see them through while original music by Christopher Nightingale at times overcomes the scenes.

All in all this is definitely a movie to see and, on a personal note, I want to take the next flight to Llandello, Carmartheshire and Danwen in Wales, plus drive across that magnificent bridge. I did research but couldn’t find out the name of the bridge so if anyone knows please let me know!

Posted October 14, 2014 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW

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“THE JUDGE”–A MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

“The Judge” is a 2 hour and 20 minute film, half family drama and half courtroom drama, at least 20 minutes too long. The acting, particularly by Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall elevate this film above all the clichés that you know are coming.

On the verge of divorce, after finding his wife has cheated on him, and his mother having died, Chicago lawyer Hank (Downey Jr.) returns to his small hometown in Indiana where his father (Duvall) has been a judge for 38 years and sober for 28. Hank’s older brother Glen (Vincent D’Onofrio) had been a promising baseball player is now a married man with children who works in a tire store and a younger brother, Dale, (Jeremy Strong) who, due to mental disabilities, constantly has a camera in his hand recording everything.

In spite of two or three twists and turns there are all the familiar scenarios including a high school girlfriend Sam (Vera Farmiga) who has a fatherless daughter who was born 9 months after Hank left town, a hyper young waitress Carla (Leighton Meester), who comes on to Hank along with a only in Hollywood storyline that makes for Hank to take on the defense of the judge who is accused of murder. This brings in a country bumpkin lawyer, Dax Shepard, which makes it necessary to be helped by Hank, along with slick opposing prosecuting lawyer, Dwight (Billy Bob Thornton) is holding a grudge against Hank. There is a completely unnecessary story involving Hank’s far too precocious daughter Lauren (Emma Trembay) showing that both the judge and her father have a soft side.

Both Downey Jr. and Duvall bring their A game to the movie, especially in a scene that could have been a complete turn off, and Farmiga lights up the screen in her scenes with Downey Jr. Billy Bob Thornton brings gravitas to the film with another one of his fine performances and is getting better looking every year as he grows older.

The direction by David Dobkin, along with the screenplay by Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque, follow a course we have seen many times before brought to a higher level by the acting. The director of photography Janusz Kaminski, brings a Hollywood image of small town perfection to the film with everything green and shining. There is a breathtaking scene looking out from a restaurant that is shown twice.

Posted October 10, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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