Archive for October 2014

“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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Last night 2,700 audience members at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale welcomed one of their own, from near by Davie, Florida, 9 year old Issie Swickle in the title role of the new touring company of ”Annie”. She has the advantage of being directed by the original director Martin Charnin, who also wrote the lyrics, with the music by Charles Strouse,, who has made this a classic musical since it first appeared on Broadway in 1977.

The young actress is on stage most of the time and not only has to sing such iconic songs as “Tomorrow”, “Maybe” but also interacts with 6 ‘orphans’ , 20 adults and Sandy, the dog. While very confident working with the other kids and Sandy, with less than a month in the role she is still tentative with the adults but another month or two on the tour that should change.

Lynn Andrews, as the mean Miss Hannigan, has fun with her role and singing “Little Girls” and brings down the house dancing and singing “Easy Street” with her conniving brother Rooster, played by Garrett Deagon, and his girlfriend Lily played by Lucy Werner.

Gilgamesh Taggett, as Oliver ‘Daddy” Warbucks, is commanding on stage with a strong voice, along with being gruff and tender when needed to be either. Cameron Mitchell Bell as Bert Healy sells “You Are Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile” while Allen Baker gets all his laughs playing President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The ensemble, in various roles, all come through for the show and the orphans played by Angelina Carballo, Adia Dant, LillyBea Ireland, Sydney Shuck, Lilly Mae Stewart and Isabell Wallach dance and sing as if they have been working together for years. Along with MIss Swickle they get the show off to a rousing start with “It’s The Hard Knock Life”.

The scenic design by Beowulf Boritt is imposing and moves in, out and around smoothly. The thirteen piece orchestra got off to a shaky start but recovered quickly.

Walking up the aisle after the curtain calls you could hear “Tomorrow” being sung, whistled and hummed by most of the audience and will be for days to come. It is not a bad philosophy to have in your head in today’s times!

Posted October 9, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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The show opens at the prom of Springfield High in 1958 where, by default, the Marvelous Wonderettes quartet have been chosen to entertain their fellow seniors. We meet Suzy (Lindsey Corey) who is dating her classmate Ritchie, running the lights for the show. We learn that Cindy Lou (Ann Miller Brennan), who is best friends with Betty Jean (Julie Kleiner) has been cheating with the latter’s boyfriend Johnny. The last member of the group is Missy (Abby Perkins) who tells everyone at the prom, after singing “Secret Love”, that her secret love is Mr. Lee, the leader of the group. (Mr. Lee is an audience member picked at random and in this case Nate Sikes steals the show the few minutes he is brought up on stage.)

In the second act we meet the girls, now women, at their ten year union. Suzy is pregnant, married to Ritchie with problems in the marriage. After 10 years of courtship, and pizza, Mr. Lee proposes to Missy. Betty Jean has married Johnny, the guy who use to cheat on her with Cindy Lou, and is still a cheater. Cindy Lou tells about her moving to Hollywood to become an actress, failing, now back in Springfield and in love with Billy Ray Patton, the boy responsible for the Marvelous Wonderettes singing at the prom who had been suspended from school.

All the above is the reason for the girls to sing songs from the 1950s in the first act and the 1960s in the second, approximately 33 songs in all. This is a jukebox musical, written and created by Roger Bean, where the singers make the show and the 4 Marvelous Wonderettes all have their time in the spotlight and make good. Among the songs are “Secret Love”. “Mr. Sandman”, “Teacher’s Pet”, “It’s My Party”, “Respect”, “Leader of the Pack”, “Rescue Me”, “Sincerely” and “Hold Me, Thrill me, Kiss Me”. Of the four ladies Lindsey Corey has the strongest voice and the comedic chops to stand out but at all times they are in harmony.

The direction and choreography by Patrick Fitzwater keeps the movements flowing while the costumes by Rick Pena gives individuality to all the girls.

For an evening of nostalgia, and good singing performances by the quartet, “The Marvelous Wonderettes” offer an enjoyable time in the theatre.

“The Marvelous Wonderettes” will be presented in the Abdo New River Room in the Broward Performing Arts Center complex through November 23. Small plates and beverages are available before the show and during the intermission.

Posted October 8, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Nostalgia was served on a silver platter at the Adrienne Arsht Center For The Performing Arts in Miami when the touring company of “I Love Lucy Live On Stage” made their debut.
The show consists of two episodes from the 1950s as taped for broadcast showing including the original commercials, songs from the era, with the crew and cameramen doing their job in full sight of the audience.

For a show that can still be seen on a television set somewhere in the world every day since it made its debut 63 years ago on October 15, 1951, the first question regarding this live show is going to be about the actors playing the roles of icons loved by all.
Lori Hammel as Vivian Vance/Ethel Mertz doesn’t resemble the original actress at all but puts across being the foil for Lucy and her madcap antics. Kevin Remington as William Frawley/ Fred Mertz fades into the scenery. The Cuban born, Miami raised Euriamis Losada, plays Desi Arnaz/Ricky Ricardo with all the charm and the subtle eyes for the ladies that the original had. He belts out “Babalu”, does a mean job on the bongos and is the perfect straight man for Lucy, doing the rapid Spanish and destruction of the English language, as she drives him crazy.

Thea Brooks as Lucille Ball/Lucy Ricardo has the red hair, the flair for physical comedy, does all the whines, cries and off tune singing that the Hollywood actress brought to the small screen but there was only one Lucille Ball and Brooks doing her best does a good job yet lacks that ‘it’ the madcap actress had to bring the audience to tears with laughter.
The ensemble, whether doing the Alka Seltzer commercial or singing “Wheel of Fortune”, are a talented group but the real standout, stealing every scene she is in, from the opening playing a member of the audience exchanging quips with Mark Christopher Tracy as Maury Jasper the host and warm up man, to being a charwoman is Denise Moses.

Whether a child or adult, everybody loves Lucy.

The show runs 95 minutes without an intermission

Posted October 6, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“GONE GIRL”–A MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

As Amy Dunne in “Gone Girl” Rosamund Pike joins the ranks of  Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct” and Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction” and to say more would give away the last hour and twenty-five minutes of the film.

The film is mostly a ‘He said-She said’ narrative of a possible kidnapping and/or murder, starting with Amy and Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returning home, after both losing their jobs in New York City, to North Carthage, not far from St. Louis, to take care of his mother dying of cancer and his father drifting into Alzheimer’s. Amy’s parents, psychologists, (David Clennon and Lisa Banes), have become wealthy writing books about a child, Amazing Amy, who was always just a bit better than their real daughter. We see brief scenes of Amy and Nick meeting and falling in love.

Within a few minutes we see Nick coming home to an empty home leased by the couple with money from her trust fund from the books, their cat outside, a table upended, the glass top smashed and Amy missing. It isn’t long before evidence points toward Nick as the murderer of his golden wife Amy, his being pursued by detectives Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fuhgit), his twin sister Margo, (Carrie Coon) supporting him 100% while a sensation seeking TV cable reporter/host, played by Missy Pyle, slowly turns the public against Nick. Eventually Margo makes Nick hire news making lawyer, Tanner Bolt, (Tyler Perry). Along the way we meet Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris), Amy’s boyfriend, so he thinks, in high school, Carrie Wilson as Noelle Hawthorne, a neighbor of Nick and Amy’s, Emily Ratajkowski as Andie Hardy, a student in the one college class Nick teaches, plus Boyd Holbrook and Lola Kirke, as Jeff and Greta, plus a cameo by Sela Ward as another cable TV host.

With the exception of Neil Patrick Harris in a wasted, undefined role, and the roles of Boyd Holbrook and Lola Kirke, though acted strongly, could have been cut without taking anything away from the story except making it shorter, the acting by the cast is of the first order with Ben Affleck at his best while Rosamund  Pike is definitely going to be up for most of the acting awards.

The screenplay by Gillian Flynn, based on her best selling novel, and the direction by David Fincher, serve the film well to hold the audiences attention as all the production values do.. They have made it one of those movies that will make people who haven’t read the book to do just that to see what, if anything, they have missed.

Posted October 3, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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