Archive for August 2015

“THE GIFT”—A MOVIE REVIEW   4 comments

For the second time this week I want to start off a review with “They DO make films like they did in the old days” no matter what seniors say and “The Gift” is such a movie.

Simon (Joseph Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) have just moved from Chicago into a modern home in Los Angeles. He is up for an important job at business and she is recovering from a miscarriage and the depression that accompanied her loss. When out on a shopping trip they bump into Gordo (Joel Edgerton) who reminds Simon that they were schoolmates in high school but he has no memory of him. The couple invite him for dinner and by the time he leaves Simon  remembers they use to call him “Gordo the weirdo”.

Over the next few days Gordo leaves a bottle of wine on their doorstep, surprises them with putting Koi fish in their new pond and in one note he sends along with the gifts or just to say hello feels the couple is pulling away from him so in a later note he says he is willing to let bygones be bygones and that is when “The Gift” turns into a psychological stalker thriller.

With a throwback to the thriller genre there is the dog that disappears, the fish that are killed, the walk down the dark hall, with music, late one night and not everyone is who they seem to be but who is the villain and who is in charge of what happens remains until twist by unexpected twist all is exposed and we come to an ending that will have you talking all for the right reasons.

Joel Edgerton also wrote and directed the film and turns in a forceful  performance as Gordo while Joseph Bateman’s character is not the usual one he plays.  Rebecca Hall gives an adequate performance which could have been much stronger. The supporting cast as neighbors and/or co-workers does just that, supports the leading players.

“The Gift” is a genre film that plays on your familiarity with twists on what you expect to happen and reminds you of the films of yesterday and told in a  fashion that will have you think, “I didn‘t see that coming!”.



Posted August 14, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT

SUMMERTIME 2015 PART 1   Leave a comment

I open my door, walk out and I just feel good seeing the baby morning glory vine purple flowers and the Cuban Butterfly yellow flowers (picture # 8) and I immediately get a spring in my step. Yes it is hot and humid in Fort Lauderdale in August but I would rather be here than in NYC, Boston or D.C. We always have that breeze coming from the Bay and across the canal!

No matter where you go around Gateway there will be a reason to smile. Say hello to Barbara and there is her cat just sitting on the couch (picture # 2) or walk down to The Point and there is Barbara (a different Barbara) with her dog (picture # 3) talking to a couple in their boat. Look up and there is a bird peering out looking for his girlfriend (picture # 4). Who can say he isn’t?

Walk out from the country store and you may spot a Queen Crepe Myrtle flower (picture # 5) blossoming out from the truck of the tree. Take a walk along the canal and there is a new boat docked (#6) and then a guy will be going out to the Bay in his speed boat (# 7) or I can just look across the canal (#9) and see calmness.

Walk down to The Point at sunset and you might just bump into another one of the many couples (#10) enjoying their life.

You might really get lucky and bump into this guy (#11) and just smile!

Welcome to my summer at Gateway in Fort Lauderdale, Florida!

Posted August 13, 2015 by greatmartin in FLORIDA, FORT LAUDERDALE

“PHOENIX”–A MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

“They don’t make them like the did in the old days, “ is the cry of many senior  film buffs, including me.  In “Phoenix” the director, and co-writer with Harun Farocki, Christian Petzold certainly tries. With bits of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” here, Kander and Ebb’s, with Fosse’s, “Cabaret” there, this movie, as film noir, cries out for a Barbara Stanwyck or Lana Turner and to have been filmed in black and white.

The story of a woman, Nelly, who had her face damaged by a gunshot wound in a German concentration camp has her face reconstructed after the war and goes looking for her husband Johnny. Upon finding him he doesn’t recognize her and tries to get her involved with a get rich scheme by having her impersonate his late wife so he can get her inheritance that was left by her relatives who died in the war.

“As Time Goes By” is an important part of “Casablanca” as are “Again” in “Road House” and “Que Sera, Sera” in “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and this movie too has a song that becomes an important part of the story, by Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash, called “Speak Low” which is heard throughout the film and impacts the ending.

Nina Hoss, as Nelly, may not have the sexuality of a Lana Turner, and is a beauty in her own right, but she is the equal of Barbara Stanwyck in the acting department. She can and does say a lot with a look, her eyes through bad or good and the way she holds herself. You watch her progression from a scared, downtrodden woman to the beautiful, confident woman she was before the war. Ronald Zehrfeld, as her husband Johnny, who thinks that she can pass for his wife that could help him put his scam over has doubts about who she really may be but not enough to stop him. Zehrfeld has a romantic innocence that makes him seem less the villain than he is.

Another major, but undeveloped, role is Nina Kunzendorf as Lene, who does a lot for Nelly but their relationship isn’t quite defined and is unceremoniously out of the film before the halfway mark.

I was told by Allen that the film was an analogy of Germany after the war but I will admit it went right over my head! It might account for why I didn’t like the film as much as I expected to but it did introduce me to Hoss, Zehrfeld and Petzold enough for me to want to see the previous films they have made together.

“Phoenix” is a German film with (some poor such as ‘sit up‘ instead of ‘sit down‘) subtitles running 98 minutes.


Posted August 11, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT

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When the best acting in a movie starring Meryl Streep is done by Rick Springfield you know the film “Ricki and the Flash” is in trouble. Unlike other scenes where either screen writer, Diablo Cody, and/or the director, Jonathan Demme, were afraid to go one step further and make it interesting, the one between Streep and Springfield is emotionally moving.

Meryl Streep is a has-been who never was. She left behind three children to pursue her music career to become a rock star moving to California from Indiana and now many years later is called home by her ex, Pete played by Kevin Kline, because their daughter, Julie, played by Streep’s real life daughter Mamie Gummer, was left by her husband and he feels she needs her. Unbeknown to Ricki, who real name is Linda Brummel, her daughter also tried to commit suicide and is in therapy.

Pete has remarried and Maureen, Audra McDonald, along with Julie, live in a gated community McMansion. Ricki/Linda is broke, works during the day for a Whole Food-like business as a cashier and at night she and her 4 man Flash crew are the house band who play mainly to an older crowd with the bartender the youngest person and is devoted to Ricki.

With strong actors like Streep, Kline and McDonald the scenes between them lack the force that is needed to make them count. When McDonald and Streep face each other you expect sparks to fly but they just don’t. Kline and Streep have a mild high on pot—how 60s–scene that doesn’t go anywhere. The time between Ricki/Linda and her not completely accepting of her gay son, Adam, played by Nick Westrate or her and her about to be married son Josh, played by Sebastian Stan, who though holding affection for his mother doesn’t want to invite her to his wedding are so low keyed they seem to be in another movie. 

he fact that Ricki/Linda is a Republican Obama hating conservative with a US flag ‘don’t tread on me’ tattoo on her back is put out there and then nothing is done with it. Too many times there are musical interludes where there should have been exploration of the dynamics between the movie’s characters. The Hollywood ‘happy ever after’ ending isn’t earned nor does it really make any sense.

With a $17 million budget and Streep’s name it will probably make money!


Posted August 7, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT


This past Wednesday I bought: (see 3rd picture) 3-1 pound packages of mushrooms, 4 tomatoes, 2 packages of Romaine lettuce (3 heads each package), 2 pound package of  seedless grapes and a head of cauliflower for a total of $12.50  On Thursday, while in Winn-Dixie I got the prices for the same items: 3 boxes of mushrooms $9, a head of cauliflower on sale $2.95, 4 tomatoes $3.49, 2 pounds of red seedless grapes $4.50 and 2 packages of Romaine lettuce (3 heads per package) for $5.90 for a total of  $22.89  Do the math folks–a savings of $10.39  enough to treat myself to a movie and a piece of carrot cake later!!

A couple of month’s ago the Resident’s Association started a Farmer’s Market at Gateway on the porch of the Country store and right now it is somewhat of a secret! Bob Davis, the president of the RA, goes to the farm and hauls all the fresh fruit and vegetables he can get there and it becomes a bounty to any of the residents who want to take advantage of it. Now if we can get someone to volunteer we might also be able to get it on Saturdays but that’s another story!! As long as the rains stay away you know where I will be Wednesday mornings–yes I said mornings!! I have to set 4 alarms so I can get up and get down there and get what I need/want! (Don’t worry I come back up and go to sleep!)



Posted August 6, 2015 by greatmartin in FOOD


Osteria Restaurant 1 july 30 2015

Does Fort Lauderdale really need another Italian restaurant with the so many we have? Yes if they are as good as the Ostaria Acqua Farina Restaurant! I had heard about the restaurant and we always passed it on the way to 17th street. On Thursday I suggested we have Italian food suggesting either the upscale Café Vico or the down at home Big Louie’s, both my favorite Italian restaurants for different reasons and, at the last minute, suggested trying Osteria so off we went!

Situated in an abbreviated shopping strip the restaurant isn’t really imposing until you open the door, where you find Brandon, the server, ready to welcome you, asking if you prefer a booth or a table, and to sit wherever you want. It was about 1:30 and there were 3 other parties seated and he was attentive to all. The chef, in the open kitchen, said hello, greeting us in Italian and English.

After we were seated, as I usually do, I asked the server for recommendations and he suggested we hear the ‘specials’ for the day and go from there. He was right as Allen picked the Chicken Marsala and I had the Linguini Pompadoura with meatballs. It may be vulgar, or house policy, but the prices weren’t mentioned for the specials and at the same time it was my fault not asking. In any case both were excellent but also the highest priced items which sort of defeated the ‘lunch special’ idea.

Both lunch, squared white China plates, were presented by a chef who was proud of his work and served by a waiter who was equally as proud of his service. Along with the two big meatballs and a heaping portion of al dente linguine with a homemade sauce ($18) was a good portion of ricotta cheese on the side. Allen raved about his chicken ($18) and was very pleased that there was a good serving of salad on the plate instead of the normal tablespoon portion. We both had diet cokes ($3 each) and Brandon was very fast with refills. The only unimpressive part of the meal was the nondescript bread served.

The lunch menu had salads ranging from $9-13, sandwiches $12-14, entrees $14-18 and pizzas from $12-16.

With tax and tip our check came to $52, a bit high for a lunch of ‘specials’ but the food and service were well worth the price.


Posted August 4, 2015 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS, REVIEWS

JULY 2015 RESUME IN PHOTOS   Leave a comment

As in most months there has been good and bad. I did see 4 movies (pictures 4-7) ate out in at least 6 restaurants (pictures 8-12) including a new and excellent one which I will post about this coming week. At the beginning of the month I was still in a cast for my knee and using a wheelchair while in the middle of the month I was going to physical therapy and by the end of the month I was discharged from PT, put away the cast and wheelchair (pictures 1 and 18).

The rainy season has started which we really need and I posted pictures of Irene and Bills’ gardens. (15 and 16) Rented a car for 2 days which I enjoyed having the freedom (14) and treated myself to blackout curtains for my bedroom. (Picture 19)

Last but not least 2 pictures (2 and 20) of some good looking subjects.  

I have written blogs about all the above subjects this month so if you want to read more just go to the archives.

Looking forward to a great August which will include my having Allen’s car while he goes visit his daughter, son-in-law and twin grand boys, in the middle of the month. I’ve set up appointments with 5 of my specialists–got blind sighted by the knee accident–and then no more doctors until January except my primary in October for blood work!

I am starting to work on plans for my 20th Leap Year birthday party(ies) February 29, 2016, as things are booking up fast since that period of time is high ‘season’ in South Florida. Have to see how many people will be coming from out of town and how many local friends will be coming to 1 or both affairs. I may have to do a blank pre-invite and then go from there. Keep tuned!


Posted August 2, 2015 by greatmartin in LIFE

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