Archive for November 2015

“TRUMBO”–A MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

To paraphrase a speech Dalton Trumbo gave at the Screenwriters Guild of America, ‘We should all look back at this evil time in the history of our country and not forget what evil can do.’ 

“Trumbo” is a film about 10 writers who stood up to the House Un-American Activities Committee, led by New Jersey Republican J. Parnell Thomas and the ‘Red Scare’ led by the Republican Senator from Wisconsin Joseph McCarthy. Though all 10 were blacklisted from earning a living, and in some cases more dire circumstances,  the concern that communists had infiltrated the every day lives of Americans was unfounded.

Dalton Trumbo was a workaholic which would help him later after he is convicted and spent 10 months in prison, for not ‘naming names’, ‘for standing up for what he believed’, for not answering “Are you or are you not a communist” knowing that the constitution and the first amendment protected him.

Though this all took place 65 years ago and made headlines all over the world I don’t know what would define spoilers so I would rather you discover this shameful time in America’s history on your own but it should been seen by those who were around in the 1950s and all those who have come afterwards. 

The writers were held in contempt by such ‘true’ Americans as John Wayne (David James Elliot) and, Dalton in particular was hounded by columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) who seemed to be out to destroy him. The screenplay by John McNamara, based on the book by Bruce Cook, covers all sides of what happened from Edward G. Robinson (Michael Stuhlbarg) as the ‘tough guy’ who named names but said the committee already had these names to Kirk Douglas (Dean O’Gorman) who helped Dalton Trumbo break the blacklist.

Part of the fun of the movie, and in spite of the heavy subject there are fun and laughs, is trying to discover who is playing who before their names are mentioned. There’s John Goodman as Frank King who produced many B movies and helped the blacklisted writers make a living after getting out of prison and Otto Preminger (Christian Berkel) just to name a few. Part of the fun is seeing clips from movies (“Roman Holiday”, “The Brave One”, “Spartacus”) or seeing ads for Ginger Rogers in “Kitty Foyle” or knowing this man went on to write “Exodus”, “The Way We Were” and “Papillion” just to mention a few.

Most of the fun is watching Helen Mirren camp it up as Hopper while adding gravity to the film are Louis C.K. and Alan Tudyk as fellow writers with a strong scene by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as another inmate.

Diane Lane, as Trumbo’s wife, is wasted seemingly playing a Democratic version of Pat Nixon while Elle Fanning gives a sparkling, firecracker version of the older daughter who takes after her father.

Bryan Cranston, as Dalton Trumbo, whether sitting in a tub of water writing manuscripts, smoking cigarettes, drinking scotch, being Lord of the Manor of the ranch he owns and where the family lives until he is forced to sell it or giving his all to what he believes in and knows is right, gives a solid performance though sometimes the script lets him down.

The film directed by Jay Roach, in pedestrian form, tells a  “Hollywood–based on a true story”–film that is saved by the facts that it is very relevant to our world today and a historic decade episode in America that shouldn’t be forgotten!

Though “Trumbo” is not a great film it is an important one plus provides a ‘can’t take your eyes off her’ performance by Helen Mirren.


Posted November 30, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW, Uncategorized

“BROOKLYN”–A MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) is a young immigrant girl from Ireland who comes to “Brooklyn” to make a better life for herself and hopefully for her mother ( Jane Brnnan) and older sister (Fiona Glascott) back home. She is sponsored by her church who arranges the boat fare, a rooming house to stay and a job as a salesclerk in a department store.

It is a simple story about a young girl coming to a new country, adjusting to a new life, falling in love with an Italian boy (Emory Cohen) who goes to Irish community dances because he likes Irish girls. When she is called back to Ireland due to a death she is pursued by ‘the most eligible man in town’ (Domhnall Gleeson) and eventually she has to decide between the two men and the country she is froma nd the country she has adopted as home.

Along the way we meet the landlady (Julie Walters) of the boarding house, the other girl borders who try to teach her the ways of her new life and the priest (Jim Broadbent) who consoles her when she becomes homesick. We meet Tony’s parents and family when he invites her to dinner–and she is taught by the ladies at the boarding house how to twirl spaghetti–where Tony’s baby brother (James DiGiacomo) steals the scenes he is in. We meet her sophisticated supervisor (Jessica Pare) at work who follows Lacey’s arc from being a shy girl, almost afraid of her shadow, or at least the shadow Brooklyn casts over a new comer, to a confident young lady who takes night school courses to become an accountant.

“Brooklyn” is a sweet love story between people and countries, that takes its time
and has only one contrived spot that doesn’t ring true. The comparison of Coney Island with bodies all over the crowded beach to the beach along the Irish countryside which only has 4 people on it is as telling as the opening shot of the Irish girl to the lady we see at the end advising a Irish country girl immigrating to Brooklyn.

Saoirse Ronan, an American born 21 year old woman of Irish parents, goes from
drab to beautiful with the ease she becomes the confident woman in “Brooklyn”. As her lover Emory Cohen is a delightful combination of young boy and a man who knows what he wants.

John Crowley directs the film placed in the 1950s and, along with the screenwriter
Nick Hornby, based on the book by Colm Toibin, lovingly shows the Ireland Americans dream of and the New York (Brooklyn) that immigrants picture in their heads. The casting in all the roles are perfect and though the love story doesn’t overwhelm you individual scenes do.

“Brooklyn” is one of the few quiet, impressive films of the holiday season.


Posted November 27, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, Uncategorized


“Spotlight” is a MUST SEE for many reasons first being that if you think you know everything, or just a lot, about the cover-up regarding the Catholic church and the pedophilia priests this film will show you that you don’t. This is the best, if not better, newsroom movie since “All The President’s Men” and shows investigative reporting as it is done and what it accomplishes. The cast is an evenly matched crew of actors in their prime and though all should get an Oscar for best ensemble, there is a scene with Mark Ruffalo that will make you hold your breath not wanting to miss a word.

Ruffalo is one member of a team consisting of  editor Michael Keaton who is the leader and Rachel McAdams along with Brian d’Arcy James who answer to managing editor John Slattery and they all have  a new Jewish, single, editor-in-chief  previously of New York and Miami Live Schreiber.

This is not a pounding on the desk, “STOP THE PRESSES” but an even moving film of reporters doing research, asking inquisitive, invasive questions. There are quiet but very effective scenes like that between Schreiber and Len Cariou as Cardinal Law or the reporters interviewing survivors such as Neil Huff , or Richard O’Rourke, a priest who molested children but saw nothing wrong with it and in both cases no histrionics. Whether it is lawyers like Jamey Sheridan and Stanley Tucci or members of the church like Paul Guulfoyle or supporting players such as Billy Crudup and Michael Cyril Creighton among others all deliver the goods.

Screenwriters Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy, the latter also directed, make a mystery and create suspense tale of a fairly well known Pulitzer Prize winning story that will get you deeply involved.

“Spotlight” is definitely one of the best movies of the year!


Posted November 27, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW, Uncategorized


This is not the sparkling Julia Roberts of “Pretty Woman” or the sexed up one in “Erin Brockovich” but a completely bare of make-up, stripped of all emotions except of love for her daughter, that when someone says she “..looks a million years old” you can believe it. Aside from her looks Roberts is at the top of her acting game being effective in quick scenes consisting of just a glance or longer scenes that require her eyes tell the secrets they are holding.

As it is “Secret In Their Eyes” stands up as a solid crime genre but has a twist that I didn’t see coming until after an hour and thirty minutes into the hour and 50 minutes of the film! It is worth seeing this movie to test your ability on guessing what is going to come.

Co-starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, as an FBI agent who is working a counterterrorism case with Roberts’ DA investigator, shares the burden of carrying the moral tone of the film. He, also, has a love affair that isn’t–go see the movie–with Nicole Kidman who will become a district attorney. We meet the three a few months after 9/11 when Robert’s daughter is found murdered and the films goes back and forth between then and 13 years later which is handled smoothly as you can tell the difference in the faces of Ejiofor and Roberts and the aftermath of the daughter’s death plus look for the gray in the former’s hair!

Alfred Molina who is in charge of the terrorism task force does not allow evidence to convict Joe Cole who is the murderer but, in politics, is more important as an informant of a mosque close to where Zoe Graham, the daughter, has been raped and killed. Thirteen years later Kidman presented with a new reason to open the case also passes for political reasons. Through the years, Michael Kelly, as a surely co-worker and Dean Norris as another investigator and friend of Ejiofor and Roberts, both give strong support.

The director and screenwriter, Billy Ray, has to be held responsible for the non-romance between Kidman and Ejiofer, giving her a one note performance that has nothing to do with the film. Ray does a journeyman job and handles the mandatory foot chase and action scenes pacing the lower key scenes enough to hold the audience’s interest. 

Daniel Moder, the cinematographer, and husband of Julia Roberts, doesn’t hold back on filming the ‘million year old’ woman!

“Secret In Their Eyes” is a good mystery with a twist very few people will see coming unless they are familiar with the Oscar winning Argentine film “El Secreto de Sus Ojos” which it is based on.


Posted November 25, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, Uncategorized

Tagged with




Well they have been hounding me (okay asked me once or twice) what I want/need/wish for as a gift on my birthday. Doing this mostly against my will (HUSH! Don’t say a word!) I am offering 3 categories of gifts. Let’s be clear NO ONE HAS TO GET/SEND ME A GIFT!! (Of course if you have bad luck for 7 years after Monday, February 29, 2016, don’t look at me!) By the same token how many Leap Year Babies do you know? Remember us poor birthday people are ignored for 3 out of every 4 years–not that I want you to feel guilty. And, if you will notice, I am printing this list before Black Friday and Cyber Monday so you can save money!!

Okay, here we go!

Category 1

Not sensible but not impossible gifts

A convertible car–preferably a Chevy or Caddie from the 1970s BUT any kind will do–including a year of automobile insurance. (Well you wouldn’t want me to drive around without insurance, would you?)

A round month long trip to Australia and New Zealand with a rental car available in New Zealand so I could drive from the north island to the south island stopping where and when I want. I’ll give you more details when you want to book the trip.

2 tickets and a round trip ticket to New York city to see “Hamilton”–plan(s) to follow when you start booking the 3-4 day trip.

Category 2

Sensible and possible  (In no particular preference)

A full back computer chair  

A TV recliner chair   

A point and shoot digital camera  

Top of the line electric razor (Well after the caritod artery operation I can’t use a razor anymore so the beard I am growing–so I’ve been told–hides my handsome face and makes me look too old at 20!)

Someone to make a framed collage using all the pictures and memorabilia that I will be taking and collecting  the week  of February 24 which will start with seeing “The Phantom of the Opera” and end on March 1 seeing “Kinky Boots” and include the birthday dinner at the Café Vico and taking out of towners sightseeing, etc.

Books:  The American People by Larry Kramer  Selected Works: A Memoir in Plays by Terrace McNally    Joy Ride by John Lahr  Madeline Kahn: Being the Music, A Life    by William V. Madison  But Enough About Me by Burt Reynolds

Practical, Possible and Sensible (In no particular preference)

Gift cards (Some so I can buy those gifts listed above and a few for fun!)

The Cheesecake Factory      Target   Office Depot   Home Depot  Winn-Dixie  The Gateway Movie Theatre   Regal Theatres  Quarterdeck Restaurant  Oaki Japanese Steak House   Outback Steak House    The Dollar Tree  Big Louie’s Restaurant  Café Vico  Subways Restaurant   


Posted November 23, 2015 by greatmartin in Uncategorized


The last–maybe–of “The Hunger Games” entitled “Mockingjay  Part 2” has arrived to tie up the loose ends of the 3 young adult book series turned into 4 films that made Jennifer Lawrence a star.

It is too long, running 2 hours and 17 minutes, too many and too dark with scenes taking place underground and low lit scenes even above ground.

The older adults are mainly given cameos to do such as Stanley Tucci who is on screen for about a minute while Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died a year and a half ago is inserted as if to say ‘see what we can do’, while Woody Harrelson comes and goes with one minutes scenes. Donald Sutherland fights for his power continuing his heartlessness and Elizabeth Banks does her scene stealing campy appearance. Julianne Moore–never thought I would say this–is colorless in a colorless written role. Jeffrey Wright comes and goes before you can even realize it his him.

Loose ends regarding kid sister Prim (Willow Shields), the ‘is he or isn’t he’ brainwashed problem regarding Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and his competition with Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is played out while the squad team consisting of Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Natalie Dormer and Mahershala Ali lend support to the leads as do Paula Malcomson, Evan Ross, Wes Chatham, Eugenie Bondurant and Elden Henson.

The revelation of Jennifer Lawrence, as Katniss Everdeen, from the first film to this closing one shows the growth of an actress fitting into her body and being able to express her thoughts without saying a word is, if nothing else, the gift of “The Hunger Games” to the world of movies. She has shown her versatility in these movies along with “Silver Linings Playbook”, “American Hustle” and she is the only one who could make me see “X-Man”! I am eagerly awaiting “Joy”.

The direction by Francis Lawrence along with the screenplay by Peter Craig and Danny Strong, along with adaptation by Suzanne Collins based on her trilogy, falters when it comes to the multiple endings as if they just didn’t want the series to end. Here and there are a few twists that were expected and some that weren’t–at least by me–which adds to a film’s interest.

At some points the musical background is jarring while during the many generated computer special effects by Steve Cremin and WSalter Garcia the audience will be pulled out of the story. 

“Mockingjay Part 2” will satisfy followers of the books, the movies and Jennifer Lawrence and I am definitely one of the latter!

Posted November 20, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, Uncategorized

ON THE STREET WHERE I LIVE   Leave a comment

Photos 1, 2 & 3 No matter what kind of weather Mr. Cat has to have his nap every day at 4:30 in the same window! (I will be writing more about him!)

Photo 4  Does the bird know he is going in the wrong direction? Does he know that senior citizens drove cars down this path?

Photo 5  Always a sign that thunderstorms are on their way

Photo 6  My buy at the Farmer’s Market–all for $9

Photo 7 & 8  Full moon outshining the clouds

Photo 9 Mother Nature doesn’t allow concrete and elevators to stop growth of trees.

Photo 10 Are those new fonds growing out of the wrong place on the palm?

Photo 11  Last year the orchids were white! What happened?

Photo 12 Mac, from Toronto, and Allen having a snack at Subway–their new Korean pulled Pork BBQ foot long–very good.

Photo 13 Can we blame Mother Nature for this?

For some reason the video won’t appear here–just copy and paste–you have to see the last picture!!

Posted November 18, 2015 by greatmartin in Uncategorized


Coming on Tuesday, November 17, 2015, to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts is the hit Broadway show “DISNEY’S NEWSIES” and I’ll be there! It is the kick-off show of the 2015-2016 Broadway Across America series of touring shows coming to Fort Lauderdale. It will be here until November 29!

It won the 2012 Tony awards for Best Score written by Alan Menkin and Jack Feldman plus for the choreography by Christopher Gattelli which explodes on stage. The book was witten by one of my favorite theatre talents Harvey Fierstein and the production is directed by Jeff Calhoun.

It is the story of a group of newspaper selling underdogs who become heroes when they fight some of the most powerful men in New York. Aside from being a rousing tale about fighting for what’s right it also has a tender love story.

I’ll be there opening night so look for my review!

Meanwhile here is a taste of the show first in a slideshow of pictures by photographer Deen van Meer and then a number from the show.

Posted November 16, 2015 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

“ROOM”–A MOVIE REVIE   Leave a comment

Joy (Brie Larson) was kidnapped at the age of 17 and 2 years later gave birth to her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) by her kidnapper Big Nick (Sean Bridgers) where we meet them as Jack celebrates his 5th birthday in the 10 X 10 room, a shed, the only place he has ever known, never going outside. What he knows of the world outside of the shed he has seen on the small TV set they have or been told to him by his mother.

The shed has a small sink, 2 chairs, a tub, a bed, a small table, a toaster oven and a closet where Jacob is put in by his mother every time Big Nick comes to rape her. The room is decorated with drawings by the boy and his imagination sees all the things as his friends and the world visible from the very small, very high skylight unimaginable though his mother teaches him to read and explains all the things he sees on the TV as being real.

We spend the first 50 minutes with mother and son, with short visits by their kidnapper to abuse her, in what could be a claustrophobic segment but we watch the mother use discipline with her son making him exercise, learn to read, follow oral hygiene, break eggs, learn how to cook and use his imagination. Without telling too much one of the most touching scenes for many reasons is when the pair make a cake for his 5th birthday.

The second half of the film deals with their escape–leave logic at the door as it is the only misfire by director Lenny Abrahamson–and what happens to the mother and son coming into the real world.

Based on her book and writing the screenplay Emma Donoghue does a good job holding our interest in both segments but I wish there had been about 5-15 minutes more regarding the relation between Joy, her mother (Joan Allen), her father (Willaim H. Macy) now divorced, and their reaction to getting their daughter back 7 years after she was kidnapped.

Allen does a excellent job, Macy is wasted in no more than a cameo though his reaction is important to his daughter’s freedom. Bridgers, looking like your next door neighbor, is menacing in his lack of looking menacing while  Tom McCamus, as the new man in Allen’s and now also in the Joy and Jacob’s lives is underplayed.

Brie Larson is strong, weak, protective, questioning, as the mother who wonders whether she could have done better by her son after doing all she could while they were prisoners.

Jacob Tremblay is a revelation as 5 year old Jack whether it be using his imagination about the outside world or when he gets there dealing with it. There were a few times he was incomprehensible on the soundtrack where he does some key narration but just by looks and action he carries the scenes whether alone or dealing with the adults.

This sounds like it may be a depressing film and the theme certainly isn’t a light one but Jacob Tremblay, at 9 years old, lifts the film up with his acting, his open face and looking at the world with wonder, showing that children can handle life better than most adults.


Posted November 13, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT


After seeing “Big Fish” 3 weeks ago (See my review at tomorrow night I will be going to the launching of the Abdo New River Room Theatre series at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts by the Slow Burn Theatre Company (which put on the dynamic “Big Fish” in the Amaturo theatre within the same complex last month)  with the Broadway musical “Dogfight”. Look for my review soon.

And then on Tuesday it will be the Broadway touring company of “Newsies”

There is NOTHING like going to see LIVE theatre!!!

Posted November 13, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT

Tagged with ,

%d bloggers like this: