Archive for July 2016

“CAFE SOCIETY”–A WOODY ALLEN MOVIE–REVIEW   Leave a comment


As an old man after directing and in most cases writing the screenplays for 49 pictures Woody Allen has always has a hand in the past reflecting on what was and would could have been. In “Cafe Society” during the first half, he looks atHollywood in the 1930s when the studios were experiencing the star of the golden age and names such as Barbara Stanwyck, Errol Flynn, Ginger Rogers and such were name dropped at parties, sought after by agents and movies were lived 24/7 both in reel and real life. In the second half it is to the clubs of New York with speakeasies rising out of the bootleg era and becoming the Stork club and 21 Club. In both cities people dressed to the nines in the evening and were always trying to impress someone else.

The film opens with Bobby Dorfman, (Jesse Eisenberg) a nerd, a word unknown then, coming to Hollywood hoping to get a job with his uncle, Phil, (SteveCarell), who is always making deals as a press agent. He is cheating on his wife with his assistant, Vonnie, (Kristen Stewart) who Bobby also falls in love with only knowing she has a boyfriend who is a writer and travels a lot.

It’s a slight screenplay and if you look too closely at it it doesn’t make sense but like many of Woody Allen’s movies there are many pluses one almost always being the acting. Steve Carell is just annoying enough to be your idea of a Hollywood agent while Jesse Eisenberg is Woody’s stand in giving more depth than usually brought to the role. 

Blake Lively left me with the impression that this is an actress I would like to see more often while Jeannie Berlin, the stereotyped Jewish mother, brings something extra to make her a bit more substantial.Corey Stoll as Bobby’s gangster brother and Marty Dorfman as their father, along with all the actors, just as the production aspects, make the picture feel authentic just as the period music always grabs your interest and fits what is happening on the screen.

Two things really make “Cafe Society” stand out and one is the beautiful cinematography by Vittorio Storaro that shows what color can do for/to a movie.

The other is Kristian Stewart. I vaguely remembered her from Jodi Foster’s movie “Panic Room” but lost interest in her after seeing she was going to be in “The Twilight Saga” just as I didn’t follow Daniel Radcliff in the Harry Potter series–yes, I admit it publicly! and became interested in him seeing the roles he took after showing that he wasn’t a one note actor. After seeing Stewart in “Welcome to the Riley’s” and especially “Clouds of Sils Maria” followed by “Still Alice” I started seeing her in a  new light. This movie role, which make the film more interesting than what is written because of the way she plays Vonnie, made me think of stalwart actresses such as Mary Stuart Masterson, ParkerPosey and Laura Linney, all so called ‘Indie Darlings’ and always bringing something extra to a role.

Now for Woody Allen’s 50th movie how about Daniel Radcliff and Kristian Stewart?

MOVIE TRAILER


Posted July 29, 2016 by greatmartin in MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES, Uncategorized

COCO ASIAN BISTRO & BAR–REVIEW–A WINNER   Leave a comment

Coco Asian Bistro  July 21 2016 Collage

Walking into the Coco Asian Bistro from a typical hot, sunny, summer day in Fort Lauderdale outside is like coming into a beautiful oasis! At first it appears to be dark with booths on the left, tables throughout and chandeliers that appear like stars in an ink sky. Am I being too romantic? Well it is that type of place which also includes a beautiful red rose in a small bowl filled with water.

Upon entering we were greeted by both the hostess and cashier and as soon as we were seated the server came took our beverage order returning almost immediately with it.The service was excellent including the busboy who heard James say he wanted some sauce to make his dish spicier and brought it to the table before he could ask for it.

Coco Asian Bistro has a very varied menu but being a creature of habit I usually test a place by ordering a particular dish. In a Mexican restaurant I would order Fajitas, an Italian restaurant Linguine with white clam sauce and so on. In an Asian restaurant with Thai food I immediately go for the Pad Thai and that’s what I ordered having a choice of adding chicken, pork or tofu for $9.50 per dish or adding beef, shrimp, scallops or squid for an additional $2. Hate to say it but the 3 of us ordered the same thing all adding chicken so I will have to go back and try a few of their other dishes. Allen and I also had diet Cokes at $3 each.

The soup was hot and tasty and the Pad Thai was one of the best I ever had and there wasn’t a spot left in/on any of our plates.

The check was reasonable considering the quality off the food, certainly the service and the ambiance. For 3 of us including tip the check came to $15 each for a very satisfying lunch.

This is the second ‘bistro’ in the area we have eaten in recently–the other being the Bistromezzaluna–and they are both definitely winners!

 

PS A definite plus–the TV wasn’t on!

LEAP YEAR COLLAGE 2016   Leave a comment

feb 29 2016  Collage

In case you don’t know it I celebrated my 20thLeap Year birthday this past February and it was one of the best.

In 2012 a neighbor made a collage of that year’s memories of my 19th birthday and, previously, in 2008 James did one up for my 18th and I see them every day and get a smile on my face.

This year I decided to make my own collages using mementos of the people, who celebrated my birthday with me, the shows we saw, and restaurants we ate at plus the dinner on Monday, February 29th, 2016, that I had for 20+ people at the Café Vico.

I, literally, had over 100 pictures so I knew it would have to be more than 1 collage. Now I have never made or even attempted to make a collage before and I made a load of mistakes BUT I DID IT!!!

I started it in March and little by little picked all the things I wanted to put in it and finally in June started to work pasting the invitation, Playbills, letter of why they were invited to the dinner, poems that people have written for and about me plus a couple of balloons that had been used at the dinner, a few birthday cards and yes, I went through all the pictures making sure that I had a picture of at least each person that had been there.

I didn’t use any rhyme or reason how I pasted them on the boards or even how I hung them up on the wall but I can look up from my computer and see Mary, Pat, Glenn, Robert, Betsy and Nancy looking back at me plus my neighbors and mustn’t forget Fernando, the waiter, who had a few hearts beating!! (There were more pictures taken of him than the birthday boy!)

With all that I put on the boards I needed to frame the needlepoint that Gene sent me plus a few pictures I had forgotten to put with the rest.

And, oh my, not a single picture of Chuck and Terry who surprised the heck out of me knocking on my door one day in December since they couldn’t come in February!! They certainly deserve a board of their own so here thinking I am finished I realize that I may never be finished by February 29th, 2020.

They may not be the best collages you ever saw, not a thing in proportion, outsized things overwhelming small articles BUT I did it!

“ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE”–A REVIEW   Leave a comment


Walking into this movie you know exactly what to expect and you get it! Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) are older versions of the ‘girls’ first met in a TV series in 1992. They still drink anything with alcohol, including Chanel #5, but mostly prefer Bollinger’s champagne. They inject, pop, inhale any drugs they can get their hands on and part of Patsy’s morning routine is putting botox all over her face and though she would like to be as promiscuous as she was her age is working against her. They wear outfits that only outrageous characters and/or drag Queens (if you know Patsy and Edina you know that’s a compliment!) and get into ridiculous, slapstick, some farcial situations starting with the set-up of the gals being broke, Edina, accidently, killing Kate Mo9ss and their running off to Monte Carlo.

Most of the familiar characters such as Edina’s daughter Saffy (Julia Sawalha), Edina’s mother Mrs. Monsoon (June Whitfield), Bubble (Jane Horrocks), Huki Muki (Janet Krankie) while introducing Saffron’s 13 year old daughter Lola (Indeyarno Donaldson-Holness) and Chris Colfer, as the make-up artist, in a very stereotyped role.

Unless you are an anglophile you may not recognize all of the many cameos by famous actors, singers, models, designers, etc., but John Hamm has a funny bit with with Patsy and a poolside scene where every woman looks like the Joan Collins who looks absolutely fabulous.

With a smart running time of 90 minutes if a joke and/or pratfall falls flat wait and there will be plenty of both to follow and at times if the story line strays hang in there. By the way any film fan might think he will know the last line in the film but you might be wrong.

This is the first time since Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” opened at the Gateway Theatre that I have seen a waiting line for the next matinee showing! Also, by my count, at least 95% of the audience were gay and appreciaited everything the gals did and said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj3ZWhlmexw MOVIE TRAILER


Posted July 22, 2016 by greatmartin in MOVIE REVIEW, Uncategorized

“THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT” HA! A RESTAURANT REVIEW   Leave a comment

I love Mac n Cheese Collage

This is a hard review for me to write as 4 days later I still have residual puzzlement at what took place.

I was first attracted to the restaurant after reading an article in the New Times paper. The name itself was a big drawer as I love a play on words and snappy phrases. The second big selling item was all the raves about the cookie dough cones which many reviews on yelp talked about so add that to a new restaurant and Allen liking Mac & Cheese off we went.

It is easy to miss when entering the shopping center from the east as they only have their name facing west though many well known ‘fats causal’ restaurants are across the way from including BurgerFi which had a long line the whole time we were in I Heart Mac & Cheese which was basically empty..

It started off good with a hearty greeting as soon as we entered from Anika the order taker and cashier. At first it was a little confusing as menus weren’t available up front though it was on the wall above where you ordered and there were ‘take out’ menus available there.

It was partially my fault but I thought after ordering Basic Mac & Cheese ($3.95), since it didn’t say anything about what kind of cheese I thought you ordered the cheese you wanted on the macaroni which cost a dollar. I then ordered the Cookie Dough cone to be told they don’t have them anymore! What seemed as a major selling item on the menu was going to be replaced by what sounded like regular desserts. I wasn’t happy about that but okay. Then I ordered a fountain diet coke but seems the machine wasn’t working.

When we got to the table I looked at my receipt and saw that it was $4.95 which made me go up and ask Anika if it was a mistake and she was handling it very well until someone behind the counter–Owner? Manager? Cook? I really don’t know as he never introduced himself.

All of a sudden I was hearing that this was the first restaurant of its kind, that the planned to open 10 more soon, that he doesn’t go home and yell at his wife and kids (!) and that it was a new place and they were having  growing pains. Then, after hearing his rant, I was a little thrown and–OMG!! I made a mistake!–I mentioned about that a big selling item to me was their ice cream dough cone! Next thing I know I was angrily being told they don’t have ice cream!

Okay maybe the guy was having a bad day and instead of yelling at his wife and kids he thought it would be better yelling at me!

I was a professional waiter for 38 years and the first thing I was taught by Sam & Dorothy Piccolo’s (where I started in Miami Beach)) was ‘the customer is always right’ is not always the case but even when they are wrong you immediately respond with “I’m sorry” (and try to say it at least twice) and then “What can I do to make it better?”

The concept of I Heart Mac & Cheese is a draw but when you walk in and are told they won’t have this anymore and they don’t have that plus get aggravation from someone involved with the business you go eat your meal, leave and never come back or recommend the place.

There are close to 2,890 restaurants to choose from in the area and a business has to do more than just open their doors.

Posted July 20, 2016 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS, REVIEWS, Uncategorized

A LOOK BACK AT THE 2015-2016 THEATRE SEASON   Leave a comment

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJ2bpVrH6_w

1 & 6. At The Broward Center For the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale

  1. At the Adrienne Arsht Center of the Performing Arts  in Miami

3 & 16. “Big Fish” by the Slow Burn Theatre in Fort Lauderdale

4, 8, 11 & 12.  “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”

5 & 6. “Once” with the latter of the cast taking their final bow

9 & 10. “The Book Of Mormon” returning for the 3rd time

13, 14 & 15. “Newsies” my favorite show from the 2014-2015 season returned

17 & 18. A new tour of “The Sound of Music”

  1. The Arsht Center
  2. The Broward Performing Arts Center.

The 2015-2016 theatre season started with the opening of “Once” at the Broward Performing Arts Center,  continued with “Big Fish” at the Amaturo Theatre, and was followed by at least 12 more shows in Fort Lauderdale and Miami!

Of the 16 shows I saw my favorite was “Beautiful The Carol King Musical” because of the score and the cast and was closely followed by “Newsies” which has some of the most exuberant dances and dancers I have seen in years. For sheer fun and entertainment there was “Kinky Boots” which became part of my 20th Leap Year birthday celebration.

I have a ‘hate-love’ situation with “Cabaret” loving the movie, hating the musical play. I went to the first preview of the show on Broadway in 1966 and said it wouldn’t last a week! In 1972 I saw the movie version and fell in love with it. This past season I saw the latest revival of the Broadway show, the first time since 1966 and, sorry, I still feel the same way!

It was good seeing the revival of “The Sound of Music” and “Phantom of the Opera”, as always, is pure theatre. The biggest surprise of the season, for me, was the closing show “Beauty and the Beast”. I had seen it 3 times before, had always enjoyed it, especially seeing the reaction of the kids in the audience, and really didn’t know whether I could sit through it for a fourth time but I did not only, again, because of the kids in the audience but that ‘something’ that only happens on the stage, the magic of forgetting the outside world and getting involved with what you are seeing and hearing, feeling like it is the first time you are hearing the story and, in this case, seeing the show.

The 2016-2017 theatre season starts with “The Illusionists” on October 11 and I can’t wait!! It will be interesting comparing notes with Maria, who saw it in Perth, Australia, last year.

 

Some more theatre

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIkGFXGY42g

Posted July 18, 2016 by greatmartin in THEATRE, Uncategorized

“HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE”–A NEW ZEALAND MOVIE–A REVIEW   Leave a comment


“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is a sweet, sad, funny, drama and comedy small ‘art’ picture that takes the standard odd couple and fish out water stories and stands both on their heads. The odd couple is a 13 year old city foster child Ricky (played by Julian Dennison) and asixtysomething old country geezer Hec (played by Sam Neill) who is married to Bella (Rima TeWiata) a Mother Earth who you just know will forgive anything Ricky might or might not do. When he decides to run away and falls asleep not too far away Bella tells him to come in for breakfast before he continues on his journey.

The film starts off with social worker from Child Welfare Paula (Rachel House) accompanied by a not too swift policeman Andy (Oscar Kightly) dropping Ricky off at the home of Hec and Bella. I don’t want to give away anything as there is a lot of joy as we see/hear the interaction between the characters but one example of where drama and comedy intersect is when Bella shows sheer joy bringing a boar down and Ricky looking in horror. By the way there are a few close your eyes scenes as how people live off the land is shown.

Julian Dennison as Ricky, the fat—yes it is okay to say that—see the picture!—foster kid couldn’t have been cast by anyone better. I wish Rima TeWiata had more to do and Sam Neill is perfect as the curmudgeon who has a soft spot in his heart for his wife. Aside from real to life performances of people in the area Rhys Darby as a believable ‘nut’ job with a aluminum hat and can be a tree is no stranger than anyone else in the film.

I did have a problem getting in sync with the New Zealand accent (sorry Mal, Steve and Karen), where the film was made, for the first half hour but the actors were so good following the story was easy.

Director Taika Waititi does a perfect balance between all the emotions without playing the audience. His chase scene near the end is unlike most you have seen. The photography by LachlanMilne of the New Zealand bush is at times breathtaking including a falls scene that I would love to jump into and get to the lake at the bottom.

The people in this film are all delightful, even the villains, and not a minute of the 101 running minutes will let you down.

Movie trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGj3AogT9EM

Posted July 15, 2016 by greatmartin in MOVIE REVIEW, Uncategorized

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