Archive for December 2017

2017/2018   Leave a comment

Posted December 31, 2017 by greatmartin in LIFE, Uncategorized

December 2017–my photo diary   Leave a comment

Posted December 31, 2017 by greatmartin in FLORIDA, FORT LAUDERDALE, LIFE, Uncategorized

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”–a movie review   Leave a comment



Upfront let me say I am not into Star Wars, Star Trek or, in general, sci-fi movies though I did see the first two of the former and vaguely remember liking them. For the last movie I was to see in 2017 “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” I would put it on my yearly list as one of the worst, most boring, one of the needlessly longest movie of the year but I am afraid if I do they would lynch me!

I read a story recently that Star War fans were upset during showings because they thought at one point in the movie the sound had gone out and was going to stop the movie but the director/screenwriter had purposely done it that way. The distributor, Disney, had asked the critics not to give any spoilers but some did so the audience would know this was not a mistake. Folks the scene lasted 2-3 seconds maybe and a big fuss was made about this?

To me the fuss should have been about the length of 2 hours and 30 minutes which could have easily been shortened just by cutting a couple of the aerial dogfights that just basically repeated the same thing over and over.

A fuss should be made about the obviously placed species that you could just hear Disney saying, “We could make millions with this cute creature”!

I know some of the history of the heroes and two of the villains but, unless it was told in another movie or I missed it in this one, why is Rey picked to be the next Jedi, unless it is politically correct to show another strong woman which the series has always had in Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia and now has another in Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Holdo?

Previous stars Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness, James Earl Jones, Mark Hamill and the aforementioned Carrie Fisher made strong impressions from their appearance in the first movie but, come on; Adam Driver an inheritor of the Darth Vader role?

I was impressed by Oscar Isaac who has the same throw away style of Ford along with the gravitas the character needs. Kelly Marie Tran stood out as Rose a resistance fighter but I seem to recall John Boyega having, and being, a stronger in the last movie but here he is wasted.

And why oh why does the music have to blast every 5 minutes? To keep the audience awake?

The only good s about “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” was 1) though I thought it would never end it did and 2) it was the first completely free moviepass movie I saw!

Movie trailer

“Downsizing”–a movie review   Leave a comment

“Downsizing” is a perfect example of why not to read critics before you go to see a movie. Go to a movie because you like the cast or the genre of what you saw in the trailers or, maybe, even word of mouth.

Matt Damon’s last 2 movies bombed at the box office—“The Great Wall” deservedly, “Suburicon” not—and the reports in The Hollywood Reporter and on Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic were low ratings but “Downsizing” is a good movie.

I go to see any Matt Damon movie and, yes, he has made a few bad ones (Don’t see “The Great Wall”!) and, yes, the director Alexander Payne who also wrote the screenplay with Jim Taylor, doesn’t follow through on a few deep ideas but the premise is different, there are laughs, there are tears and just how they shrunk a 6 foot person to 5 inches and surrounded them with first the ‘tall world’ and then the ‘miniature’ world is in itself a reason to see the movie.

While the main theme is human survival and why downsizing people will help with that there is also the problem of punishing dissidents by downsizing them and making them poor immigrants to wait on the newwealthy. Paul Safranek (Damon) is the married American everyman who is just gets by and becomes intrigued the more he hears about the Norwegian doctor, played by Rolf Lassgard, that his project of shrinking humans is successful plus he hears from others including some old friends that he didn’t know had gone through the project and has nothing but raves about it. When Paul learns what little money he has would be worth about $12 million in Leisureland where this new species of humans live in a perfect world.

As Paul learns about this new world so do we and we follow him in his journey meeting his new friends two aging party guys, Christopher Waltz and Udo Kier, into booze, drugs, women playing and using them as if they were frat boys. One of the benefits of everything being small is made fun of with Kier owning a fully equipped yacht that he has Fedex’d where he goes to get there before him.

We eventually meet Ngoc Lan, played by Hong Chau, while she cleans Waltz’s apartment, right above Paul’s, who at one time was a famous Vietnam dissident, who now lives in a tenement world of various Third World people who are sick and ill-equipped to take care of themselves. Ngoc wears a prosthetic device, is direct taking no nonsense and spending her time before, during and after cleaning places taking care of others.

Without giving away any spoilers Paul and Ngoc with her bossing him around and they eventually team up with Waltz and Kier going to Norway to hear about the next step in saving the world.

While not getting too deep into the world situation but explaining enough plainly the journey Paul takes from being the normal guy then going through the shrinkage steps, which provides a few laughs, becoming adapted to being rich, taking a dead end job and a decision he has to make near the end is the arc of drama of the film.

Matt Damon does an excellent job as Paul, Christopher Waltz and Udo Kier are a hoot as the two aging playboys but it is Hong Chau who steals the film and has a 4-5 minute bit using the ‘f’ word that, while funny also has a lot of feelings.

There are cameos by Laura Dern, Margo Martindale, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Sudeikis, Maribeth Monroe and James Van Der Beek among others while the aforementioned Rolf Lassgard along with Kristen Wiig offers strong support.

“Downsizing” is the second film I have seen this week, the other being “The Greatest Showman”, that have been snubbed by the critics but which offer strong performances by the male lead, with the former also having an award worthy female lead, and is definitely worth seeing.

Rated R for language, drug usage and frontal nudity.

Movie Trailer


“Finding Neverland”–touring musical review   Leave a comment

Finding Neverland Dec 2017 collage

In 1897 the playwright J. M. Barrie met the Llewelyn Davies family which had 5 young boys and in 1902 introduced Peter Pan in a novel but it was in 1904 that he wrote “Peter Pan or The Boy Who Wouldn’t grow up” as a play and the world came to know the boy of the title.

“Finding Neverland” tells the story of Barrie’s interaction with the 4 boys (in the show) and how he based the characters on the boys and various people who touched their, and his, lives. The book of the show by James Graham plays a little loose with the truth but keeps the musical running smoothly while the music and lyrics by Gary Barlow & Eliot Kennedy give everyone in the cast time to shine.

The standout is Billy Harrigan Tighe as Barrie singing solos such as the theme of the show “My Imagination” or duets such as “Neverland” with Lael Van Keuren, as the boy’s mother Sylvia, who falls in love with Barrie, or with the boys Peter (Connor Jameson Casey), Michael (Turner Birthisel), Jack (Bergman Freedman) and George (Colin Wheeler) singing “We Own The Night” and is always a standout in the ensemble numbers. Tighe not only handles the acting with ease but as a dancer he is so agile that sometimes you don’t believe the step(s) he just did in front of you.

Lael Van Keuren has a show-stopping number “All That Matters” which allows her voice to soar throughout the theatre and her scenes with the boys and/or Tighe are solid.

John Davidson as Charles Frohman, the producer andmodel for Captain Hook, is a pro nailing every song, every line and even a dance step or two.

The four boys are especially fine playing boys who just happen to be singers, dancers, actors and pirates while Casey as Peter holds his own in a fine duet with Tighe called “When Your Feet Don’t Touch The Ground”.

Kristine Reese as the first Mrs. Barrie, Karen Murphy as Sylvia’s mother and the boy’s grandmother along with various members playing parts of the production company that Frohman runs bringing the characters such as Wendy, Captain Hook, the crocodile and others that children all over the world are familiar with to life.  Dwelvan David playing the family’s dog in the Peter Pan production is as good as, and even funnier, than the real dog Sammy who plays Porthos.

The musical not only presents the magic that Peter Pan has cast over children and adults for 114 years but also shows the magic, not only in scene after scene but in one particular scene set by Air Sculptor Daniel Wurtzel, of the theatre for hundreds of years.

“Finding Neverland” is a first-class production that touches the audience and brings out the kid in all of them at such times like when they are asked to clap to revive Tinkerbelle and at other times touches their heart.



“The Greatest Showman”–a movie review   Leave a comment

“The Greatest Showman” refutes the argument “They don’t make them like they use to”, as this movie could have starred Gene Kelly in the Hugh Jackson role on the sets of M-G-M, the Warner Brothers or 20th Century Fox studios. The costumes could have been made by Edith Head or Adrian and the story could have been written by one of the contract writers.

The main difference between the 1950s musical and “The Greatest Showman” are the songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul along with the choreography of Ashley Wallen which are strictly 2017! The songs will have you clapping and toe-tapping right along with the dancing.

The main similarity of the musical movies of yesteryear and “The Greatest Showman” is that they entertain and with all the talent involved this one certainly entertains.

Hugh Jackman, as P. T. Barnum, has proven on both stage and in films that he is a class A song and dance man who can stand side by side with the greats of yesterday. He has a good dance partner in Zac Efron who could be Donald O’Connor to Jackson’s Gene Kelly. They have a song, “The Other Side”, set in a bar and choreographed with shot glasses that are good as any song and dance number you will find in movies.

Michelle Williams as Barnum’s wife adds accolades of singing and dancing to her long list of credits while Keala Settle, as The Bearded Lady Lettie, belts out “This is Me” which is the theme song of Barnum’s circus.

Aside from the love story which opens the movie showing the young Phineas (Ellis Rubin) and Charity (Skylar Dunn) with the song “A Million Dreams” up to them as adults there is the love story between wealthy Phillip Carlyle (Efron) and Black trapeze artist Anne Wheeler (played by Zendaya) causing some backlash from the city citizens but also offering “Rewrite The Stars” as they do tricks in the center ring.

The story, for what it is worth, serves the purpose of introducing the songs that keep the movie moving, entertaining the audience and, as Barnum did, give the public the razzle-dazzle that puts a smile on your face.

“The Greatest Showman” has something for everyone (except sex and 4 letter words!) and delivers with stars, songs, dances and even bit of a ‘drama’ that will be forgotten quickly though the songs will remain. You will leave the movie with a smile on your face and what more do you want this time, or anytime, of the year.


Keala Settle singing “This Is Me!”


Movie Trailer

Guess what I’ll be having for Christmas Dinner?   Leave a comment

Christmas Dinner Dec 25 2017 collage

Posted December 25, 2017 by greatmartin in FOOD, HOLIDAYS, Uncategorized

Flashback Diner–restaurant review–Hollywood, Florida   Leave a comment

 Flashback Diner Nov 30 2017

On the way to the theatre in Miami Anthony suggested the Flashback Diner on Federal so off we went.

The contradiction of being called Flashback and having a TV, with individual remote, on each table instead of the jukebox, a mainstay of yesterday’s Diner sort of struck me funny but then the thought of people at each table turning their TV on with different levels of sound cut the ‘funny’ off, not to mention the TV on the wall across from us.

Anthony had the ‘Robert Donat”, another name for the Monte Cristo ($14.95) and I had the Rita Hayworth, a turkey sandwich–I certainly didn’t think Rita was a turkey but that’s another story–$12.95. He had an iced tea–without ice (don’t ask) $2.75 and I had a diet cola ($2.95–cola costs more than tea????)

When we walked in my eyes lit up because I would kill for carrot cake and there was a huge one calling my name. I ordered a slice and was disappointed, not in the taste as it was very good but in the lack of thickness in the slice. ($6.95) Come on I had a diet cola so I could have a thick slice of the good carrot cake which is always served in Diners, flashback or not, and which Diners are, yesterday or today, known for such as Lester’s and Peter Pan’s.

The sandwiches and service were just okay and as good as the carrot cake was I wish it had been a bigger slice so I really could have had a taste instead of a hint.

The check with tax and tip came to $53–definitely not a ‘flashback’ to Diners of yesterday. :O)

Posted December 24, 2017 by greatmartin in DINING REVIEW, FLORIDA, FOOD, Uncategorized

“Call Me by Your Name”–movie review   Leave a comment

This is a very hard review for me to write as I am a pushover, a sucker, an incurable romantic for love stories especially one that may be about a gay couple so I was looking forward to “Call Me by Your Name”. I’ve read nothing but raves about the film when in film festivals and it has been nominated for the Golden Globe and sure to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Film.

The acting, as reported, is very good with a few minor quibbles but that mainly has to do with the story, the scenery in Northern Italy is at times breathtaking and at other times quiet, serene while the musical soundtrack at times can be jarring here and there.

While there is good chemistry between Armie Hammer, playing 24-year-old Oliver, and Timothee Chalamet as 17-year-old Elio the much-needed passion that is written and hinted about isn’t there in the writing. The former has been hired as a summer intern to the latter’s father, an archaeology professor, Mr. Perlman played by Michael Stuhlbarg.

While the main story is about Elio, a very well rounded educated, piano playing, multilingual youngster, coming of age that is experiencing sexual confusion, Oliver is the very handsome, sexy, sexual, amiable stranger who Elio is attracted to.

The main failure of the movie, surprisingly enough, is James Ivory who has written and directed movies that showed sexiness and sex in more rounded, physical, explicit and meaningfulness, such as “Maurice”, than in the screenplay he has written for this film. To a certain extent he is aided and abetted by the director Luca Guadannino.

In a 131 minute film there are, maybe, about 30 moving minutes, one that is funny involving a peach, another of Timothee Chalamant in a silent, moving, several minutes in length headshot and one startling, emotionally involving monologue by Michael Stuhlbarg along with maybe 30 minutes of scenery.

“Call Me by Your Name” is rated R for some hinted at sex, some language and except for Stuhlbarg’s moving, brilliant monologue it was mainly a big disappointment to me.

Movie trailer

Posted December 22, 2017 by greatmartin in FILM REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES, Uncategorized

A Jew looks at Christmas Part 3   Leave a comment


To me the Nativity scene, Santa Claus, the Rockettes, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Carols, Jingle Bells, snow, cold weather, horse and carriage rides in Central Park, the skating rinks in Rockefeller Center and Central Park, decorated store windows, hot chestnuts, etc., just to name a few things–ALL make up Christmas.


It’s 79 degrees outside but I can walk into a South Florida mall and see a Christmas tree, a kid sitting on Santa’s lap, watch another kid throw a fake snowball, hear “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on the loudspeaker and it is Christmas for me!!!


Now my Christmas may not acknowledge Christ or any religious aspect that a Christian may but I feel as warm, as moved, surrounded by cheers of “Merry Christmas” or seeing pins on women’s clothes of lit up Santa Clauses as anyone can. I look around and I think of “Peace on earth, goodwill to men” whether it is looking at a Christmas wreath or a Hanukah bush.



I was 16 and saw myself as a sophisticated man of the world with my cashmere leather-trimmed, falling just below the knee, overcoat, leather gloves, brown fur earmuffs and a cashmere scarf thrown around my neck in cavalier fashion about to take my first horse and carriage ride through Central Park with someone I had just met in the Oak Room of the Plaza hotel. I can tell you every inch of that ride and the beauty of being in the park in the middle of Manhattan surrounded by towering buildings sparkling like many colored jewels on a dark, snowy night three days before Christmas but I couldn’t tell you a thing about the person I was with.




I started this series off by saying I probably will never experience another Christmas season in New York but my memories of such magical times in my life will be with me forever. Whether I hear a choir singing carols or “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” or “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” heard on the speakers in a mall or see and/or smell holly, mistletoe, a pine tree or a nativity scene or a menorah or Santa Claus or watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” an unforgettable time will come rushing to me.


It is never too early for

“Peace on earth and goodwill towards men”

I hope that each of you who have never experienced the magic, the wonder, the awe, the excitement, the meaning of the holiday, get at least one chance to have Christmas in New York City.



Posted December 22, 2017 by greatmartin in FORT LAUDERDALE, HOLIDAYS, SEASONS, Uncategorized

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