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“BPM”–a MUST SEE 2018 Oscar contender movie review   Leave a comment

“BPM” (Beats Per Minute) has a very moving love story surrounded with a dramatic and (don’t let this word scare you!) educational film about the very effective organization ACT UP, that was founded by Larry Kramer in New York in 1987. Two years later the French version of the ACT UP organization opened in 1989.

The main purpose of ACT UP was to take direct action to end the AIDS crisis and demonstrating for greater, faster access to experimental drugs.

The film opens with a demonstration at a drug company and leads into a local ACT UP meeting where the rules are explained to four newcomers such as snapping fingers instead of clapping or saving all debating for the meeting room, not in the hall where they go to have a cigarette. The meetings are attended by males, females, some being HIV+ and others negative, straights, gays, drug users, who have full blown AIDS.

The horror of what the government didn’t do for many years and the horror of watching vibrant people being decimated by a disease that is still killing people over 35 years later is shown with fingers being pointed at all, even with their infighting at meetings.

Intermingled with facts, figures, marches, condom and needle distributions, walls splattered with fake blood, a mother’s horror finding that she has been injecting her son, a hemophiliac, with infected bold provided by a hospital is a love story.

At that first meeting, where we observe the ACT UP group, one of the newcomers, Nathan, played by Arnaud Valois, HIV- negative, zeros in on Sean (Nahuel Perez Biscayart) a firebrand, militant leader who has AIDS.  (An aside: as Nathan tells Sean about his first love the lover’s name is Arnaud!) We follow them as they at first fall in love and then dealing with Sean’s illness.

Most of the actors are new faces, such as Biscayart and Valois, which adds a little confusion at the beginning and it may take some time to realize that Marco, the hemophiliac, played by Theophile Ray, is the son of Helene, Catherine Vinatier. We meet Jeremie, Ariel Borenstein, ACT UP president Thibault, Antoine Reinartz, and other ACT UP members, plus a drug company CEO Samuel Churin, Sean’s mother Saadia Ben Taieb among a strong supporting cast.

The film, directed by Robin Campillo, who also co-wrote it with Philippe Mangeot, based up the former’s experiences as an ACT UP participant, is the French Oscar contender for the 2018 Best Foreign Language  film.

“BPM” is one the best films ever made about AIDS but has a few minor faults and one major fault. The latter is the 2 hours and 44 minutes running time along with faulty editing and slow pace.

Being a French film the two sex scenes are vivid while the last twenty minutes are very moving. The problem is that there are too many unnecessary scenes such as 3 disco scenes when one would have sufficed, one too many marches, a beach scene that adds nothing to the love story and so on, taking away from getting to know some of the characters better.

“BMP” is a must see movie even though it may be hard to watch at times and the love story is completely believable!

 Movie trailer


“Ceviche Street Restaurant–review   Leave a comment

Ceviche Street Restaurant collage

After a year of being introduced to Peruvian food by trying most of the menu at Cabo Blanco I have now eaten at three other Peruvian restaurants with Ceviche Street being the latest.

The last time I was at this building it was a restaurant specializing in American Southern food. The place has been redone and is very pleasing to the eye as is the way the food is presented. Whereas we were allowed to use our groupons at Cabo Blanco on their lunch menu as soon as I showed the groupon to our server here the lunch menu was swiftly taken away and replaced with their dinner menu. I can understand why but I would still have appreciated seeing what was offered at lunch and the prices.

I had the Lomo Saltado with what was said to be Filet Mignon but I question that as the meat was tough and tasted like a cheaper cut. The presentation was beautiful but for the price it was a small portion and though the tomatoes and onions were crisp I didn’t understand serving both rice and home fries. (I lost the receipt and their web page doesn’t give prices I believe it was $16.95 for the dish.)

Allen had the Pescado Frito ($13.95) also with a pleasing to the eye presentation and his response when I asked how it was said, “Nothing special. It’s fish and okay.”

We both had Chicha Morada ($2.95) to drink because the description interested me: Purple corn juice, cinnamon, lime juice, cloves and a star anise. Glad I had it but once was enough.

Allen had a piece of chocolate cake (don’t remember the price) that obviously wasn’t baked on the premises.

All together with tip, tax and after taking off the $9 savings the check came to $36+ change.

Ceviche Street was okay but I would still pick Cabo Blanco for Peruvian dishes for food just as good with larger portions and less expensive along with the bread and 2 sauces served while waiting for your food.

“Lady Bird”–a movie review   Leave a comment

I base whether I like a movie or not on: 1) if I would like to see it again 2) the acting 3) if the story gets me involved with the characters and 4) if I get emotionally involved to the point of tears and/or laughter.

“Lady Bird” is not a movie I would want to see again yet the acting was topnotch. On the other hand there were only moments of the 1 hour and 33 minutes of the movie that I was emotionally involved except for being bored through most of it.

I didn’t identify with what all the teenagers went through because I lived a completely different teenage life than they do. I don’t remember if I went to a prom or when/how I lost my virginity, having special friends at school, etc., so I sort of kept thinking, “Come on—let’s get on with the story!” A lot of what the self named Lady Bird was foreign to me or I just don’t remember feeling a lot of what she or the rest of the kids felt.

I became aware of Saorise Ronan, who at 23 plays the 17, 18 year old Lady Bird, when 2 years ago she was in “Brooklyn” getting the best actress nomination. She had made some ‘noise’ in a couple of other movies but I don’t remember her or them. This movie makes a bona fide A listactress of her. 

Laurie Metcalf was primarily known for her work as Roseanne’s sister on the television show of the same name receiving 10 Emmy nominations winning 3 for that role and currently as Sheldon’s mother on “The Big Ban” and also winning 2 Tony awards for her theatre work. There is no doubt that she will get an Oscar nomination for this mother as the mother you want to hate but won’t.

Tracy Letts, as the father, is mainly known for winning the 2008 Pulitzer prize and a Tony award for writing “August: Osage County” and for his performance on “Homeland”. He won a Tony award for acting and has recently done more acting in television and movies. The relationship between him and Lady Bird is the sweetest part of the film and his fight against depression is affecting.

The rest of the supporting cast from Lucas Hedges and Timothee Chalamet as boyfriends, Beanie Feldstein and Odeya Rush as girl friendsalong with Lois Smith as a nun at the Catholic school Christine, Lady Bird’s given name, and Jordon Rodrigues as Lady Bird’s older, adopted brother plus others give solid support.

The movie was written and directed by Greta Gerwig who does a better job directing than the writing.

“Lady Bird” is not a movie I want to see again and though I got involved now and then with the characters, at times shedding a tear or two, there is no faulting the acting and will probably see their names nominated for awards.

Movie trailer

“Murder on the Orient Express”–movie review   Leave a comment

When was the last time you saw a remake that was better than the original? Long time, if ever, right?  “Murder on the Orient Express”, which opened last week, is a remake of the same film, based on Agatha Christie’s book, that was made in 1974 and directed by Sidney Lumet. This new rendition is directed by Kenneth Branagh who also stars in the film along with his elaborate mustache.

Both versions have an all star cast and which is more famous will be in the eyes of the viewer. Ingrid Bergman won a best supporting Oscar for her role which she thought, and expressed, as a mistake. With the exception of Branagh, and that mustache, the only one who has a chance to show off is Michelle Pfeiffer and, by the way, stay for the end credits to hear her sing. Judi Dench is wasted in what is more of a cameo than a supporting role. Also in the film are Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi, William Dafoe along with newer names such as Daisy Ridley, Olivia Colman and Leslie Odom Jr., none really shining but none embarrassing themselves.

The main difference, to me, is that the scenery in the latest version is plusher, visually breathtaking whether shot on location or in a studio.

The ‘hook’ of “Murder on the Orient Express” is the solution to the crime that takes place which, at points, can be confusing but the major point of who did it, and why, is obvious enough.

There is nothing wrong with this 2017 version with the hour and fifty-four going by at a relaxing time and the sets, costumes, lighting and all of the production aspects are firstrate. The question is whether this was really worth a remake and if you should pay to see it or watch the 1974 version for free on youtube.


Movie trailer

Q-BAR Burgers & Blues–restaurant review   Leave a comment

Q-Bar Restaurant Collage

I’ve been eating at the Sage restaurant for years and the last couple of years I noticed, and read, that they had added a place next door called Q-Bar  Burger and Blues. Someone told me they did a lunch special of a burger, fries and soda for $10 and just like last week I saw a Groupon for it so I decided to give it a try–my mistake and I should have gone into the Sage instead.

The Q-Bar may be good for a burger and/or a place to hear blues bands but as a place to dine or enjoy lunch forget it. The set up is a very long and narrow place with the bar on the right and (I didn’t really count) about 6-7 high top tables with bar seats.


I wasn’t aware we could have ordered off the Sage menu–their kitchen serves both places–and looking over the small menu we were given I ordered the  Cajun Pasta ($16) which was okay and had a diet coke ($2.75) while Allen had the Norah ‘burger’–a salmon sandwich–which was just one of the 5-6 sandwiches plus the burger which cost $10 including fries and soda.


For dessert I had the chocolate banana pudding ($8) which came with a scoop of ice cream and was a big disappointment. Allen ordered apple pie a la mode ($9) but it turned out that they didn’t have the pie and instead offered the apple crepe which was no substitute for the pie.

The check, with tip and tax, minus the Groupon, came to $37.83


The food was okay, the ambiance a distinct negative while the best part was Kelly, the combination barmaidand server who did a great job with good patter and an ongoing smile.

Along with the rest of the negatives their being out of apple pie at 3 PM is unexplainable and a sore point for me, a restaurant being out of an item so easily obtainable. If their delivery didn’t come, if the kitchen didn’t make any, there is an excellent French bakery just a short ride away.


The bottom line? I tried the Q-bar and know to go to the Sage next time.

“Lucky”–a movie review   Leave a comment

Lucky is, as his doctor tells him, “You’re old and getting older”. At one of his many routine stops around town, at the diner where he has coffee with lots of sugar and milk and works the crossword puzzle he is told by the owner, about Lucky’s smoking, “Those things are going to kill you” to which he respond’s “If they could’ve they would’ve.”

Lucky is a 90 year old man who has never been married, hasn’t any children and lives in a small town that he walks around every day making the same stops. He starts his day off, every day, with a cigarette, abbreviated yoga exercises, putting on one of his 4 outfits, goes to the diner, stops at bar where he trades quips, insults, outlooks on life with the bartender, the owner and a few of the regular customers, stops at the store on his way home to get a fresh container of milk everyday and then goes home to watch the game shows on television. He was in the navy as a young man, plays the harmonica and one day at a birthday party for the son of the owner of the grocery store sings a ballad in Spanish. These people, including the waitress from the diner, are Lucky’s ‘family’.

One day, unexpectedly, he falls in his kitchen and when he recovers he goes to his doctor to get the ‘older’ diagnosis. All in all his vital figures, such as blood pressure, are fine and there is no reason for the fall except he is getting nearer to the ‘end’ which has him questioning what that is like and what happens.

Most people will recognize the actor playing Lucky but usually will ask ‘What’s his name? You know he played in…” and in some cases may recognize the name but not seeing him in a picture wouldn’t recall what he looks like. Harry Dean Stanton plays Lucky and many things in the movie such as all the smoking, being in the navy and his picture as the young sailor, playing the harmonica, are taken from his real life. The director John Carroll Lynch and the screenwriters, Drago Sumonja and Logan Sparks all are friends of his and, probably, brought into the movie things they knew about Stanton but, this is not a biography of the actor.

“Lucky” is a movie that wouldn’t have been made if the genre of ‘small independent movies’ didn’t exist. Lasting 88 minutes there is no sense of being rushed and except for a few scenery shots neither are there shots just to expand the movie to a theatre running time. This is a film that would fit comfortably on a PBS station.  Talking about scenery the director of photography Tim Suhrstedt has some beautiful shots from morning to evening of the Arizona desert town and the mountains that surround it.

Along with Stanton there are some familiar looking faces like Ed Begley Jr., as the doctor, Tom Skerritt as another veteran who stops by at the diner, David Lynch, who gave Stanton one of his reoccurring roles in “Twin Peaks” including the latest sequel, as one of the bar regulars plus James Darren as another customer, Beth Grant , the owner of the bar, Barry Shabaka Henley, the owner of the diner, Ron Livingston as an attorney along with Yvonne Huff, Bertila Damas and Ana Mercedes.

Sadly on September 15, 2017, a month before “Lucky” was released, Harry Dean Stanton died at the age of 91 and this movie is a fitting tribute to his talents as an actor. I wonder if he found what he thought his character Lucky would at death?

Movie trailer

Posted November 10, 2017 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

Another part of my world   Leave a comment

Holiday Park


This is but a small part of Holiday Park which also has a gym, a children’s playground, a stable for police horses, a baseball field in addition to a soccer and a separate football field, a dog’s park, the Parker Playhouse, the Memorial Auditorium, Chris Evert Tennis courts, etc.

Posted November 9, 2017 by greatmartin in LIFE, Uncategorized

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