Archive for the ‘FILM REVIEWS’ Category

“The Sun Is Also A Star”—movie review   Leave a comment

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“The Sun Is Also A Star” has everything going for it so why does it just miss being an exciting love story? The leads, Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton, are an attractive couple who meet ‘cute’–he saves her from being run over–and the premise is an interesting one. He believes in love, she doesn’t and, via the screenplay, he has 24 hours to prove it to her. DUH! Guess what happens?
His parents are immigrants from South Korea who own a successful black hair care product store in Harlem and she has been living in New York for 9 years with her Jamaican parents who are about to be deported.
A lot of successful love stories have been filmed in New York City and “The Sun Is Also A Star” takes advantage of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs with aerial shots, walks through the city parks and streets and even a tram ride from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island and many glorious shots of the Statue of Liberty.
The soundtrack, except for a karaoke scene, adds a lot but….
There isn’t a reason this movie shouldn’t involve the audience’s emotions but it doesn’t. Maybe if more had been looked into regarding the immigrant aspect it would have rounded out the story of the lovers more.
John Leguizamo should have been brought more into the story because the scenes with him would have given more meaning to the fact versus fate argument that motivates the love story.  (Besides they never explain the accident he was in which was distracting!)
“The Sun Is Also A Star” has a lot going for it but just not enough, none of the ‘magic’ that makes ‘happily ever after”.
PS Don’t leave when the screen goes dark or you will the ending.


Natasha is a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. She is not the type of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when her family is twelve hours away from being deported. Falling in love with him will not be her story. Daniel has always been the good son, the good student, living up to his parents’ high expectations. Never a poet. Or a dreamer. But when he sees her, he forgets all that. Something about Natasha makes him think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store – for both of them. Every moment has brought them to this single moment. A million futures lie before them. Which one will come true?


“The White Crow”–movie review   1 comment

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Since I saw the preview I had been wondering what the title was about and it opens with the definition:  Someone who is an outsider, unusual, extraordinary, unlike others.   There is no denying Rudolf Nureyev was just that from his dancing and his personality. The former captured the world while the latter turned off and betrayed all those around him. Basically, he was not a nice man.
The film centers around the time Nureyev who at the height of the cold war in 1961 was dancing in Paris and made the decision to defect from Russia. This was before facebook, Instagram, twitter and all the media coverage something like that would draw 24/7 but it did with what was available. Along with the defection he partnered with Margot Foynton– though she has another name in the movie–older than he was, and already a major star in the English ballet, to both their advantages.
Ralph Fiennes directed the movie and stars as Nureyev’s first major teacher. The dance scenes are excellent as is first-time actor Oleg Ivenko doing them and conveying Nureyev’s look but is not quite up to the line readings though the screenwriter, David Hare, doesn’t really help him with some pretty lame lines.
The biggest mistake Fiennes makes is not telling the story in a linear matter but jumps back and forth between the 1940s, 50s and 60s going from Leningrad to Paris back to Leningrad and though Nureyev was 22 when he defected we see him at many different ages which really doesn’t add to the movie. The last 20 minutes, the defection scene is edge of the seat filmmaking even though the ending is well known
The movie is rated R for frontal nudity and for a change it is not female but male full nudity!
“The White Crow” is much better than I expected with an excellent cast, better dancing, and shows an artist gives everything on stage leaving nothing for relations off stage.


Ralph Fiennes’ THE WHITE CROW was inspired by the book Rudolf Nureyev: The Life by Julie Kavanaugh. The drama charts the iconic dancer’s famed defection from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961, despite KGB efforts to stop him.

Movie trailer


“Red Joan”–movie review   1 comment

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In 1999 Judi Dench won an Oscar for her 6 minutes on screen in “Shakespeare In Love” and here she spends a little more time on screen in “Red Joan”. She has a fiery speech near the end that expresses the movie’s moral stance. Dame  Dench is no longer a newcomer to the big screen and is more or less wasted in a role that seems to say ‘many people in the audience came to see her so let’s have her face on the screen for a minute or two every now and then’.
As many movies do these days it goes back and forth between Joan Stanley in her 80s and Joan in her 20s, played by Sophie Cookson, which would have been more effective after the opening seeing Joan being arrested for being a spy during WW 2. Cookson could have easily aged as the story is told and brought off a coup that has been done by others.
It supposedly ‘inspired by the true story’ of a KGB spy Melita Norwood though her name is never mentioned. She a graduate student at Cambridge in physics and gets involved with 3 men–I think–and soon rationalizes passing off papers about the atomic bomb that she feels would put Rusian on equal footing with the USA.
With all respect, if Judi had made fewer appearances it might have made more clear who became her husband and who was the father of her son played by Ben Miles. The other men in her life are played by Tom Hughes and Stephen Campbell while Tereza Srbova becomes her friend and introduces her to her cousin Leo with whom Joan has an affair with and begins getting involved with the politics of the time.
I had many questions regarding who she had affairs with, who the father of her son was, whom she married, how did she get back from Australia and why was she forgotten so many years.
“Red Joan” is a typical Britsh quiet spy movie without the noise and fast pace of the Bond movies. It also is bringing out of the closet many stories about women who did a lot during the war but were not giving respect as the men were during that era. She was just a woman who got the tea instead of supplying the important answers that the world was asking for.
For me it just makes me want to find out who the true  Melita Norwood was an what happened to her.


Joan Stanley (Judi Dench) is a widow living out a quiet retirement in the suburbs when, shockingly, the British Secret Service places her under arrest. The charge: providing classified scientific information—including details on the building of the atomic bomb—to the Soviet government for decades. As she is interrogated, Joan relives the dramatic events that shaped her life and beliefs: her student days at Cambridge, where she excelled at physics while challenging deep-seated sexism; her tumultuous love affair with a dashing political radical (Tom Hughes); and the devastation of World War II, which inspired her to risk everything in pursuit of peace. [IFC Films] 

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“Her Smell”–a movie review   1 comment

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I don’t want to say it but I can’t help myself–forgive me! “Her Smell” should have been entitled, “She Smells”. For the first hour and a half, we watch a rock star spiral down from fame after too many drugs, not being able to handle fame, care for her daughter,  losing her ex, not showing up on time for concerts if even showing up at all, doing a recording session, basically having a complete breakdown. The director, Alex Ross Perry, shows us all of it through a regular camera, a handheld camera, a phone camera while traveling back and forth in time not to forget having all the cameras swirling, upside down, going ever each way.
The director, who also wrote the script, convinced us, showed us, that she was having a breakdown but instead of telling it in 15 minutes he took 90 minutes. Perry is the sort of director that if he shows two women kissing he has to show them kissing 10 times just in case we missed the point! I was ready to leave at the 30-minute point and said so to Allen at least 5 more times!
For the last 40-45 minutes of the film, we see her recovery and then get to the ‘Hollywood’ ending.
Elisabeth Moss has proven herself an excellent actress and draws many audience members to see her television series but if the audience at today’s showing is any indication, 3 of us, she isn’t a movie draw! Okay, will give her a benefit of a doubt because the final Avengers did open today also.
I won’t rewrite my opening play on words but this film is definitely on my worst films of the year but “The Climax” is still in first place!


Becky Something (Elisabeth Moss) is a ’90s punk rock superstar who once filled arenas with her grungy all-female trio Something She. Now she plays smaller venues while grappling with motherhood, exhausted bandmates, nervous record company executives, and a new generation of rising talent eager to usurp her stardom. When Becky’s chaos and excesses derail a recording session and national tour, she finds herself shunned, isolated and alone. Forced to get sober, temper her demons, and reckon with the past, she retreats from the spotlight and tries to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success.

Movie Trailer

Posted April 26, 2019 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEW

“Peterloo”–a movie review   Leave a comment

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I never heard about the Peterloo massacre before hearing about this movie and thought it would be worthwhile to go see the film just to learn about it. I would have saved a lot of time being bored if I had just gone to wipikidia and read the following in less than 5 minutes rather than sitting in a movie watching 2 hours and 33 minutes of oratory being blasted on the soundtrack. (Well at least I understood all the accents because the actors, along with bellowing, did enunciate!) Major disappointment.

Peterloo Massacre – Wikipedia  Overview

The Peterloo Massacre took place at St Peter’s FieldManchester, England, on 16 August 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation.
The end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 had resulted in periods of famine and chronic unemployment, exacerbated by the introduction of the first of the Corn Laws. By the beginning of 1819, the pressure generated by poor economic conditions, coupled with the relative lack of suffrage in Northern England, had enhanced the appeal of political radicalism. In response, the Manchester Patriotic Union, a group agitating for parliamentary reform, organised a demonstration to be addressed by the well-known radical orator Henry Hunt.
Shortly after the meeting began, local magistrates called on the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry to arrest Hunt and several others on the hustings with him. The Yeomanry charged into the crowd, knocking down a woman and killing a child, and finally apprehending Hunt. The 15th Hussars were then summoned by the magistrate, Mr Hulton, to disperse the crowd. They charged with sabres drawn, and in the ensuing confusion, 15 people were killed and 400–700 were injured. The massacre was given the name Peterloo in an ironic comparison to the Battle of Waterloo, which had taken place four years earlier.
Historian Robert Poole has called the Peterloo Massacre one of the defining moments of its age. In its own time, the London and national papers shared the horror felt in the Manchester region, but Peterloo’s immediate effect was to cause the government to crack down on reform, with the passing of what became known as the Six Acts. It also led directly to the foundation of the Manchester Guardian, but had little other effect on the pace of reform. In a survey conducted by The Guardian in 2006, Peterloo came second to …


“The Best of Enemies”–movie review   1 comment

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Last year we had the best picture Oscar winner “Green Book” which was a ‘feel good’ movie about the relationship between a white man and a black man while we also had the intense, involving “BlackKlansman” a best screenplay Oscar winner about a KKK white man and a black policeman who must be played by a white policeman when it comes to a meeting at the Klan which was emotionally involving.
Now we have “The Best of Enemies”, based on a true story, about the leader of a KKK group in Durham, N.C. and an angry single black mother who works for an advocacy group and is not afraid to stand up to anyone of any color.
What should have been an emotionally involving and feel good story fails on both counts in spite of some excellent performances. My dictionary defines cliche as 1) made stale and uninteresting by repeated use and 2) a trite stereotype expression and both define “The Best of Enemies.”
I, and by listening to comments by other audience members, learned a new word ‘charrette’ which is a French word used in problem serving and was what motivated Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) and C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell) to each head a panel of their own race and decide whether schools should be desegregated among two other resolutions.
Without getting into spoilers, though I did not nor did I ever hear of this particular story, I knew where the story was going and was more interested in how the journey to the ending would go and it was more ‘Hollywood’ than reality.
Rockwell was excellent as the KKK leader married to Anne Heche, who I did not recognize, with 3 children, 1 an autistic child in a hospital, as we follow the arc of his character and how he changes.
I love Henson as Cookie in her television series “Empire” but in the last half a dozen movies I have seen her in, including this one, she just doesn’t come across to me in movies. I will add that Allen thought she did a very good job as Ann.
Others in the cast including Babou Ceesay and Bruce McGill were spot on in their performances while Wes Bentley, who I have been a fan of since 1999 when he was in “American Beauty” seems to have gotten back on track after a problem with addiction.
Though I found “The Best of Enemies” disappointing, moving too slowly and not avoiding the ‘Hollywood’ touches I did learn a new word–charrette–and a part of history that was new to me and has made me interested in learning the whole story.
I, also, found the ending credits interesting showing the real people in the story!

Posted April 5, 2019 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS, Uncategorized

“Roma”–movie review   Leave a comment

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I fail to see why “Roma” is getting all the raves and awards it has been getting. In many ways, it reminded me of films from the 1950s and 1960s from European directors, mainly Italian, such as “Bitter Rice”, “The Bicycle Thief”, “Open City”, Michelangelo Antonioni, Robert Rossellini and Victoria De Sica. The main differences are that these films and directors didn’t take 2+ hours to tell their stories or linger too long even by a second on a scene whether it be a boy looking out a car window or a dog jumping up against a gate. They brought new cinematography to the screen and more depth to their stories.
Maybe it has been a long time since critics/people have seen such films that reflect life between the classes or maybe “Downton Abbey” has given them a false picture of the same. There are little passions or emotions shown by the director/screenwriter Alfonso Cuaron.
The surprising aspect of “Roma” is the acting debut of Yalitza Aparicio as a maid who has a warm connection to the children of her employers and though she is a presence throughout the film it only comes alive when it concentrates on her trials and tribulations.
With the exception of maybe 15 minutes, I was bored during most of the 2-hour 18-minute  “Roma”.

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