Archive for the ‘FILM REVIEWS’ Category

“Don’t Look Up”–Movie Theatre Review   Leave a comment


Adam McKay wrote, produced and directed “Don’t Look Up” using farce and star names to get his ideas–too many ideas–in this 2 hour and 18 minutes of which an hour could have been cut and made for a much better picture. From a take-off of Trump, in the form of Meryl Streep, a blonde in this movie just in case people didn’t get the idea of who McKay was making fun of, he adds the crowd chanting, wearing hats with DLU on them, to a president who doesn’t believe in science and just happens to be narcissistic, the writer throws a hundred ideas in the movie with, possibly, 5 landing with the audience!

His throwing in a different ‘name’, every few minutes doesn’t help, though all do their job, as the audience just waits to see who will show up next instead of what the one on screen is trying to get across. The standouts in the cast are Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchette, Melanie Lynsky and Mark Rylance, the latter strictly because his character is very annoying and he gets that across from his entrance!

I don’t know if McKay or Leonardo DiCaprio decided that the latter playing an astronomer should be the most sexless, non-good looking man possible, which isn’t easy but they succeed and is very distracting to the film especially when Blanchette and Lynsky are involved with him.Jennifer Lawrence, as one of two astronomers who predict, accurately, that an asteroid will land on earth demolishing all life in 6 months and she takes command of the movie in every scene she is in no matter who is appearing with her.

There are many special effects, too many extended for too long, just as Adam McKay threw too many ideas in one film for it to be successful.

Posted December 17, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS

“WEST SIDE STORY” 2021 MOVIE VERSION REVIEW   4 comments

I was very apprehensive of seeing the new movie version of “West Side Story” as I saw the original 1957 Broadway production 7 times–don’t know how many times I have seen the 1961 movie–plus how many remakes can you say are even as good as the original let alone better but I’m just a ‘Broadway baby’ so I was keeping my fingers crossed that it would completely surprise me. It did surprise me even possibly more than when I saw  “West Side Story” the first time on stage or on film.
Initially I compared what I was seeing on screen in the 2021 version to what I saw in the 1961 version but that was thrown out the window when I saw the apartment buildings that were torn down to rebuild the area as the Lincoln Center shoving families out of their homes. Summing up WSS/2021 is a more realistic look at New York City in the 1950s including the people that inhabited Manhattan.
There are many differences between the two movies but none are shocking, jarring or off-putting and only 2 may be called ‘spoilers’. Some minor examples are shown here https://www.imdb.com/video/vi1469563673?ref_=tt_eds_center-3_ecw_s4s_westside_cta&listId=ls025720609 not including any spoilers.
I was as moved by this version as I was by the first movie and any live production I have seen.  To revive my memory and see the differences I plan to watch WSS/1961 on Prime Video tonight.
It would not surprise me to see the Spielberg version receive as many Oscar nominations as the Robert Wise/Jerome Robbins did if not an extra one with Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose both vying for best supporting actress.
The 2021 “West Side Story” should be seen by anyone who hasn’t seen a stage version or 1961 film version plus anyone who has seen either or both of the previous versions!

Posted December 10, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS

“HOUSE OF GUCCI”–MOVIE THEATRE REVIEW   1 comment


In “House of Gucci” Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino are brothers with Adam Driver the son of the former and Jared Leto son of the latter and there isn’t the slightest resemblance between any of the four except maybe the heights–Irons & Driver tall, Pacino and Leto short. The worst, in more ways than one, are their ‘Italian accents’ which are more than laughable. Whether they adapted their own accents or had a speech coach (who should never be hired again) the fault is at the feet of the director Ridley Scott.
Director Scott is also responsible for accepting, and working with, the screenplay submitted by Becky Johnson and Roberto Bentivegna but for an experienced director he doesn’t seem to know what he is doing regarding any aspect of the film.

I had heard about the performance by Lady Gaga being Oscar nominated worthy and though I have become a huge fan of Lady Gaga (be sure to watch the concert she does with Tony Bennett on Sunday on CBS) except for  what seemed to be 100 costume and hair changes her role, as Driver’s wife, is disjointed and all over the place without any direction and/or guidance by the director. The nicest thing I can say about Salma Hayek is that her husband, who is a CEO of the company that owns Gucci, owes her an original Gucci bag if she doesn’t have one!

The best part of the movie is the ending—2 hours and 38 minutes later–where it tells what happened to each of the major principals in the true story.”House of Gucci” is a waste of time and talent.

Posted November 26, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS

“Dune”–movie theatre review   1 comment


As nicely as I can put it “Dune” is the most boring movie I have seen in 80+ years of movie going! I have a feeling that unless you have read the book it is based upon you will be as lost as I was after the first 30 minutes of this 2 hour and 35 minute film. I was so bored I had no desire to even try to figure out what the story was about!

Yes, it is filled with special effects but after the sand shifting and/or swallowing up people what seems every 2 minutes it gets boring!

What is outstanding is the musical for at least the first half hour and then it becomes just loud noise.

There are a few spots where subtitles are used and I wish they had been used throughout the movie.

On the plus side are a lot of the cast members such as Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem among others and though Timothee Chalamet has that sad, confused look down pat he really doesn’t have much else to portray.

Oh yes, besides the cast, the first special effects, the beginning 30 minutes of soundtrack music the other plus is the ‘praying mantis’ look of the airplanes.

There is a part 2 being produced now and I will NOT be there to see it!

Posted October 22, 2021 by greatmartin in FILM REVIEWS, MOVIES, Uncategorized

“No Time To Die”–Movie Theatre Review   Leave a comment


Ironically “No Time To Die” runs a LONG TIME—2 hours and 43 minutes! Sure it is a James Bond movie and you expect car/boat/plane chases but a couple could have been cut, time saved, just as instead of Bond, by himself, killing hundreds of enemies he only killed one hundred and halving the number of special effects would have cut the movie by 30 minutes at least.

In Daniel Craig’s last appearance as James Bond in 5 films  altogether is smart, a little different regarding the love interest and a bit disappointing regrading the ‘toys’ he gets to play with but he delivers the goods. There is a hint as to who might replace him but I wouldn’t bet on the clue!

As always the scenery at times is breathtaking as are some of the chases and we see a sophisticated Bond who harbors no nonsense when it comes to dispatching of the enemies and still has his martini with a pretty woman.

The women such as Lea Seydoux, Lashana Lynch and Naomie Harris are strong as is young Coline Defaud as the child of one of the ladies. The men such as Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q and Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter give Craig good support with, in my opinion, Rami Malek a disappointment in the long list of villains.

You know what to expect walking into a James Bond movie and “No Time To Die” delivers with a smart sendoff for Daniel Craig if not a bit too long in doing both. The production aspects are first rate  as they are in most Bond films along with the soundtrack but the opening song is weak as written and sung by Billie Eilish.

Daniel Craig is going to be a hard act to follow and he leaves his fans satisfied even with one or two many fights and/or chases.

Posted October 8, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINER, FILM REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEW

“Dear Evan Hansen”–Movie Theatre Review   Leave a comment


Let’s tackle the Internet ‘problem’ that this movie has faced the pass couple of months. Anyone going to the movies has to suspend belief in many cases, especially when it comes to musicals. We easily accept that someone will sing and dance in the rain on a street or people will burst out into song and/or dancing on subways, in classrooms, Central Park, in the White House and everywhere else.

For awhile now there has been outrage expressed that Ben Platt, a 27 year old man will be playing a teenager in this movie which he took from a workshop at the age of 20 to being a big hit on Broadway with his winning a Tony award 2 year later in the role. Most of the lead students in the movie are in their 20s and ALL, including Platt make you forget they aren’t teenagers.

Another jab at Platt is that his father produced the show and that is why he got the role but when you consider he won 8 awards for his role including the Tony, Grammy and Emmy he, obviously deserved to cement his doing the role on film and let’s just say upfront whatever success the movie has will be due to his performance!

It is only when Platt is on the screen singing and/or dancing does “Dear Evan Hansen” become alive, moving and meaningful. The non-musical, straight drama scenes, the fault of screenwriter Steven Levenson and director Stephen Chbosky, are a combination of being boring, very low sound and hard to understand such as a scene between Amandia Stenberg and Ben Platt that is important to the movie but not understood by the audience.

The choreographer is sort of a mystery unless the director also did the choreography–and I searched and search but couldn’t find a credit for choreographer–and if he did than there is a great difference between his straight dramatic scenes and musical scenes with the former coming across flat and the latter presenting a life that lacks from the movie otherwise. Watching Ben Platt doing the opening number and later at an assembly honoring a dead student will make you understand that it was neither age or his father’s millions that makes him so successful as the title character in “Dear Evan Hansen”!

I recommend “Dear Evan Hansen” for Ben Platt’s performance, sweet and emotional singing voice captured on screen, not for its adaptation to the screen from the stage though it does handle the ending much different and better.

Posted September 24, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEW

“Cry Macho”–Movie theatre film review   Leave a comment


The choices of our Friday movie was either “The Eyes Of Tammy Faye” or “Cry Macho” and Allen picked the latter.Let me say up front that I neither like Clint Eastwood and/or Westerns but I am game for anything.

The movie is about Mike Milo (Eastwood) whose rodeo career was cut short by a horse throwing him and though he doesn’t show any physical injuries it ended that which happened after his wife and child dies–if they gave a reason I didn’t hear it–and he seems to have had a battle with booze.

A year after he is fired his ex-boss sends him on  a mission to bring his son back, who he hasn’t seen since the kid was 6 and has been living with his ex-wife in Mexico.It seems the boy is more or less a juvenile delinquent who enters cock fights with his rooster Macho Man and when  Mike finds him and convinces his father wants to see him we more or less go on a road trip with the ex-wife sending a couple of men after them.

The film isn’t bad but doesn’t bring anything new to the screen and, with all due respect to Eastwood at 91, he should stick to directing and leave the acting to younger men, especially if he is going to have a love story in the film. The age factor does throw the screenplay off track now and then, particularly the flirting scenes between him and Natalie Traven as his love interest and the vamping scenes of Fernanda Urrejola as the mother and ex-wife.

Aside from playing in the movie theatre it is also streaming on AppleTV and that may account for the Tammy Faye movie having a much larger audience, including Oscar talk regarding Jessica Chastain’s performance and not that much word of mouth about “Cry Macho”.

Posted September 17, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS

“Language Lessons”–Movie Theatre Review   Leave a comment


“Language Lessons” has a very simple premise–the relationship between a Spanish language female teacher, Carino, living in Costa Rica and a wealthy, married Gay Oakland man, Adam, who meet due to his husband, Will, buying him 1,000 hours of Spanish lessons and hiring her as the teacher. Filmed with zoom calls and face time messages the production is also simple. There are only two actors in this 1 hour and 31 minutes film and they are Natalie Morales and Mark Duplass, both doing an excellent job. She also directed the film and co-wrote the script with him and his production company produced the film. (Oh, yes, his recently sold home was used for his background shots!) They provide a charm and heart that normally wouldn’t work between 2 actors in a film where they not only command the screen but are the only ones in the movie.

Teaching takes a backseat after the opening shots to get into what is going on in their lives though, regrettably, very little is said about their lives in the past except they are/were Catholics. I would have liked to know more about the implied abuse, the lives and relationship of Adam and Will  aside from the former having lived a heterosexual life before meeting the latter.

Without wanting to give any spoilers it is hard to get into the content of the screenplay though death, illness, tragedy, crippling grief, nurturing, confusing and comedy with language and that people can connect on the Internet in platonic ways. Humor is also provided when showing what can go wrong and/or being on zoom or face time messages.

“Language Lessons” is what used to be called a ‘small, art’ film. It is not going to break records at the box office but it is certainly one of the better movies being shown in movie theatres since they have been reopened.

Posted September 10, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS

“Flag Day”–movie theatre review   1 comment

(After going crazy on the phone for 4 hours and getting crazy—or crazier–with the medical profession I decided to go to the movies to escape real life. BIG MISTAKE!!! ;o)


Sean Penn directs his daughter (Dylan Penn) his son Hopper Penn and himself, giving top billing to Dylan, in “Flag Day”. It is based on a true story about a con man father and his drug addicted teenage daughter with the latter turning around as a young adult.Sean Penn has enough respect in the industry to get names like Regina King, Josh Brolin and Norbet Leo butz to do what may constitute as a ‘walk-on’, a cameo or blink and you miss them.

Now if he only could have gotten writers worthy of the actors time maybe, just maybe, the film wouldn’t have been so boring. Penn always is an interesting actor and his daughter does show a spark of his brilliance when she is given the chance while Hopper really doesn’t show what he may be able to do.

Based of Jennifer Vogel’s memoir “Flim -Flam Man: The True Story of My Father’s Counterfeit Life” she is not too easy on either herself or her father but she is too close to the subjects, and, maybe, too in awe of her father, to not have too many scenes of what she wished her father had been instead of the father and husband he wasn’t.

The screenplay is repetitive and too much like other father and daughter stories where the latter wishes the former would change and, yet, by the opening of the movie we know he doesn’t.

Penn gives himself scenes where he excels in bursts of anger and even a couple where in his being quiet he is forceful and he gives his daughter, in his first starring role, enough scenes to show she has the potential to excel in the business.

The direction is pedestrian, the photography okay but the screenplay and movie is a waste of time and BORING! Also, surprisingly, Penn falls into the trap of far too many voice overs instead of letting the actors do their work.

Posted September 8, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS

“Respect”–Movie Theatre Review   1 comment


In 2004 I was cheering (and voting) for Jennifer Hudson to win that season of American Idol. She didn’t but do you remember who??  In 2006 I walked out of the Gateway Movie Theatre after seeing “Dreamgirls” and said that if she didn’t win an Oscar I would never go to the movies—whew! She did and I am still going to the movies! (In fact I haven’t understood why her movies haven’t done much better including a great performance as Winnie Mandela in the picture of the same name.)

It is well known that Aretha Franklin picked Jennifer Hudson to play her in the film of her life and it is easy to see why because Hudson is perfection in the role, not imitating her but being her. I was never a fan of Franklin’s, not disliking her but never going out of my way to see her or buying one of her albums and this picture doesn’t change my mind about that but Hudson makes me want to listen to Franklin’s records again and see if I have changed my mind.

In 2008 Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew were killed by her brother-in-law knowing tragedy at at a time when she should have known none but then Aretha Franklin’s tragedies started earlier at the age of 12 being raped by a friend of her father and giving birth to her first son. She, like her mother, was abused by her father, not physically but mentally, who also raped a 12 year old girl and got her pregnant but was never accused due to the laws at that time.

Franklin was attracted to abusive men and didn’t make it big until she took charge of her career and sang what she wanted to sing, not what and how the men in her life wanted her to sing.

Aretha Franklin’s career is what make legends and Jennifer Hudson puts across the pain and joy the woman felt as going through the phases of her personal life and career while she also uses her powerful voice to show how the star became a legend.

There is a strong supporting cast with 6 time Tony award winner Audra McDonald in an almost cameo role as Aretha’s mother though she does get to sing one song briefly and simply plus Mary J. Bilge plays Dinah Washington, also in a cameo, not singing but showing how a woman has to have strength to survive in show business.  Kimberly Scott as her grandmother, Haily Kilgore and Saycon Sengbloh as her sisters and back up singers while Skye Dakota Turner, who recently played Tina Turner as a child on Broadway plays Franklin as a the child ‘with a big voice’, all give effective performances while among the men Forest Whitaker as her father, Marlon Wayans as her abusive husband and Marc Maron as a record producer who believes in her all do standout jobs

.Leisl Tomm, making her first feature film, has a few missteps but, obviously, loves working with actors and certainly lets her star do her ‘thing’.

“Respect” is 2 hours and 25 minutes long—and one must stay for the last song which is sung by Aretha Franklin–but it is the 2 hours of Jennifer Hudson that makes this movie whether it is her singing or acting or her just being Aretha.

Posted August 13, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS

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