Archive for the ‘FILM REVIEWS’ Category

“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

Streaming Reviews–August 2021–Part 4   Leave a comment

1) “Mulligans”–Amazon Prime–movie–1 hour & 32 minutes–many older men come out after getting married and having children—some knew they were gay before getting married and can give you many reasons why they married while some don’t understand, realize their attraction to men later on in life–in this film Tyler’s dad finds himself falling in love with his son’s friend who is gay and the consequences–AN INTERESTING AND DIFFERENT STORY WRITTEN BY THE MAN IT HAPPENED TO

2) “How To Become a Tyrant”–Netflix–series–6 episodes–2 hours & 35 minutes–are one of the traits of a tyrant is being born one or is “Tyrants” just boring?–strange that a man who can take over a country and rule for years can be so non-charismatic–THE FILM FAILS TO SHOW THE “IT” OF THESE 6 MEN

3) “The Pursuit of Love”–Amazon Prime–limited series–3 episodes–3 hours–a modern story taking place in the 1920s regarding the friendship of two women during childhood, marriages, pregnancies who are there for each other–Dominic West is a standout–NOT A “BRIDGERTON” OR “THE CROWN”–I COULDN’T GET PAST THE SECOND EPISODE

4) Outer Banks”–Netflix–series–2 seasons–total 17 hours & 48 minutes–as I wrote about season 1; teenage drama isn’t very original but entertaining in an old fashioned way though the sex is definitely 2020–SEASON TWO WAS HARD TO GET THROUGH

5) “Those People”–Amazon Prime–movie–1 hour & 28 minutes–many scenes of Manhattan at night when it looks beautiful and rich–just as what 4 leads are yet the one who isn’t rich holds the screen and story together–TOO BAD THE STORY DOESN’T REVOLVE AROUND HIM

6)  “Tab Hunter Confidential”–Amazon Prime–documentary–1 hour & 30 minutes–his last film was in 1992–was with his partner 35 years–died in 2018 at the age of 86, 3 days before he would have celebrated his 87th birthday–avid horse owner and winning rider–based on his autobiography about being gay without coming out in the Hollywood in the 1950s and 1960s–A SALUTE TO THE RARE SURVIVOR OF BEING A ‘HOT’ IDOL IN HOLLYWOOD AND LEADING HIS OWN PRIVATE LIFE

“Joe Bell”–Movie Theatre Review   Leave a comment

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“Joe Bell”, currently showing in theatres, tackles a few subjects seldom touched upon by film from a father with a gay son, the bullying of gay teenagers in school, how families and strangers react to gay people, among the subjects.

Joe Bell, played with heart by Mark Wahlberg, is the true story of a small town, working class father who embarks on a solo walk across the U.S. from La Grande, Oregon to New York city to crusade against bullying after his son is tormented in high school for being gay. Reid Miller, as the gay son, gives a ‘right on’ performance.

Joe has a temper which doesn’t help making the lives of his wife and 2 sons very easy, even having his gay son question what his father is doing and if his father really accepts him.

I really don’t want to get too much into the film as I wasn’t aware of Joe Bell until I saw it and I would like those who don’t know him to discover the man I discovered watching the film. I’m a sucker with father and son stories and, unashamedly, I admit to crying during the latter half.

Some (famous) critic said this film ‘feels like a huge step backwards’ and yet the problems are as prevalent today as they were 40 years ago which makes it even more shocking to see a film that shows what is happening today.

The only negative criticism I have is that should have been  filmed in a linear  fashion to be more powerful and moving.

Please stay to see the ending credits.

To educate yourself and understand what happened with Jadin Bell please become familiar with

I, also, highly recommend the book “Gay Like Me: A Father Writes To His Son” by Richie Jackson (which I wish I had written!)

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Posted July 23, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS

Masterpiece “US”–PBS–MUST SEE TV!   Leave a comment

Can be watched on PBS (check local listings), or  or here
“US” is a 4-hour film/limited series on PBS  in 2- 2 hour showings. Connie Petersen (Saskia Reeves) has decided her relationship with Douglas Petersen (Tom Hollander) after 25 years, including 20 years married, is over now that their son Albie (Tom Taylor) is off to college and agrees to go on the 3-week vacation that was planned previously. 
As they leave for Paris each goes over highs and lows in the years they have built a life together from when they were young—played by Iain De Caestecker and Gina Bramhill–and Connie, an artist, was intrigued by brainy, well organized Douglas, fell in love, gone through the loss of their first child, thrive on the birth of their son and while Connie concentrates on making a home for her son and husband leaving her artist side behind. 

While Albie and his mother get along famously he and his father are always at odds with each other. Albie meets a girl, Kat, (Thaddea Graham) in Paris and through her actions Connie sees her husband reacting and knows then and there their relationship is over and goes home while the next day Albie and Kat take off.

Douglas decides to go after his son which is very unlike him.”US” will make you want to go to Venice, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, among other places, as they are an important part of telling the story just as the humor, sadness, drama, arguments and the lingering thoughts in the back of your mind whether it will a ‘happy ever after’ or is Douglas meeting divorcee Freja (Sofie Grabol) a ‘red herring’?

At about the 3 hours & 40-minute mark there is a twist that took me completely by surprise and is just one of the many storylines that the screenplay writer, David Nicholls who also wrote the book the film is based on, bring together in rational ways explaining what is happening.

The lead actors Reeves, Hollander and Taylor are a family with Taylor looking more like his mother than his father, including an important scene where father and son are bare-chested and while the father is very hairy the son doesn’t have any hair on his chest making you laugh while the scene is moving your emotions.

Masterpiece “US” is excellent and worth your time–must-watch TV!

Streaming reviews for week of June 20, 2021   Leave a comment

1) “It Runs In The Family”–Prime Amazon–movie–1 hour & 49 minutes–4 members of the Douglas family (Kirk, Michael, Cameron & Diana) star in the movie with Micheal producing and other family members in the credits–throw in Bernadette Peters & Audra McDonald–and the cast makes the movie worth watching–THE JOKING BETWEEN KIRK & MICHAEL PLUS A MOVING SCENE SHARED BY THEM MAKES THIS A WINNER.

2) “The Jane Austen Book Club”–Netflix–movie–1 hour & 43 minutes–interesting to see the screenplay give each couple a Jane Austen counterpart and tries to pull it all together–GOOD ‘LEARNER’ FOR THOSE NEW TO JA AND FUN FOR THOSE WHO KNOW HER BOOKS AND TAKE NOTES

3) “I Love You Phillip Morris”–HULU–movie–1 hour & 40 minutes–based on a true story–a con man and his lover–more ‘vivid’ sex action than any gay film and more cursing than any nongay film–11 years later Ewen McGregor is once again playing a gay man in “Halston”–I HAVE NEVER BEEN A FAN OF JIM CAREY AND THIS DOESN’T CHANGE THAT

4) “Where Hope Grows”–Prime Amazon or HULU–movie–1 hour & 35 minutes–a by the numbers movie but the ending took me completely by surprise–stay through the end credits–EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE A ‘PRODUCE’ IN THEIR FAMILY

5) “Lupin”–Netflix–series–season 2–5 episodes–3 hours & 42 minutes–Omar Sy is a winner as he was in the first season–it is hard to tell which is more entertaining: him or the story–let’s make it both–HIGH ENERGY, SMART DIALOGUE, ACTION, FUN–A MUST SEE

6) “Lucifer”–Prime Amazon–series–season 6–10 episodes–9 hours & 21 minutes–considering that the novelty of Lucifer being on earth has worn off using the story of God retiring and one of his children taking his place, one possibly being Lucifer, keeps the fun going–KEEPS UP THE PACE OF THE FIRST 5 SEASONS

Posted June 27, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS, Series, Streaming

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