Archive for the ‘MOVIE REVIEW’ Category


There is something special about not expecting much from a movie only to be delightfully surprised and such was the case regarding “Elvis”. I was never a fan of Elvis Presley though when I heard him I liked his singing of some songs but his ‘moves’ I thought were funny. I never saw him in concert except on his worldwide TV spectacular and, if I recall, I didn’t see the whole thing. I, also, know that director Baz Luhrmann loves big gestures and with Elvis I knew he would probably go overboard.

Austin Butler does a great job as Elvis! He has the looks, the moves and though I read some of the songs were sung by Elvis I couldn’t tell the difference where they were his voice and where it might have been Butler just as I couldn’t tell if it was the real Elvis or Butler in the last few minutes of the movie.

Elvis was born a year before me and though I have lived twice as long as he did we both went through some major events in the USA including the assassinations of Jack and Robert Kennedy plus Martin Luther King. We both lived through the Korean and Vietnam wars, the sexual revolution and segregation attitudes.  Our main difference was that he had Colonel Tom Parker played by Tom Hanks—more about him in a moment! The Colonel wasn’t one nor was he a US citizen which caused a major change in the  relationship between him and Elvis. He made Elvis one the highest paid actors in Hollywood, was responsible for  getting him on and making a star of him on TV and followed with record breaking concerts plus made him a recording star with more million dollar selling of single records than any other male artist. I know most of what we are told about Elvis in the movie but very little about Parker who was a conman from the get go and took, at the least, 50% of all of Elvis’s earnings.

Baz Luhrmann does, as expected, a spectacular job of directing the many musical various musical numbers plus others besides those of Elvis. The big problem seems to be the 4 screenwriters seemed to have many different ideas of how to approach the various stories in the screenplay and the editing by Jonathan Redmond, Matt Villa and Luhrmann not only mixing everything up but extending the movie to 2 hours and 39 minutes when it could have easily been cut but at least 30 minutes!

The big (no pun intended) to me was Tom Hanks as Colonel Parker! Hank recently came out saying that straight men should not play gay men in movies even though he won an Oscar doing just that. After seeing this I think he should also say that only fat men should play fat men in movies or, like many have, thin actors should eat and get fat instead of getting using latex, botex and whatever else to make his appearance very distracting in addition to having  an accent that just doesn’t fit who the character was. More is told about the man in the end credits than the screenplay does and those faults are strictly on the director’s and actor’s shoulders!
Though I make a ‘big deal’ of the problems in the last 2 paragraphs I strongly suggest seeing this and seeing it on a movie theatre screen if for no other reason than the performance by Austin Butler but there are other reasons to see it.

A note, for whatever it is worth, the theatre auditorium was more crowded than I have seen in awhile plus I am willing to bet most, if not all, of the audience were over 60!

Posted June 24, 2022 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEW


(This is my edited review from August 13, 2021, when I saw it in a theatre at a time not many people were going out to see movies. I was very disappointed that the movie did so poorly and that Hudson wasn’t Oscar nominated for this dynamite performance. Here is a chance for to see it for the first–or 3rd time like I will!!)

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 did??  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 again—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 easy to see why Aretha Franklin wanted Hudson to play her in the movie because Hudson is perfection in the role, not imitating her but being her. I was never a fan of Franklin’s 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.

STREAMING REVIEWS—MAY 2022—PART 5   Leave a comment

1) “Hello My Name Is Doris”–Netflix–movie–1 hour& 30 minutes–Doris (Sally Field) is a 60 year old spinster who develops a romantic obsession on a much younger co-worker John (Max Greenfield) but is too timid to do anything about it. Her mother has recently died and her home would easily qualify for the “Hoarders” program.After attending a lecture by a motivational speaker (played by Peter Gallagher) she decides as he suggests, to take a big risk and pursue John. Roz (Tyne Daly–excellent) is Doris’s best friend and is instrumental in setting up an ‘accidental’ meeting with John. The film hovers between comedy and drama–the latter a forceful scene as Doris explains to her brother, and his wife, what she has sacrificed taking care of their mother, and shows why Sally Field is an award winning actress! This is a winning film from beginning to end worth seeing if only for her scenes with Tyne Daly but offers so much more–it is funny, serious, crazy and real.

2) “Night Sky”–Prime Amazon–season 1–8 episodes–6 hours & 13 minutes–up until episode 8 it is a compelling story of a long married couple, who lost a son, are still very much in love, with a secret chamber in their basement–we meet their granddaughter, their friends, strangers, next door neighbors with a sc-fi and religious strain going through the whole series dealing with the chamber and religion but don’t ask me what! Mainly due to the acting of Sissy Spacek and J. K. Simmons it is obvious that the rest of the cast is bringing their A game to the series making the first  episodes compelling and keeping the 8th episode interesting, even if incomprehensible only to me.

3) “Along For The Ride”–Netflix–1 hour & 47 minutes–Auden (Emma Pasarow) is a straight and narrow star student with divorced parents and instead of taking a summer job as her mother’s research assistant she chooses to stay with her father, his much younger wife and their new child at their Colby Beach, North Carolina, beach house working for her stepmother, keeping the books of her book shoppe. She eventually meets Eli (Belmont Cameli) who seems to be a little out of it—hey, this is a boy meets girl story-can’t all run smoothly! I liked it up to the HDP (sorry, if you want to know what that is see the movie) and then I loved it which surprised the hell out of me!

4) “Stay Close”–Netflix–limited British crime series–8 episodes—6 hours & 12 minutes–after 16 years and 3 daughters Megan (Cush Jumbo) and Dave (Daniel Francis) decide to get married–before Megan was Megan she was Cassie, a dancer/stripper and/or ???? at the Vixens Club–no one, including Dave, know about her past but now, suddenly, someone is going to expose her. At the same time Detective Michael Broome (James Nesbitt) and he ex-wife, also a detective, Erin Cartwright (Jo Joyner) are investigating the disappearance of a young man which may involve Megan/Cassie’s daughter. The 4 adults and the rest of the cast give top performances with the many twists and turns. There are very vivid violent scenes and the real villain surprised me as it really wasn’t the best solution but, if nothing else, Megan/Cassie’s story holds everything together and makes this a better than average crime story!

5) “New Heights”–Netflix–Swiss series–season 1–8 episodes–6 hours & 20 minutes–the crazier a family is the better the drama is and this Swiss family is a mess! The grandmother/mother-in-law to the mother and the three kids was the mother to the husband/father who committed suicide and that’s just the beginning! All 3 kids were born on the father’s farm–the oldest son is a Zurich business consultant coke head–another son is a farmer’s farmer while their sister wants the farm sold for her share of the money and the new age athletic business she runs–the various stories are about the farm and what to do with it and the 3 adult children while the mother wants to keep it and have the younger son run it. By the way the older son is gay and involved with 2 different guys–one from his past who is married and one at his business who  can help him become a partner and that’s all just in the first episode!! It’s just a good old fashioned soap opera–the Swiss version!

Posted May 29, 2022 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW, Series, Streaming

“Downton Abbey: A New Era” Movie Review   2 comments

No matter what reviews may say if you are a Downton Abbey fan you will see this movie! It was one of the biggest audiences I have seen at The Gateway Theatre at a Friday matinee since before the  COVID epidemic! (I am wondering how the crowd next Friday at “Top Gun; Maverak” will compare–I’ll let you know!) Plus it is never too late, even if somewhat confusing to who is who, for a newcomer to be introduced to the goings and comings of a family and their servants.

Upfront I must say I enjoyed this latest chapter of the aristocratic Crawley clan and their servants, a highly rated and watched series on PBS and a winner of their first made for movie theatres taking in a box office of $194 million though I have a few negative feelings the first being that this seems to been have made for TV where it could have run in 8-9 episodes covering all the multi part stories they tell here.

The main story revolves around Dowager countess Violet Grantham, played by the perfect Maggie Smith, inheriting a villa in the South of France which brings up an episode in her past. There is also why she will be leaving it to her granddaughter while also bringing up the question of who really is the father of her son Robert. The latter with his wife Cora and a bevy of servants leave for France as the Duchess is to ill to make the trip herself.

At the same time a film crew is invading  Downton Abbey to film a movie in exchange to paying  for the leaking roof. Throw in a possible romance between the director of the film and Lady Mary along with the change of silent movies to ‘talkies’ and the problems it may or may not cause the two stars on the movie. Oh yes, let’s not forget the possible romance between the  lead actor of the silent movie and the butler of the house. Throw in the wife of the man who left the Duchess the villa and her son’s reaction to the inheritance and to who it was left to and why.

And we haven’t even gone into all the servant’s problems and the bridge between them and the various Crawley family members or the retired butler’s presence or the current butler’s homosexuality or the former footman turned schoolmaster who is very knowledgeable about the new movie ‘business’ in the multi screen stories.

While not a MUST SEE for those who aren’t familiar with the Downton Abbey series it is a more than entertaining film with an excellent cast, some laughter, a few tears and an honest look of the division of the poor and rich in a period of English history, their changing of positions and adjustments made by both as the 20th century advances.

“Downton Abbey: A New Era” is worth the money and time to see in a movie theatre!

Posted May 20, 2022 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES

“FIREBIRD”–MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

“FIREBIRD” is a love story that takes place in Russia during the Cold War.  The cinematography is top rate as is the acting particularly between the two male leads.The first hour is very slow moving as it sets up the story of Sergey, (Tom Prior) a private in the army who is impatient to get his service over with, to serve as Lieutenant  Roman’s, (Oleg Zagorodnii) driver and guide who plans to spend his life in service as a pilot and is new to the base. They start off sharing an interest in photography and Luisa (Diana Pozharskaya) a friend of Sergey’s and possibly a love interest for Roman. The latter, an important part of the story is not gone into (possibly because the true story book it is based on was written by Sergey Fetisov) though it takes place at a time that many men who knew or suspected that they were, or might be homosexual, got married to prove they weren’t and/or to make an appearance of being a family man to get promotions at work. It, also, could have held an interesting aspect that is very seldom approached in films.

Before I go any further let me say that I didn’t understand all the raves for this film which doesn’t handle sex problems and/or sex scenes that haven’t been handled before  better–especially the sex scenes–that first hour but then all of a sudden something happened but I can’t explain it! I was completely caught up in the lives of not only Sergey, Ramon and Luisa but, also, those around them, good and bad, and , yes, there are a couple of ‘villains’ in “Firebird”! I know I was crying the last 15 minutes—and I never apologize for crying in the movies–and was intrigued to the ‘what happened’ after credits!

This is basically the story from Sergey Festsov’s point of view and I would love to have known how Luisa felt after her discoveries or did Roman see what was happening to him  and did he care? With all that they were facing an epic love story turns into a melodrama and the slow pacing kills whatever emotions the people are feeling. The KBG officer who threatens Roman comes off as a comic of yesteryear and the flying scenes are wasted and the drama teacher who Sergey encounters in his pursuit of an acting career in Moscow adds nothing but ‘ham’ to the romance at the center of the film.

The film hits the romantic stride it was aiming for at the 1 hour and 15 minutes point and grabs you quickly into the story the film was trying to hit from the opening scene which is repeated and is meaningless the second time it is shown.

“Firebird” is not a ‘must see’ movie and I think it might be better on the small screen even if the scenic views yell for a theatre screen and it just might spur someone else to tell the story with a screenplay worthy of the leads but until then make time to see this version.

Posted May 13, 2022 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW

STREAMING REVIEWS—MAY 2022—PART 1   Leave a comment

1) “Book of Love”–Prime Amazon–romantic comedy movie–1 hour & 46 minutes–man meets woman–they are complete opposites–man falls in love with woman–woman falls in love with man–man loses woman–man and woman live happily ever after together–come on–that is NOT a spoiler–the movie is filled with every cliche you can think of  and yet we love it every time wherever it takes place–here it is in Mexico–Veronica Echegi reminds me of a younger Penelope Cruz (though the latter isn’t old by any means–a mini romantic getaway

2) “The Weekend Away”–Netflix–a whodunit thriller–1 hour & 31 minutes–it is an old-fashioned ‘who did it?’ and it really doesn’t matter because it is fun–a lot of twists without a lot making sense but makes you hang in there–trashy but watchable with Ziad Bakri playing a smaller role as a friendly taxi driver–of the 5 possible suspects I guessed the 4 wrong ones!

3) “Sense8”–Netflix–a Sci-fi series–season 1–12 episodes–10 hours & 46 minutes–in chapter 4 one person says to another, “You are now 7 people but if you don’t save Nomi you will only be 6!”–I saw him change into different people talking to each other (talking to himself?) except he is talking to her(? Or is it him?) in English and she is talking in Korean–I said that’s enough and in the middle of the 5th episode I completely gave up–Sci-fi is not for me

4) “A Very British Scandal”–Prime Amazon–season 2–3 episodes–3 hours–AND

5) “Anatomy of a Scandal”–Netflix–limited series–6 episodes–4 hours & 28 minutes

In 2018 Hugh Grant played a Liberal Party leader who murdered his gay ex lover in 1979 in a 3 part series called “A Very English Scandal” based on a true story. “A Very British Scandal” is also a true story which is based on the theory that because a woman gives a man oral sex she is a slut, a wanton woman. In this case she is a Duchess and the Duke takes her into public divorce proceedings giving her an out by staying with him which she refuses. “Anatomy of a Scandal” is the only one that is fiction but seems as real as the true stories with a British politician being accused of rape by a woman who works for him and they had an affair. We watch him on trial being faced by the woman while his wife seats in the gallery thinking of their past and their life of privilege. Oh yes, there is a twist to this whole story that is definitely British! (And sort of mild for David E. Kelley.)

You either like movies/series about British parliamentary members, their sexual peccadilloes,  all having underlying themes and if you do you will like both of these “Scandals” and don’t forget to watch “a Very English Scandal” that started this series!


I was really looking forward to seeing “The Duke” for many reasons from the fact that it starred one of my favorite actresses, Helen Mirren, and her co-star, Jim Broadbent, always gives a good, sometimes great, performance. They were the leads in this film based on a true story and was being billed as a British comedy which is always a plus when it comes to movies! Also, in its favor it was only 1 hour and 36 minutes which meant it had to move fast. Last, but not least, there was included a story about one man fighting against the system with social overtones and, to a certain degree, showed how the British government did, or didn’t, work.

I was ready to relax and enjoy all the above.

The true story is interesting but not worth 96 minutes! Oh yes, that 96 minutes seemed like 4 hours. There was only one time I, or anyone else, laughed but I won’t tell you because might as well leave you something to look forward to. There is a twist that unless you know the story you won’t see it coming and might not believe.

Mirren and Broadbent are good but there is a whole story between them that is only touched on and could have made for a more powerful story.The trial section is entertaining to a point but not as funny as the spectators, the lawyers, judges, court personal and the prisoner to to think it is.

“The Duke” is really slow moving, not funny, not dramatic and not really a movie worth seeing on TV as it certainly is not worth paying admission to see it in a movie house!

“Mothering Sunday”–Movie Review–seen in Movie House   Leave a comment

From what I understand the term Mothering Sunday has many meanings from being the day people gave their servants a day off to visit their family or in church the 4th Sunday of Lent or what was to become Mother’s Day to honor Mothers. I don’t quite know what it has to do with this movie though it deals with 2 mothers who are far from the title characters.

The movie is basically about a maid,(Odessa Young), who has an affair with a rich young man,(Josh O’Connor), both knowing there is no future for them. (Oh yes, both seem very comfortable with their full frontal nudity!)

The story seems to be about 3 different stages in Jane’s life–Glenda Jackson, at 86, playing her as an old woman in a very small role–and we are constantly going back and forth in time which seems to be very popular in movies these days and I only find confusing! Though there is a lot about a writer there is more voice-over than writing or story telling and that combined with the constant change of time only makes for a confusing story. I still don’t know who O’Connor’s parents are!!

The editing doesn’t help the movie but I think that is more of the director and screenwriter’s fault.  The story is all over the place and making it even worse some scenes are just fillers because without so many it would be a very short movie.

This is the second movie in the past year that Olivia Coleman is in a movie that constantly goes back and forth in time but here she only has a cameo and one quick scene with tears that would be effective if we knew more about her (instead of knowing she is the mother of 2(?) dead sons!) Her husband is played by Colin Firth, who I found for the first time not inhabiting a role. For most of the film I had thought they were O’Connor’s parents but wrong

I had suggested to Allen we go see this movie because I had thought it was along the lines of Downton Abbey, Sandition or Bridgerton which is his sought of go to film but we both agreed the major word for the movie is boring, even in spite of the  nudity!

An aside: I might becoming impatient with movies in theatres as I would have fast forwarded through this and seen a good 45 minute movie plus is it really fair to pay $9+ for a movie when you can pay $8.99 for streaming and see 100 movies? Oh, I will never stop going to movie houses to see a movie  but I think it will be more in the genre of “The Lost City” which was made for a HUGE screen, saw last week and enjoyed much more than this!

Posted April 8, 2022 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEW

“The Lost City”–Movie (seen in a theatre) review!   Leave a comment

‘They’ (senior citizens) always say ‘They’ (Hollywood) doesn’t make them like used to–well, here is one like they used to! 3 big name stars (Sandra Bullock as a very successful novelist who has lost her desire to write romance novels where Channing Tatum has been the cover model, with flowing blond lock, and Daniel Radcliffe as the villain(!) plus let’s throw in Brad Pitt in what would be called a cameo) are put in an action/comedy with lush scenery. Throw in a little PG sex–nudity—in the ‘old days’ they never showed it but indicated as they do here.

It helps that Bullock is dressed in a tight sequined suit and Tatum is buff, and is in a left to the imagination nude scene, plus some of the scenic shots must be seen on the large movie screen, especially the spectacular mountains with several falls. Another plus she has a sidekick/manager, Patti Harrison, who provides a lot of laughs.

The plot is simple—like in the ‘good old days’–with Radcliffe’s villain kidnapping Bullock because, of her novels, he thinks she has the key to a lost city and a buried treasure he wants. Channing wants to become her real life hero and rescue her so the story-line works to get him in following and meeting up with her. Don’t ask me how Pitt gets involved because 1) I don’t know and 2) if I didn’t know he was in the movie I wouldn’t have known it was him.

After a certain point it falls apart but so did most of the Hollywood movies in the old days yet it holds your interest and fun mood up to the end and tries to have fun with the credits.

It’s not all positive such as Radcliffe starting off great but then the screen writer lets him down and he reverts to appearing as a young kid on an adventure or an actor miscast. I don’t get the whole Brad Pitt casting except, maybe, to get his audience into the theatre because it is in most of the publicity releases and appearances. Oh, yes, they should have let the audience see what Bullock sees in the leech scene with Tatum! LOL

Go to a theatre and spend two hours watching/enjoying a movie ‘they’ would have seen in the old Hollywood plus most theatres are not crowded and all are following COVID guidelines.

Posted March 27, 2022 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW

PART 2–of two movies that are ‘must sees’ and may disappear soon!   Leave a comment


“The Invisible Thread”–Netflix–Italian romantic/comedy/drama film–1 hour & 30 minutes–dubbed in English and English subtitles available–a teenage son of 2 Fathers makes a documentary about his parents–when he was born, to a surrogate mother, still in his life, in Italy 2 men couldn’t adopt a child–it wasn’t until Leone was 11 that 2 men could legally ‘wed’ in a civil union and now, when we join him at 15 both their names could be on his birth certificate.

The second half of this movie took me completely by surprise as did the ending but from his opening words you are on Leone’s (played superbly by Francesco Gheghi) side even feeling his frustrations at his classmates thinking/saying he is gay because, let’s face it, his 2 fathers are! Things start to pick up when he meets the twins Anna and Dario-the former a sweet girl and the latter a bully who thinks nothing of beating up his fellow students. 

As we start getting caught up in Leone, Jacopo, his best friend and the twins, the film suddenly takes a twist going in a direction that will take you completely by surprise involving the two fathers, the surrogate mother and……Well I don’t like to give spoilers but just let’s just say that whether gay or non-gay people, marriages, parents are, basically, all the same but the second half of the movie will surprise you with a few twists and turns.

Director Mario Simon Puccioni gets good performances out of the kids, especially Francesco Gheghi, and the two dads played by Filippo Timi and Francesco Scianna, who, like many couples, will make you wonder how they ever became a couple!

Puccioni co-wrote the script with Luca De Bel & Gia Luca Berradini, sometimes stumbling over the comedy and drama mix but giving honest portrayals of real people.

Both “Into The Wind” and “The Invisible Thread” are certainly worth seeing not only for the stories and the performances but for the silent moments, so rare in Hollywood movies, that are as moving as those with the ‘action’, both moving the film along!

I really would like feedback from anyone who sees these two movies!

Posted March 21, 2022 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW

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