Archive for the ‘MOVIE REVIEW’ Category


“Rent” was never a favorite show of mine but I understood how Jonathan Larson’s show brought change to Broadway and also the legend of his death the night of its first performance off-Broadway. What happened before that night is what  “tick,tick…BOOM” is about, a show Larson wrote the book, music and lyrics for–a story of a writer wants to ‘make it’ before he is 30 and he hears the clock ticking away.This is a movie for anyone in their twenties who are dreaming of success in whatever chosen field they have picked whether it being in show business or any other business or whatever road they might take. It is a movie for anyone over thirty who made it or didn’t.I didn’t really get into the film until it was about halfway through and then it completely took me over. I was back to being in my twenties, working as a waiter, writing books and plays, seeing myself as a successful writer. On the screen were words that I had thought, might even had said, both negative and positive. Now, 60 years later, I could laugh and/or cry, watching a guy about to be thirty seeing himself as a failure, thinking life ended at thirty.

While I don’t remember a single song I remember listening to each one as a story being told. You can hear Jonathan Larson’s voice telling you how and what he felt as he reached for success and, possibly, seeing failure.I don’t know how much of the screenplay are actually Larson’s words and what Steven Levenson contributed but it runs smoothly covering all points of a creative mind. Director Lin-Manual Miranda, in many interviews, has credited Larson for making it possible for him to write and get “In The Heights” on Broadway to be followed by “Hamilton”. In a way, here he is thanking Larson for that and in turn does fine work in his first turn as a director.The acting is first rate from Andrew Garfield as Larson to one of the many cameos where if you blink you will miss Chita Rivera, Bernadette Peters, Joel Gray, Brian Stokes Mitchell to name a few, even Miranda as a cook!

The cameos in no way distract from Judith Light as Larson’s agent or Bradley Whitford as Stephen Sondheim, in a way Larson’s mentor. Alexander Shipp as Susan, Larson’s girlfriend and Vanessa Hudgens as Karessa, as a singer in the show within a show are highlights of the cast while Robin de Jesus as Larson’s best friend is a standout.

I was so taken in by the second half of “tick, tick…BOOM” that all I remember is being awash in tears. THIS IS A MUST SEE MOVIE!

Posted November 21, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, ENTERYTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW, Streaming

“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


Inline image
The two main positives of “Free Guy” as a movie are Ryan Reynolds and the special effects–not necessarily in that order. The main negative is that not being high tech and never having played, or been interested, in video games I was more or less lost the first 50 minutes of the film.

Non-people (aka non-player character or NPC)  in video games are loved by their creators and so it happens that ‘the guy in the blue shirt’, also known as Guy, who we see getting up every morning, saying hello to his goldfish, dressing the same every day, picks up his coffee order on the way to work and, as a bank teller, is in the bank every day when robbers come in to rob it then………….

Jodie Comer, of “Killing Eve” does a super job as the creator of Molotovgirl and does even better playing her! Now if only Ryan Reynolds had played the co-creator even though also portrays Dude, with his face superimposed onto bodybuilder Aaron W. Reed through visual effects.

Regarding the special effects there is no way this movie can be as effective on a television screen, no matter how large it might be, as it is on a average 30 to 90 feet by a 10 to 30 feet wide movie screen. The effects are wild, crazy, chases, killings, a take-off on Star Wars, things melting away, buildings disappearing and then it gets better!

This has a large cast and all are engaging but from the opening shot to the closing it revolves around Reynolds and I must say he is a charming guy–no pun intended–and I will remember the movie because of him.”Free Guy” is not a classic nor a movie I would want to see again and again but it was fun and I learned about video games!

Posted August 27, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW

Streaming Reviews–August 2021—Part 3   Leave a comment

1) “The Two Popes”–Netflix–filmed in Argentina and Italy–2 hours and 6 minutes–2 master actors–an excellent script–did the 2 Popes meet and speak the words the screenwriter Anthony McCarten says they did? Who cares? It makes for great movie making–yes, I know/knew the ending but I swear I didn’t breath watching the outcome except for tears I shred–POWERFUL, BASED ON THE TRUE STORY, FILM

2) “The Meyerwitz Story”–Netflix–movie–1 hour & 50 minutes–Let’s talk about family dysfunction which always makes for a good movie–well with a cast where Candice Bergan has a cameo, Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller have to fight Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson to be noticed on screen you know this is a good movie–DUSTIN HOFFMAN & ADAM SANDLER ALMOST WALK AWAY WITH THE MOVIE BUT THE COMPETITION IS STRONG

3) “Paddleton”–Netflix–movie–1 hour & 28 minutes–2 lonely men, neighbors, spend every evening together watching a Kung Fu movie and eating pizza–Michael (Mark Duplass) has just been diagnosed with cancer and Andy (Ray Romano) agrees to see him through the end–it is the rare story of 2 men, not gay, being good friends with one recruiting the other to seek a physician assisted suicide for/with him–THIS FILM TOOK ME COMPLETELY BY SURPRISE IN A GOOD WAY

4) “Holding The Man”–Netflix–Australian movie–2 hours & 8 minutes–I first saw, and reviewed, this in August 2020, and watching it now I felt I was seeing it for the first time–here was my review then ” Based on a true story and book written by Timothy Conigrave who died 10 days after finishing the book at the age of 34. It is about the love between him, a drama student, and John Caleo, a football player, who met in school, came of age during the AIDS crisis and were together for the next 15 years. Though some parts may have called for it the movie is free of maudlin sentiment, nor is it indignant or evangelizing, just a beautiful love story that may have a ‘happy ever after ending’ depending on how you see it.” STILL A BEAUTIFUL LOVE STORY

5) “The Movies That Made us”–Netflix–documentary series—season 2–4 episodes–3 hours and 8 minutes–films covered: Back to The Future, Pretty Woman, Jurassic Park and Forrest Gump–don’t know how many times I saw “Pretty Woman” but after watching this I want to see it again–THIS IS DEFINITELY FOR ANY MOVIE FAN

6) “Pray Away”–netflix–documentary–1 hour & 20 minutes–‘christians’ can be harmful and do so much harm in the name of Jesus yet don’t listen to Him–the ‘love’ of ‘leaders’ of ‘ex-gays’ groups kill more people in the name of the Lord–this is the story of one such organization, Exodus, a conversion therapy group and others like them–many tell their story– followers and opponents–and yet 2 of the people who have started other groups refused to be interviewed–many ran these groups without a degree in any mental health field, social work, counseling, psychiatry BUT they had a certification from the Lord to pray the gay away–many of the stories end in tragedy from the harm they have caused and, sadly, many are gay–THIS FILM EXPOSES THE CHARLATANS OF THE CHURCH WHO SEEM TO MAKE A GOOD LIVING OFF THE MISERY OF OTHERS–HARD TO WATCH BUT A MUST SEE

“Swan Song”–Movie Theatre Review   Leave a comment

Inline image
From the interviews with the star Udo Kier and the PR surrounding the film I really didn’t know what to expect but certainly not what I saw! I was surprised reading that UdoKier had been in over 200 movies, some including big hits. Being a big movie fan his name and his pictures didn’t ring a bell with me at all.

From a couple of stories I knew the film was based on a true person who lived most of his life in Sandusky, Ohio, as a gay man from 1943 through the 2000s.

Seeing the trailer I got the sense from the scenes shown it would be a campy, fun film showing what it meant growing up in a small town in Ohio as a gay person.

I walked out of “Swan Song” playing in Fort Lauderdale at The Gateway Theatre realizing that I had cried a lot more than I laughed watching the film.

Udo Kier does give a star turn in both the ‘gay’ scenes and the scenes with his lover of 33 years, the scenes in the nursing home, the funny scenes in the drag bar/show,  his scenes with his old friend  “Eunice”, played by Ira Hawkins, which are funny and touching, as are the brief AIDS scenes, the scenes with, as a hairdresser, he is asked to do the hair of the recent deceased society lady Rita Parker Sloan with who he had a odd relationship with but was offered $25,000 to do the job.

The opening is slow and doesn’t really tell you where the story might go and how the director-screenwriter, Todd Stephens, is trying to reach the audience until we leave the nursing home when the movie picks up, hits on many of the subjects I have mentioned including a perfect scene between Kier and Stephanie McVay, the latter having been a customer of Pat’s at his beauty shop.

The only scenes that I feel didn’t completely work were the ones involving Jennifer Coolidge while the ones with Michael Urie added a much needed look at the gay life of today as compared to ‘yesterday’.

“Swan Song” is not what you may be expecting but it is a film that would have made Pat Pitsenbarger proud of who and what he was and will make you feel what gay life was like in Ohio in the 20th century.

Posted August 6, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW

“Stillwater”–Movie Theatre Review   Leave a comment

Inline image

In 2007 an American girl, Amanda Knox, was sentenced to prison for killing her roommate when they were on a trip to Italy. Five years later the conviction was overturned and Ms. Knox returned to the USA. Screenwriters of “Stillwater” seem to have based the movie on the true story adding their own twists and turns and that is where the movie has gone wrong as it seems each of the 4 writers, Tom McCarthy, Marcus Hinchey, Thomas Bidegain and Noe Debre all had their own stories to tell so the movie is not only bloated and way too long but distracts from whatever ‘mystery’ there could have been. The climax of whatever happened comes across anti-climatic and after 2 hours an 10 minutes very disappointing.

I have seen most of the near 100 movies Matt Damon has been connected with either as an actor or producer or writer and he doesn’t disappoint here as the strong man who beat his alcohol and drug problems, believes in his daughter Allison’s innocence and gets to Marseilles as often as he can, eventually moving there. He has no understanding of the French language or how French law works. It is dropped in the conversation that his wife had committed suicide and never delved into, instead giving him a French woman who is into causes and has an 8 year old daughter who he can get close to as he wasn’t to Allison when she was young. Abigail Breslin is okay as Allison but her part,  as written, doesn’t make you feel any sympathy for her, which certainly would help. Lilou Siauvaud is as ‘cute as a button’ as the 8 year old while Camille Cotton as her mother, to me, was very hard to understand because of her French accent.

I have no idea what purpose Deanna Dunagan serves the film playing Allison’s maternal grandmother though the actress certainly gets across that she is too old and sick to travel. Various other actors such as Anne Le Ny as Allison’s lawyer are hard to understand as far as their accent or the soundtrack goes.

The direction by Tom McCarthy is too scattered though the director of photography Masanobu Takayanagi offers some beautiful shots of Marseilles in spite of the two time consuming, unnecessary scenes of Damon and/or Breslin swimming just add to the length of the movie.

Streaming has spoiled me with its fast forward and subtitles a definite plus but it was good to see that Matt Damon can still draw the people into a theatre.

Posted July 30, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW, MUSIC

“I Carry You With Me”–Review–in movie theatres   1 comment

“I Carry You With Me”–currently at the Gateway Theatre in Fort Lauderdale and other ‘art’ houses throughout the USA–is a slow-moving, methodically,  and, dare I say?–educational film– about Mexican immigrants who come to the USA illegally. It is a subject very rarely shown and/or made by Hollywood movies.

Though the subject is constantly in the news with many clashing opinions what do Americans born of American parents, really understand about the problems facing the Mexican who come across the border to make life better for their families?

 “I Carry” goes into that story revolving around 2 gay males, one from a wealthy background and another from an impoverished background and the father of a young boy. Though the film revolves around them, people of all genders, backgrounds, wants, needs are seen throughout the film.

We follow Ivan and Gerardo as young adults, young men, their life today going through their yearnings, interaction with family members, facing harsh discrimination and undercurrents of terror. Ivan comes to the USA with the promise of returning to his young son and possible lover within a year. I don’t want to say too much about the film as I want you to discover it as I did.

The only problem I had was one I usually find when one person, here Heidi Ewing, does the directing, screenplay and producing and that is the editing,  keeping scenes a beat too long, putting in ‘artistic’ nature shots, etc., making the film seem longer than it is! 

Be sure to stay for the end credits!

Posted July 9, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW

Streaming Reviews week of June 27, 2021   Leave a comment

1)  “2 Hearts”–Netflix–movie–1 hour & 40 minutes–you know where it is going 15 minutes after it starts but you’ll enjoy it and cry at the end–A GOOD OLD FASHIONED TEAR JERKER

2) “Daddy”–Prime Amazon–2015 movie–1 hour & 28 minutes–The screenplay throws a shocker at about the halfway point leading to another look at what makes a ‘family’–CERTAINLY WORTH SEEING

3) “The Last Days”–Prime Amazon–1998 Documentary–1 hour & 27 minutes–5 survivors of the Holocaust–no matter how many times you see/hear these stories and say ‘never again’ in many places this is happening again–THE HORROR IS YOU MUST HEAR/SEE IT AGAIN

4) “Collateral Beauty”–Netflix–movie–1 hour & 37 minutes–a STAR and a standout cast and screenplay–SOMEWHAT MYSTICAL BUT SHORT, INTERESTING FILM

5) “Sist3rs On Track”–Netflix–documentary–1 hour & 36 minutes–story of 3 sisters who use their running ability out of hardship–with help–INSPIRIRING, INTERESTING STORY OF THE SISTERS AND THEIR COACH

6) “Nail Bomber: Manhunt”–Netflix–documentary–1 hour & 12 minutes–true story of London bombings in 1999–the horrific story about attacks on minorities–NOT ENOUGH INFORMATION REGARDING BOMBER AND/OR VICTIMS

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!

%d bloggers like this: