Archive for the ‘MOVIE REVIEW’ Category

“In The Heights”–Movie Theatre Review   Leave a comment

It is very hard to imagine the musical numbers in “In The Heights” being half as exciting or as effecting on a TV screen–no matter what size–as on a movie screen. The choreography by Christopher Scott outdoes anything Busby Berkeley (ask your grandparents or google him!) ever did in his heyday. The singing by all is very strong and the joy and professionalism of each and every cast member make each frame of the film stand out!

The main problems I had with the movie were the length, 2 hours and 23 minutes, and the story in between the musical numbers. On stage there is a 15-20 minute intermission so the length is easier to handle while the screenplay by Quiara Alegria Hudes and  Lin-Manual Miranda, based on the book they wrote for the stage version has been changed in many ways and not for the better.Today Miranda is mainly known for the stage musical “Hamilton” for which he wrote the book, lyrics and music but “In The Heights” was his first show and it introduced his use of lots of varied music from typical Broadway tunes to rap which he extended the use of the latter in the former show.I am a minority in this opinion but I find “In The Heights” more entertaining, more moving and with a much better score than “Hamilton”.

Many years ago in Hollywood movies at the end credits would show a picture along with their movie name and role they played and though there are many veteran performers is this film there are many new ones whose characters I knew by name but not the actor who played the role. Among the vets was a minor role played by Miranda who sells shaved ices with a cart, Marc Anthony as the father of the lead’s store helper, Jimmy Smits as the widowed father one of the female leads and Daphne Rubin-Vega, who, on stage, would stop the show with her “Carnival del Barrio”, just to name a few.

Among the new faces to me is Anthony Ramos, the lead, who plays the role that Miranda originated on Broadway, Cory Hawkins, who impressed me the most, Leslie Grace as his girlfriend, Melissa Barrera as Ramos’s girlfriend, George Diaz IV as the store helper who represents the  DACA group plus Olga Merediz, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanca, Patrick Page, Noah Catala and others showing the striving working-class of Latins who live in a special section of New York, called—you guessed it!–Washington Heights.

The resilience of this group of Latins shines through the many musical numbers whether the joyous upbeat numbers or the quieter numbers mainly sung by the women.

I cannot comprehend the musical numbers and/or the reaction of those watching this film on a TV screen with, maybe, 2-3 other people, can be as meaningful and entertaining as I experienced watching it on a movie screen with a movie audience and, someday, I might give it a look at the former way.

Posted June 11, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES

Like it was Friday 2019–a THEATRE MOVIE REVIEW “Supernova”   Leave a comment


A year ago February–when I reached 21–I got, as one gift, a gift card to the AMC theatre and a week later the movie theatres shut down, as did the restaurants. For 20 years I went to a movie and then after a bite to eat and now,  all of a sudden, it was watching movies on a TV while eating at home.
After 11 months I was ready, and taking all the precautions, we (Allen and I) decided to go for it. I had to go to Broward General hospital for a COVID-19 test for an outpatient test on Wednesday. My appointment was for 2 PM and the moving picture started at 4:30 PM so it was the appointment, then a bite to eat followed by the movie.
We went to the Peter Pan Diner for a late lunch and to add to the celebration I had a piece of carrot cake! The diner was doing a nice business with all the help wearing masks and only every other table being used. On a plus note, our waiter was one who knew me from the Denny’s on 17th Street where I had at one time worked and where he usually waited on me in later years. I will say neither Allen or myself were pleased with what we got served but that’s another review.
I had read a few excellent reviews of “Supernova” and Terry, in Memphis, said he and Chuck really liked it. It is basically a story of long-term lovers facing the tragedy of one living with early-onset dementia and how they are dealing with it.
The performances of Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci as the couple are excellent but, sadly—no pun intended–a 20-25 minute movie is expanded to 93 minutes with way too many hillside shots and road scenes, of their taking a trip in a RV, in spite of the stunning scenery in the English Lake District.
Yes they bicker, banter, show their love for each other but the movie should have started showing 10 minutes of this and then going into the pivotal turn of one of the men hearing a recording as the last 20 minutes are very emotionally moving. The piano solo at the end added time but nothing to what we had just gone through.
“Supernova” is worth seeing for Firth and Tucci’s performances and the last 20 minutes.
By the way, all help at the AMC wore masks, there were hand sanitizer stations all over, distance markings on the floors and the auditoriums are restricted to 40% capacity though I will say only 4 people–2 besides us–were in the auditorium we were and the rest of the theatre looked about the same it was a safe enviroment.

Posted February 6, 2021 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES

Streaming reviews–2 WOWS!   Leave a comment

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1) “The Speed Cuber”–Netflix–documentary–40 minutes–WOW! I never knew there was such a thing as speedcubing world championships nor was I aware that someone could solve a Rubik’s Cube with one hand let alone before you know they did. I certainly wasn’t aware that I would get so involved in what I would call a ‘sport for nerves’ and regret that I ever thought so or called it that! What really holds your interest is the story that ties Feliks Zemdegs, king of the cubers, and Max Parker who is beating all the former’s records and both becoming fast friends with Max, who is on the autistic spectrum, learning socialization from Feliks. You want both to win the present championship which isn’t possible but more than that you don’t want this film to end. It was made in Australia in Sidney and Melbourne.2) “Love on the Spectrum”–Netflix–reality show–5 episodes–3 hours and 33 minutes–also made in Australia and dealing with autism. I don’t watch ‘looking for love’ a la “The Batchelor” and why I started watching this I have no idea. On the one hand, I know very little about autism and I found this from the get-go joyful, warm and a learning experience. Plus seeing them wanting to fall in love and having families while in many cases lacking what would be called social skills is touching and hurts when they are disappointed and on the other hand a lot of fun when they are having fun. This is definitely on the WOW! scale.By the way, in both movies, the parents of all deserve a lot of credit for being no different than other parents.
3) “Radioactive”–Amazon Pride–movie biography–1 hour and 43 minutes. Under normal circumstances this film would have opened in movie theatres and there would be a lot of word of mouth about Rosamund Pike being nominated for an Oscar, deservedly, and possibly the film, just as Greer Garson and “Madame Curie” were in 1943. Oh, that’s right, you would have to be of a ‘certain age’ to know who Greer Garson and I am so all I could think of was her as I watched this film. Yes, Pike is excellent and this film goes into much more than the other one did and covers a longer period and holds your interest. I do recommend it and wonder why I still want to see the 1943 film again?4) “Desperados”–Netflix–movie–1 hour and 45 minutes–A comedy that isn’t funny, a film about women written by a woman who doesn’t seem to think too much of women! Not worth the time!

Posted July 31, 2020 by greatmartin in Amazon Prime, MOVIE REVIEW, Netflix, Streaming

Netflix–5 documentaries–reviews   Leave a comment


1) “Cheer”–6 episodes–5 hours and 57 minutes–interesting from various angles: the work these kids put in every day is phenomenal–don’t think most professional athletes could keep up with them. For many this is their only chance in life–some of the backstories are heartbreaking. Many of the routines are jaw-dropping. Their coach, Monica Aldama, expects the best of them, is hard on them but is there for each and every one of them when she is needed. Their injuries can make you cringe and you wonder, in the end, is it worth the trophy and, then, what, if anything, is there for these kids after the final competition?  Definitely worth seeing!
2) “The Silence of Others”–1 hour and 7 minutes–3 different stories intertwined chronicling Spain’s battles regarding the past, basically Franco’s rule and the present dealing with it. We see police attacking civilians, a wall built between loved ones, children who were taken away from their parents, laws made to prevent criminals from being prosecuted and, though meant not to it makes you compare what is happening today. It centers around an Amnesty Law passed in 1977 to forget the past as knocking down statues today in the USA hopes to attain!  In many instances, it tears at your heart such as an 88-year-old daughter given the bones of her father killed in his twenties and buried in a mass grave.
3) “Father Soldier Son”–1 hour and thirty-nine minutes. A very touching film about a man who fills all 3 roles. This is the story of the father, soldier and son who returns and what happens after. Very touching at times while hard to watch at certain points.
4) “The Last Dance”–10 episodes–8 hours and 11 minutes–Many see Michael Jordon as one of the great basketball players ever if not the greatest athlete ever and he will agree with you. Yes he is sure of himself, he feels he is very competitive and does not believes team should be spelled without an I and he is the I. The film revolves around him and the Bulls, the team he believes needed him and in many ways proved that was true. There is some time given to other players like Dennis Rodman who was finding (losing?) himself,  Scottie Pippen who always delivered but felt he was way underpaid, Magic Johnson, the coaches, owners but there is no forgetting this is about Jordan and his need to be the best at everything. I had two problems with the documentary with the first being a constant going back and forth in time and the second being too many basketball games which become repetitious over time as only one shows Jordon being responsible for a loss so the rest are of him making a basket from everywhere and anywhere.5) “The Business of Drugs”–6 episodes–4 hours and 16 minutes–Informative in a boring presentation.

Posted July 24, 2020 by greatmartin in Documentaries, ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW

When you can’t go to the theatre…   Leave a comment

BroadwayHD is the answer! 
TV Film reviews Week of July 6 2020

1) “Miss Saigon”–2 hours and 21 minutes–film–was supposed to be our next touring company in Miami and then the virus hit–the first time I saw it when it came to Fort Lauderdale (thanks Chuck) and fell in love with it–okay, I am a crier but I can’t recall crying so much watching any other show. This was filmed while being performed on stage in London celebrating its 25th anniversary.  EXCELLENT!
 
2) “Billy Elliot”–2 hours and 50 minutes–film–this was also filmed in a theatre at a live performance. When it comes to dancing in shows I still remember how thrilled I was seeing “West Side Story” at the Winter Garden when it opened on Broadway and to me it was amazing. It wasn’t until “The Newsies” came along did I feel I hadn’t breathed during all the dance numbers. The most singular dance turn I have ever seen on stage was Donna McKechnie as Cassie’s 8-minute solo “The Music and the Mirror” in “A Chorus Line”.  Almost equal to that is Jamie Bell’s solo “Electricity” describing how it feels to dance in the second act of “Billy Elliot”–check it out on youtube.  EXCELLENT!
 
3) “The Last 5 Years”–1 hour and 34 minutes–film–strong leads—good score–tired story–we meet the couple after they have broken up and it goes back in time.
 
4) “Gypsy”–2 hours and 33 minutes–Bette Midler delivers in this made for TV version in 1933–this is the 5th person I have seen in the lead and all excelled and Midler doesn’t disappoint. “Gypsy” is always referred to as one of the best Broadway musicals.
 
5) “Mucho, Mucho, Amor”–documentary–1 hour and 36 minutes–Netflix–a very famous pioneer of television who was a flamboyant Puerto Rico-born astrologer who made Liberace look ‘butch’!! I had never heard of him and there were a lot of interesting aspects to the man but he should have stopped while he was ahead. Worth seeing for many reasons including seeing Lin Miranda-Manual awe when meeting him.
 
6) “Eric Andre: Legalize Everything”–one-man standup (‘comedy’?) show–51 minutes–Netflix–Loud? Yes! “F” word and much cursing? Definitely! Dirty? Check! Screams? Check! Shows bare chest multiple times? Yes! Why? Don’t know. Have audience member’s parents come up on stage and start having sex–why? Who knows! Gets completely nude at the end and, again, I don’t know why. Complete waste of time!

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”–movie review   1 comment

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I may be one of the very few who never saw Mister Rogers’s show and though I heard of him I didn’t know what a nice guy he was and hard he worked to be one.
 
If anyone could play him it had to be Mister Nice Guy Tom Hanks but in spite of the role he is playing, with his name and picture the only ones in the ads, he is more of a supporting player. Yes they show bits and pieces of him interacting with people, doing songs and using hand puppets on his television show but the main character is Matthew Rhys. His role as Lloyd Vogel, a writer for Esquire magazine, brings him in touch with Fred Rogers as he is on an assignment to do a 400 word story of the man as a hero.
 
The main story revolves around Vogel and his father Jerry, played by Chris Cooper, who is an alcoholic and left his wife and children when she was dying. Without giving any spoilers his interview with Rogers turns into Rogers questioning him and learns about Vogel’s father when the latter returns upon his daughter’s, wedding day. I believe it is the first time the sister and brother have seen their father since he walked out.
 
By this time you know exactly where the story is heading and where it will end and you keep on waiting for something to happen! Like Rogers this film is a nice film about a nice guy and Hanks plays him to perfection. Once you would like to see him explode but the closest he comes to doing that is banging on the lower keys of the piano. I have seen his wife Joanne Rogers, played in a brief role by Maryann Plunkett, on interviews these past 2 weeks and I wanted to ask her how was it living with a constantly nice guy!
 
Matthew Rhys does a fine job as Vogel and it was great seeing Susan Kelechi Watson, from “This Is Us”, playing his wife. I don’t know who’s choice it was for him to have that ‘5 o’clock shadow’ but it was a bad choice.
 
I was surprised to see one of my favorite actresses in the role of the Esquire editor Ellen played by Christine Lahti though the role demands nothing from her. Chris Cooper as the father does his usual fine job while Enrico Colantoni role in an abbreviated role as a publicist for the show.
 
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is a nice film but too low key.

Posted December 3, 2019 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES

“Knives Out”–movie report   1 comment

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Either I have been going to the movies far too long or I have become jaded–maybe a combination of both!
 
I’ve seen at least a dozen different films in this genre with one of my favorites being “Murder On The Orient Express” with Ingrid Bergman and Lauren Bacall . It was an Agatha Christie movie made with a group of stars revolving around who committed a murder. In this case the screenplay and direction is by Rian Johnson which brings in some current hot topics like immigrants with references to Lin-Manuel Miranda  and a snippet of a song by Steven Sondheim among other things.
 
The story is basically about patriarch Harlan Thrombey, played by  Christopher Plummer, has become a multimillionaire by writing novels. We meet him at his 85th birthday on the night before he  accidentally killed himself or was accidentally killed by  his Latina immigrant nurse Marta, whose mother is here illegally. She is played by Ana de Armas who, as Marta, is filled with kindness and always throws up when she tells a lie.
 
In the cast are Daniel Craig who appears as  private detective Blanc, hired secretly, and uses a horrible southern accent without reason, Jamie Lee Curtis as Harlan’s daughter Linda, married to Don Johnson and they are the parents of ‘Ransom’ played by Chris Evans. Curtis gives the best performance in the movie,
Michael Shannon as Walt is Harlan’s youngest son, is married to Riki Lindhome, playing Donna, and they have a child, Jacob, played by Jaeden Martell, who is sort of an ‘odd’ bird. Toni Collette is Harlan’s daughter-in-law who was married to his deceased son and Harlan’s granddaughter  Megan, played by Katherine Langford. The latter’s character was completely unnecessary to the movie and whose major scene could have been cut without an effect one way or the other except cutting the film down to a 2 hour running time.
 
Lakeith Stanfield and Noah Segan are detectives involved in the mystery who seem to allow Craig’s detective take charge though it really doesn’t make sense that they do.
 
Three other characters are played by Edi Patterson as Fran, Harlan’s housekeeper and K Callan as Wanetta, Harlan’s mother—remember Harlan is 85!—and Frank Oz as Harlan’s lawyer.
 
The only interesting aspect to me was the Gothic house which has layers of hidden doors, windows and rooms and when you see all the things in the house you will feel sorry for the poor housekeeper!
 
“Knives Out” was a disappointment to me but in the film’s defense most critics seemed to love it!
 

Posted November 29, 2019 by greatmartin in FILM REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEW

“Ford v Ferrari”–movie review   Leave a comment

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I can count on 1 finger how many racing car movies I have seen and though I may recall who was in them I don’t remember any of them and, sadly, because I had heard good things about “Ford v Ferrari” it will probably be in the same category. Based on a true story, the screen writers Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth and Jason Keller, juggle 4-5 different stories to add human drama to the film while eliminating any one of them would have brought the movie in at a reasonable showing time, way less than the 2 hours and 30 minutes it runs.
 
At the same time the director James Mangold has one too many race scenes, one too many shots of a foot hitting the brakes, more shots than necessary to prove Ken Myles is eccentric or business owners and their employees can be  underhanded and ruthless.
 
 Caitriona Balfe, though a bit difficult to understand, impressed me playing the wife of Christian Bale, who as driver Ken Myles, has been getting raves for his role, left me cold and also hard to understand. Matt Damon is, as always, impressive in a strong, somewhat silent way, as former champion driver and now designer of race cars. Tracy Letts in the role of Henry Ford II has a 2 minute moving and at the same time funny scene while being solid in the rest of the film. Josh  Lucas as the boss’s right hand man is an effective villain even if the role is a bit overwritten and obvious.
 
The banter between Damon and Bale tells a lot about both men but one segment, meant to be funny is only funny due to the reaction of Balfe while Bale’s scenes with Noah Jupe, just right as his son, shows the man to be a good father.
 
The behind the scenes of business life certainly isn’t new but the behind the scenes of the racing sport and business aspect of it and car companies is interesting.
 
Though you may know who the winner is, or will be, in “Ford v Ferrari” it will entertain you if you can get through the 30 to 40 minutes unnecessary segments.
 
 
 

Posted November 22, 2019 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEW

“A Good Liar”–movie review   1 comment

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Go into the theatre, buy your popcorn (or not) sit down for 109 minutes and be entertained by two charismatic, professional stars as they do their job. When you leave the theatre don’t start questioning the screenplay by Jeffrey Hatcher, based on the novel by Nicholas Searle, because some of it didn’t make any sense.
 
Bill Condon directs the two stars in sparkling locations and backdrops whether it be in London or Berlin. Time frames are today and back in the 1940s and, thankfully, the younger actors playing the older ones are real and not movie ‘magic’.
 
Talking about that it seems most movies today have flashbacks when in most cases the movie can be told in linear fashion whereas in this movie we do have to go back to explain the present.
 
Is it a love story? A story about scams? Con artists? A comedy? Drama? A mystery thriller? Are the people who they say are? It is all of these and yet when you leave the theatre all you will remember is Helen Mirren’s smile and Ian McKellen’s hangdog face plus their playing off and to each other.
 
“The Good Liar” is just an entertaining movie, except for two quick violent scenes (unless violence entertains you), that was a perfect way to spend this very rainy afternoon.

Posted November 15, 2019 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES

“Parasite”–movie review   1 comment

Parasite

After 10 minutes I was ready to leave “Parasite” but I can count on one hand how many movies I have walked out on so I decided to stay and find out why word of mouth was being so positive about the film.
 
Basically it is the story of how a very poor family of 4, parents, son and daughter scams their way into the home of a very wealthy family of 4 consisting of the parents, daughter and son. Really can’t talk about the movie itself without giving spoilers, though none of them jolted and/or surprised me.
 
The movie is 2 hours and 13 minutes of which 13 minutes could have been cut very easily or spent in explaining some relationships that are sort of glossed over.
 
“Parasite” takes place in Korea and the differences between the classes are made immediately. The film has subtitles that took me a few minutes to get used to but to which I adapted fairly quickly.
 
I left the theatre glad I didn’t walk out but at the same time I really can’t see recommending it while, on the other hand, Allen thought it was a classic whodunit.

Posted November 8, 2019 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, FILM REVIEWS, MOVIE REVIEW

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