Archive for the ‘MOVIE REVIEWS’ Tag


“The Skeleton Twins” opens with one person attempting suicide, another on the verge of tempting suicide and a third already having accomplished suicide. This doesn’t quite mesh with expectations that with Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig and Ty Burrell starring and the coming attractions showing 2 possibly funny scenes, about a half a dozen funny lines and one lip synch scene, that it is a comedy. By the way the funny lines and funny scenes are really about all the comedy you are going to get.

Milo (Hader) and Maggie (Wiig) are twins who have not seen each other or communicated for a decade and after his suicide attempt she flies out to California where he supposedly is an actor but is really a waiter–one of the many clichés in the film–and all of a sudden they are driving (?) back to her home in New York where she lives with her husband Lance (Luke Wilson). They are, supposedly, being very active in trying to have a child though Maggie is secretly taking birth control pills and has not been exactly faithful to her husband which leads to Milo saying “I can’t wait to be the creepy gay uncle.”

Talking about creepy it turns out that Rich (Burrell) who was Milo’s English teacher, and now owns a bookstore, had seduced Milo when he was 15. There was going to be a huge scandal but something Maggie did–I have no idea–is what stopped that and when the twins fall out. Rich is now living with his girlfriend and his son–the latter isn’t explained–and Milo wants to reconnect with him. Maggie starts an affair with her scuba diving instructor, (Boyd Holbrook) and she meets an old schoolmate, Carlie, (Kathleen Rose) who has an obnoxious, bratty son.

Talk about obnoxious, like most films today, especially with “Saturday Night Live” actors, there is a farting scene. Are you laughing yet? Also, like most films today, there has to be a sex scene. Along with the obnoxious scene there is a complete waste of time scene with Judy (Joanna Gleason) as the mother of the twins as if to explain why the twins aren’t ‘happy’.

The screenplay by Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman, like the direction by Craig Johnson, is all over the place. In addition they have too many gay clichés coming out of Milo’s mouth like “Look at me, another gay cliché,” after he attempts suicide.

Afterwards after overhearing my comment about the film to the manager, said that Wiig and Hader will probably draw their SNL fans. I don’t remember the last time I saw SNL but as actors who can handle drama and comedy they both do an excellent job, as does Wilson, though Burrell’s role is too hazy and unexplained for him to do anything with it except for his last scene, another gay cliché!

Oh my comment to the manager? It wasn’t a bad film but a very boring one!

Posted September 26, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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At a point, when watching “The Fault In Our Stars”, you forget you are watching actors and just know that Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgott are Hazel Grace and Augustus (Gus) Waters, teenagers who are falling in love, Hazel Grace reluctantly and Augustus all gung ho. That both have cancer, hers in the metastatic stage and his in remission, is handled lightly though it is a major theme as to what happens. Watching Gus and Hazel Grace fall in love just brings smiles to your face as she fights it and knows it is inevitable.

As her parents Laura Dern and Sam Trammell are supportive, caring and, knowing they have a strong daughter, don’t baby her. Gus’s best friend Isaac, played by Nat Wolff, who also has cancer, brings black humor that relieves a few heavy moments.

About midway in the movie the production moves to Amsterdam and it will certainly bring many more tourists as they want to follow where Gus and Hazel Grace have a romantic dinner or cruise along the canals the lovers travel plus visit the Anne Frank house and memorial, not to mention the hotel—oh, oh that would be a spoiler!!!

The only part of the film where the director, Josh Boone, and screenplay writers, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber based on the book by John Green, go astray is when it comes to the story line, acted by William DaFoe as an author and Lotte Verbeek as his assistant, which also adds a false note to the ending.

I had expected a tear jerker—come on–teens with cancer–from beginning to end but Woodley and Elgort don’t let you dwell on that with Elgort’s exuberance for life and Woodley as natural an actress that puts her up there with Jennifer Lawrence.

There was a twist near the end that surprised me but we get to meet another couple of real parents in David Whalen and Milica Govich.

“The Fault In Our Stars” is a beautiful love story that will bring tears to your eyes but not the depression you would expect in a story about teens with cancer.

Posted June 13, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“NEBRASKA”–MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

It is fitting that “Nebraska” is filmed in black and white because it is something you would have seen on the small TV screen in the 50s. There is the bleak picture of America’s heartland with nary a sign of a teenager and all the citizens are caricatures from Hollywood’s pen.

The few modern touches consist of an old man, possibly suffering dementia, thinking he has won the million dollar magazine sweepstakes . In their last pictures do you remember Henry Fonda, Cary Grant or Gary Cooper playing ‘old’ men with mental problems? Another 21st century touch is having an old woman very comfortable with the ‘f’ word and/or talking about all the men who have wanted her or lifting her skirt to show a dead man what he missed . Can you picture Ethel Barrymore or Claudette Colbert doing either?

“Nebraska” is basically road trip story between a father and son in order for the father to collect the millions dollars he knows he won and for his younger, of two sons, to get to know him better before it is too late. Bruce Dern plays the father Woody Grant, Will Forte his younger son David, Bob Odenkirk the older son Ross Grant and June Squibb is Kate, their mother and Woody’s wife. When driving from their home in Billings, Montana, where Woody and Kate moved to as a young married couple, they stop in Hawthorne, a fictional farming town, where they were born and raised. While here we get to meet other members of the family at a last minute reunion. All the men, including Woody’s brother, Ray, (Rance Howard), are the taciturn men of the midwest and their wives having  the weathered look of living a hard working life. It is Ray’s two overweight sons, played by Tim Driscoll and Devin Ratray who are the more outgoing particularly when they aretalking about cars and then Woody’s million dollars.

Woody Grant is an old alcoholic, Korean war veteran who once owned a business with his friend Ed Pegram (Stacy Keach) and hearing he has won the money turns on him as do most of the other folks in Hawthorne, including his family, all wanting a piece of the pie.

Bruce Dern shines in his passive role markedly different than the many loony roles he has played while Will Forte, having the modern look of the unshaven actor, holds his own in the scenes with Dern but it is June Squibb who steals every scene she is in. After 55 plus years on the stage, TV and in the movies this is her breakout role. She handles the lines, and laughs, of screenplay writer Bob Nelson as if she wrote them. Angela McEwan, as the owner of the town’s paper and who once was in love with Woody, also stands out.

The direction by Alexander Payne as the music by Mark Orton, along with the cinematography, has the black and white feel of  Montana and Nebraska.

“Nebraska” was made for the large theatre screen but having the feel of a 1950s TV movie it would probably be better watching it on television.

Posted December 13, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“ALL IS LOST”–MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

When reviewing a movie, play, musical, cabaret act or anything that comes under the guise of ‘art’ I do my best to be kind but I am at a loss regarding the new Robert Redford film “All Is Lost”. I have walked out on only one movie in the 70+ years I have been movie going and it took all I had not to walk out on this one.

To be positive Redford does a good job with what he is given to work with but he is the only one on the screen for the hour and forty minutes of the film and if the audience applauds when a school of fish appear you know something isn’t working. My feeling is nothing in the movie works with the director J.C. Chandor, also the writer, along with the directors of photography Frank G. DeMarco and Peter Zuccarini, doing some shots that are incomprehensible. I am not a ‘sailor’ but even I know some things in the screenplay, on the screen, are not believable.

When Robert Redford costars with strong actors like  Paul Newman, Barbra Streisand or Dustin Hoffman he shines and he shines here but the ocean wins out. And don’t hate me Redford fans but he hasn’t aged as well as Newman did. He gives his all and is getting a lot of the spotlight for it but as honest an acting job he does it is not enough to ‘sell’ the film

Posted November 12, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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The full title of Tyler Perry’s new film is “Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” which is a big handle for what would make a good TV movie with about 15 minutes cut from this fairly slow moving film. I am a big fan of Tyler Perry (except for his Madea character) and I keep hoping his films will ‘crossover’ to an additional crowd to his usual fan base. Though it was a little larger audience today Allen and I were the only white faces in the audience.


The screenplay, based on his stage play, and directed by Perry, this film is all cliches. An amatuer director, when showing New Orleans, would feature someone singing “When The Saints Come Marching In” and a couple eating beignets at the Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter or having them walk down Bourbon Street sipping Hurricanes. Perry, far from an amatuer, does just that as in the Washington D.C. scenes there are ALL the monuments and buildings an audience will be familiar with.


Regarding the actors, and including a couple in that list seems offense to include as actors, I was familiar with Renee Taylor, who gets the wise crack lines, Vanessa Williams, whose reason for her accent distracts from her performance and doesn’t pay off when the reason is given and  Brandy Norwood who gives a good performance. Ella Joyce is a familiar face and most of her background is in theatre.


Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross and Robbie Jones, all mainly from TV sitcoms and series, were new to me. One of the fun things in seeing Tyler Perry films are the point at which the male leads take off their shirts and the reactions from the audience. In Gross and Jones he picked the right guys for those scenes and though given cliche rolls they handle them well. The film revolves around Smollett-Bell who though not giving an embarrassing performance really needs more experience to tackle rolls like this.


I may be the only person who is seeing Kim Kardashian for the first time except in print and, no disrespect intended, like many others I am shaking my head as to how she has come to the point in ‘fame’ that she has reached.


This is not as good a film as his “Why Did I Get Married?” or “Why Did I Get Married Too?”. The biggest disappointment is you would have had to never seen a movie in this genre if you didn’t know where it is heading as soon as you meet the three leads. It wouldn’t be a Perry movie without some sermonizing and he brings the church, the bible, AIDS and HIV+ into the script adding to the already lengthy, at 111 minutes, of the slow moving story.


By the way if you want to see why movies are so expensive to make just sit, and read, through the end credits!

Posted March 29, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“SPARKLE”–A MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

The remake of “Sparkle” is not a film to see if; 1) you want to remember Whitney Houston at her best 2) you have seen either the Broadway production of “Dreamgirls” or 3) you have seen the movie version of “Dreamgirls”.


Don’t get me wrong as Whitney Houston isn’t bad, or embarrassing, but she sings only one song which is near the end of the film. In the rest of the film her hair is mostly in curlers, not to mention she is a strict no nonsense church going G-d fearing formidable mother who walks around with a sour face though she is suppose to have found the Lord after tasting some fame. The last few minutes of “Sparkle” she is dressed to the nines and all smiles but there is no sparkle to Ms. Houston. You would be better off seeing “The Bodyguard” , “Waiting To Exhale”, “The Preacher’s Wife and “Cinderella” or going to Youtube and watching her sing her many hits. She sings “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” in a church setting and her voice, appropriately, shows the strain of her last decade. Also people will read too much into many of the things she says in the movie.


For the first hour of the film I thought I was watching a third rate version of “Dreamgirls” with my comparing the characters in “Sparkle” to their counterparts in the movie version of the former. Yes, there is Mike Epps playing the Eddie Murphy role and Carmen Ejogo could have stepped in for Beyonce. We have the three girls doing a Diana Ross and the Supremes act not to mention the guy who believes in them and, yes, it takes place in Detroit, with references to Motown, along with Martin Luther King and let’s not forget the riots which aren’t shown in this film. Of course, because it is in that era we have to have the over sequined dresses, the stilted choreography and ‘that Motown sound’. In the last 45 minutes the screenplay veers off but we still having the big star comedian melting down on stage and the unknown becoming a star in a far fetched almost last minute concert.


Playing the 3 sisters are Jordin Sparks (Sparkle) who really doesn’t have a chance to prove anything regarding being an actress, Carmen Ejogo (Sister) who comes through with a mostly solid performance and Tika Sumpter (Delores) stealing every scene she is in and introduces the Afro to a suppose in the know crowd. Mike Epps as Satin, Derek Luke as the group’s manager and a love interest for one of the sisters and Omari Hardwick, as Sister’s first boyfriend, are there for the females and give strong support.


The directing, by Salin Akil and the screenplay by Mara Brock Akil, are as haphazard as the new songs, written by various composers including Jordin Sparks, and are easily forgettable. The best song, and singer, is Nina Simone’s recording of “Feeling Good” from 1965!


Posted August 17, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Where is Robin when you need him? Or for that matter Spiderman?  Wait! Where is Batman?? In this 2 hour and 25 minute movie we see way too much of Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) not to forget Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and Bane, the villain (Tom Hardy), and  a young policeman (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) plus the Commissioner (Gary Oldman), Batman/Bruce Wayne’s inventor Lucius (Morgan Freeman), a possible love interest in Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) and various other characters but I thought this was suppose to be a film about Batman, isn’t it?

“The Dark Knight Rises” is on its way to breaking records (if the shooting today in Colorado doesn’t keep people away from movie theatres) but it is not half as interesting as Spiderman was, has a long, confusing plot that goes in all directions and a not very interesting villain. Without giving away any plot points two of them border on the ridiculous.

Michael Caine, playing Wayne’s butler/valet, disappears after being prominent at the beginning with his hovering/worrying about Bruce being taken over by Morgan Freeman with the latter not really offering anything different in the part.

The screenplay by Christopher Nolan, who also directed, and Jonathan Nolan, goes into many and confusing directions. It can also bring up other layers if you want to look at it politically with Bane (Bain?), the 1%, the Occupy Wall street group and the destruction of Gotham city, which certainly is New York here, bringing up scenes of 9/11, but don’t waste your time on those angles because your mind will be all over the place until Batman, special effects,  stopping the world coming to an end comes into play and off we go into comic book hero action.

Having seen “The Amazing Spiderman” last week and “The Dark Knight Rises” today I would recommend the former a lot more than the latter as it has the better story, is shorter and though it also has an uninteresting villain at least you can understand what he is saying.

Posted July 20, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Is Maggie (Brit Marling) a 23 year old woman from the year 2054 or is she a scam artist on the run from the FBI?  Is 8 year old Abigail (Avery Pohl) her mother? And why, and with what, does her father inject her foot with every night?  Does each member, of what might be a cult, really have to learn that handshake that is so complicated were the actors chosen only by those who could accomplish it?


Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius) are a young couple in California who are would be filmmakers. They are planning to join a cult and make a film exposing it to the point that Peter swallows a radio transmitter to make recordings of what is said. They, and supposedly 7-8 others are put through a ruse each time they come to the meeting of being blindfolded, driven for 20 minutes, get naked and shower and then putting on robes before they get into that handshake and taken to a room where they meet Maggie. She wears a robe with a shawl and hoodie, is attached to an oxygen machine, eats food grown by her followers and has their blood sent into her body via various tubes for protein. At other times there is no oxygen tank in sight.


At the beginning we go through psychology 101 where she has them vomit up, literally, their problems followed by, maybe, Peter being drawn in by her and foolishly agreeing to doing something that can cause him all sorts of problems. Peter seems to be more taken in by Maggie than Lorna is which causes them problems as a couple.


Out of nowhere the camera moves to a woman (Davenia McFadden) on an airplane coming into Los Angeles, checking into a hotel, carrying all sorts of paraphernalia and then we go back to the cult meeting. In another 10-15 minute sequence there is a woman showing Lorna how to shoot a gun which, as far as I can tell, has nothing to do with the movie just as Peter stopping his car to urinate and, as far as I can tell, uses an asthma inhaler means anything except to extend the movie to 84 minutes.


The director, Zal Batmanglij, who wrote the screenplay with Brit Marling,  doesn’t really do anything to hide the cheap production values


If you are a movie goer who likes  the ending to tie up all the loose threads this one will only leave you confused with a lot of questions.


PS If you see the movie please come back and tell me what the title has to do with the movie–thank you.

Posted May 29, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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It is time for Hollywood to look at British romantic comedies because they have forgotten how to make them without being rude and crude. “Salmon Fishing In The Yemen” is both romantic and funny. The romance is a given from the start but it is the journey to the ‘happily ever after’ that holds your interest.

What is left to say about British humor? It is subtle, sarcastic, silly, serious and every such thing. From the whole cast the funniest is Kristin Scott Thomas which may come as a surprise to many people. She is the press secretary for the British prime minister and you don’t want to fool with her if you could even keep up with her.

The story is simple, if not quite logical, starting with a Sheik, played by Amr Waked, who wants to bring salmon fishing to the desert and we watch what it takes to accomplish that if possible. A scientist, Alfred, played by Ewan McGregor, doesn’t believe it is possible, and Harriet, played by Emily Blunt, the Sheik’s assistant, has to convince him that it can be done.

Harriet has a soldier boyfriend, Tom Mison, who has to go off to war and Alfred has a comfortable marriage to Mary, Rachel Stirling, who is a high powered executive. What would a romantic comedy be without complications?

The comedy comes from the salmon fishing aspect and all the various people involved and though there are very few laugh out loud laughs you will be smiling a heck of a lot.

The acting is top notch and even though Kristin Scott Thomas is a dynamo the rest aren’t any slouches! Ewan McGregor plays a little different role than he usually tackles and comes through with flying colors. Miss Blunt is beautiful, strong, smart and takes care of business though why she doesn’t choose the Sheik who is handsome, strong, smart and rich—oh wait! He has several wives. Amr Waked, the Sheik, has played a few minor roles in American movies and is an Egyptian star who is ready for his break out role. Tim Mison and Rachel Stirling have their moments and do them strongly.

Ready for a romantic, funny movie? Go see “Salmon Fishing In The Yemen”.

Posted April 7, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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A woman comes between two men who admittedly love each other. No it is not a gay film as the two guys are CIA partners who would take a bullet for each other but not for any woman they know, that is until they meet Lauren, played by Reese Witherspoon, and then both are willing to kill each other for her, using a lot of CIA tricks against each other.

Sadly for a romantic comedy there is very little, if any romance, and only one ‘bit’ that was funny. There is no chemistry between the agents played by Tom Hardy and Chris Pine nor between either of them and Witherspoon. None of the three will put this on their resume nor should they.

Angela Bassett is completely wasted in her role as the CIA boss while Chelsea Handler, as Lauren’s friend, provides one quick laugh using a four letter expletive and Rosemary Harris as Pine’s Nana brings a warmth that is wasted in this film.

The failure of “This Means War” is right on the shoulders of the director McG and the screenplay writing team of Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg based on whatever story there is by Dowling and Marcus Gautesen but mainly McG. There are too many meaningless fade to black sets, not to forget to mention action movie sequences, negating the romantic comedy this movie is suppose to be.

This is probably the first time you will read this by me–skip this one folks!

Posted February 18, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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