Archive for the ‘MOVIE’ Tag

“GRANDMA”–A MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

“Grandma” is a movie for every woman, grandmother, mother, daughter, any man who has been involved with the aforementioned, and definitely any fan of Lily Tomlin. She has been a force of nature from her early days in “Laugh-In” from 1970-1973 to winning a Grammy for her comedy album in 1972  to an Oscar nomination for her film debut in 1974 in “Nashville” and winning a Tony Award in 1985 for the brilliant one woman show her partner of 42 years, Jane Wagner, wrote for her “The Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Universe” up to and including a 2015 Emmy nomination for outstanding lead actress in a TV comedy for “Grace and Frankie”. If there is any justice in the movie business Tomlin should have an Oscar nomination for her role in “Grandma”.

Though her role of Elle is a tour de force for Lily Tomlin she has a strong supporting cast especially Sam Elliot in a scene that is the highlight of the film. Judy Greer, her girlfriend of 4 months, “Just a footnote”, Elle tells her breaking up with her, Julia Garner as Sage , Elle’s granddaughter, Marcia Gay Harden  as Elle’s daughter, and Sage’s boyfriend, Nat Wolff, who is responsible for Sage’s pregnancy which puts the story into motion. Laverne Cox as a tattoo artist friend of Elle’s, Elizabeth Pena as the owner of a small book store not to forget John Cho as the owner of a coffee shop all have what are basically cameos but each impresses as being chosen for their scenes by the director and screenwriter, Paul Weitz, who wanted the best from each actor and got it.

Is Lily Tomlin Elle or is Elle Lily Tomlin? From the public persona of the entertainer we all know, it is hard to decipher if they are separate or combined into one. We see Tomlin’s highly skilled comic talents and in her scene with Sam Elliot plus an earlier scene where she grieves for her lover of 38 years, who died a year and a half before the movie starts, we feel the emotional range she can and does show as an actress or is it Lily Tomlin, the woman we think we know?  

“Grandma” is a short film, about 80 minutes including the end credits, that shows Lily Tomlin as an actress who can turn on a dime going from sarcasm to laugh out loud jokes to putting a tear in our eye with, seemingly, little effort. It touches on pregnancy, abortion, independent women, loneliness, growing/being old and what that entails, fleeting fame, how we can hurt people unknowingly, how we hurt each other mostly in short but effective scenes. One scene alone with Elle taking a shower, brushing her teeth, is more than worth the price of admission. 

Grandma Trailer

Posted September 11, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT

Tagged with ,


Though I hate to limit myself, regarding genres of movies, after last week’s “Dope” and this week’s “Me And Earl And The Dying Girl” (from here on refereed to as “Earl”) each about 3 nerdy/geek kids and each, seemingly, critic’s darlings, I think I will add teenage movies about nerds to my list with westerns, horror, violent, raunchy boy/man, comic strip and most sci-fi pictures I will avoid seeing. (Hey, I am looking forward to “Magic Mike XXL” next week, what can I tell you?)

In the case of “Earl” and “Dope” I think there is definitely a very wide generation gap. The last time I saw my teens was 60 years ago and though I enjoyed “The Fault Is In Our Stars” last year it was more of a drama than teenage angst. There is some humor in “Earl” regarding the movies that Earl (RJ Cyler) and Geg (the ‘Me’– Thomas Mann) make redoing classics, especially the titles they give their films. Olivia Cooke is certainly endearing as ‘the dying girl, Rachel, while Greg grows up over the course of the film and Earl is a wise young man before his time. 

Molly Shannon as Rachel’s single mother and Connie Britton as Greg’s mother, both overbearing parents, along with Nick Offerman as his beatnik father—by the way Earl doesn’t have any parents and lives with his older brother who threatens Greg with telling him his dog will bite off his face–and Jon Bernthal as a teacher and, more or less, a guidance counselor to the boys, are sort of annoying adults you will find in most pictures about teenagers though the latter less than the others.

“Earl” is being sold as a comedy, a sort of John Hughes movie with lessons to be learned. Greg is constantly reminding the audience–there is a lot of voice over– that Rachel doesn’t die and there are screen titles telling the passing of time and where we are at in the story. As a social misfit Thomas Mann carries the film and RJ Cyer is his effective sidekick and shows his many sides. Olivia Cooke is endearing as the dying girl who has leukemia and is very instrumental is helping Greg grow up.

The direction by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is all over the place, somewhat like the movies the boys make, while the screenplay by Jesse Andrews, who wrote the best selling novel, is low key without trying to tell the audience how to feel. The director of photography shows off Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, almost always in a glow of light, even in the night scenes. 

I laughed once and that was the boys film take-off of “Midnight Cowboy”  with the “Everybody’s Talking” theme song and, for a comedy, laughing once is not a good endorsement.

I left the theatre wondering whatever happened to the girl who got stood up on prom night–maybe that’s the sequel?


Posted June 26, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT

Tagged with ,


Watching the 2 hour and 10 minute film “Tomorrowland’ I was amazed, amused, bored and puzzled with the negatives running about even with the negatives which also seems to be the theme of the movie and people‘s choices. 

The screenplay by Brad Bird, who also directed, and Damon Lindelof have quite a few funny lines but a story that is all over the place and actually stops to explain what has happened and what will happen. The director’s vision of the future, with photography by Claudio Miranda and production design by Scott Chambliss, is amazing with multi level swimming pools, a world of transportation that doesn’t need roads and glass buildings and homes in various shapes and sizes. Looking at Tomorrowland from a distance it looks like Oz from the poppy fields only here over wheat fields but at the same time can look like the Disney company logo.

Under the amazing part is Britt Robertson, playing Casey Newton who aside from looking and sounding very much like Jennifer Lawrence, makes the same impression as an actress and personality. Raffey Cassidy, in a very limiting role, does the best she can while Hugh Laurie, as a prize winning inventor, makes things rough for young Frank, played by Thomas Robinson and then the adult Frank played by George Clooney. Robinson does a good job but part of my puzzlement is why Clooney decided to be unshaven during the whole movie–hey this is a Disney film!–unless he thinks this is what all older curmudgeons looks like but still his natural charm comes through. Tim McGraw as Newton’s father doesn’t have much to do but is a presence whenever on the screen. Another puzzlement is why 10 minutes are wasted on a scene with Michael key and Kathryn Hahn, though they do a good job they don’t add anything to the screenplay being handled by other actors getting the same message across.

There are some dazzling special effects in the film and the Eiffel Tower scene is a standout. 

“Tomorrowland” is a feel good ending Disney film but can seem like a long time getting to the end. I have not seen Britt Robertson in her previous movie roles though looking up her credits I was surprised to see that she in in the television series “Under The Dome” which I have seen but don’t recall her part, so I would recommend seeing her in this movie.

Full disclosure, and you will understand if you see this movie, I worked as a server in the Gas Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York in 1964 and 1965.


Posted May 22, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT

Tagged with , ,



Many people heard of and saw Fort Lauderdale and Spring Break for the first time when they saw a film “Where The Boys Are” in 1960 and the title song sung by Connie Frances who at the time was one of the biggest American recording stars. In 2010 she came to Fort Lauderdale to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the movie appearing with 6 ‘hunks’ (who she didn’t know were gay!)

The movie, though mainly a comedy, was a look at the eternal mating games of young men and women with the former thinking they were using never tried before tricks though there was nothing new in their approaches though the latter knowingly fell for them.

Underlying the movie was a more serious story about date rape that seemed ahead of its time then but is still very relevant today.

The cast was made up of a young Hollywood with Connie Francis and Paula Prentiss making their film debuts and George Hamilton, Yvette Mimicux,  Jim Hutton, Frank Gorshin and Dolores Hart. (The latter would become a nun a few years later.)

The film was a big hit, as was the song, and I watch it once in awhile to see the old Fort Lauderdale that I remember. Ironically many scenes were filmed in one of the most famous gay hotel on the beach which is no longer in existence. I was living on Miami Beach back then and coming to Fort Lauderdale was like coming to the country!

The Gateway Theatre mentioned is the one I still go practically every week!

Here is a look at the 50th anniversary–she starts singing at 5:49 or see and hear her 50 years ago by looking at the film.

The film. (OMG! I was 24 back then!)

Posted March 6, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT

Tagged with , ,

“McFARLAND, USA”–FILM REVIEW   Leave a comment

“McFarland, USA” is a film that should be busting records this weekend but will probably be lucky to even make it in the top 5 grossing films. Based on a true story, showing the real people at the end, the reel people do an excellent job holding your interest in what is a formula movie where you know it is heading, including who will ‘save the day’.

Directed by Niki Caro and a story and screenplay by Christopher Cleveland and Bettina Gilios,  will put a smile on your lips and occasional tears to the eyes not by any manipulation but just presenting what happened. About half way through the movie, from the scene where poor boys who have never seen the ocean dive in with pure joy until the fade out you will be moved.

We are taken to the real town of Mcfarland, California, where the population are mainly poor Mexican-Americans and teenagers are lucky just to graduate high school. The most they can see of their life is picking vegetables and fruits, not getting paid by the hour or pound  but by the field, to help their family.

Having recently been fired from his job for being too rough with a student Jim White (Kevin Costner) and his wife  (Maria Bello), teenage daughter (Morgan Saylor) and preteen (Elsie Fisher) finds themselves fish out of water in McFarland where you don’t find hamburgers but tacos, neighbors present you with a live chicken as a welcome present and not only explain what a Quinceanera is but make one for the teenager as she celebrates her 15 birthday.

White, of course, is made fun of not only for his name but his not understanding what people who are different from him go through just to make it to the next day. Talking the principal (Valente Rodriguez) into letting him start a cross country running team, after seeing a couple of the boys run, not knowing anything about coaching runners you know where the picture is going even if you aren’t aware of the true outcome.

Never having been a fan of Costner’s in the sense I had to go see his pictures I will say after seeing him last month in “Black & White” and now in this one I am definitely a fan of his. All the adult performers, including the mother of  3 boys who are runners, and who live next door, played by Diana Maria Riva, are excellent but it is the boys: Ramiro Rodriguez, Carlos Pratts, Hector Duran, Sergio Avelar, Rafael Martinez, Johnny Ortiz and Michael Aguero that are the backbone of the movie.

“McFarland, USA” is a must see movie if you like upbeat, moving, feel good, get your pulse going and leaving with a smile on your face movies.

Posted February 20, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT

Tagged with , ,


Take a little of Cinderella, first seen cleaning toilets, add her prince or even better put in some DC Comics Superman who can’t fly–well he lost his wings–but does have floating boots that light up and help him skate all over the planetary system. Be sure to have a Lois Lane/Superman flying scene. Oh yes give this guy some pointed ears like Spock from Star Trek and make sure he leads battle after battle after battle after battle from Star Wars

Never hurts to throw in some King Lear and/or Games of Thrones. When things get too hectic slow it down–very slow–and add a nonsensical love story. Here and there give the Cinderella/toilet cleaner/alien in Chicago a wise crack which would be funny in any movie but this one. Oh yes let’s not forget to throw in some Speilberg’s E.T.s and Lucas mutants.

Directors/screenwriters Lana and Andy Wachowski  seem to have their second bomb in a row, after “Cloud Atlas”, and “Jupiter Ascending” is a $175 million seemingly unrecoverable mistake.

At one time special effects made a movie-goer’s jaw drop but now they have become such a part of various genres they really don’t have the effect they had and in a movie such as this where they as wall to wall and constantly repeated is almost becomes laughable if not boring.

Channing Tatum showed he is a first grade actor in “”Foxcatcher” while Mila Kunis earned her drama stripes in “The Black Swan”. Sean Bean has received several acting honors in his career while Gugu Mbatha-Raw showed her versatility last year in “Belle” and “Beyond The Lights”. Here’s hoping no Oscar voters will see Eddie Redmayne in this film or they may punish him when it comes to voting!

There are many supporting actors in the film who will probably forget to put this movie on their resumes which is understandable. The music is annoying and/or unforgettable while some of the costumes even Cher or Lady GaGa wouldn’t wear.

One suggestion, if you feel you have to see it, see it in a movie theatre as the only thing it has going for it is the first time they show a special effect.

Ending on a positive note I want a pair of  Tatum’s floating boots, that light up, so I can go air skating up to visit you!

Posted February 6, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT

Tagged with , , ,


“The Imitation Game” is that rarity, an almost perfect film. The technical and scientific aspect will be satisfying to nerds and not so detailed to go over the heads of the rest of the audience. The acting is natural, believable and gets you involved with the lives of all the individual. Though it covers many serious subjects there are quite a few laugh out loud lines and scenes spring from the natural aspects of the characters.

For those who never heard of Alan Turing he was an English mathematical genius who broke the German Enigma code and is said to be responsible for WW2 ending 2-4 years earlier than it would have. He also was arrested for being a homosexual in 1951 and was given the choice of prison or chemical castration. He was to eventually commit suicide though his mother contends that it was an accident.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing shows the man’s brilliance while at the same time shows that he wasn’t comfortable around people and offering all around him humor by his lack of social understanding. Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke the only female member of the group who worked on the Enigma code and accepts Turing proposal of marriage. Each member of the group are comfortable in their roles with Matthew Goode, described as a ‘cad’, a standout. Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Allen Leech, Rory Kinnear, Mattew Beard and Alex Lawther as the young Turing, all add to the strength of the film.

The screenplay by Graham Moore is sharp, the direction by Morten Tyldum moves things smoothly along and handles the alternating between the three different time periods without any confusion.

Right now Cumberbatch is the front runner for the Best Actor Oscar, deservingly so, and the movie is on many 10 best lists. Though I feel what makes it from being a perfect movie is how he was brought down in his life, his homosexuality, is sort of slighted from how/why he was caught and the society that made it a crime at that time.

“The Imitation Game, is a must see movie for anyone who likes an intelligent, emotionally moving finely acted film.

Posted December 26, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,


“Foxcatcher” will probably go down in my book of 2014 as the most disappointing movie of the year. There has been so much positive talk of the film, particularly of Steve Carell’s playing of John du Pont that seems will change the direction of his career, that I found that to be the jaw dropping aspect of the whole movie. He is not playing funny but he is playing monotone, no smile, seriousness. Maybe du Pont had that kind of personality but it doesn’t help the movie.

The editing is some of the worse I have ever seen. I don’t know if it was the director’s, Bennett Miller, choice but there are 5 too many blurry scenes and more than that of unnecessary long shots that made the picture drag at over 2 hours.

The writers, E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, leave so much out about du Pont that his final act doesn’t make any sense. Based on a true story, though they show du Pont inhaling cocaine and having drinks, they never show that he was mentally ill. Yes they do show an unfeeling mother but they never reference the sisters and brother he had inferring that he was an only child.

Channing Tatum, as Mark Schultz, is an Olympic gold winner, more or less the jock presented as a ‘dumb ox’, more than once called an ‘ape’. He really does an excellent job and has a couple of self brutalizing scenes. Mark Ruffalo, as his older brother Dave is also a gold middle winner and the only one in the film who has a happy home life with a wife and 2 children who come first in his life.  By the way their medals are in wrestling and you can get bored watching two somewhat hunky guys grappling with each other in two scenes too many, none of the scenes equaling the wrestling scene in “Women In Love” movie!

In an emotional story like this with the lead being emotionless, and only seeing someone being self destructive getting a response from the audience, made this a very disappointing film to me.

Posted December 19, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,


On May 16, 2014, I saw and wrote a review of a movie called “Belle” and ended it with “THIS IS A MUST SEE MOVIE AND YOU MUST SEE GUGU MBATHA-RAW!”

And it is still on my list of 5 of the best movies of the about 50 I have seen this year!

Today, 6 months later, I saw “Beyond The Lights” and the bottom line is THIS IS A MUST SEE MOVIE AND YOU MUST SEE GUGU MBATHA-RAW! (Also Nate Parker and Minnie Driver but more about that later.)

Unless you have never seen a show business movie there isn’t a spoiler in this movie as screenwriter Gina Prince-Bythewood has written every cliché into it from the overbearing stage mother. the super star rapper who mistreats the rising star, the record producer who manipulates her and to the boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl plot. The differences are that the screenwriter is also the director who really believes in the material and performances that lift it above the clichés. Prince-Bythewood makes this a good old romance movie that we haven’t seen in awhile.

Let’s start with Gugu Mbatha-Raw who takes a role completely opposite that of the one who played Belle in the movie of that name. She is in sexy, almost not there, outfits showing off a great figure, does choreography that show of her sexuality, sings rap and a Nina Simone song, “Blackbird”, that shows off a vocal ability she could make a living at and, yes, her acting. She takes the role of a wounded bird who learns to fly free and makes it fresh and new.

Her costar Nate Parker, as police officer, Kaz, with a police captain father, played by Danny Glover, who is grooming him to enter politics with unlimited potential, shares a chemistry with Mbatha-Raw that lights up the screen. They make a good old fashioned screen couple that makes you root for them all the way, not to mention they are both very sexy looking people.

Minnie Driver as the stage mother, who can be overbearing, does such a fine job she almost steals the picture and keeps you on her side even though you know and can see the damage she has done her daughter.

Colson ‘MGK’ Baker as the super star rapper, with more tattoos than I have ever seen on an actor, along with the rest of the cast such as India Jean-Jacques, Benito Martinez, Aml Ameen and Aisha Hinds, along with others support, the stars with first class performances.

The soundtrack featuring new songs, will also introduce Nina Simone to a new generation though I wished they had her singing a couple of songs.

Though this won’t be among my top 5 pictures to see I will end it with YOU MUST SEE GUGU MBATHA-RAW and see it on the big screen!

Posted November 14, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,


“Whiplash” is a winner in every aspect. You know when you want to go up to the screen and punch the bully or wrap the bloody fingers of the one being bullied that some strong acting is going on in the film.

The film starts with a drum solo and ends with one while in between you will be mesmerized by J. K. Simmons as musical conductor/teacher Terence Fletcher and a student of his, played by Miles Teller, Andrew Neyman. (By the way if a conductor has the arms that Fletcher has from conducting I am signing up immediately.)

Fletcher wants the best from his students in the hope of finding another Charlie Parker and Andrew wants to be a great, if not better, drummer than Buddy Rich and both will do whatever it takes. Fletcher abuses his students verbally and physically calling them names, throwing things at them, screaming in their faces. He is every Marine Drill Instructor who will grind his charges into the ground to get what he wants.

There are at least a minimum of 2 scenes that you will forget to breath and at least 1 scene where you will gasp out loud. There is no doubt both men will deserve nominations for all and any awards and right now they deserve to win! I don’t know if Teller did his own drumming but if he did he deserves recognition for superb drumming.

The supporting players from Paul Reiser as Andrew’s father to Melissa Benoist who Andrew pursues, and then drops because she interferes with his drumming, along with the other students who play or compete with him are all topnotch .

The music from the title song by the late great Hank Levy plus standards like “Caravan” and new music by Justin Hurwitz are all presented as jazz should be. It took me back to the jazz clubs on 52nd street, and in the Village, along with the sets at Birdland that I use to go to in New York City.

The direction by Damien Chazelle is spot on and in his writing the screenplay he leaves out a few logical things but enhances the movie with a short 1 hour and 46 minutes.

“Whiplash” is a winner all the way.

Posted November 4, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

%d bloggers like this: