Archive for the ‘Blogfinger Movie Review’ Category

Boardwalk Empire: A 1920's Atlantic City nightclub. Boardwalk Empire: A 1920’s Atlantic City nightclub. HBO photo


Boardwalk Empire. Photo is of a young Al Capone (center) and his two brothers who are busy creating the family business out of Chicago. HBO photo Boardwalk Empire. A young Al Capone (center) and his two brothers are busy creating the family business, out of Chicago. It’s good I spell his name correctly, because in this episode, Capone makes a personal visit to a newsman who got the spelling wrong. HBO photo

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Ocean Grove and its buildings have appeared in a number of movies including Woody Allen’s “Stardust Memories” (1980) and “According to Greta” with Hillary Duff (filmed in 2007). Except for Greta, Ocean Grove has appeared because of it’s unique seaside appearance rather than because it is Ocean Grove. In Stardust Memories, the town was presented as a generic seaside resort, and the Great Auditorium became the Stardust Hotel. In Greta, the town actually was portrayed as OG.

Which brings me to the opening episode of Boardwalk Empire’s 4th hit season on HBO. This multi-award winning series is film-making at its best. Set in 1920’s Atlantic City, during Prohibition, it is about Nucky Thompson, a gangster who struggles to maintain his hold on the booze trafficking into New Jersey. As many of you know, we at BF are big fans of the production including its music, and we often post songs by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, the Grammy winning group that provides much of the music.

Last Sunday it began again with its usual precise and georgeous portrayal of an era and a place. The costumes and the settings are magnificent. The plots are fascinating.

Now it is 1924, and Nucky has carved out his territory which is from Cape May up to Asbury Park and west to Trenton. He is having trouble with rival gangsters from New York and Chicago, and his marriage has failed. Now he is living in a fancy suite in an Atlantic City hotel.

Late in the episode he steps onto the porch to get some sea air, and this is what we see:

TV photo. HBO's Boardwalk Empire, season 4, episode 1. Sept. 8, 2013. PG photo TV photo. HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, season 4, episode 1. Sept. 8, 2013. This scene is set in Atlantic City. On the porch is Nucky Thompson (foreground) and his personal assistant. Paul Goldfinger still  photo from the TV series.

The setting is Atlantic City, but that sure looks like our Albatross Hotel.  So I went over to Ocean Pathway to compare, and, as you see, the look is very close—too close to deny. Inside, owner Bill Reilly decided to let the cat out of the bag.

A crew from HBO showed up a couple of months ago. They thought that our Albatross looked like a 1924 seaside hotel. So they took photos and measurements inside and out, and then, somehow, with some modifications, re-created our Albatross in Atlantic City.

The Albatross in Ocean Grove, Sept. 13, 2013. Paul Goldfinger photo. © The Albatross in Ocean Grove, Sept. 13, 2013. Paul Goldfinger photo.

So once again, OG is shown in a successful film production, but this portrayal is unique  because the hotel exterior scene in this episode was not actually filmed in the Grove.

Considering the sex scenes, the booze, the violence and the chorus girls (and the current absence of a boardwalk in the Grove) it is amazing that a part of OG has actually found its way into this production, especially one ironically called “Boardwalk Empire.” But that did happen, and maybe more scenes of the Albatross will show up later.

VINCE GIORDANO AND THE NIGHTHAWKS, From the original soundtrack of Boardwalk Empire: “Margie” Their soundtrack recording won a Grammy. Vince appears regularly in New York City.


STEPHEN DeROSA as Eddie Cantor with a tune from Boardwalk Empire:


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Michelle Williams in a scene from “My Week With Marilyn.”  Re-posted from 2012 on Blogfinger.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger


Marilyn Monroe, the voluptuous pin-up girl of the 1950’s and the star of every boy’s dreams, is the subject of the movie “My Week With Marilyn.” The film depicts a slice of her life when, at the peak of her fame, she goes to England to make a movie with Sir Laurence Olivier. She is depicted wonderfully by the gorgeous Michelle Williams, who re-creates all the Marilyn moves complete with shimmies, winks, bouncing curves and breathy voice.

She is depicted as she was: part vulnerable woman and part petulant child.  Huge success and tragedy accompany her. In the film she is on her honeymoon with Arthur Miller, but he leaves for a week, and she gets to spend time with the 23 year old “third director” who becomes her pal. The story is taken from a book published in 2000.

Michelle Williams with her usual hairstyle

Michelle Williams, age 31, received an Academy Award nomination for her acting. If you are a Marilyn fan, you will love this movie. It has just been released on “pay per view.”

There’s a fine soundtrack which includes the pianist Lang Lang. Also, Nat King Cole, from the same era as Marilyn, performs one song, but it is perfect as a musical background for Marilyn Monroe as we like to remember her.



This is the  link to the Blogfinger article from last year with the photograph of the couple dancing.

BF post about Marilyn Monroe


And here is our post showing Eve Arnold, the Magnum photographer with Marilyn:


Photography on the set of “The Misfits.” 1961

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By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger   Re-post 2019.

This is a wonderful movie.  We wrote this review after the film opened in December, but now it is up for an Academy Award as best picture, and the Oscars are this Sunday on Febl 24, 2019.  So we are re-posting this article for those who missed it.  It also has a bit of a political back story, because there are those in our society who don’t like a plot line where a white man befriends an African-American.

Green Book is about a sophisticated black concert pianist who hires a blue collar Italian Bronx bouncer to drive him on a concert tour through the deep South.   They are an odd couple, but as you might expect, they share happy, funny, and worrisome moments in the film and eventually bond in friendship.

Viggo Mortensen plays Tony, the warm hearted overweight tough guy, while Mahershala Ali plays Dr. Don Shirley, the elegant and polished musician.  The film is about their two month road trip together, and, as you can predict, they run into racism.  Reviewers acknowledge that audiences love this film but they are critical  (that’s their job–they are critics) of the predictable events along the way.

In one scene in Alabama, Dr. Shirley  is to play a Christmas party in a fancy country club, but they won’t let him in to have dinner with the whites in his party.  Shirley refuses the gig, and he and Tony wind up in a smoky black bar where there is close dancing, laughter, live music, and fun. Sure enough, Don gets to play piano with the house band, and he does just fine with the boogie-woogie music, even though he is one black man who has never eaten fried chicken.

Eileen and I loved this movie.  The cinematography is beautiful as they travel through snow storms, driving rain and then visit scenic areas including a field where blacks are working picking cotton.  The local southern color and people are as foreign to Tony as they are to Don.

The music is of great interest since it is difficult to pigeonhole .  The formally trained pianist is primarily a jazz player, but he builds his compositions on a classical sensibility.  I enjoyed his playing very much.

I wanted to make my review out of still photos taken off the screen. The result is a bit blurry, but I like it, and I will try it again.

The Green Book title refers to the special book which tells visitors travelling through the South where black people may stay, eat, etc. The National Board of Review named Green Book “best picture,” and this film will be in the running at the Academy Awards.   Go see it–most of you will like it.   And here are some of my photos–true screen shots:

Tony watches his “boss” perform in a smoky black bar in Birmingham.

Tony and Don become friends despite inevitable friction at times.

Don Shirley off the concert stage and into the hearts of down-home folks in a place where he learns quickly to feel comfortable.

Tony makes it home in time for Christmas eve in the Bronx. Does Don join him there?

Christmas eve in the Bronx.

This music is from the fine soundtrack:


DON SHIRLEY    “The Lonesome Road.”

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Why re-post this 2013 movie review: because the music is so beautiful. Paul @Blogfinger.net   Click on the word Blogfinger below this sentence:

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Photographed off the TV. Paul Goldfinger.



THE GODFATHER WALTZ.   Original soundtrack by Nino Rota and Carol Savina.   (Original movie album by Paramount Pictures in 1972.) Listen for the waltz to begin toward the end of the violin solo.


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This is a re-post from September 2018 when we chose the soundtrack song “Shallow” for our post. The film opened in October.  That BF choice proved to be a good one, because Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga brought down the house at the Oscars on February 24, 2019, with their torrid duet, and the song won the Award for “Best Song.” You can hear it below.

We also posted a video with both stars called “Music to My Eyes.” See link below.


I haven’t seen it yet, but just watch this video and listen to the only musical  selection now available :  It’s called “Shallow” and features both stars:


“Shallow” with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper:

We also posted another duet from the film . The link is below:

“Music to My Eyes” from A Star is Born.

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By Paul Goldfinger.

One hundred years ago, the Great War  (WWI) ended.  That “war to end all wars” was a horrible event, but reading history can’t compare to seeing movies of the carnage that took the lives of millions.

Amazingly, Peter Jackson, a film maker from New Zealand, acquired very old footage obtained in black and white–a new technology of that time.  Camera men went to the battlefields and recorded fascinating documentation of the soldiers and the conditions in which they fought.  It was largely an artillery battle, but soldiers, who lived in trenches, would periodically go “over the top”and get mowed down in the most brutal ways.

Jackson also used interviews of surviving WWI soldiers obtained in the 1940’s. These eyewitness accounts add the extra dimension  of  hearing these veterans tell what happened.  History students of this era will not be able to take their eyes off the screen.

Peter Jackson was able to restore the prints digitally  to very high quality and then later he colorized the results.   He used a team of extraordinary technicians who made this happen.  Finally he added a soundtrack.

The movie should not be missed, although it is full of  scenes that are hard to stomach.

It is unlike anything we have seen before, and it brings life to that time in history.  It is a bit like Ken Burns doc. on the Civil War, except he had to use still photographs.  This is more comparable to Burns’ doc. on the Vietnam War.

This film is a technological triumph, so if you are a movie buff, the result is sufficient reason to go. 

Peter Jackson introduces his documentary to the movie audience as if he were giving a talk to the Rotary. Then, after the film ends, he spends 30 minutes explaining how he made this amazing film.

It is in selected theaters now.

THE BAND OF THE ROYAL CORPS OF SIGNALS   ( We’ll Keep the Home Fires Burning.”)


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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger.net

It doesn’t matter if you never heard of Queen or if you hate rock and roll, this movie is so well done that you will become emotionally involved, and you will love most of the music.

In the mid-1980’s I was listening to jazz and classical, but I could not avoid Queen‘s music because my  younger son was a huge fan, and he and his 3 best friends in high school had formed a band called “Premonition,” and Eileen allowed them to practice in our  basement.   They wrote “Premonition” on one of the overhead beams, and I hope it’s still there.  And they played “We Are the Champions” at high volume over and over in our house.

This movie made me realize how accessible Queen’s music really is and how beautiful. I heard of Freddie Mercury, but in this film we find out about him and his life, and it is touching and utterly engaging emotionally.  His relationship to his band-mates, his friends, his sexuality, his music, and his family is unforgettable.  It is unlike other biopics such as the one for Ray Charles, where the music takes  a back seat to drugs and a dissolute life.

I was aware of Rami Malek who plays Freddie Mercury because I had seen him in the streaming series “Mr. Robot” which is a very good series, but it’s amazing how the producers saw that and called Malek in to audition for Freddie Mercury, because the rolls are so different.  It is fascinating to find out how Malek was turned into a singing and dancing gay guy for the film.

You can buy it today on Amazon Prime for $20.00.  It is the first movie I ever bought to be owned and played only by streaming.   I have a good TV and sound system, but I will, at some point, see Bohemian Rhapsody again on a big screen with a big-time sound array.

Rhapsody is up for some big Oscar awards, and Malek could win best actor.

Here is a video of the actual Queen at Live Aid in 1985.  This medley lasts for 24 minutes, but don’t miss the ending. This video has been seen over 160 million times.

If you love music, you should buy the soundtrack of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

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Vincent Van Gogh. “The Starry Night.”



By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

There is a movie playing at the Showroom in Asbury Park on Cookman Avenue about Vincent Van Gogh and the events surrounding his death. Loving Vincent is  a fascinating mystery story, but the most impressive thing about it is that it is an animated film made by over 100 artists over 7 years who painted in the Van Gogh style.   They used well known actors, and the animation was made by painting over their film images.  The plot is controversial because most experts don’t agree with the film’s conclusion.

The film is so unique, and for those who are interested in art, this will be a special experience.  Loving Vincent  is being “held over” in Asbury. Our main criticism is that it is too long.

LIANNE LA HOVAS:  “Starry Starry Night” from the soundtrack of Loving Vincent.

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An early scene in Stardust Memories from the PBS documentary about Woody Allen

By Paul Goldfinger

“Stardust Memories” (1980) was Woody Allen’s 10th film in which he acted and directed. It came after his biggest hit, “Manhattan” (1979), a gorgeous film which had won four Academy Awards.

“Stardust Memories” is about a famous filmmaker who comes to a seashore retreat to celebrate his work. The movie is a serious effort that examines themes such as life, death, relationships and religion. It was shot in black and white by Gordon Willis, the famed cinematographer who also filmed “The Godfather.” Woody says that “Stardust Memories” is one of his favorite movies, but it bombed at the box office. The film was discussed during part I of the Woody Allen Documentary on PBS Sunday night.

Woody as Sandy Bates in Stardust Memories

The Great Auditorium exterior was used to represent the Stardust Hotel. Some other exteriors in OG and Asbury were also used, but other locations and studio venues participated. I think the Casino was used as a train station. Evidently, the electrified cross was taken down since it needed repairs, and Woody paid for a new one after filming.

In the documentary, they showed some scenes from the film, and I managed to grab a few shots from the TV including two showing the GA.

Some of the peculiar characters in the film. The GA hotel in the background

So while we are on the subject of movies where local towns are mentioned, Stardust is a favorite of mine, and the above article explains it all.  It was last posted on Blogfinger in November, 2011.

MUSIC: From the Stardust Memories soundtrack. Louis Armstrong (recorded 1931) plays “Stardust.” The movie title is derived from the Stardust recording sessions (1931) where Louis, in an alternate take, said “Oh, memories” three times in succession.

Woody liked the latter version of the song for the movie title, but the version below was chosen for the soundtrack. (Do you care? Some aficionados actually do.)  PG

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Robert Downey Jr. produces and stars in The Judge.  He portrays a true legal shark.  Circling his prey and taking large bites out of his adversary and the system.  Never in the name of justice.  As his character says, “Everyone wants Atticus Finch, until they find a dead hooker in the bathroom.” “Innocent people can’t afford him.”

Then there is a death in the family.  The son, Robert Downey, Jr. comes home.  The Judge, Robert Duval, his father, and he have barely have spoken to each other for many years.  The son then has to defend his father for murder.

So many times Hollywood glamorizes the legal profession and the trials depicted.  It’s all about show business with little contact with reality. Not so with The Judge.  Reality truly is depicted in this movie.  A trial does take place and results in a believable outcome.  Realism carries throughout the film, even as the Judge himself slowly is eaten away by his illness.  His post chemotherapy physical reactions are the most graphic depicted on the screen.

Ultimately  this movie is about a family.  What mistakes they make.  The silences that are deafening.  The wounds that fester.  The love that still remains.

Review by Ross R. Anzaldi, New Jersey Superior Court Judge (Ret.)

L’ORCHESTRA CINEMATIQUE.  “Hills to Climb.” From The Judge trailer.

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By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor  @Blogfinger

In recent years, most of Woody’s films have been shot in Europe. Magic in the Moonlight is beautifully filmed in the south of France by Darius Hondji who also was the cinematographer for  “Midnight in Paris,” a more successful Woody film.

The story is set in 1928 among the expatriate Brits and Americans who enjoy the Roaring Twenties from their vantage point at the French Riviera.   Beside the gorgeous photography, there are the usual Woody strong points of lighting, clothing, homes of the wealthy and fine period music.  But the plot is only mildly interesting and, at times, cumbersome.   There are some classic Woody funny lines, but not enough of them.  Woody, himself, is not in this movie.

The story is about an Englishman who is a famous magician played by Colin Firth who seems to be in any English role ever devised, especially when it is about the upper classes.  His character , Stanley Crawford,  is well known for being a guy who can tell a phony psychic when he sees one.  Stanley is  an annoying, sarcastic, critical person who is asked to help a wealthy American family which has fallen under the spell of a young and attractive psychic named Sophie, played by Emma Stone.

Stone, age 25,  is mesmerizing in her roll because of her edgy acting and her red hair and big green eyes.   Her wardrobe is worth the price of admission.   She does a great job of  confounding Stanley’s efforts to prove that her conjuring skills are phony.  But Stanley becomes attracted to her  and he has trouble proving that she is an impostor. I must admit that I fell asleep a couple of times during some ponderous conversations.

A subplot brings up the possibility of a romance between Stanley and Sophie.  That plot line is sort of spoiled by the 25 year age difference between them .

One critic who is a Woody fan said that Woody is not over the hill;  he merely had “an off day.”  We gave Magic in the Moonlight 3 Blogfingers.

CHICK ENDOR:   This song plays throughout the film, but the movie  soundtrack is not yet available.


BONUS: Woody’s best one-liners:     Woody’s best one liners

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

I will see any movie that is about music provided that the music doesn’t get lost in a melodramatic story such as in the failed bios about Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, and even the Jersey Boys.  Begin Again is a music movie which actually is about music.

It is a romantic comedy set one summer in New York City. Keira Knightley, the English actress,  plays Gretta, a singer-songwriter, who has just broken up with her newly-successful musician boyfriend played by real-life rocker Adam Levine.   If she looks familiar it’s because she’s been in 40 movies, and she is only 29.

Gretta is idealistic and she despairs that her unique compositions will never be heard. By chance, while she is performing one of her songs in an East Village joint, her music is heard by Dan, a down-on-his-luck record exec. played by Mark Ruffalo.

Her singing is subdued, and her song, though very nice, is stiff, and the audience is indifferent.    Yet Dan, despite his drunken depressed state,  hears something original in the music, and this scene, played over again a few times through the eyes of different characters, got my attention when Dan imagines that some instruments on stage—cello, violin, bass, piano, drums—- come to life and provide an orchestral background so that we can hear what he hears in his mind’s eye.

He tells Gretta that he wants to help her make an album and he proposes the novel idea that they record outdoors at different locations around town. They hire musicians, Dan produces the album, and the result is excellent, tempered by the ambient sounds of the city.

Begin Again  then becomes the story of the making  of a winning musical production done in a very unorthodox manner, and that is the part that is original and captivating.

There are some sub-plots regarding the characters and their personal lives, but mostly the film is about music.  Dan and Gretta get to begin again personally and musically, and we get to enjoy the results.

At the end of the film, as the credits roll, we learn how this unusual album gets marketed in a 21st century way. Unfortunately, that part wasn’t presented very clearly, and probably should have been eliminated.

I recommend this movie.  It is honest, enjoyable, and memorable—qualities not often seen these days at the movies.

We give it 3 1/2  Blogfingers.

ADAM LEVINE:  From the soundtrack of Begin Again:  “No One Else Like You.”


Begin Again is currently playing at the Bow Tie Cinema on White Street in Red Bank.  Here is a trailer:



EDITOR’S NOTE:  On August 8, Woody Allen’s film  Magic in the Moonlight opens, and it  looks like a winner to me, despite some negative advance reviews,;  but I will see it and probably like it, because it contains all those wonderful Woody attributes:  Original story written and directed by  him, setting music, cinematography and humor. It also will be at the Bow Tie in Red Bank.

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