Posts Tagged ‘Blogfinger movie review’

As a kid, I spent many wonderful days and nights at Coney Island. It was a magical place: going to the crowded beach where someone else might bite your sandwich, where every Tuesday night there were fireworks off the shore, where titillating scenes could be found under the boardwalk, where Nathan’s sold the best hot dogs and fries, and where you could ride the Cyclone, the Parachute Jump, and the Wonder Wheel.  I liked the latter because I wouldn’t get nauseous. It is a sort of Ferris wheel where the enclosed cars would roll outward, momentarily suspending the riders in space.  Woody recreated all of that in his latest film Wonder Wheel. He wrote it and directed it.

In Woody’s new film, a period piece, his strong points remain potent. He re-creates the excitement of 1950’s Coney Island through film magic, right down to the colors which look like they were just shot with the earliest color movie films. I was mesmerized by the cinematography and design which  are always superior in his movies.

As usual, Woody put together a perfect ensemble of actors including Jim Belushi as Humpty,  a middle aged carousel operator;  Kate Winslet as Ginny,  a forty-something neurotic former actress, now working as a waitress in a clam house, who falls for a young lifeguard Mickey,  played by Justin Timberlake; and Juno Temple in the role of Carolina, a hot young blond who’s trying to escape from her mobster husband. There were fun cameos by Soprano’s actors Tony Sirico and Steve Schirripa playing, what else, two gangsters chasing after Juno’s character.

Kate Winslet was wonderful in  her roll,  especially during her last scene when she dissolves into a psychotic alcoholic rage.

Juno Temple as Carolina in Wonder Wheel. Internet photo

The movie was a little long, and the plot dragged in the middle. I was disappointed with the score. Unlike other Woody movies, where the music is usually thrilling, this time it was too infrequent and not very interesting.

The dialogue was difficult to portray because it was from another era.  Woody’s writing was spotty, but at times it was amazing, such as a scene, filmed in a car during a downpour. Mickey is sitting in the front seat with Carolina.  He is taken by her sensuous beauty and he comments on how she looks in the “rain light.”  As a photographer I could relate to that, and she did look glorious.

It’s old news, but Woody Allen always does better with his comedies rather than his more serious themes as in Wonder Wheel.   Nevertheless, this Woody film is worth seeing, especially  if you like the Woody elements, which I do, that he is known for.

I suppose what I liked best are the nostalgic striking setting, the marvelous acting by a superb cast, the recreation of a magical place, and the chance to see one more Woody film, even though it is not a great movie .  We will see any film he makes, and Wonder Wheel, although not very wonderful, shouldn’t be missed, especially if you are a Woody Allen fan.

PATTI PAGE    “You Belong to Me”  This song is perfect for Wonder Wheel.  It was popular in 1952.

Editor’s note:  We saw this newly arrived movie on a Tuesday evening at the Showroom in Asbury Park.  They have a terrific special deal there where you can sign up for movie discounts every Tuesday. I figured that many Woody Allen fans would show up at this 4:45 screening.   But there were just a handful of us.  A man walked in, older, and he sat in the front row, probably the worst seats in the house.

“You must be a Woody Allen fan like us,” said I.  He turned around and said, “No…I don’t even know the name of this film.”

“Really?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “I’m here only because of Kate Winslet”

“Oh,” said I. “I remember her from the Titanic.”

He said nothing else, and then the lights dimmed.

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

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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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By Paul and Eileen Goldfinger, editors @Blogfinger.

Italian Vacation is a hilarious and gorgeous  film with wall to wall laughs, delicious foods and beautiful scenics of Italy, along the Amalfi and Liguria coasts.  Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are two English comedians who embark on a high class Italian road trip, following in the footsteps of poet Lord Byron and his buddy Shelly who once took a grand tour of Italy in the early 19th century.  The two friends, Rob and Steve, get to stay at the best hotels and go to the finest restaurants, all paid for by the newspaper that sent them on a foodie travel  assignment.

We take the tour with Steve and Rob as they joke their way across Italy in a mini-Cooper.  The banter between these two comics, who improvised the entire film, left us in stitches as they did impressions of many famous and not-so famous stars such as Michael Caine, Hugh Grant, Richard Burton, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman,  and so many others. They also took some shots at singers Michael Bublé and Alanis Morissette.

Even if you missed some of the lines, as we did, due to their British accents and comedic references that were unfamiliar to us, you will find this very original buddy movie to be hysterical. But you have to like wordplays, one-liners and movie references.  These two are so on the same wave length that they are capable of anticipating the next line in the conversation, so the dialogues tend to be rapid-fire.  Rotten Tomatoes referred to it as “crackling chemistry.”

I especially enjoyed the portrayal of how 21st century middle-aged men view the world and themselves.  There are serious moments as they discuss women, family and work. It is about male companionship which is always somewhat competitive. One complained ruefully that when he catches the eye of a beautiful young woman, she usually offers a smile “like you would give a benevolent uncle.” But despite that sort of remark, these two are good looking guys who enjoy the fine meals, the wines, the conversations, and, yes, the exchanges with women along the way.  They say that women like men who are funny, so I suspect that Steve and Rob will have no problems in that area, even as they get much older. Getting older is a theme for these guys who worry about their mortality.

The foods, mostly scrumptious looking seafood dishes with pasta, are photographed beautifully, but Eileen complained that they shortchanged the preparation of these spectacular dishes. I agree. We would have enjoyed some scenes in the kitchen as we saw in “The Hundred Foot Journey” which we recently reviewed.

The movie made us hungry for Italian food, so after the show, as we attended a late afternoon screening,  we went straight to our favorite Italian restaurant around here—Jimmy’s in Asbury Park on Asbury Avenue.  This restaurant is consistently good with authentic cuisine. They have been around for ages and they attract a knowing and appreciative crowd. It feels very old fashioned to us, reminiscent of places we visited in the past in Big Italy and Little Italy.

Bar at Jimmy's during the week. Tables for dining are to the right.  Two large dining rooms are in the back.

Bar at Jimmy’s during the week. Tables for dining are to the right. Two large dining rooms are in the back. That’s our waitress. (the one on the right)  Blogfinger photo ©

We chose a booth out by the bar—-it felt homey, warm and relaxed.  We’re not Italian, but Eileen cooks like one, and I play one on Blogfinger, so we fit right in at Jimmy’s.  We shared a “Jimmy’s salad” with the dressing on it—not on the side.  Then we split an order of lobster fra diavlo over linguine. The premium house wines were excellent—we had a Tuscan Antinori wine and a Ruffino Ducale chianti (by the glass).  An essential component of such a meal is the  Italian bread and olive oil  which I enjoyed before, during and after dinner, some pieces with butter, but Eileen amazingly avoided it totally.    By then we had to skip dessert because we were stuffed. The dinner was excellent and was the perfect finale to our Italian movie and dinner-date.

We saw this movie at the Bow Tie Middlebrook Cinema on Route 35 in Ocean. It is a sequel to Steve and Rob’s  first such film called  “The Trip” which began as a mini-series for the BBC and is now available on Netflix.   Adio!

ALANIS MORISSETE  Her album Jagged Little Pill  is featured in this movie.  But, this particular song by this Canadian singer is from the movie “De-Lovely” about Cole Porter.



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