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Tag Archives: Diane Keaton

5 Flights Up

It’s the mid 1970’s … Alex Carver (played by Morgan Freeman) carries his new wife Ruth (by Diane Keaton) over the threshold of their new apartment. It’s in a dodgy part of Brooklyn, it’s run-down and up five flights of stairs with no elevator, but it’s home. Alex, an artist, makes himself a perfect studio in the bright spare bedroom and Ruth, a teacher, fills the rest of their living space with books. Since then, they’ve made a very happy and settled life for themselves and love the neighbourhood. These days, it’s starting to get very trendy to live in Brooklyn and Alex and Ruth realise their lovely apartment may be an attractive investment for young buyers wanting to move into the area. Besides, time is marching on and those five flights of stairs are a challenge for them both these days – as well as their little dog, Dorothy. Although they are now both retired, Ruth and Alex still love their life together – Alex has his art and still actively paints, while Ruth loves her books. They are still deeply love with each other too. Ruth’s sister had some health problems last year and her real estate agent niece, Lily Portman (by Cynthia Nixon), has since taken on the task to list Alex and Ruth’s property to remove them from the “five flights of stairs”. Alex and Ruth are interested to see what their property might be worth on the market so they go along with Lily’s plans. They open their beloved home to interested buyers and watch with dismay as strangers trudge critically through their apartment. At the same time, Dorothy undergoes some expensive surgery at the animal hospital. Ruth and Alex go apartment hunting in Manhattan, where they actually find something they like and can afford. Maybe a move isn’t such a bad idea after all?

This is a very sweet movie. As artist Alex, Morgan Freeman is strong and thoughtful – which makes him a very interesting character. As young Alex, Korey Jackson is very nice. Similarly, Diane Keaton brings her best quirky and lovable performance to the role of Ruth – she has marvellous style and is a sweet caring person. The “nerdy” young Ruth is very well portrayed by Claire van der Boom. It is also great to see both Cynthia Nixon and Carrie Preston here. Nixon has the relentlessly positive real estate agent Lily, down to a tee – she’s perfect for it. For me, Carrie Preston has most recently been seen in television’s “The Good Wife”, and she is just as likeable here as Miriam Carswell, Lily’s peer and would-be competitor in the New York City real estate game. The movie has been released in the UK as “Ruth and Alex” – it’s based on the novel Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment. It’s not deep or terribly meaningful, but it’s a good movie. It has been awarded in the 2016 AARP Movies for Grownups Awards as the Best Grownup Love Story and that’s true. I enjoyed it.

Made in 2014. Directed by Richard Loncraine.

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Posted by on June 27, 2016 in Movies

 

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And So It Goes

Oren Little (played by Michael Douglas) is trying to sell his house. It’s a grand mansion, in a beautiful town on sprawling marvellous grounds. It used to be his home, until his dear wife died a couple of years ago after a battle with cancer. Now he can’t bear to be there. As a real estate agent, he knows the market, so he’s holding out for the best price he can get. These days he lives in a small holiday home nearby and exists for his own purposes. He’s become self-centred and gruff towards the outside world – he’s not strong on tact and doesn’t think about others’ feelings in the slightest. Most people have lost their patience with him and think he’s just a grouchy old so-and-so. As soon as his house is sold, he’s moving to a quiet part of Vermont to retire – and that can’t come soon enough. One day out of the blue, he’s suddenly saddled with Sarah (by Sterling Jerins) – his 9 year old granddaughter that he never knew he had. Now what’s he supposed to do? He relies on the goodwill of his tiresome neighbour, Leah (by Diane Keaton), who thankfully has a sensitive and loving nature, so she takes Sarah under her wing. Through his interactions with both Leah and Sarah, the world suddenly comes back into focus for Oren as he realises that there’s still some sweetness in life and some happiness to experience.

I didn’t have high hopes for this movie. I’d seen reviews that it was completely awful – but I was very pleasantly surprised. The mood is as relaxed as the setting – a lovely holiday town with a great lifestyle and beautiful properties. Oren Little is not a very nice person and Michael Douglas depicts him well. Diane Keaton’s character is sweet and kind-hearted – this fits well with Diane’s performance – but to hear her sing for the first time is a revelation to me – who knew? She’s a very enjoyable singer. It’s interesting – I’m not sure if it’s by design or by luck – but to watch Michael Douglas’ wardrobe, style and look get progressively more appealing – he gets well groomed, stylish and somehow younger looking as his character warms up and becomes more pleasant … I guess this is part of the Director’s plan. Some have said that Rob Reiner’s appearance in the movie is a mistake and he’s just awful, but I think that’s the idea – his character, Artie, is cringe-worthy, yes, but that’s appropriate for the story. There are two gems in this too – first, Frances Sternhagen’s character, Claire, is a breath of fresh air – she pulls no punches with Oren; second – the cameo by Frankie Valli – that’s almost uncredited, but still great to see. Overall, this is an enjoyable, sweet movie.

Made in 2014. Directed by Rob Reiner

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Movies

 

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Play it Again, Sam

Allan Felix (played by Woody Allen) is a shy, neurotic New York film critic who just can’t find his ideal woman – in fact he has trouble just maintaining a relationship with a woman. His favourite movie of all time is 1942’s “Casablanca” and we meet Allan, totally entranced at a screening of this classic movie. Allan’s wife of two years, Nancy (by Susan Anspach) leaves him because she’s “sick of being married” and Allan is in emotional turmoil. He refers to his favourite movie idol Humphrey Bogart (by Jerry Lacy) for advice about how to meet the right woman, treat her right and keep her. Bogart has a habit of “dropping in” on Allan to give him pointers about his behaviour when he needs it. Allan’s good friends are workaholic Dick Christie (by Tony Roberts) and his kindly anxious wife Linda (by Diane Keaton). They try vainly to fix Allan up with a series of women, but each results in a disastrous situation because Allan is so nervous and awkward around them. Then Allan realizes he has a great relationship with Linda and he is becoming attracted to her – she, too, struggles with her constant neuroses and she seems to be the only woman Allan really feels comfortable around. They are both surprised to find the other is attracted to them, but will Linda become the love of Allan’s life?  Can they both put their anxieties and previous relationship issues behind them to make a go of this? …

This movie is a bit unusual in that it’s one where Woody Allen appears, but doesn’t direct. I know it’s a classic, but to me it runs quite hot and cold. The witty dialogue is the hot part, as with many movies featuring Woody Allen, the scenes with great dialogue are treasures – but the slapstick nature of the physical comedy leaves me cold – there are only so many times you can find knocking things over, bumping into people and blurting out the wrong thing as funny. But the witty parts are good and the “workaholism” of Dick is repetitive and funny.  I find the chemistry and balance between Woody Allen and Diane Keaton is great and works very well, but I always find the fact that a woman can find Woody Allen sexy and irresistible quite implausible. But perhaps that’s just me. The way Allan imagines potential scenario’s in his life is very well done and when Bogart and Nancy both regularly appear to him (but nobody else) this is excellent and particularly entertaining.  The movie does have its great moments.

It is an adaptation of Woody Allen’s 1969 hit Broadway play of the same name.

Made in 1972. Directed by Herbert Ross

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2012 in Movies

 

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