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Tag Archives: Sterling Jerins

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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