September 25th, 2005

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Emmy and Culture of Life Thoughts

While I was disappointed for Peter Boyle, I was
thrilled to see that “Everyone Loves Raymond” won the
Emmy Award for Best Comedy. It was also appropriate
that Brad Garrett and Doris Roberts won Emmys for
supporting awards, because “Everyone Loves Raymond”
was a pure ensemble comedy. There is a timeless
quality to “Everybody Loves Raymond” that places this
television show on the pantheon of favorite television
sitcoms from television’s 50 year history. The
program avoided topical references and avoided the
ratings gimmicks of presenting the dreaded “special
episode.” “Everybody Loves Raymond” celebrated
everyday life.

Patricia Heaton and her husband, David Hunt, produced
and directed their celebration of small town life in
“The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania.” This
fine documentary presents a world where the culture of
life is respected and affirmed in all of it’s
eccentric glory. This project seems close to the core
beliefs of the Hunts, given that Mrs. Hunt is the Life
Honorary Chair for “Feminists for Life of America,”
whose motto is “Woman Deserve Better than Abortion.”
Now that she is retired from “Raymond,” Patrice Heaton
had inked a contract with the ABC Network, which
happens to be owned by Walt Disney. Given the Hunt’s
Mission statement on their Four Boys website, look for
similar television projects that illuminate the human
condition in all its terrifying glory.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Just Like Heaven," the opposite of "Million Dollar Baby"

“Just Like Heaven” is the recent box office champion
that was bedeviled by most mainstream critics. While
the comedic elements do not always work, this romantic
ghost story flies in the face of recent contemporary
entertainment, most notably the 2004 Academy Award
Winner, “Million Dollar Baby.” While it is not stated
in the promotional trailers, “Just Like Heaven” deals
with the subject of euthanasia and the painful choice
to pull one’s plug or not.

Medical doctor Elizabeth Masterson (Reese Witherspoon)
is a workaholic. After working a 26-hour shift,
Elizabeth learns that she has been promoted to
attendant surgeon and she drives home to celebrate
with her family and a blind date. She gets run over
by a truck. Three months later David (Mark Ruffalo)
sublets Elizabeth’s old apartment. He is in grief and
is visited by Elizabeth’s apparition.

Both David and Elizabeth's spirit are in a state of
bewilderment and seek advice from the Roman Catholic
Church, I Ching specialists and the local chapter of
the San Francisco Ghostbusters. When these
visitations prove fruitless, Elizabeth's ghost and
David seek the wisdom of Darryl (Jon Heder), a clerk
in a bookstore. If one has ever read “Sleeping
Beauty” or “Snow White,” one can figure out the rest
of the plot.

The San Francisco scenery adds to a heavenly quality
and there is sweetness to this film that is not
diabetic. Reese Witherspoon and Jon Heder make this
film work on a quirky level. While no Jim Carrey or
Steve Martin, Ruffalo pulls off a hilarious moment of
slapstick in a bar full of San Francisco regulars.

“Just Like Heaven” is not likely to have the same box
office receipts of “Legally Blond” or “Freaky Friday.”
Yet this new film is likely find enjoyment on some
cozy Sunday afternoon after football season. “Just
Like Heaven” is thought provoking in a positive way.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"The Thing About Peter Falk," a romantic comedy of the ages

Like most people, 87 year old Sye has bemoaned the sad
state of the recent motion pictures. Sye has not had
a good word for a movie until “The Thing about my
Folks” was released last weekend. Sye found it “Cute”
and he enjoyed that it was a nice “father-son movie.”
The audience I saw this movie with were of unanimous
opinion with Sye.

Written by and costarring Paul Reiser, “The Thing
About My Folks” is a slice of everyday life of an
American family. Narrated by Ben Kleinman (Reisner),
“The Thing about My Folks” begins with a son's
recollections about his father, Sam Kleinman (Peter
Falk). Sam has paid an impromptu visit to his only
son's family and sheepishly announces that his wife of
40 years has left him.

Since she only left a goodbye note, the son takes the
father on a diversionary road trip to a farm he is
thinking of purchasing. After a car accident, Sam
purchases a 1940 Ford and begins a road trip with his
son. While on the road, the father and son share a
baseball game, line dancing and discuss generational
differences.

The thing about road movies is that they feel
improvised. One scene features the
Klienman boys on a fishing exposition. Neither men
know how to fish, but both men seem intent on telling
the other what to do. Given their experiences on
stage and the comic circuit, respectively, Falk and
Reiser ham and egg it in a realistic way.

Inspired by his father, Reiser has stated that he
wrote his screenplay with Peter Falk in mind. Falk
proves that he still has gravitas. Falk shines with
moments of warmth, anger and humor. Given his life
experience, Falk makes Sam Klienman a charismatic
figure with a quiet dignity.

Director Raymond De Felitta and cienamtographer Dan
Gillham create a fine post card of upstate New York
during Autumn. As the 1940 Ford treks over the rivers
and brooks, the jazzy musical score creates an
irresistible visual poetry.

“The Thing about my Folks” is an ode to joy. While
the mother's motives are mysterious, Reiser's
screenplay creates no villains. Each character is a
flawed individual with a capacity for hope and love.
"The Thing about my Folks" is a rare movie nowadays
that presents an ensemble cast of characters with
noble motives.