The Reel Less Traveled – May 2019


May Movie Lineup Offers Surprising Range Of Options

    Though May is supposed to be one of the lighter months of the year, the cinematic choices available will prove to be (with one exception) anything but. This is not to say that one should dread or avoid what is to follow. Fine art, even art that challenges is always a good thing, even uplifting. But be warned: Two of the three offerings this month will not have you leaving the theatre with a song in your heart or a dance in your step. What these films will do, however, is to assure you that they are still making good, perhaps great movies nowadays.
    First the news: There’s another chapter in the saga of the Rheem. The owners of the “neon palace” announced on twitter on April 12 that the building has been sold. What this means remains unclear. What we do know is that Derek Zemrak and the MCF will continue to run the theatre without, at least for now, any significant changes. What this should mean for all of you is that continued patronage should be a priority. This is a landmark and its absence would severely diminish the community.
    Now about that exception, the Lamorinda Movers (formally the Moraga Movers) present, as part of their Classic Movies series, a fairly timely film, especially if you were lucky enough to catch Stan and Ollie when it was playing here. The Flying Deuces is one of the duo’s later comedies and like most films of that type, the plot matters only insofar as it can be used to highlight the particular talents of the star (or in this case, stars).
    That great balm of spurned lovers everywhere, the French Foreign Legion is at the center of this one and it’s Oliver Hardy who has enlisted until such time as he’s forgotten. It should come as a surprise to no one that comedic hijinks ensue. Like the Marx brothers, though, there’s also an inserted, but no less welcome, musical interlude included. (Remember, movies were still a fairly new medium then and vaudeville was still fresh in the memories of many filmgoers of the time.) Of course the standard L & H slapstick is ever present, including a riotous flight in an airplane. It all ends well, though. Would you expect anything else? It will be showing at the Rheem at 4 p.m. May 8.
    Following on the heels of this light-hearted comedy is probably it’s polar opposite, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, an adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play. This, like many other films (I’m looking at you, Triplets of Belleville.) is near indescribable and if you don’t believe me, just go to and read their synopsis.
    Like many of Williams works, this is one of those steamy Southern dramas with more than a little weirdness thrown in. (Think David Lynch but with a drawl.) Starring Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor and Burl Ives as Big Daddy, this is a skewed slice of life in an extremely unhappy family but with the talent on display, it’s also endlessly fascinating. It is scheduled to show at the Orinda Theatre at 7 p.m. May 9 but check first on Admission is free.
    Starting May 10 the International Film Showcase brings something unprecedented and wonderful: A movie of epic proportions. Never Look Away is a film whose primary focus is on art and its place during that most tumultuous time in German history. More than that, it centers on one artist and the manner in which his art transforms/evolves due to those events.
    Spanning from the 1930s to the 1960s, we follow a man – whose life is loosely based on the life of Gerhard Richter – from a traumatic event and an equally troubled romance that, in many ways, defined him to his country’s early turn towards democracy. If this sounds like a lot to absorb, you’re probably right. That is why it’s only fair to warn you that this movie is a little over three hours long. 
    Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, whose previous work, The Lives of Others won international acclaim, has seemingly crafted another masterpiece that, along with cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, ensures that the time will just fly by. It will have a two-week long run here, first at the Orinda then for the following week at the Rheem. Go to for times and previews.
    Until next time, remember to stay in the dark for that’s where the reel magic lies. 

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