The Reel Less Traveled – November 2019


For Young and Old Alike

    This month brings more of the usual with both the International Film Showcase and Classic Film Showcase offering their collective best. There’s also some great news regarding the Rheem, but let’s start with our extra curricular film choices.
    As the headline suggests, chronology plays a very large part and so, of course, I’m going to start with youth. I’m also going to paraphrase an old adage: “It takes a regiment to raise a child.”
    Ayla: The Daughter of War is a 2017 Turkish film that tells a true story about the Korean War, its ravages and, particularly, the effect it has on the innocent people who have nothing to do with the conflict. In this case, it is a little girl who is found abandoned and nearly frozen. A courageous soldier risks life and limb to rescue her. Obstacles immediately crop up, but despite the language barrier and no evidence of any surviving relatives, the soldier informally adopts her. A strong but unofficial bond is formed.
    I won’t reveal what happens next but if you’ve seen Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid, then you have a pretty good idea what you’re in for. That said, it is highly recommended to bring some tissues with you. It will be screening at the Orinda for a week starting 7 p.m. Nov. 8. For more information go to
    Then, on the other side of the spectrum, the Classic Film Festival presents Grumpy Old Men, featuring the original Odd Couple, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. This is clearly an example of repeated stunt casting as these two actors have worked together in a number of other films including the sequel to both of the aforementioned, but it is the first one we’re concerned with here.
    In this film, they’re sniping next-door neighbors who are seemingly content to be so, that is, until Ann-Margaret moves in. From there, things go comically awry, but when you’re dealing with two pros like Lemmon and Matthau, you can bet that the wryness will be turned up to 11. And with other old pros like Burgess Meredeth and Ossie Davis, as well as other notables such as Daryl Hannah, the comic possibilities are endless. It will also be showing at the Orinda Theatre at 7 p.m. Nov. 14. Check in with for this and other non-cinema events. As usual, admission is free.
    Now to that good news I alluded to earlier. As mentioned in my earlier columns, Derek Zemrak has done hero’s work in trying to preserve this landmark movie house and I’d like to think he had something to do with this new news. It would seem that, instead of the threat of losing the Rheem altogether, it’s actually going to get bigger!
    Although in the early planning stages, the new owners are planning to expand the Rheem from four theaters to six. The new auditoriums will resemble very much how the Orinda Theatre is now.
    If there’s a downside, it would appear that there may be less places to park and there may be fewer seats but those that remain promise to be wider and more luxurious. Moreover, there will be an effort made to keep the overall look of the place consistent with its current aesthetic.
    We’ll know more in the months to come but in the meantime, remember to stay in the dark for that’s where the reel magic lies.

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