‘Is That You?,’ Hamlisch Contra Costa Jewish Film Festival Favorites

‘Is That You?,’ Hamlisch Contra Costa Jewish Film Festival Favorites


IS THAT YOU? Is the story of RONNIE, 60 year old Israeli film projectionist, who has been fired from his job and is going now to the U.S. in a search for RACHEL, the love of his youth.  IS THAT YOU? Is a romantic, road trip journey to ‘The Road Not Taken’ in life created by Award Winning filmmaker Dani Menkin (HBO Cinemax-39 Pounds of Love, Je Taime, I Love You Terminal, Dolphin Boy)   Jewish Film Festival


You see, Ronnie and Rachel though separated for 30 years, once made a vow that whatever might come between them they would meet up for Rachel’s 60th birthday.  After being fired and realizing her day was near, the laid back Ronnie decided to take up the pursuit at the urging of his more demonstrative brother.


When Ronnie’s  borrowed car breaks down en route to searching out Rachel, a young film student happens upon him offering to fix, yes, fix his car while asking him to be interviewed for her film project.  Ronnie thinks she’s nuts but goes along with it . Both being of film backgrounds, she offers to drive Ronnie in her own borrowed car (van) to help him find Rachel while the two make some very entertaining stops for filming during a long, circuitous route to  Rachels. Does Ronnie ever find Rachel? We highly recommend you find out.  The movie is an adventure, a philosophical  tale, and a double love story  (‘Is That You?’  has already played at the Jewish Film Festival but it will surely be available in theaters and/or  video.) Meanwhile the film festival runs through Sunday and most movies appear to be winners, certainly the three we saw, Is That You, Marvin Hamlish and Run Boy Run (reviewed in next blogpost).


The movie is excellent on several different levels, offering the audience take with them some potential life changes. The movie provides an hour and a half of  pure escape but also offers philosophical questions  we might ask ourselves about real would-be, could-be life-changes.


1) It asks the question ‘ Do you have any life regrets’ to those interviewed in the film,  while serving as a catharsis for them while providing a good philosophical question for the film audience to ponder, one that they might work on as a possible life-changer


2) Not to spoil the movie, we are reminded in a stark way that ‘life is short’ and we should, perhaps, act and take chances NOW before it is too late, as Ronnie did. We won’t say more other than Ronnie made this decision and, no doubt, it was a good decision for him , despite  a later  life event.


3) We see an interesting interaction between a man and a woman of two different generations, one not based solely on sex and attraction. In fact, that is almost  left out of the  equation until the end. It’s about two people going about their own paths, less travelled, who just happen to meet up each  not expecting anything to come of it.  Something does come of it , but that thing is not shoved in our face, as in so many movies, and we never really learn what eventually happens to the two. Again, that is left to the imagination. A freshingly fitting ending we think.





The movie included the soundtrack of Hamlisch’s life, going from his early successes with movie scores  for people like Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford to harder times, but during it all, Hamlisch was still beloved by his many friends and fellow musicians, who paid him great tribute.  Three things particularly come to mind after watching a beautiful movie/tribute about the life of Marvin Hamlisch During the Contra Costa Jewish film Festival   March 8 Sunday 2015 (Century 16, Pleasant Hill) (2013, no doubt available now elsewhere)


1) While being one of the premier songwriters and arrangers of our time,  Marvin Hamlisch had a real zest for life and wanted to experience ‘ it all.’ Whether it was especially food or music, Hamlish loved all kinds and styles. ‘There was no Bad music, only good music’  he said.  He wasn’t a snob about classical being better than popular.    It appeared he lived his life that way with people, too. ‘Give everyone a chance.’ He was a positive person and always had good things to say.  He was kind and generous, all his friends and fellow musicians repeated in the movie.



2) His song from one of his film scores   was something about ‘while we still have the time’… And that was about doing things NOW , to experience life while you can.

Hamlisch  certainly packed in a lot during a premature 68 year life.   He said one of his songs best summed up his life, the conflicting ‘The music is me or I am the music’ was his inner conflict much of his life  ….



3)Relationships were perhaps the bain of Hamlisch’s existance. As much as he sought out true love amidst all the love songs he wrote about, Hamlisch could never find it, despite dating some of the most beautiful, talented women.   Finally, when his career was waning in the 1980s , as was his love life, he finally met the woman of his dreams, Terry, on a chance blind date. Though, the funny thing is that they never actually met until months after talking for hours on the phone. But, by the time they met , he Hamlisch felt like he KNEW her enough he proposed just before she opened her front door of their first meeting. She said yes. Terry said what attracted her to hamlish was his kindness and unassuming nature .  She recalled when they were first supposed to meet he told her he had to pick up some cleaning when it fact he was going to accept a big award.  After writing iconic love songs like ‘Memories’ and soundtracks for movies like ‘The Way We Were’ and ‘The Sting’,  Hamlisch finally was able to live out his last years  with the love that had escaped him for so many  .


Perhaps Hamlisch was one of those rare people, both genius and humanitarian, who seem to often leave us too soon.  Robin Williams is another who comes to mind. Perhaps they’re just TOO GOOD, TOO KIND if there can be such a thing, and while their flames burn brightly they don’t last long.