5 Flights Up film poster

“5 Flights Up” Review, with Helen-Gets-a-New-TV Commentary AND Holiday Greeting to My Readers

5 Flights Up Film Review, with Helen-Gets-a-New-TV Commentary AND a Holiday Greeting to my Readers

by Helen Kaplow, as HelenHighly

Diane Keaton and her dog.
Diane Keaton and her dog.

I recently got a new television. My friend helped me set it up but didn’t have patience to go through all the detailed settings with me.

So, one day, the day after Thanksgiving, it was quiet and peaceful, even in my apartment where it is usually busy and stressful. And I took the time to carefully, meticulously yet leisurely, adjust the complex color settings in order to get my ideal picture on my new TV.

I sat in my newly furnished, all-white bedroom, in my TV-watching seat — the sleek white leather-and-chrome chair I have in my “parlor area.” And I put my feet up on my new big furry ottoman – covered in grey-and-white super-long fake-animal hair, standing on lucite legs. That was the first time I’d sat there for more than five minutes. But that day, I sat for hours and watched a whole movie. It just came onto TV while I was flipping channels. I’d never heard of it and had no idea what I was watching at first (and I missed the first few minutes).

The movie was 5 Flights Up, with Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton, and it was shot in New York and is about living in Brooklyn, and maybe moving to Manhattan. So despite not being a commercially well-received film (or I would have heard of it, right?) I thought it was perfect for me, who just moved to New York. It’s a movie about a borderline-elderly couple (where does one draw the line?) who put their apartment up for sale – a classic, old, 5-story walk-up in Brooklyn. (My uncle, who is beyond borderline and is fully elderly, explained to me that long ago there was a law dictating that any residential building over five stories must have an elevator. Thus all those 5-story walk-ups — the max allowed without an expensive elevator.) Morgan and Diane – who, it seemed to me, didn’t bother to play characters and were just themselves – have lived in that apartment all their married lives, from the time they were college kids together. So it’s a sentimental tale about Brooklyn and the idea of “home” and how an apartment itself becomes a member of the family.

“Thanks Diane Keaton for looking beautiful and real.”

I enjoyed the movie, despite it being unambitious  and overly sweet. In addition to the topic that was personally relevant to me, I have always liked both those actors – Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton, and it was good to see that they have both grown old gracefully. They have no visible signs of plastic surgery, and they both have a comfortable calm about them that comes from having lived long, accomplished lives. Now I Googled 5 Flights Up and found these quotes that say what I might have written about the film except that someone else already has:

“5 Flights Up would be nothing without its stars (very true), whose humanity warms up a movie that otherwise portrays New Yorkers as coldblooded, slightly crazy, hypercompetitive sharks.”
Stephen Holden, New York Times. Click for full review.

I agree with Holden about the actors, and my impulse is to also agree about his objection to the portrayal of stereotypical New Yorkers. But a new friend who is a longtime New Yorker keeps telling me how hyper-competitive New York is, and how I better be ready. So I will consider the possibility that he and these filmmakers are correct. Although, of course my friend is intensely competitive himself, and insists he must be in order to “make it” here, so even if the competitive environment is a figment of his imagination, he helps to make it true just by believing it’s true and behaving in a coldblooded manner. But that’s another subject.

“Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton have unexpectedly great chemistry in this warm and funny comedy.”
Lou Lumenick, New York Post. Click for full review.

Yes, they are a pleasure to watch together, and they helped me to calm down and sit quietly and watch this very pleasant movie.

“It weasels its way into your heart and ultimately claims sweet, sentimental victory over your better judgment.
Stephanie Merry, Washington Post. Click for full review.

Yes, normally this is the kind of movie I would dislike on premise. But… right time right place and it worked for me.

BUT… my point – and I do have one (who said that?), is that I used the natural, soft and variable face of Diane Keaton, with her multi-faceted expressions and inconstant, dynamic complexion, to set the picture features of my new Vizio TV. And I like that I got to do that. And I think that now I do indeed have a subtly refined Perfect Picture on my television screen. So, thanks Diane Keaton for looking beautiful and real. And I wanted to point out just how complex and intricate those settings are.

I have outlined a list of each feature about which I was able to individually make a choice (and not just an on-or-off binary choice – usually multiple or full-spectrum choice). The list below has more than 50 lines – 50 options and choices to make about my Vizio television picture. And keep in mind that as you change one option, you need to go back and adjust the previous options, because they now look different. I recall now that a friend of mine once hired a specialist, paying him $150., to come to his home and program his television screen for him. Now this is beginning to make sense to me. Perhaps this concept of a fine-tuned screen picture has become an industry in itself. I wonder if that is intentional.

Anyway. Here is the list of options that I leisurely strolled through, with Diane Keaton’s face on freeze-frame, watching her appearance subtly shift, as she contemplated her existence in New York.

“The better to see you with, my dear Diane.”




Calibrated (I chose this one.)

Calibrated Dark






On (I chose on.)


Med (Went with medium.)


Backlight (Number range: I chose 95 out of 100)

Brightness (Number range: 50)

Contrast (80)

Color (50. But when you adjust one option, then all the others look different, and you want to go back and adjust them again.)

Tint (0)

Sharpness (50)

More (Yes of course, more.)

Color Temperature

Normal (I want to be unconventional, but Normal is the only reasonable selection here.)



Black Detail (Must research what this is and come back.)






Active LED Zones

On (Hell yes; this was the reason I selected this Vizio TV – for it’s much-touted “active LED zones.”)


Clear Action


Off (I chose off. I’m getting tired, and I think this is a sports thing.)

Reduce Noise (Again, not sure and losing interest.)

Reduce Significant Noise




Reduce Block Noise




Picture Size and Position (It’s fine the way it is.)

Film Mode

Auto (Ok. Whatever.)


Gamma (Really?!)




2.2 (Chose this. Don’t ask me why.)


So. What a complex ecosystem my TV screen is. The better to see you with, my dear Diane. I hope your real life is as lovely and happy as your life in this movie. And I hope the same for me. My new life in Manhattan (not Brooklyn), among the sharks, should be warm and interesting like Diane Keaton’s, as well as bright and active and clear, with deep blacks and bright whites. This sounds like a holiday wish on a greeting card. So, I say to you, patient reader:

May your new year (and your TV screen) be bright and active and clear, with deep blacks and bright whites. And may you always have the best Gamma value.

2 thoughts on ““5 Flights Up” Review, with Helen-Gets-a-New-TV Commentary AND Holiday Greeting to My Readers

    1. Yes, of course the dog survives. The rising property values of the Brooklyn apartment… perhaps not so much, in the long term. But the point of the film, it seems, is to just embrace the moment and forget planning for the future. Don’t worry; be happy. 🙂

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