Can She Bake a Cherry Pie? (1983)

can she bake a cherry pie 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Fighting keeps them together.

An emotional and neurotic Zee (Karen Black) has just broken up with her husband. Eli (Michael Emil) is an older man who enjoys calculating odds and averages. The two meet at a restaurant and become involved in an offbeat and tumultuous relationship.

The film at times tries a bit too hard to be offbeat. Zee seems almost like a walking cliché. She sobs so much she can’t even order her food at the restaurant without breaking into tears. She chain smokes and has a plethora of hang-ups and paranoia that seems to possess every eccentric movie character and makes the whole thing fall flat before it has even begun.

Fortunately once you make past the rather clumsy beginning it actually starts to click. Writer/director Henry Jaglom instills a wonderfully free-form style to the proceedings that allows one to become engaged without even knowing it. The cinema-vertite approach turns its low budget into an asset. It’s the little things that start to grab you especially the Michael Margotta character and his trained pigeon named Eddie or the brash  way he tries to pick-up women at cafes while their boyfriends are sitting right there at the table with them.

Eli and Zee’s quirky conversations are quite amusing especially Zee contemplating on getting pregnant. These is even a segment showing old home movies done by Jaglom’s parents where you get to see Jaglom and Emil, who are brothers in real-life, whey they were little kids.

Jaglom has seemed to have gotten to the very heart of why we watch movies, which is because we are all secretly voyeurs. We like that little window that opens up and allows us to observe other people and see how they respond and react to things without being told what to look for or what to think. The European style of filmmaking is a refreshing change of pace. The actors are allowed to freely improvise and when it is all over you feel like you’ve watched real people, which makes it seem more relevant and funny.

This is very similar to John Cassavete’s Minnie and Mokowitz, but this fairs better as it is not as strained or aimless. The characters also have a bit more appeal and didn’t ingrate on my nerves as much.

Black gives another intriguing performance. She even sings, which she does quite well and does it while wearing the same wig that she wore while singing in the classic film Nashville.

The only real negative that I had with it was the soundtrack, which was performed by street musicians and sounds awful. It eventually gets so overplayed that it becomes irritating.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: September 10, 1983

Runtime: 1Hour 30Minutes

Rated R

Director: Henry Jaglom

Studio: Pan-Canadian Film Distributors

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

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