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Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Slightly Brighter Vision For 2023

Hallelujah! A film about people 10-15 years older than I that left me feeling something other than mild dread about being 10-15 years older. The film - "Quartet", the directorial debut of Dustin Hoffman.

With few exceptions, films of the past few years featuring people in their mid-late 70's, including most recently, "Robot and Frank" with Frank Langella, have been dispiriting affairs for me. Ironically, these films have been proliferating to capitalize on the discretionary moolah of the aging baby boomer market, i.e. yours truly. Though the enticing tag lines for movie trailers or on DVD boxes have uplifting sentiments like "...you're never too old for (insert your choice of word)...", when most of these films are over I'm often left with something more akin to "be grateful for NJ transit discount fares".

Sounding like an old crank is not a good technique for making a point about this issue. But many recent films that both reviewers (how old are those folks by the way?) and friends have raved about featuring folks in their mid-late 70's have not made me look at the future with eager anticipation. Lots of Alzheimer's, numerous enema references, and in a movie that shall remain nameless everyone except me seemed to love, Tom Wilkinson dying prematurely right after finding his soul mate. And I'm no Pollyanna. Traditionally, I've enjoyed dark, somber books and films. I even like Leonard Cohen, Janis Ian and Nick Drake's music for crying out loud.

This is my take - what's yours? "Quartet" has a bit more balance but most contemporary films about people in their mid-late 70's show this group as frail and/or marginalized. If they're not marginalized, they're heroic, albeit frequently in a reactionary way ("Gran Torino", anyone?). At the risk of being labeled culturally insensitive, this doesn't strike me as totally dissimilar to the stereotyped way films like "New Jack City" and others portrayed young African-American men in the 90's. Thin skin, you say? Maybe, but enough with the nap jokes, OK?  


  1. There once was a nasty old crank
    To him old-folk films mostly stank
    Though glorifying enemas
    And Alzheimer's dilemmenas
    Producers laughed all way to the bank

  2. What about the cultural component? Europeans may be less focused on youth as a religion. There are more than a few wonderful European films featuring older actors in respectful growth roles.