SENIORS IN THE MOVIES
Written by Dolores Luber
Christopher Plummer (age 88) stars in this road trip of a dysfunctional father-daughter relationship and stoner-comedy. He has just been kicked out of his retirement home for growing pot in the facility’s greenhouse, and enlists his daughter Laura to help him relocate to Los Angeles and live with Laura’s kooky sister. He also says he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and this may be the last chance for them to heal ancient wounds. Laura, her misfit teen son and Pops pile into his old beater of a car, with the idea of getting this trip over as quickly as possible. Dad has other plans. There is an unpredictability in Plummer’s performance that keeps this dramedy on its toes. Boundaries is not as good as you want it to be, but it is a better movie than it should be because Plummer is in it. Any film that he pushes past its limits this well deserves your attention (D. Fear, Rolling Stone, 6/22/2018). Available at Black Dog Video.
THE KOMINSKY METHOD
Michael Douglas (age 74) plays an acting coach alongside Alan Arkin (age 84) as his longtime agent and aging friend/enemy, in Chuck Lorre’s new Netflix dramedy series The Kominsky Method. Douglas’ character is facing a crisis of not landing the parts he wants and trying to remain relevant. He and Arkin’s character are also facing the harsh realities of getting older. As they comically taunt each other about their ages, they also share tender moments as the ticking of time reminds them of their mortality. Punch lines mostly deal with death, loneliness and incontinence. The show’s sensibility is also decidedly retrograde and fueled by Hollywood nostalgia. If you have to listen to someone complain about the modern world, this series is a good place to catch up on your “kvetching.” Available on Netflix.ca.
Book Club features Diane Keaton (age 72), Candice Bergen (71), Jane Fonda (80), and Mary Steenburgen (65), as four friends who jump-start their love lives after reading the sexually charged book 50 Shades of Grey. Portrayed as healthy, vigorous and ready to frolic under the sheets, the movie doesn’t play the actresses’ ages against them. Instead, they are objects of desire, curiosity and passion with a capital A for appetite for life. The enlivened libidos represent a renewed sense of purpose and vigour (M. Crisolago, Zoomer, June 2018). These four Book Club women can make Tinseltown finally see beauty where it rarely saw it before. Available at Black Dog Video on Cambie.
THE LEISURE SEEKER
Here is a bitter-sweet story of a long-married couple, Ella, Helen Mirren (age 73), and John Spencer, Donald Sutherland (age 83) who are under the watchful, loving gaze of Italian director Paolo Virzi. He has dementia, he loses track of things; she wears a wig to cover a bald head and takes pills all the time. They decide one August morning to take the family RV all the way from their Massachusetts home to Hemingway’s in Key West, Florida. Their grown kids, Janel Moloney and Christian McKay are equal parts terrified and furious. There is humour and affection, the acting is just about perfect. It is not the most exciting film you will see this year, but I loved it. Available on Netflix.ca.
THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY
The movie opens in 1941 on the English Channel island of Guernsey, one of the few British territories occupied by the German army during World War II. A group of tipsy locals are stopped by a couple of German soldiers after curfew, and on the spot, the crew creates the title organization as an excuse for being out late. The next scene is in postwar Britain where the successful, engaged-to-be-married author Juliet Ashton is contemplating some letters she received during the war from a Guernsey man named Dawsey Adams. She impulsively takes a boat to the island. Now we have it, a period romantic tear-jerker which is sensitive and inventive, with tactile appreciation of period detail. Based on the book of the same name, the movie entertains, offers a nuanced plot; all of which makes for a moving and satisfying experience for the viewer. Available on Netflix.ca.
ISRAELI MOVIES AND TV SERIES
A gay German baker and a weary Israeli widow grieve for the same man in Ofir Raul Graizer’s humane, heart-kneading debut feature. This is a tender, tactile and just-sweet-enough story of hidden love, challenged faith and unwittingly shared grief. The Cakemaker is a moving, broadly accessible blend of old-school melodrama, contemporary identity politics and buttery gastroporn. When Israeli businessman Oren (Roy Miller) walks into the cozy Berlin café where Thomas plies his trade, the soul connection between the two is immediate. Monthly work trips from Jerusalem lead to the two men setting up part-time house together. When Oren is killed in a car accident in Jerusalem a few months later, Thomas is left in psychological limbo; seeking some manner of closure. He packs his bags and buys a one-way ticket to his lover’s hometown. The piercing piano motifs, the lovely score, the restrained classicism make this a beautiful experience to watch (G. Lodge, Variety.com, 7/04/2017). Available at Waldman Jewish Public Library, JCC.
Season 1, 2, and 3
Srugim is fabulous “faith-based soap opera.” The Srugim storyline follows a group of 30-something modern religious singles in the Katamon neighborhood of Jerusalem as they attempt to navigate the frequently contradictory worlds of contemporary Israel and traditional observance. Viewers of faith will appreciate the sympathetic portrayal of the dati (religious) lifestyle and seeing moments of their daily experience brought to life on the screen for the first time—whether it be a typical Shabbat meal, the difficulties of conducting modest relationships, how one keeps a kosher kitchen, or the pressures and loneliness of being single in the marriage-oriented Orthodox world. At the same time, what makes Srugim work for more general audiences is that its protagonists are undeniably human. It is not judgemental, the characters are developed in depth, and the acting is superb. The series and its characters manage to strive for meaning and not merely entertainment. Five stars, watch it. Available on Amazon.ca Prime and at Waldman Jewish Public Library, JCC.
This movie is an old- fashioned western with a modern sensibility. We have horses, whiskey and guns, and a conscientious attempt to reckon with the legacy of plunder and racism that flickers behind the legends and the mythology of the frontier. Hostiles aims for epic grandeur, ethical clarity and also a measure of historical credibility. This is a riveting, absorbing movie, elegantly made with picturesque cinematography and a muscular, old-style musical score. I admired the sincerity and intelligence of the script and the acting. It asks the right questions; but offer no clear answers. Fascinating! Available on Netflix.ca.
This movie is “a Vancouver Special.” Written and directed by Vancouver’s Mina Shum, starring Sandra Oh, a Vancouverite, Tzi Ma and Cheng Pei-pei, and it all takes place on Vancouver’s East Side. Mina Shum has crafted a textured and charismatic portrait of first- and second-generation immigrant life. Suspicious wife becomes an amateur sleuth and we follow her through Chinatown and Vancouver’s Renfrew-PNE area. The movie is a compassionate look at marriage, families, aging and the immigrant experience. In English, Cantonese, and Mandarin, with English subtitles. Available at Black Dog Video.