Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Films about Aging G-N


Photo of Jim Broadbent
by Beacon via CC.
This is Part II of a three-part series. 

Films about Aging A-F
Films about Aging O-Z


Gerhard Richter (2011). This documentary shows German painter Richard Richter in action. Born in 1923, Richter is still prolific in late life.

Get Low (2010). Robert Duvall plays a hermit who arranges to have his own funeral prior to his death.  In the process, he reconnects with friends from decades ago and seeks to uncover long-buried truths.

The Gin Game (2003). Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke star in this play-turned-television-movie about two people who meet in a nursing home.  As they sit down to play several games of gin, you learn more about their histories, their dreams, and their losses. It's got moments of comedy, but it's primarily dark.


Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me (2014).  This documentary was filmed from the time Campbell received his diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease through his farewell tour.  His family and entourage show him a great deal of support, and he shows great skill as a musician despite his memory troubles.  Full Review

(#75) Gotta Dance (2008).  The Brooklyn Nets basketball team decided to develop a team of senior dancers or half-time entertainment, and the NETsentional Seniors team was born. This documentary shows 13 seniors from try outs through their entire first season.

Gran Torino (2008). Clint Eastwood stars as an older man, recently widowed, who finds his neighborhood being ruled by members of minority gangs.  He catches a young man trying to steal his classic car. Through a strange turn of events, he ends up mentoring the young man and challenging the local gang members.


Grey Gardens (1975). This documentary by the Mayles brothers shows a midlife woman and her mother living in the past.  A cult classic film about eccentric rich women who have fallen from grace. The daughter resents caring for her aging mother, but is she blaming her mom for too much?

Hamlet & Hutch (2014). Burt Reynolds stars as stage actor showing signs of dementia who moves from NYC to rural Georgia to live with estranged relatives.

Harold and Maude (1971). A young man and an older woman experience role reversals when she must jolt him out of an obsession with death.


(#80) Harry and Tonto (1974). Art Carney plays an older man who loses his housing in NYC, which serves as a catalyst for a road trip from one place and one fellow traveler.  His cat Tonto listens to Harry puzzle out the meaning of life in its new incarnation.  A little dated with frequent talk of communes, psychedelic drugs and consciousness raising.

Hello, My Name Is Doris
 (2016). Sally Fields plays a mature office worker whose world is turned upside down when she meets a new co-worker who is three decades younger than she. Full Review

Hope Springs (2012). Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones star as a couple married 31 years and languishing in the doldrums.  The wife wants to shake up the status quo, but the husband is comfortable in his well-worn rut.  A painfully honest view of the emotional and sexual challenges of long-term relationships.

How about You (2007). Residents of a nursing home deal with repressed issues when their regular director leaves town and her offbeat sister takes the helm.

How to Live Forever (2009). In the wake of his mother's death, Mark Wexler interviews a variety of people on the quest for longevity. Jack LaLanne, Suzanne Somers, Sherwin Nuland, & more.

Hundred Foot Journey (2014).  Helen Mirren plays a restaurant owner who is loathe to see a family from India open a competing restaurant right across the road.  She and the widowed patriarch from the rival family battle for patrons.

(#85) Ikiru (1952). A Japanese film, directed by the internationally acclaimed Kurosawa, available with subtitles. The film is about a government employee who must re-evaluate the meaning of his life when he learns that he has stomach cancer. He has several strong reactions to the news, ranging from shock to self-indulgence until he settles on using his hard-won wisdom as a bureaucrat to leave a legacy to his community.

I'm Not Rappaport (1996). Walter Matthau and Ossie Davis star as two long-time residents of Manhattan who are working on age-related problems with the style, verve and know-how from decades of experience.

In Her Shoes (2005). Shirley MacLaine stars as grandmother to two grown women trying to establish themselves decades after losing their troubled mother.

Innocence (2000). Julia Blake and Charles "Bud" Tingwell play former lovers who reunite after decades of being a part.  Their reunion sparks conversations for members of a love triangle (which includes Terry Norris). These conversations focus on the meaning of love, passion, and commitment as these elements wax, wane and collide in the sunset years.


The Intern (2015).  Robert De Niro plays a 70 year old who returns to the work force as an intern to a frazzled Millennial boss, played by Anne Hathaway.  His grounded nature complements her cutting-edge technical and social media savvy.

The Intouchables (2011). At midlife a rich man is still adjusting to major changes--the loss of his wife and the loss of his mobility. His French-Algierian caregiver helps him gain a new perspective. Based on a true story of the relationship between Philippe Pozzo di Porgo and Abdel Sellou.  

(#90) Iris (2001). Based on her husband's memoirs of life with Iris Murdoch, this film stars Judi Dench as the famous novelist moving through the various stages of Alzheimer's disease with flashbacks to her youth, starring Kate Winslet.  Jim Broadbent won best supporting actor for his depiction of John Bayley, Iris' husband-turned-caregiver.

Iron Lady (2011). Meryl Streep stars as Margaret Thatcher in this biopic.  The story is framed by Thatcher's experience with Alzheimer's in the years prior to her death. She imagines that her husband Denis (played by Jim Broadbent) is still living. And through conversations with him, she remembers her political career.

Is Anybody There (2008). A ten-year-old boy loses his sense of home and family when his parents convert their house into a residence for older adults. The boy discovers a new sense of self with the help of a new resident, a retired magician.

It Was a Wonderful Life (1993). This documentary depicts the lives of a handful of mature women who fell out of middle class lives and into homelessness.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011). This documentary focuses on a sushi chef Jiro Ono who is still working hard to perfect his craft at age 85.  The soundtrack features the music of Philip Glass.


(#95) The Judge (2014).  An attorney (Robert Downey, Jr.) with midlife issues faces additional strife when he goes home for his mother's funeral and faces his father, a small-town lawyer (Robert Duvall).

Just a Sigh (2013).  French with English subtitles.  A 43 year old struggling Parisian actress (Emmanuelle Deves) meets a college professor from the UK  (Gabriel Byrne) on a train and they embark on a whirlwind romance.

King Lear (1983). Olivier stars in the title role, showing the struggles of an older man, faced with loss of power in the kingdom and in his own home.

King of Masks (1999).  An aging Chinese street performer adopts a child in order to pass on the secrets of his art.  However, things do not go as he plans.

Koyla (1996). A Czech movie about an older musician re-examining his life in part through the influence of a 5-year-old boy.

(#100) Ladies in Lavender (2004). Aging sisters find themselves aflutter when a young musician enters their lives.

Land Ho! (2014). Two recently retired 70-something men take a vacation to Iceland. 

Last Love (2013). Michael Caine plays a widower battling loneliness who meets a twentysomething dance instructor on a local bus.   

The Last Station (2009). This film is based on the last year of Tolstoy's life where his increasingly radical ideas contrast sharply with the lifestyle and values that his wife Sophya holds dear.  Having been married for decades, this creates quite a strain on both of them. 

Last Chance Harvey (2008). A mature man travels to his daughter's wedding and must work through regret, disappointment and strained relationships. A good film about finding a new path later in life and not being condemned by the past.

(#105) Last Vegas (2013). Douglas, DeNiro, Freeman and Kline star as long-time friends going to Vegas for a bachelor party and facing age-related realities while indulging in some timeless Sin City fantasies. 

A Late Quartet (2012).  Members of a stringed quartet experience discord when the cellist (played by Christopher Walken) discovers that he has a serious age-related illness.  Conflicts buried for 25 years then emerge in the three midlife members of the group who question their life decisions. Full Review.

Late Spring (1949). This post-war Japanese film depicts a 27-year-old daughter reluctant to marry because she wants to care for her widowed father. 


La Maison en Petits Cubes (2008). A Japanese animated short (with no dialogue) that depicts an older man's life review as a deep sea diving adventure. Only 12 minutes long and available on YouTube. 

Le Week-end (2014). Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan star as a long-married British couple on vacation in Paris.  They have a very deep love-hate relationship on many levels. 

(#110) Life as a House (2001). Kevin Kline stars as a man who experiences a midlife crisis when he receives a diagnosis of terminal cancer, which motivates him to create a meaningful legacy for his teen-aged son. 


Little Miss Sunshine (2006). This film depicts a dysfunctional family that includes a grandfather who dotes on his grandchild in a charming yet bizzarre manner--a very different slant from the traditional grandfather role.

Love & Mercy (2015).  This Brian Wilson biopic alternates between Wilson and the Beach Boys in the mid 1960s and then Wilson alone in the 1980s as a man in midlife, lost and trying to recover from the fallout of fame, family drama, mental illness, and substance abuse.   Full Review

Love Is All You Need (2012). When a group of midlife adults and young adults from Denmark gather in Italy for a wedding, all kinds of chaos unleashes while people grapple to understand who they love and how to love them.  Midlife issues such as infidelity, illness, social status, emotional scars and dreams deferred make the love stories more mottled than the typical young adult rom-com.  

Love Is Strange (2014).  John Lithgow and Alfred Molina play a long-time couple who finally marry only to have several hardships hit them.  Their support network steps into help, but this only adds to their hardships. 

(#115) Lovely, Still (2008). Robert, an isolated older man, enters into a new relationship with a cheerful, affectionate agemate, Mary, only to have health issues complicate the relationship for both of them. It starts off a little slow, but the details dovetail together poignantly in the end, so stick with it.

Lullaby (2014).  Jonathan, age 26, discovers that his father's twelve-year battle with cancer is coming to a close.  His dad is choosing to go off life support, leaving Jonathan, his 23 year old sister and their mother just a little more than a day to say goodbye. 

Magic of Belle Isle (2012).  Morgan Freeman plays a novelist who has lost his inspiration when his wife died six years prior. He spends the summer at a lake house and a single mom and her girls befriend him.

 Make Way for Tomorrow (1937). A couple married 50 years loses their home, and none of their 5 adult children are willing to house them as a couple. And the ones who house them individually are a bit inhospitable.  The inspiration for the Japanese film Tokyo Story

A Man Named Pearl (2006).  Born in 1939 to parents who were sharecroppers, Pearl Fryar is a retired maintenance engineer and a self-taught topiary artist.  He has hundreds of plants on his property in Bishopville, SC that he lovingly shapes into works of art.

(#120) Marvin's Room (1996). Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton play estranged sisters who reconnect because of catastrophic health issues.  The film explores how family dynamics complicate caregiving.

Memory of a Killer  (2003). This Dutch language film features two detectives tracking a hit man who has Alzheimer's. While the film doesn't depict memory issues in a valid way, it does show that the hit man as a late midlife person with a lot of capabilities (albeit not always used for good).

Monastary: Mr. Vig and the Nun (2006). In this documentary, Mr. Vig (an 82 year old virgin) decides to donate his mansion in Denmark to the Russian Orthodox church.  This results in a nun from Russia coming to his home and dictating how he should repair the place to make it fit for becoming a monastery.

Mr. Holmes (2015).   After spending 30 years in retirement, Sherlock Holmes decides it's time to tell the truth of his last case. In so doing, he evaluates the nature of his life and the relationship between reason and emotion. What kind of legacy will he leave to the rising generation?  Full Review

Mrs. Brown (1997). Queen Victoria, played by Judi Dench, has gone into seclusion after the death of her husband. She is consoled by John Brown, to what degree there is only speculation. Is he just her good friend or her lover?  

(#125) Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2005). Joan Plowright plays the title role in a film about a mature woman who forms a friendship with a young man who becomes her adopted grandson, played by Rupert Friend. They offer each other support and friendship during difficult times in each other's lives. 

Murder or Mercy (1987). Robert Young stars as a man who shot his wife and insisted in court that it was a the only way to address her suffering. Based on a true story.  (A few years later, he admitted it was wrong.)

My Afternoons with Margueritte (2010). Gerard Depardieu plays a laborer who makes friends with nonagenarian Margueritte (played by Gisele Casadesus).  Over the course of their afternoon chats, both are enriched and transformed by their friendship.  A bit like Educating Rita.  

My Old Lady (2014). A 92 year-old-woman in Paris has life-long secrets that cause pain for her daughter and for her new landlord, a man in his late 50s.  Can the three of them find peace?

Nanny McPhee (2005). Emma Thompson depicts a crone figure--the fairytale archetype for a mature woman. She helps a family regain equilibrium and transition into a new stage through tough love. Nanny McPhee is a bit like Mary Poppins but of grandmother age and a lot rougher around the edges--physically and emotionally. 

(#130) Nebraska (2013). An older man thinks he won a million dollars when he receives a magazine subscription advertisement. His adult son drives him from his home in MN to the prize headquarters in NE. On the way they stop at the older man's hometown where he has some debts to pay--both emotional and financial. 

Next Year Jerusalem (2013). A documentary about 8 older adults from the Jewish Home for the Elderly traveling to Jerusalem. Residents range from 82 to 97 years old.  They prove to be more resilient than their caregivers imagine. 

Nobody's Fool (1994). Paul Newman stars as Sully, a man in late midlife still struggling to establish a family and a vocation.  Filmed in rural NY, we see a cast of small-town characters who either help and hope or doubt and take digs.  Does Sully have enough character and enough time to turn  his life around? 

The Notebook (2004) James Garner and Gena Rowlands play a mature couple trying to define the nature of their relationship through reminiscing. 


Nothing in Common (1986) .Tom Hanks plays an adult son who reconnects with his father in the wake of his parents divorce. They have to work out a new dynamic through various difficulties, including the divorce, the dad's diabetes and the dad's new living situation.

Click HERE to continue through the list. 

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