Love among the wrinkles

Carly at the Movies column by Carl Larsen

Old folks need love, too. Maybe not as often or as vigorously as do the whippersnappers, but – hey, they ain’t dead, they’re just old.

Hollywood, to a great degree, has forgotten about the older population – those folks who faithfully trudged off to the movies at least twice a week throughout the Depression, the ’30s and World War II. They kept show business in business, and in recent years they’ve simply been cast aside while the industry turns out junky, big budget action/teen sex/adventure/comic book crappola for young morons.

Hollywood has forgotten that old people need love.

Except, of course, for an occasional exception. And believe me, dear decrepit readers, we’ll keep our failing eyeballs on the screen constantly, and instantly bring you word of films that might, in any way, appeal to the discerning mature mind.

As luck would have it, there are two movies concerned with Geezer Passions on tap this coming week, winging their way down from satellites to your TV set – both of them playing on the Showtime channel.

The first, beaming down on the 14th and again on the 18th from Showtime, is “Boynton Beach Club,” a veritable convention of ancient actors, set in a Florida retirement community. As difficult as it is to imagine mom and dad having any kind of physical relationship beyond a chaste goodnight kiss, they did and may still do. You’re living, breathing proof that they did. At least once. And this film (originally entitled “The Boynton Beach Bereavement Club”) is all about the semi-senile singles scene.

For all of us enlightened (i.e. over 60) film fans, it’s a hoot just to enjoy an ensemble of actors we haven’t seen for decades (or have forgotten, alas) going about their craft. The old-timers include Joseph Bologna and Renee Taylor, Dyan Cannon, Len Cariou, Sally (“Hot Lips”) Kellerman, Michael Nouri and Brenda Vaccaro. Some names fail to ring a bell? You’ll remember as soon as you see them on screen.

A variety of story lines, some tender, some juicy, interweave artfully to make this a fun (for us elderlies) trip.

One nice hunk of trivia about the film is that it was dreamed up by director Susan Seidelman’s mom (with the help of actor David Cramer).

The second flick featuring senior citizen sensuality (or at least Heavy Flirting) will be aired four times this month, beginning on the 17th, also on Showtime. It’s a delightful Veddy British little film called “Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont” starring the wonderful Joan Plowright.

It verges on being an English take on the classic “Harold and Maude” theme (the May-December romance bit), but is just a bit too up-tight to go the distance. Instead, it’s the very sweet story of an elderly woman who’s all but ignored by her family and her friendship with a young writer.

As she moves into the Claremont hotel, there’s the usual number of quaintly quirky characters to be met, but mainly the film is about the gentle friendship between her and the young man, deftly portrayed by Rupert Friend. I liked it a lot, and Joan Plowright is, as always, magnificent.

When people think of old people films, they usually conjure up “On Golden Pond” or “The Notebook,” but there are a couple of others I’d like to recommend while we’re on the subject of late-blooming love. Both are available on DVD.

One is a 1992 Australian feature called “Over the Hill” starring Olympia Dukakis. This may be her best role ever, playing a widowed lady who visits her daughter in Sydney then takes off to drive around the continent. Her adventures on the road are scads of fun.

The other is an old favorite, available on DVD, first shown on TV in 1975. It’s “Queen of the Stardust Ballroom,” a bittersweet romance starring Maureen Stapleton and Charles Durning (both Emmy-nominated). This wistful classic explores the hidden yearnings and nostalgia we all feel (eventually).

So there are movies out there for those of us who are mature enough to be intellectually curious, but they are few and far between. Be patient. Hollywood will occasionally throw us a bone. Ah, if only we had teeth to chew on it!


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