NO matter how hard one works it seems as if that finish line keeps moving further away. I am referring to those plans put in place for retirement. Besides the big element of the “unknown,” the unexpected expense, it seems as if the rules and the times keep changing faster to any adjustments one tries to execute. The age of 65 used to be the goal line for retirement; now it gets pushed back depending on the year one is born. There is a grocery store I occasionally use that has a couple of small sections put aside for clearance items. One of them is in the produce section of the store and I have to tell you it is hard sometimes to watch the elderly shoppers pouring over the bruised or wrinkled fruits and vegetables, looking for one that would still be edible. I wonder what my retirement will be like when I am on a fixed income; would I be one of those shoppers looking for a bargain that potentially could make me ill? AS my friends and I grow older our conversations about are retirement years has increased. Some amongst us have multiple insurance policies to cover a variety of scenarios; others have focused on savings that they will be able to draw on once they are no longer working. One of the big concerns we all share is whether we will be able to still live independently, under our own roofs. No one in my circle of friends has had something good to say about nursing homes unless they had a super wealthy relative, who could afford one of those luxury retirement communities set up like a condominium building. They would have to buy the apartment outright and when they died the living space would revert back to the association. Since none of my friends or me could afford such an arrangement, we have come up with some creative ways on how we could take care of each other. I will tell you the option that was chosen in this comedic crime film never occurred to any of us. RETIRED friends Joe, Willie and Albert; played by Michael Caine (Inception, Batman Begins franchise), Morgan Freeman (Driving Miss Daisy, The Dark Knight franchise) and Alan Arkin (Get Smart, Argo); were falling deeper into debt. After witnessing a crime, Joe got an idea that would solve all three friends’ money issues. Directed by Zach Braff (Garden State, Scrubs-TV), the only reason to see this film is to watch these three actors, along with Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future franchise, Taxi-TV) as Milton and Ann-Margaret (Grumpy Old Men, Any Given Sunday) as Annie, working together. It would have been more interesting to watch them if the script had not stayed on the light side; the humor and emotional parts were rather wishy-washy. Putting aside my dilemma with celebrating crime situations, I thought the lead up story was a good motivator for the action. When the film came to an end I was left with the same feelings I had with yesterday’s picture, just a sense of “blah.” In my opinion it was a crime to have used these actors for such an uninspired script.
If I need proof to substantiate my belief that age is only a state of mind, I only need to look around me. I truly believe a person who thinks they are old will become old. The saying “act your age” is a double edged sword as far as I am concerned. No one should have influence over another person, telling them how to act; at least that is my way of thinking. The obvious place where I see multiple examples of age only being a state of mind is at the fitness centers where I teach. There is a member who participates in one of my cycle classes that is in their 80s; you would never know just by looking at them. Someone who used to take one of my aerobic classes I still see at the club; they are currently 90 years old and still work out in the swimming pool. Can you believe it? I admire so many people at the club and it re-enforces another of my beliefs: use it or lose it. Even if I did not have the examples from the fitness centers, I had a neighbor who was in her 90s that would still climb up a ladder every year to clean out the gutters of her house. The physical marvel alone would be enough for me but to hear these people’s history is such a treat. Presently I have a neighbor who has been involved with a city organization for over 60 years. Hearing her stories about the place with its evolutions has provided me with insight on how the city has grown. It is like having a live history book living next to me. Though I have heard second hand stories that originated from century old individuals, I have never actually been around centenarians. This documentary is the next best thing. WRITER and director Alex Tegan (The Irish Pub, Mad Made Men) developed this film around a group of elderly individuals from Ireland who all were at least 100 years old. Their history could fill a book. I had not heard or seen anything about this sweet, charming movie; it was an email from a friend who told me I had to go down into the city to see it playing at only one theater. It was worth the trip for I was fascinated by the amount of people interviewed who were over 100 years old and especially the ones who appeared to still be living independently. Take a moment and just imagine the amount of history all of these seniors have seen. There may be some viewers who may lose a bit of interest since the film essentially is a series of interviews. I found it amusing that subtitles were included with the conversations but I was glad; some of the individuals were hard for me to understand. It was fascinating listening to the variety of topics the people chose to talk about. After sitting through this picture one of the things I wanted to know was what factors contributed to the long lives of these incredible people. Where can I find their fountain of youth?
3 ½ stars
The eyes once white bright look like aged paper from a well worn novel. They can still flash with the sparks of life but just not as many as before. Their hands now curled and knotted look like arthritic sampling branches used to create meals that filled the house with intoxicating aromas like seductive sirens. Through the years memories have formed and periodically emerge into one’s consciousness from time to time. Their buoyancy can be attributed to emotions filed with kindness, love, joy and compassion. Throughout one’s journey of life they were present, maybe not in a starring role; yet their contributions were always part of special events. There is a sense of safety when people grow old together. They may take turns in leading the way down life’s road, but always with intentions of ease and comfort. The bonds that formed early on may lose some of their flexibility but they still are apparent to anyone who comes near. I try very hard not to look like I am staring, but watching elderly people interacting fascinates me. It is as if they have their own secret language that is mostly silent to anyone around them. It appears to be more prominent when I see them having a meal. The way items get divvied up, some whole while others are reduced to bite-sized morsels; it is similar to a choreographed dance. To this day when I either hear the names or see certain foods I get a flashback to where I used to get that particular food item when I was younger. HAVING been part of the Leung household for decades, when she suffered a stroke Ah Tao, played by Deanie Yip (The Legend of Shaolin, Dragons Forever), decided to quit and move to a rehabilitation/senior citizens facility. She did not want to be a burden to Roger, played by Andy Lau (House of Flying Daggers, Internal Affairs), who she helped in raising from birth. This film festival winning drama was exquisite in its execution. A beautiful, touching story that truly gave a real sense of the bonds formed in a family’s life. There was nothing extraordinary taking place, no special effects, only a dramatic story that the actors handled skillfully. This is not a fast paced film, so a few scenes seemed stagnant to me. I have to say part of my connection to the film was due to the character Ah Tao because I still feel a little uncomfortable when someone does something for me, I related to this character. Also the fact that all of us are heading in the same direction through the aging process; the story carried more weight for me. Either way this movie will in the future become a fond memory for me. Cantonese and Mandarin was spoken with English subtitles.
3 1/2 stars — DVD
Living amongst them daily I am not always conscious of their significance. It is when someone is over to my place and asks about something hanging up on a wall or sitting on a surface that I experience the memory associated to that particular item. To the average person my home looks like a hodgepodge of different pieces of art and objects; but to me, each one has a story about my life. There is a large woven basket that sits next to an easy chair that I bought from a little non-profit store in Charleston, South Carolina. All the items in the store were made by disadvantaged women from third world countries, who were trying to improve their lives my selling their wares. That alone was enough reason for me to buy something at the store; however, I wanted something to remind me about the fantastic road trip I was taking through the southern United States. On a coffee table sits a turquoise vase that was originally placed on layaway by someone I was dating some time ago. I called the store and paid for it, asking the salesperson to call the phone number on the receipt and tell them the vase was accidentally knocked off the shelf and broke into pieces. It was a few minutes after the store must have called them when they called me to complain about the store’s incompetency. I never let on I knew, keeping the vase for a couple of months, until I wrapped it up and gave it to them for the holidays. I was greeted with several words I cannot print here. So you see I love having all of the things around me and their memories. I do not know how I could ever part with them, just like the couple in this dramatic movie. AFTER many years living in their Brooklyn apartment with the great view Ruth and Alex Carver, played by Diane Keaton (Mad Money, The Family Stone) and Morgan Freeman (Now You See Me, Driving Miss Daisy), felt it was time to downsize and move to a place more conducive for an older couple. They soon discovered there were challenges to moving 40 years worth of stuff. I wished I would have enjoyed this film more because the two actors separately were wonderful, though I did not feel much chemistry between them. The script was lame; quite predictable and cliched; the two actors needed more depth to their characters. It was a shame because I enjoyed the flashback segments of a younger Ruth and Alex at the beginning of what would be their long term relationship. And obviously I appreciated the acknowledgement of one’s memories associated to inanimate items. Too bad the memory I have of this picture is not very good.
1 3/4 stars