Tastes vary, and each generation has its favorites. Right now, with the population aging, GERIATRIC MOVIES are in.
Greta Garbo retired from public appearances at the age of 36. Today, 76 is the new 36. Which explains the success of BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, the story of seven retirees with a joint age of about 600 years. In an ominous development, Maggie Smith (78) ends up running the Marigold’s front desk, and Judi Dench (77) hits it off with a fellow guest. The film is based on a book, aptly titled These Foolish Things. AND IF WE ALL LIVED TOGETHER is the newest entry in the geriatric movie genre. In a defining moment, Geraldine Chaplin (a youngster at 68) asks: Are you crazy? The answer is probably yes. Jane Fonda (a surgically altered 75) has permanently settled into the role of the elder academic, it seems. She tried it out in the Broadway hit 33 VARIATIONS a few years ago. Maybe she thinks old age and academics go together. Those university profs do tend to be a tad stiff-limbed, although that cliché took a hit when Philadelphia Prof Camille Paglia appeared on POLITICALLY INCORRECT, and at the advanced age of 65 mouthed off “like a machine gun” (Independent, 25 August).
Here is another type of movie that calls out to script writers and directors:
The HANDICAP movie.
After THE KING’S SPEECH presented us with the story of a stuttering monarch, why not do another bio pic of Beethoven with a focus on his deafness? The second half of the film could be silent, thus capitalizing on the retro success of THE ARTIST. And did you know that the fingers of violinists tend to warp? It’s a professional hazard. I gleaned that tidbit from an article by Jeremy Eichler in the New Yorker (27 Aug).It’s a great concept for a film: THE CROOKED FINGER – catchy title, don’t you think?
Another promising genre:
The TRAILER movie.
No, I’m not talking about trailer trash. I’m talking about the ads they make you sit through until the main feature comes on. As everyone knows, the funniest jokes and the greatest action scenes appear in those trailers. So why bother with the rest? You could get all your talking points by going to a movie made up of a string of trailers, followed by a string of spoilers.
That would do it, wouldn’t it? You’d save a lot of time and money, and two minutes is long enough to look at geriatric film stars.