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Announcing: The TGB ElderMovie List

Last Friday, Time Goes By readers were asked for suggestions of movies about elders, films that enhance and contribute to our understanding of what it’s really like to get older. We began with the list from Ziv Schteinberg and WOW!

What an excellent and valuable list of good ElderMovies you came up with. They are now compiled into an alphabetical list which can be retrieved from the new blog section titled “TGB Features” on the right sidebar where The TGB ElderMovie List is now permanently available.

Each title on the movielist page is linked to its listing in the Internet Movie Database where there is voluminous information on each one. If Crabby Old Lady were writing this post, she would tell you: “And you better damned well appreciate it because it took her many hours on Saturday morning to retrieve the links, write the html and create this page for you.”

But that's Crabby Old Lady speaking; I, of course, would never be so cheeky.

Over the weekend, Portland, Maine felt the bite of its first below-freezing night of the season. Winter can no longer be denied and I think Crabby Old Lady, Oliver the cat and I will spend the cold evenings of the next few months working our way through this list from top to bottom. There are so many interesting choices.

Thank you to everyone who contributed and will contribute in the future to this fine list of ElderMovies. We did good. Please keep new titles coming as they occur to you or new films are released. Instructions for doing so are on The TGB ElderMovie List page.

Tuesday – tomorrow - is election day. If you have not voted by absentee ballot, please be sure your arrangements are in order to vote tomorrow. This is the most important mid-term election in most of our lifetimes.

Elder Movies II

Over the weekend, I have been preparing a ElderMovie list based on the many good suggestions readers have left on Friday’s post. A major point of the collection is to list only films that add to our understanding of or celebrate what getting older is like, and not those that demean elders or promote negative stereotypes.

There are three suggestions I need help on.

Of the pair, Grumpy Old Men and its sequel, Grumpier Old Men, I have seen only the first and have little memory of it except that I didn’t think it was the best work Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau ever did. But I can’t remember if I took issue with how the two old men were portrayed or if it just didn’t suit my taste.

The other, Shadowlands, a biography of C.S. Lewis starring Anthony Hopkins, is another I haven’t seen, nor have I read the book. My question is: does it qualify as an ElderMovie or is it more about Lewis at midlife?

Please leave your thoughts below. I will defer to the majority on all three films.

Elder Movies

I had been thinking for a while about pulling together, with the help of readers, a definitive and ongoing list of films either about getting older or which treat older characters with as much integrity and respect as those of other age groups.

Then I recently heard from Ziv Schteinberg who has already done it or, rather, has made a good start with a list of 31 films about aging that are available on DVD.

Ziv has included some documentaries which I would place in a separate category from drama, comedy, etc. I was pleased to see that he includes Seconds, a favorite B movie of mine from 1966, which contains one of the few sex scenes (mild, no nudity) ever filmed with elder actors.

There is also a touching sex scene with Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment from 1983. It too is short and tame and lovely, showing the actors standing in silhouette on either side of the bed with his paunch and her later life chubbiness clearly visible.

For this scene alone, I would include Terms of Endearment on my personal list of elder movies, but it is also a good late-life love story although that is not its primary focus.

When the DVD becomes available, Ziv will need to update his list with The Boynton Beach Bereavement Club (which Susan Harris of Takoma Gardener recently reviewed here), and I would add both Mrs. Henderson Presents and Space Cowboys.

So here is my challenge to you today:

  1. Take a look at Ziv’s list. If you know any of these films, leave us a mini-review - two or three sentences. What makes it a good elder movie?
  2. Add any films in the comments below that you believe have been overlooked and tell us why they should be included
  3. Include films about being old, getting older
  4. Include films with old characters that are well acted or portrayed
  5. Include films that may not be about aging overall, but include good scenes about or with elders
  6. Most of all, include films that add to our understanding of or celebrate what getting older is like
  7. Let us know which genre of storytelling the film falls into: drama, comedy, sci-fi, documentary, etc.

Later, I will collect them into a permanent section on Time Goes By that we can update with new films as they are released and with older ones we have previously overlooked.

[NOTE: Ziv's list includes only films that are available on DVD. This new list does not need to be limited in that way.]

Elder Scams

For all the years I’ve been writing Time Goes By, I’ve regularly run across news stories of scams perpetrated against elders. Most recently, in Wisconsin, crooks are telephoning elders asking for their bank account numbers.

“The caller told Burke that Medicare was issuing new cards without Social Security numbers, and to get the new Medicare card, Burke would have to give the caller her bank account number.

"’I said 'I don't give out my information like that over the phone,' Burke said. ’I called Medicare, and of course it is a scam.’"

- GazetteXtra, 1 November 2006

This caught my attention because Medicare beneficiaries are, by definition, elders and this is not a con that can be run on 20- or even 50-somethings. In the past, I questioned if news stories connecting scams and elders weren’t just another form of ageism, knee-jerk assumptions that old people are too stupid to know when they are being flimflammed and that reporters never bothered to check if younger people weren’t being scammed too.

I’ve changed my mind.

No one likes to talk about it, but it is a fact of aging that some of us are or will become fuzzy in our thinking. As far as I can tell, I’m doing fine so far, but there are no guarantees that next week or next year a stroke or illness won’t rob me of my cognitive skills - and simple good sense too – perhaps just enough to make me vulnerable to such as this Medicare fraud.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation identifies several other reasons elders are frequent targets of scam artists:

  1. Elders are attractive marks for cons because they are more likely to have “nest eggs”
  2. People who grew up in the 1930s, ’40s and ‘50s are more polite and more trusting than younger people
  3. Elders are less likely to report fraud because “they don’t know who to report it to”
  4. Elder victims, when they do report crime, make less reliable witnesses

Although I take issue with the FBI over items 2, 3 and 4 as generalized assumptions about all elders, there is no doubt that they are sometimes true.

The FBI has an excellent webpage titled, Fraud Target: Senior Citizens with a list of typical scams elders should be aware of, together with tips on avoiding them. They cover:

  • Health Insurance Frauds
  • Counterfeit Prescription Drugs
  • Funeral and Cemetery Fraud
  • Fraudulent Anti-Aging Products
  • Telemarketing Fraud
  • Internet Fraud
  • Investment Schemes

The FBI does neglect to mention that anyone can avoid all telemarketing fraud by signing on with the National Do Not Call Registry, which has been successful in stopping telemarketers. I joined the list several years ago and have never again received calls except from charities, politicians and businesses with which I have an existing relationship, which is allowed.

There is no way to know if it would help, but perhaps familiarizing ourselves with the FBI cautionary list is a way to “inoculate” ourselves for the future if our mental faculties begin to slip. And it’s a good idea to make ourselves aware of it to help our aging friends and relatives when they may need our counsel.

More Contempt From Washington

category_bug_politics.gif Remember last week when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfled told the media and the nation (that’s you and me) to “back off”?

As columnist Eugene Robinson put it yesterday in response to Rumsfeld:

“There, in just two words, you have the Bush administration's approach to the war in Iraq. Indeed, you have the Republicans' theory of government:

“Back off...

“The Republican majority came to Washington claiming a populist mandate but has ended up governing with the same breathtaking arrogance that Genghis Khan, I mean Donald Rumsfeld, let slip the other day. Congress is all about lobbyists, earmarks and pork.”

- Washington Post, 31 October 2006

Now recall the story published here on Sunday about the Congresswoman from Colorado, Marilyn Musgrave, playing musical chairs with the timekeeper at a debate with her opponent so she wouldn’t catch sight of Michael Shiavo seated in the audience.

It turns out her nasty bit of stagecraft was not a one-time anomaly. Take a look at this:

We can’t get rid of George Bush and his incompetent cronies, such as Mr. Rumsfeld, this year, but we can dump all the Congressional incumbents next Tuesday - every last contemptible, disreputable one of them.

Remember, we elders vote in larger numbers than any other age group. Let us lead the way in demanding a government that is responsible to the people.