There is a burgeoning industry of media about being old. The past few years have seen an increase in the number of movies - theatrical and TV - starring old people, a large amount of the daily health reporting is related to old age issues and there are hundreds of new books each year about old people.
Most of this explosion in age media is dreck. Trust me. I wade through way too much of it for this blog. But maybe that is what makes it so thrilling when a gem comes along.
Last week, The New Yorker released online the latest short film in its Screening Room series titled “Mend and Make Do.” In the magazine's discussion of it, reporter Sarah Larson explains that in the opening,
”...we see images of a real-life living room—old framed photographs, doilies, sewing baskets, a lace-covered window, a spoon stirring sugar into a cup of tea—and hear the voice of an elderly woman with a vigorous Merseyside accent.
“'There is no embarrassment! Nothing like that today, about asking a man to go to bed with you, or get in the hot tub with you,” she says. “It wasn’t done when I was young.' As she remembers the past, objects in the room come to life.”
Well, I was hooked.
It is an eight-minute biographical documentary about 87-year-old Lyn Schofield who relates episodes from her life as the stop-motion animation illustrates them. The 25-year-old filmmaker, Bexie Bush, is as compelling as her film:
”...her main influence was working at Betty’s, a hairdressing salon that her grandmother opened in the fifties. 'All the ladies are still going there now, so it’s quite a sweet place to work,' she said.
“She listened to their stories while shampooing, brushing up, making tea, cleaning the windows, mopping the floor. It was very much a Cinderella job...
“Bush’s grandmother died several years ago, and her aunt now runs Betty’s. 'That generation of women is changing, too,' Bush said. We’re seeing the last of the era of 'blue rinses and perms and hair in rollers.'
“Bush admires not just the people but the aesthetic; she wants to capture them as they are while they’re here. 'I kind of dress like them as well,' she said. 'I do my hair like them. Victory rolls, and I sleep in rollers. I love everything about it. Making the most of what you’ve got. Making your own clothes.'”
Before I introduce “Mend and Make Do,” take a look at this delightful two-minute animation that Ms. Bush made about Betty's hair salon four years ago. That's four years ago- when she was 21.
Bexie Bush's films are such unique charmers that I couldn't resist tracking down more information about what she is like. Here is a short interview with her last April when she was showing “Mend and Make Do” at the European Independent Film Festival:
Finally, without further ado, here is “Mend and Make Do.” I'm pretty sure you're going to be as enchanted as I am.