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Top 25: Discussion for Nominations on Growing Older

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Top 25 Films on Growing Older

Please keep nominations and seconds only in the nominations thread.  All discussion of the nominated films themselves should be posted here.

*Note: Currently, there are no hard-and-fast rules about eligibility based on content - it’s up to YOU to advocate for what you believe fits this category. We believe the community of voters will make a wise decision about it when the times comes. That said, please think carefully about whether the film is really about what the community wants for an "Arts & Faith" list as opposed to a purely generic "top films" list that would be created on some other popular movie website.

Also, your film being seconded does not relieve you of the duty to explain why your nominations interact with spiritual themes.  You are taking a position on the merits of a film by nominating it.

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I nominated The Man Who Planted Trees

It is both about a man--Eleazar Bouffier--who transitions from middle age to old age and a man--the narrator--who grows from young adulthood into middle age. The film doesn't necessarily follow the disruption and re-ordering that we've spoken of in other threads. It's not necessarily about Falling Upward. But it is about time and what it means that we are creatures who transform and change through time and who are limited (or feel that we are) by time. While I love the film because of its take on longitudinal faithfulness, I also noted on a recent viewing that Eleazar isn't constant. He does change (such as from sheep to bees) to accommodate his overall goals. 

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I nominated It's A Wonderful Life.  

I would think this to be the most obvious film in this category.  George Bailey, as he grows older, greatly resents the paths his life has taken.  His youthful optimism to "see the world" and live a high adventure is thrown off due to circumstance over circumstance which leaves him stuck in Bedford Falls.  At one point, due to circumstances that are not his own doing, he is endangered by the possibility of jail, and he erupts, thinking that his life, all up to this point, had become a giant waste.  It takes an angel-second-class to demonstrate for him the reality that--despite his inability to have that adventure--that his life, in retrospect, was most incredibly worthwhile.

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A couple of things:

- I'd like to request that point #8 in the nomination thread ("Trilogies and series of films shall be considered as separate films") be considered a guideline, rather than a hard and fast rule.  I think, for example, that the five films in the Truffaut's Antoine Doinel saga merit consideration, whereas any single film in that series, probably not.  Ditto (maybe) for Linklater's "Before" trilogy.

- Please don't take any relative lack of participation on my part over the next couple of weeks as indicating a lack of enthusiasm.  One of my parents is currently quite ill, plus I'm leaving in a couple of days to visit my college-age daughter who is doing a semester over the border in Quebec.  "Growing older" themes are far more than theoretical for me, lately...

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6 hours ago, Andrew said:

A couple of things:

- I'd like to request that point #8 in the nomination thread ("Trilogies and series of films shall be considered as separate films") be considered a guideline, rather than a hard and fast rule.  I think, for example, that the five films in the Truffaut's Antoine Doinel saga merit consideration, whereas any single film in that series, probably not.  Ditto (maybe) for Linklater's "Before" trilogy.

- Please don't take any relative lack of participation on my part over the next couple of weeks as indicating a lack of enthusiasm.  One of my parents is currently quite ill, plus I'm leaving in a couple of days to visit my college-age daughter who is doing a semester over the border in Quebec.  "Growing older" themes are far more than theoretical for me, lately...

I'm certainly open to the possibility for #1...what do other people think? I'm afraid it just makes it too easy to nominate films as a series, but Andrew makes a legitimate point. 

Sorry to hear about your parent, Andrew. You will be in my thoughts.

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8 hours ago, Nick Alexander said:

I nominated It's A Wonderful Life.  

I would think this to be the most obvious film in this category.  George Bailey, as he grows older, greatly resents the paths his life has taken.  His youthful optimism to "see the world" and live a high adventure is thrown off due to circumstance over circumstance which leaves him stuck in Bedford Falls.  At one point, due to circumstances that are not his own doing, he is endangered by the possibility of jail, and he erupts, thinking that his life, all up to this point, had become a giant waste.  It takes an angel-second-class to demonstrate for him the reality that--despite his inability to have that adventure--that his life, in retrospect, was most incredibly worthwhile.

I look forward to any discussion about this. I'm intrigued because I guess I've read the film as being a reaction to a non-life-stage specific trauma, not necessarily a function of growing older. But I do see Nick's point that George reorders his understanding of life based on the experience, which seems on point to our articulations of the theme thus far.

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I nominated Beginners and A Single Man. Both are movies about facing down the specter of mortality, which certainly fits part of the “growing older” theme. The former, in particular, presents two characters who are forced to grow in distinct ways as both father and son grapple with death (their own and their wife/mother’s) and with self-identity as the father finally comes out as gay. A Single Man is more unidirectional, in that it’s about grief, but I think the idea of growing older is very much a part of that, particularly when the Hoult character is factored in. 

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I nominated Searching for Bobby Fischer

This film does, I suppose, push us almost immediately in working through what we mean by the theme and whether it is possible to focus it. Obviously, the film is more about a young person than an "old" person, but it powerfully illustrates what attracted me to the topic: transformation that accompanies the aging process. So in that sense, I'm still more in the Life Cycle mode, though I think Josh's transformation -- or resistance to it -- is in some ways about ordering his world and questioning the way his world is ordered. 

I noted in looking for a thread, that there was not one, but there was some discussion (and even a nomination) in the "Waking Up" nominations. I'll admit that concerns me, as now I am wondering if there is or will be too much overlap between the broad category of "Waking Up" and the may some of us are conceptualizing making "Growing Older" more broad of a topic than just "films about old age or old people." 

P.S. That trailer is just so awful. I do not get Hollywood trailers. I mean this isn't exactly a subtle movie, but the trailer makes is look like it has all the nose leading of a Christian movie. 

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56 minutes ago, kenmorefield said:

I nominated Searching for Bobby Fischer

This film does, I suppose, push us almost immediately in working through what we mean by the theme and whether it is possible to focus it. Obviously, the film is more about a young person than an "old" person, but it powerfully illustrates what attracted me to the topic: transformation that accompanies the aging process. So in that sense, I'm still more in the Life Cycle mode, though I think Josh's transformation -- or resistance to it -- is in some ways about ordering his world and questioning the way his world is ordered. 

I noted in looking for a thread, that there was not one, but there was some discussion (and even a nomination) in the "Waking Up" nominations. I'll admit that concerns me, as now I am wondering if there is or will be too much overlap between the broad category of "Waking Up" and the may some of us are conceptualizing making "Growing Older" more broad of a topic than just "films about old age or old people."

I think your first paragraph highlights the difference between "Waking Up" and "Growing Older" - "transformation that accompanies the aging process." There might be a little overlap between the topics, but it seems to me that "Growing Older" is incomplete without either part, transformation and aging process. In contrast, "Waking Up" was more a focus on conversion of any sort. For instance First Reformed would have been a great film for the Waking Up list, had it existed at the time, but there's nothing significantly in it about aging, so I wouldn't advocate for it for this list.

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20 hours ago, Andrew said:

A couple of things:

- I'd like to request that point #8 in the nomination thread ("Trilogies and series of films shall be considered as separate films") be considered a guideline, rather than a hard and fast rule.  I think, for example, that the five films in the Truffaut's Antoine Doinel saga merit consideration, whereas any single film in that series, probably not.  Ditto (maybe) for Linklater's "Before" trilogy.

- Please don't take any relative lack of participation on my part over the next couple of weeks as indicating a lack of enthusiasm.  One of my parents is currently quite ill, plus I'm leaving in a couple of days to visit my college-age daughter who is doing a semester over the border in Quebec.  "Growing older" themes are far more than theoretical for me, lately...

I like the notion of a "guideline" rather than a rule, at least to open it up for discussion. For instance, I agree that the Antoine Doinel saga could merit consideration as a whole, but I specifically nominated Before Midnight precisely because that film tackles aging/maturing/mid-life in a way that the previous two films don't. Now, I *love* the Before trilogy (my favorite trilogy), but I can't quite see Before Sunrise on a "Growing Older" list, while Before Midnight feels essential to me. Same with some of Apted's Up series--the later installments, maybe, but I see 7 Up and 14 Up in the "Coming of Age" genre. So, perhaps it just depends on the particular series/film, and we can discern together in our ongoing conversation.

Andrew, all the best on your travels, and hope the time with your family is beneficial!

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Of course I nominated King Lear. Can there be a list about age or aging that does not include Lear? In many respects, the pertinent question to me feels more like "which King Lear" rather than "why King Lear?"

I'll admit that the Ian Holm version is a personal favorite in large part due to Edgar and Cordelia. Their motivations seem clearer to me than they do on the blank page. There is a consciousness of family history here that I find missing in some performances. (I think, for example, of Jane Smiley's A THOUSAND ACRES, which projects Lear's abusive ways back to the past. That's defensible, but less sad and tragic than the Lear here that you realize engendered the love of Kent and Cordelia and *must* then have been something other.) Is it ever too late to grow, to learn, to love? Must experience, particularly suffering, always change us for the worst? If so, how do we change for the better?

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22 minutes ago, Joel Mayward said:

I like the notion of a "guideline" rather than a rule, at least to open it up for discussion. For instance, I agree that the Antoine Doinel saga could merit consideration as a whole, but I specifically nominated Before Midnight precisely because that film tackles aging/maturing/mid-life in a way that the previous two films don't. Now, I *love* the Before trilogy (my favorite trilogy), but I can't quite see Before Sunrise on a "Growing Older" list, while Before Midnight feels essential to me. Same with some of Apted's Up series--the later installments, maybe, but I see 7 Up and 14 Up in the "Coming of Age" genre. So, perhaps it just depends on the particular series/film, and we can discern together in our ongoing conversation.

 

 

I am certainly okay with that reasoning. Perhaps I should have said that I, personally, would be less inclined to vote for a trilogy or series than an individual movie rather than that someone else can't nominate one. 

What about if we say that if one wants to nominate a series one needs to make part of their explanation (in this thread) an answer to the question of why it should be nominated as a series rather than nominating an individual film?

Part of my own baggage in this area is that I always felt like the Dekalog exception was arbitrary and capricious and we retrofitted a rationale for it, George Lucas style, rather than simply admitting that we/some of us just wanted it in there.

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3 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

the Dekalog exception

This should be the new name for any future guideline of including trilogies/series as one voting unit.

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Three more noms from me:

1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Yeah, it's about a lot of other things too. But the heart of the film is coming to terms with aging and the change that brings. The scene where Kirk mutters "damn" after noticing Saavik noticing his reading glasses is a minor but key moment.

2. Youth Without Youth. It's aging-in-reverse. It's a meditation of youth, age, mortality, language....

3. Farewell My Concubine. This one's a more tenuous fit, insofar as any movie that covers a subject's life, real or imagined (so, say, Gandhi), will take on themes of aging. But I think this one is really, in part, about embracing (or failing to embrace) changes over the course of one's life.

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My nominees thus far:

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg - a love letter to musicals and the whimsical, love-at-first sight stories which accompany many of them, and at the same time a critique of such stories acknowledging how rarely such romances work out, especially as the characters grow older and must make decisions with long term consequences

Lady Bird - I know we want this to be more than just a coming of age list, but Lady Bird isn't only about Christine growing older and eventually wiser, but her mom going through the aging process of having her youngest child leave home and how to relate to her daughter as a young adult.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - a midlife crisis movie about Steve coming to terms with his own mortality after his best friend dies, and then confronted with the possibility that he might be a father, and then faced with the disillusionment of his fans, who also must go through the growing process of seeing their idols fail

The Magnificent Ambersons - George grows older, as do his mother and Eugene, and all three use their age and increased wisdom (or lack of wisdom) in very different ways as they adapt to the changing world

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I am somewhat conflicted...

Part of me really, really, wants to nominate Interview with a Vampire. Another part of me, as much as I love the book and think it is squarely on point in terms of theme, feels like...it's...just...not...a...good...movie. There, I said it. (And I say it as someone who greatly admires some of Jordan's other films.)

In looking over past Top 25 lists, I see some admonition to not just pick good movies but to make them part of this site, this theme, etc. Has there ever been much discussion about the reverse? Films that are a good fit but aren't necessarily excellent from a craftsmanship point of view?

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1 minute ago, kenmorefield said:

I am somewhat conflicted...

Part of me really, really, wants to nominate Interview with a Vampire. Another part of me, as much as I love the book and think it is squarely on point in terms of theme, feels like...it's...just...not...a...good...movie. There, I said it. (And I say it as someone who greatly admires some of Jordan's other films.)

In looking over past Top 25 lists, I see some admonition to not just pick good movies but to make them part of this site, this theme, etc. Has there ever been much discussion about the reverse? Films that are a good fit but aren't necessarily excellent from a craftsmanship point of view?

I'd probably second Interview if you nominated it. It's a great movie when Tom Cruise is on screen; when he disappears for a good chunk of the second half, it really suffers, but it unquestionably goes with the theme.

Speaking of vampire movies, I've been thinking about Only Lovers Left Alive as a movie about two characters who can't age, even as they have to watch the world and everyone around them grow older and change and come to terms with that.

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I’m fully in favor of privileging interesting films over “perfect” ones. And a list that at least considered Interview is more interesting than one that rejected it out of hand. 

Besides which, a list of “significant” films has way more leeway than “best” because the two don’t always overlap. 

Edited by NBooth

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I nominated Chimes at Midnight, which to me can be seen as about growing older both in the person of Falstaff and in Hal, who must betray his friend when he ascends to the throne. The moral dilemma is in how the betrayal of Falstaff seems painful, even though it is by all standards the right decision. Growth requires these kinds of hard choices, which Shakespeare and Welles treat beautifully.

I also nominated the Hong Kong film A Simple Life by Ann Hui. It's about caring for the elderly in our lives and the process of growing older for both the younger person and the older person. The film treats issues of class, health, nursing homes etc. It's about aging with grace and the reversal of care that happens when those who cared for us (in this case a maid/servant) need our care.

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16 hours ago, Evan C said:

Speaking of vampire movies, I've been thinking about Only Lovers Left Alive as a movie about two characters who can't age, even as they have to watch the world and everyone around them grow older and change and come to terms with that.

I didn't love Only Lovers Left Alive when I saw it, but it's stuck with me since in the way good movies stick with you. The aging angle is, if memory serves, part of the film's potency. If you nominated the movie, I'd second it - and would watch it again.

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A few more nominations with explanations:

Tarkovsky's The Mirror is to fundamentally about memory, but it's entirely appropriate since it treats differences in perception between old and young. It also places our growing older in a context of culture, politics, and history, rather than simply a personal subjective experience. As a recent article I read terms it, if the foreground are all the things an individual can touch and see in one's own subjective near distance, and the background is the far off background of the cosmos or long history, then middle ground is that arena of the social that mediates between the two, something increasingly lost in our experiences of aging. Mirror is about memory as that mediating force.

Lost in Translation has struck me as being increasingly wise about growing older, as I revisit about once a decade for the last nearly 20 years. It shows a person growing older, but not always wiser.

Summer Hours is about growing older, the relationship between you and your parents as they age, and you and your siblings in relation to the cultural values that surround us, including art, etc. I think it should clearly be on the list. I've shown it numerous times, especially to people my parents age, who are going through the loss of their own parents and life transitions into becoming the heads of families, etc. If you haven't seen it, please do before we vote.

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Boyle's sequel to his own film, T2 Trainspotting is a film revisiting the characters from the first 20 years later, not unlike Before Sunset or Before Midnight. But T2 Trainspotting is filled with deep sadness and regret, about repeating the same mistakes as we grow older. Quoting myself from Letterboxd: This film might do the most of any recent "belated sequels" to take advantage of that distance between the past and now, and in particular the pain of nostalgia, especially when the present offers little hope. There's a scene here where Mark Renton and Simon "Sick Boy" reminisce about their first experience with heroin that is heartbreaking. 


This film filters the past through the present of our Trump/Brexit/Social Mediated-world, so we can feel how crazy things are even in comparison to the 90s. There are a couple of formal and narrative choices I'm unsure about, and would have to watch the film again to really ponder, but those minor reservations aside, this is one of the best films I've seen recently about aging. And a killer soundtrack. The sequence with Queen's "Radio Ga Ga". Wow.

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I nominated Interview with the Vampire. As I mentioned above, I have some reservations about the overall film quality, but I do think it is an important mediation on our themes. Because the vampires do not age biologically but do emotionally and spiritually, the film provides an interesting thought experiment about whether or not being finite is a necessary corollary to being human. Also, it makes us think about Life Stages -- old age, middle age -- in a different way. 

I nominated Beginning with the End. Part of this is because I wanted to think about some documentaries. This lean doc tells the story of a high school cohort that gets academic credit for volunteering to do hospice care. They reflect on their experiences, and through their reflection we get a different look at aging, aging as seen by the young. Is it possible to prepare for aging and grapple with mortality while still in our youth?

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On 1/30/2019 at 8:06 AM, kenmorefield said:

I nominated Searching for Bobby Fischer

This film does, I suppose, push us almost immediately in working through what we mean by the theme and whether it is possible to focus it. Obviously, the film is more about a young person than an "old" person, but it powerfully illustrates what attracted me to the topic: transformation that accompanies the aging process. So in that sense, I'm still more in the Life Cycle mode, though I think Josh's transformation -- or resistance to it -- is in some ways about ordering his world and questioning the way his world is ordered. 

To me, Searching for Bobby Fischer would be a good addition to this list for a different reason, because of how it depicts a boy's interactions and reactions to role models of masculinity at various stages of the life cycle--the late middle age chess instructor, the early middle age dad, and the pre-middle age chess hustler who hangs out in the park. Chess means something different to each of these 4 males, and what chess means to each of them offers insights into each life stage. If nothing else, the film does a good job at depicting these various life stages.

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On 1/30/2019 at 12:51 PM, kenmorefield said:

I am certainly okay with that reasoning. Perhaps I should have said that I, personally, would be less inclined to vote for a trilogy or series than an individual movie rather than that someone else can't nominate one. 

What about if we say that if one wants to nominate a series one needs to make part of their explanation (in this thread) an answer to the question of why it should be nominated as a series rather than nominating an individual film?

Part of my own baggage in this area is that I always felt like the Dekalog exception was arbitrary and capricious and we retrofitted a rationale for it, George Lucas style, rather than simply admitting that we/some of us just wanted it in there.

Of the 3 entries on the Top 100 that aren't individual feature films, the relevant one for this list seems to be the Apu Trilogy. Dekalog, as a 10 part TV miniseries, is actually the least troubling of the exceptions to me, and Three Colors was indeed conceived as a single work of art. Apu wasn't, but the strong narrative continuity showing Apu's aging (coming of age, really) shows the kind of transformation that would make sense for this list. I'm not nominating it though.

So...individual films in trilogies can be nominated (of course) as well as trilogies/series that those might be part of, contra "guideline" #8? That makes sense to me. That way trilogies and constituent films can be voted on separately, and if I've seen a film but not the whole trilogy or series, I could still weigh in. The final list could be finessed by the moderator to make sure that, for instance, Before Sunset and the whole Before Trilogy aren't both on the list, perhaps?

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