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kenmorefield

Top 25: Discussion for Nominations on Growing Older

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18 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

I am trying to see as many of the nominees as I can before voting and revisit a few that I haven't seen in ages and don't really remember. I have DVDs on my shelf of Benjamin Button and The Best Years of Our Lives and suspect I need to rewatch Late Spring and Colonel Blimp. 

The Best Years of Our Lives may be my all-time favorite movie. I try watch it twice a year. I can't count how many times I've seen it, but I've never gotten any "growing older" vibe out of it. The characters change and mature as a result of the traumas and serendipitous events that bound the three soldiers togethers, nothing I understand as related to their ages or aging processes. I hate the idea of giving it a "1" when I vote, but as of now that's where I'm at. So, if anyone can make a case for how it fits our theme, I'd love to be convinced.

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I too tend to think of Best Years as a trauma film rather than an aging film. That said, I noted on re-watch that a significant portion of the trauma, especially for the Sergeant, was the aging of his family (kids) and hence his disorientation. Part of aging is the intractable nature of time -- it proceeds regardless of whether we want it to, and we transform whether we want to or not. They are not dead, but the people they were (and the people they remembered) no longer exist -- they've been replaced by different incarnations of themselves. 

I am not sure if that is enough to be about aging, but it's what I gleaned. I was reminded of the line from Ghosts of Mississippi when the couple splits up where the wife asks if he is leaving her because she has changed form the person he married and he says no, I'm leaving you because you haven't. An obvious major theme that connects many of these films is parenting, but I do think aging is an issue in films that are primarily about marriage. What does it mean to be spiritually (or emotionally or psychologically) bound to another human being who is constantly changing and transforming into something and someone new? Why do we try to freeze relationships at an ideal point and how do we respond when we realize we can't?

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I just wanted to put in a word, too, about Searching for Bobby Fischer, which I suspect will strike many people as more about "coming of age" than aging. The aspect that I find very resonant is the conversation between Bruce and Josh about contempt as it is really about how society (or this subsection of it) defines adulthood (maturity). It's one of the better films at illustrating the theme I've seen so many sermons stumble over -- subtle differences  between "childish" and "child-like." Josh is a child biologically but mature emotionally (and spiritually?) Bruce (and Josh's dad) are biologically older but still emotionally childish. Mom (Joan Allen) sees it as her job to protect Josh's "goodness," not by sheltering him from evil or keeping him in a naive state but by promoting and validating those elements of his personality that the broader American (and more narrow competitive chess) culture despise: mercy, empathy, the pursuit of goals for intrinsic rather extrinsic rewards. 

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52 minutes ago, kenmorefield said:

I too tend to think of Best Years as a trauma film rather than an aging film. That said, I noted on re-watch that a significant portion of the trauma, especially for the Sergeant, was the aging of his family (kids) and hence his disorientation. Part of aging is the intractable nature of time -- it proceeds regardless of whether we want it to, and we transform whether we want to or not. They are not dead, but the people they were (and the people they remembered) no longer exist -- they've been replaced by different incarnations of themselves. 

I am not sure if that is enough to be about aging, but it's what I gleaned. I was reminded of the line from Ghosts of Mississippi when the couple splits up where the wife asks if he is leaving her because she has changed form the person he married and he says no, I'm leaving you because you haven't. An obvious major theme that connects many of these films is parenting, but I do think aging is an issue in films that are primarily about marriage. What does it mean to be spiritually (or emotionally or psychologically) bound to another human being who is constantly changing and transforming into something and someone new? Why do we try to freeze relationships at an ideal point and how do we respond when we realize we can't?

Thanks for trying Ken. I want to give it a good rating but only because I love the movie so much. I'm not sure yet if this is enough to boost my score, but I don't plan to vote until Monday so I can watch some more of the movies I haven't seen first. I won't be able rewatch Best Years of Our Lives within that time, but I'll keep thinking about the things you brought up and see where my mind is about it on Monday. If anybody else (maybe those who nominated/second it) want to push for it, I'd still love to be convinced to give it a high mark.

Edited by Ed Bertram

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