Thursday, December 18, 2008


I just watched this documentary this morning. I was so inspired by it in part because of what we're doing with the Memoir Project. Old is the new black, apparently, and that's great. And yet the Memoir Project asks seniors who live in Boston neighborhoods to tell their life stories, which is a more traditional activity for elders. This is celebrating something different. These folks are singing songs written by angry young men, some of them highly privileged, as part of a rather whiny ongoing counterculture. And here are these oldsters singing these songs with real feeling and giving the lyrics all kinds of sly new meanings. They make the Ramones seem insightful, for goodness sake, and they rescue a Coldplay song from its tin-eared emotional entropy and turn it into something poignant. There should be a special grammy for that. 

The other thing I like about this film is that it doesn't get so wrapped up in the cutie pie feeling about old people still being active, and let's cheer for them just for that reason. It does show them struggling to remember lyrics and struggling to get around and fighting the illnesses that are going to kill them. It also touches on the real despair the singers face when they can't participate in the group anymore because their health won't allow it. Many times older people are given activities to occupy them, when in fact they need activities that challenge them. That need doesn't diminish in old age or even with grave illness.  If you give people a community and a goal, their lives improve. We've seen that in the Memoir Project and I think that comes through more than you'd expect in this film.

1 comment:

kt said...

Your posting pushed this movie to the top of my Netflix queue and I'm so glad it did -- it's just wonderful. I have the Young @ Heart version of "Fix You" (complete with oxygen-supply sounds) in constant rotation on my iPod, and I still tear up every time I hear it.