What Is Your Favorite Retirement Movie?

Category: General Retirement Issues

February 19, 2013 — What’s going on in Hollywood – retirement is the hot theme of the moment. Witness white-hot Maggie Smith, who is starring in 2 current movies (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “Quartet”), not to mention “Downton Abbey”. We thoroughly recommend the former, and have heard great things about the latter. But have you also seen the 40 minute film documentary about life in a retirement community, “Kingspoint”? Nominated for an Oscar, the film is self-described as a “Tale of Love, Loss, and Self-Preservation”. The Huffington Post said… “It’s a magnificent film. It is the wake-up call we all need to understand the mindsets of our parents and grandparents as they contemplate the final stages of their lives.” We’ll provide a review of “Kings Point” here as a warm-up to next week’s article – a summary of what our members think about retirement movies in general, including their favorites.

We had heard a lot about “Kings Point” since its subject is life in a retirement community. So when it came to a nearby theater as part of the Oscar “Shorts” package, we went. Initially we weren’t sure how we were going to like it.

Kings Point is an active community that was built in the 1970’s. At the time retirees from the Northeast swarmed in for low cost, non-stop fun in the warm Florida sun. But as the residents have aged together, so has the community. It looks dated, as do its inhabitants.

The people in this documentary are not as appealing as the well-groomed actors we are used to seeing in the movies – these folks are old and not particularly attractive, they have a lot of miles on them, and they are pretty much self-absorbed. There lives mostly seem to revolve around card games, looking for a boyfriend or girlfriend, dancing, and sitting by the pool.

At first it seemed like the Director was trying to belittle these senior citizens, making them objects of pity. But later on we came to a more complex reading of the film. These were real people after all with true stories – the Director didn’t make them up.The human needs so well presented are real – just because someone is old doesn’t mean they lose their human need to be loved and appreciated. On the one hand this version of retirement life does exist, particularly in communities that are extremely homogenous by age group. On the other hand it would be dangerous to stereotype retirement from what is depicted in this film – this is one version of retirement, but not the one you have to live if you choose your community carefully.

We wouldn’t call “Kings Point” a “magnificent” film like the Huffington Post did. We could say it is an interesting slice of one version of retirement life – a version we hope we don’t have to live! Some of the (paraphrased) insights mentioned by the characters in the video do resonate, however:
– “If you’re with one of these old guys, they won’t take care of you. They can’t. They need someone to take care of them. I don’t need them”.
– “What is really important is to be near your family. When you were younger you made friends-friends. Now at this age you can make acquaintances, not friends-friends.”
– “Self-preservation is what is most important now”.

We also asked our friend and frequent editorial contributor, Patricia Kennedy, what she thought of the film. Here are some of her impressions:

“I really hate the stereotype of people my age that we live banal, empty, meaningless lives now that we are older – just hanging out and waiting for the final goodbye. Maybe the real lesson of this film is that if you let yourself be trapped into a closed environment such as King’s Point where the highlight of the day is to bake in the sun or do line dancing, your skin will turn to leather and your mind to counting Mahjong tiles. Last year when I wrote those profiles of older people, I wanted to show that 65+ should mean that now you have the time to live a fun, interesting and meaningful live if you just make a little effort. I think I’d shoot myself if I had to live in a King’s Point. As for the cinematography, the film looked like it was made in the 1950s. I guess I really hated that film and its central message.”

The film was created by Sari Gilman, whose grandparents moved to Kings Point in 1978. The website for the movie is kingspointmovie.com. Although it is generally not available at regular movie houses, you can see it at film festivals and other locations posted on the website. At some point we hope it will be available at Netflix.

What do you think? We think the idea of retirement films could make for an interesting Blog article next week. So to help us get started, please weigh in with your opinions about your favorite retirement movie. Some obvious choices might include: “Amour”, “Marigold Hotel”, “Quartet”, Gran Turino”, “Bucket List”, “About Schmidt”, “Cocoon”, “High Noon”. “Lion in Winter”, “Calendar Girls”, “Unforgiven”, “Saving Grace”, “On Golden Pond”, “Going in Stuyle”, “Harry and Tonto”, and more. What do you think about the current rash of retirement movies. What are your favorites, and why? Do you think they are portraying retirement and retirees realistically and sympathetically – or show the kind of retirement you want to live? Please share your impressions with your fellow members in the Comments section below – we will provide a recap next week if we receive enough input.

For further reference:
Review of “Kings Point”

Posted by Admin on February 19th, 2013

7 Comments »

  1. With video on demand and streaming video, and the high cost of going to a movie, production companies realize that the younger, coveted crowd isn’t attending movies as much as they’d, like and the over-50 group is growing and underserved. People over 50 purchased 23% of tickets (according to the NY Times), and with more Boomers retiring, more might attend the movies IF there is a good story. Look at the success of The King’s Speech, for example, whose success is largely attributed to an older crowd.

    Re Kings Point, I haven’t seen it, but did read this article about it: http://health.heraldtribune.com/2012/08/08/new-documentary-examines-life-in-florida-retirement-community/

    Frankly, I felt Sari Gilman’s (film’s creator and granddaughter of residents) point of view was out of touch. This is the post I left in response to the above article from the Herald Tribune:

    From the article: “She had a lot of freedom down there and enjoyed it for a very long time,” her granddaughter said.

    Should Ida have never moved and stayed where she was just because at some point she would need help? Note she moved back to an assisted living facility, not in with her family. In the meantime, sounds like she had a great time for about 30 years in Florida!

    No matter what the age, most everyone (including our youth) professes “anxiety about their future,” whether it’s financial or health-related.

    Newer communities, of course, are ADA compliant, and integrate universal design concepts (such as “comfort height” toilets and curbless showers) so people can age in place longer. And for many, the social support is what makes communities of similar-aged residents tremendous. Neighbors are available (and happy) to take neighbors to chemo appointments, make meals, visit, and help out. I think a lot of people who live in age-targeted communities would disagree about the “Darwinian bent.”

    This film is important to generate discussion. Many people think it’s fun to re-invent yourself several times over. We’re a mobile society, and if we need to move – whether for work, health, a lower cost of living, or just to try out a different life – change is something to embrace. It’s not necessarily the best choice to stay frozen in place because a fear of ultimately needing help. And, who’s to say our kids will stay where we are? What about people without children? Research actually shows that social support extends our lives, and interestingly, it was friends – not family – that had this effect. After all, Ida lived until 93!

    Jan Cullinane
    AARP’s The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement
    The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life
    Retire Happy!

    by Jan Cullinane — February 20, 2013

  2. I think the idea of a retirement film blog would be interesting. I haven’t seen King’s Point but it sounds rather depressing. Of the films you listed, my absolute favorite was Saving Grace, followed by Marigold Hotel. They were both funny upbeat movies that stressed maintaining connections with other people not necessarily carbon copies of ourselves. I can’t imagine living in one of those communities where everyone is old and conversation revolves around doctor visits and ailments and where there are rules, rules,rules. I want to be able to plant a vegetable garden, hang my laundry and paint my front door purple!!

    by cherie — February 27, 2013

  3. “A Foreign Field” is typical of British & Euro ability to deal with issues of aging. Done in 1993 (WWII vets return to Normandy). Think it was actually Brit made-for-TV by same writer who did “Last of the Summer Wine” … at or near top of my all-time favorite TV series. I just read a book that highlights the theme of LOSW (“play” in older age): Travels with Epicurus, by Daniel Klein. A wonderful read. AARP has articles in their mag re: films for seniors. The ones we’ve seen are fantastic (when compared with the film industry in general!). Of course, when I speak with 30-&-unders, they don’t “get it” for most of them. So, I agree with idea of discussing films for seniors, but think it should include TV productions (films, series, specials), and books … heck ANY medium (plays, magazines, web sites, youtube, anything.

    by Mad Monk — March 17, 2013

  4. Thanks Mad Monk, valuable input as always! Will look into your suggestions.

    A couple of more thoughts. We saw “Quartet” yesterday, a thoroughly enjoyable movie with great performances from Maggie Smith (of course, it seems like she is in every “senior” movie/TV show these days), but also Tom Courtenay, Billie Connolly, Pauline Collins (originally Sarah in Upstairs/Downstairs”), Michael Gambon, and Sheridan Smith (who reminded us of Anna in “Downton Abbey”, but who is not the same actress – that would be Joanne Froggatt). This movie about retirement was directed by baby boomer icon Dustin Hoffman – how ironic and how things change!

    I agree with your comments about younger folks and how they differ from baby boomers about movies, particularly about “Lincoln”. Speaking for myself, a loved the richness of the period display and Daniel Day Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, and Sally Field

    by Admin — March 17, 2013

  5. To paraphrase an old saying: “We were young once; they’ve never been old.” Thus, understandably, the young(er) have no experience/perspective with which to relate … just like they feel that they will live forever, their bodies will never age, and that we old foggies no NOTHING! But, didn’t we feel the same way???? 😉

    by Mad Monk — March 19, 2013

  6. I recently watched “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. It stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy among others. It is funny, sad, somewhat telling in regard to how aging changes everything.
    I loved it.

    by Anne — March 26, 2013

  7. Just watched Michael Moore 2007 documentary called “Sicko” – documentary about Universal Health care. it really opened my eyes. I think everyone should watch this considering our healthcare in the U.S.

    by Debbye — March 27, 2013

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