Monday, April 16, 2018

Another "granny" documentary opens: Sky Bergman's ode to seniors, LIVES WELL LIVED

Hot on the heels of last week's Nana comes another documentary inspired by the life of a filmmaker's grandmother, but this time, instead of concentrating on a single senior whose life was devoted to something significant, we're treated to a whole bunch of the aged in a mere 72 minutes, with maybe a dozen of their stories given to us in some detail, while the others (there are 40 folk included here) merely add a few thoughts to this mix about life, aging and living well. Overall, the documentary provides the expected upbeat scenario and should have audiences leaving the theaters where the film opens this Friday feeling good -- if not especially challenged or provoked in any way.

The filmmaker, Sky Bergman (shown above, left, with her grandmother, who was the person who most inspired this documentary), has set out to show the diversity and possibilities of old age and what can be done with these in a positive manner.

Her film, titled LIVES WELL LIVED: Celebrating the Secrets, Wit and Wisdom of Age, moves from that granny to a fellow, above, who now makes mozzarella daily for his daughter's deli to a woman, below, for whom (and evidently for decades now) yoga has been of major importance in life.

We meet another woman of Hispanic and Filipino heritage (below) who credits the Girl Scouts of America for providing her opportunities she had not found elsewhere. Among the many stray thoughts and ideas these seniors offer up, many may sound as though you've heard them (and more than once) previously, but there is one very smart and perhaps quite important one that might just get by you in the rush: A French/Danish woman quietly notes that "Your attitude" (the italics are mine) "is the only thing you really have control over in your life." An idea to live by, I should think. (I am very grateful to Ms Bergman for including it.)

Most of the participants here seem to be living middle-class-or-better lives, and we only hear briefly, if at all, about the battles they may have had to wage to get there. This keeps things
on that even keel and positive plane. Another woman, a Japanese-American (at left) whose family was placed in one of those despicably racist internment camps during World War II (second only in our country's history to its embrace of black slavery during its first century), has clearly risen above that most difficult period, though the documentary doesn't offer many clues or much info as to how.

One of the people included is a fellow referred to as Botso, about whom an entire and very good documentary (click on the link above for further info) was released back in 2014. What we learn of Botso here, however, barely skims the surface of what was/is a truly fascinating, amazing life and career.

As with any documentary that must fit all these lives into barely more than one hour, some peoples' stories will command much more attention and interest than others. TrustMovies was particularly taken with one couple -- she a member of the original Kinder-transport, he a German Jew who managed to escape the Holocaust -- of whom I'd have liked to learn much more. Ditto Santi, an evidently famous Italian photojournalist back in the day (above) whose comment, "In Europe, we know our limits" simply begs for a bit more exploration.

As does the life of the black woman named Blanche (at left), for whom dance was a cornerstone of life, who says that she did not come into her own till age 50.

I can't help wonder what and who she was and what she had to deal with prior to that. Well, maybe some enterprising documentarian will give each of these folk a movie of their own.

Skimming along a very pleasant surface but offering little depth, and more suited, I think, for the home screen than for movie theater prices (unless you have a MoviePass and use it often), Lives Well Lived has already opened in a number of cities around the country and hits some California venues this Friday, April 20, and then quite a few more locations over the weeks to come. Click here and scroll down to learn when and if it will be playing at a theater near you. 

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