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Put Your Feet Up....

Film Reviews

Ageing, Older People and Family/Friendly Care in Film

by Graciela Gonzalez

86 year old retired dental surgeon and emerging film critic

This Issue’s selection are The Closing Ring (2007) and The Straight Story (1999). I love each of these films, but for very different reasons. The first film is a romantic story, presented in the present and the past, and has a happy ending. The second film also has a happy ending, but is very emotional in parts. 

The Closing Ring

Country: UK, Canada, USA
Cast: Shirley McLaine, Christopher Plummer, Dylan Roberts, Pete Postlethwaite
Director: Richard Attenborough
Language: English
Genres: Drama / Romance
Running Time: 118 minutes 

This film is about four close friends whose lives alter completely due to WWII. This story is brought to the present by the death of one friend in the US, and at the same time, by a young man searching for the owner of a ring found in an old air crash of a US bomber pilot in Ireland. The two stories are told by flashes between the past and present, and the mystery of the ring slowly unfolds.

The film features three older and very credible actors (McLaine, Plummer and Postlethwaite) and you can see Attenborough’s engagement with the actors and the story. It is a very romantic story and shows how two people can still, towards the end of their lives, recapture a-not-forgotten love. My only criticism is it feels a bit ‘Hollywood’ at times.

The Straight Story

Country: USA
Cast: Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek and Jane Galloway Heitz
Director: David Lynch
Language: English
Genres: Drama
Running Time: 112 minutes

Filmed in the beautiful, yet lonely, American landscape, this film is a road movie of sorts. It tells the story of Alvin Straight (Farnsworth) who undertakes a trip to visit his ill and estranged brother. Instead of going by car or bus, he goes across country on his lawn mower.

This is a very simple story and the films follows Alvin’s slow journey, the people met along the way and his reunion with his brother. Interestingly, this film is based on a true story.


by John Bell Smithback

I captured you in the lens of a pond
and I held you, like the green banks
so lightly hold this mirror,
this embodiment of all things you are.
The rose was wilting toward the west
and your delicate face blushed,
embarrassed being caught so naked
by a stranger.
I smiled, and we were recognized,
and you knew there was no stranger now:
just depths that held unmeasured love.

I was there in the land of fantasy,
the land that lived beyond the little girl,
and yet you did not die,
and the land has neither forgotten nor forsaken you.
The effigy of your eyes looks at me now
and sparkles with the light of little-girl surprise.
The red of your lips,
lips sweeter than before you found lipstick,
rests gently on your face
to kiss the world with kisses now mine.
Your straight, you slender limbs
stand firm against the sky,
like the limbs of a dancer
ready to begin the dance,
waiting for the cue that came one day,

that day you danced
away from this land of fantasy.
Against the sky, the barren trees
stand out like framed piano keys.
Your child fingers reach across and play some notes,
and though today you play a symphony,
you are remembered here
as the little one who could not reach the keys.

Ah, yes, this land does remember you,
and in this one spot, in this single mirror,
I see you, and know that you are caught forever.
With each star that shines,
I know that your child’s eyes will sparkle and gleam again.
With each new spring you will wear a pale-green dress,
and you will sing with birds
and laugh to be loved so much.
With each new bloom along your finger tips,
your hands will play a concert
and you will be loved in return for your symmetry.
Each time it rains, your face will flush,
and tears will stain your lovely lips.
But I know that you will smile again
for I see the love this land has for you.
And I know in my heart
that as long as this land embodies you
you will belong to the stars and the sky,
and to the waters and the grass.

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