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Sam Bauman: Movie entertains, gives insight into aging, help

Sam Bauman
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There’s a film playing at the Galaxy Fandango cineplex in Carson City that shows age and family relationships in a complex situation. It’s a movie of almost old style seriousness and has nothing of the computer created graphics. Instead, it lets good actors do what they do best, create a world that we can immerse ourselves in. It’s good for all audiences but perhaps best for seniors who face some of the problems with aging that appear here.

The movie is “The Judge,” and it stars Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall, both past Academy Award winners. Downey is a top big city defense lawyer and is called out from a trial by the death of his mother back in Indiana. His marriage is breaking, but he leaves to join his judge father (Duvall) for the funeral.

He arrives and finds his brothers Glen (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Dale (Jeremy Strong) at home. Glen is big and burl; Dale is a bit airy and an amateur motion picture maker.

His father, Judge Joseph “Joe” Palmer, is unsettled by the loss of his wife of 50 years and seems dazed. A pre-funeral “viewing scene” of the mother is very Midwestern and sets the tone for the film.

The funeral is completed and Henry “Hank” Palmer (Downey) is preparing to fly home when his father the judge is arrested in the death of man who appeared in the judge’s court and had displayed bad feelings toward the judge.

The judge’s Cadillac has damage in the front and it fits in with the man killed. The judge is indicted and the trial progresses with Billy Bob Thornton as Dickham, a special prosecutor bought in for the trial.

At first a young lawyer is hired but isn’t up to the job and Hank steps in.

The trial unwinds and Hank finds Samantha (Vera Farmiga) an old sweetheart.

The movie courses through the trial with some surprises but nothing that seems jury-rigged.

The point of the film for seniors is the portrayal of an aging and probably on the road to dementia man. Duvall handles it with sensitivity and grace, never asking for sympathy but demanding to do things his way.

And the response from Downey could be a lesson for all of us as we age and we deal with others. This is not a primer on dealing with older people. It’s a sombre portrait about how things can get tangled when age steps in.

Duvall captures onrushing dementia gently, never overdoing it but showing by tiny moves how age has affected him.

While seniors will certainly learn from the movie, younger moviegoers too will gain an insight into a world that perhaps they will have to face.

All that aside, this is a very good film, and humor was obviously enjoyed by the noontime audience. I certainly had fun.

Not to carp at audiences, but I was surprise to see that last week grosses from films showed the excellent thriller “Gone Girl” in a practical tie with a dull horror film about a doll, “Annabella.”

AND THE BAND PLAYED ON

It was Autumn Jazz at the Comma Coffee last week when the Mile High Jazz Band setup inside the Comma. This is big band music from the past in a funky bar.

This is a very much seniors’ affair although there were lots of younger music fans on hand.

Next concert at 7:30 Nov. 11. Admission is just $5, and it’s free for those 18 and younger.

FUN AT THE CARSON LIBRARY

It’s always fun to prowl through the stacks at the library and find old friends tucked away between newer books. Some that I think seniors might enjoy and have forgotten about:

“The World According to Garp,” by John Irving is a madcap masterpiece. Seniors might also remember the movie version which starred Robin Williams along with Glenn Close, John Lithgow and Mary Beth Hurt.

“The Ugly American” by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick. This was a 1958 expose of U.S. government foolishness abroad. I witnessed much of what they wrote about back when I was wandering the news writing world.

Then there’s the late mystery writer Ed McBain, whose fun books fill a couple of shelves. I recently enjoyed “Hark!” but there’s more for seniors who enjoy more realistic fare.

Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.