BOOMERBROADcast

The voice of baby boomers, the silenced majority. Rants and reflections on lifestyle, fashion, current events, books and movies.


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All The Money In The World . . . doesn’t buy happiness


John Paul Getty III with his mother Gail after his release.

If you’re a boomer like me, you probably remember the sensational newspaper coverage of a brutal kidnapping in the early seventies. Paul Getty, the sixteen-year-old grandson of the world’s richest man J. Paul Getty, was snatched off the street in Rome and held for ransom of $17 million. The drama played out for several months. Getty Sr. refused to pay the ransom while the Calabrian organized crime ring who kidnapped him grew increasingly desperate. I clearly remember the universal shock and horror when we read that the kidnappers amputated Getty Jr.’s ear and sent it to a newspaper to a) prove that they still had him and, b) to confirm their commitment to following through with further amputations unless their demands were met.

Watching the movie All The Money In The World filled in all the background information that was missing and forgotten about the notorious kidnapping. The substitution of fallen-from-grace Kevin Spacey with Canadian Christopher Plummer was a deft move. Plumber was perfect in his portrayal of Getty Sr. as a calculating, dispassionate, eccentric old billionaire. He protected his fortune greedily while indulging his passion for collecting art with the love and dedication he should have afforded his own family. Casting of Charlie Plummer as Paul Getty Jr. was also excellent and he even somewhat resembled Michelle Williams who played Getty Jr.’s mother. Williams played Gail Getty with just the right amount of angst, indignation and anger. Gail married a Getty son and divorced him without any form of compensation from the Getty family in order to retain custody of her three children. That decision left her broke and incapable of raising the ransom money herself leaving her at the mercy of her former father-in-law.

Michelle Williams played Getty Jr.’s mother Gail, accompanied by Mark Wahlberg as Getty Sr.’s negotiator.

All The Money In The World is a good movie. Not only do we learn the story behind the story, but we’re treated to beautiful shots of Rome and the Italian countryside. We watch the negotiations for a $17 million ransom drop over time as the kidnapping ‘contract’ is sold to a second crime ring. And, there are the obvious conclusions to be drawn about ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ and the disastrous effects it often has on second and third generations in wealthy families. My gal pals and I really enjoyed our couple of hours watching this movie and I’m confident you will too. We gave it four beautifully manicured thumbs-up.

You are special mes très chères.

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Boomer feel-good movie felt limp


There aren’t a lot of movies out there that appeal to the Boomer set, so when one finally appears, we organize a girls’ outing, line up for our cheap seniors’ tickets, then line up again for our gallon pail of Diet Coke and bucket of chemically questionable popcorn. That’s what happened this week when my gal pals and I settled in to see Paris Can Wait starring Diane Lane and Arnaud Viard with a cameo by Alec Baldwin. The reviews weren’t great but we figured it would be worth the price of admission to see wide shots of French scenery.

Diane Lane plays the neglected wife of a movie producer (Alec Baldwin) who can’t fly to Paris from the French Riviera because of an inner ear ailment. When Jacques, a French associate producer played by Arnaud Viard offers to drive her, since he’s ‘going that way’, she reluctantly agrees. What should be a direct drive becomes several days exploring the historical, esthetic and culinary delights of Provence and the Rhône Valley under the tutelage of the charming Frenchman. Eventually, they do get to Paris. Sounds like a wonderful trip.

In our opinion, the only people who really enjoyed Paris Can Wait would be those who starred in and were involved in making the movie. They got to spend a few weeks in France during the summer on an expense account while getting paid a nice salary. I don’t always agree with the critics, but this time, they were right.  One of my gal pals even fell asleep toward the end. The plot was trite and Harlequin-novel-like. Every cloud has a silver lining though. The Rick Steeves-like descriptions of local tourist attractions and beautiful cinematography were wonderful. That and the popcorn, followed by the four of us going for tea at Timmies after the movie made the afternoon worthwhile. Save your money. Wait for it to come on television and watch it for free. My advice? Pass Paris and proceed directly to Timmies.

Click here for the review by Rotten Tomatoes

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Florence Foster Jenkins soars above her abilities


florence1No actor does watery eyes and tears better than Meryl Streep and both are evident in her latest movie based on real-life personality Florence Foster Jenkins. What came as a bit of a surprise was how comedic Streep is, although she capably displayed this talent in Julia and Julia several years ago. After watching Florence Foster Jenkins I came home and immediately Google’d her name to find out more about this complex person.

Born into a wealthy family, Florence displayed a particular talent for music and as a child once played the piano for American President Rutherford Hayes. When her father refused to bankroll her musical career she tragically married young and contracted syphilis from her husband, whom she immediately left. Several years later, when both of her parents died and she inherited a considerable sum of money, she became a patron, sponsor and participant in New York’s operatic society. Florence regularly held private recitals in her apartment or a rented ballroom at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, oblivious of the fact she had a terrible singing voice and no sense of rhythm or timing.

Streep was touching and hilarious in the title role.

Streep was touching and hilarious in the title role.

St. Clair Bayfield came into her life fulfilling the role of husband (although they were never officially married) and manager. Hugh Grant was excellent as her seemingly upper-class English actor husband and their relationship was fascinating to watch. Bayfield and her piano accompanist Cosmé McMoon were loyal enablers, overlooking her obvious shortcomings as a singer and supporting her career and ambitions. In 1944 at the age of seventy-six when she was in failing health, Florence staged a concert at Carnegie Hall, donating one thousand tickets to servicemen. Despite a rocky introduction and the unmistakable laughter from the audience, she pushed through to her finale. She died a few weeks later.  My girlfriends and I really enjoyed the movie which has some great laughs. If you’ve seen it or plan to, let me know what you thought. There’s a moral to the story.

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The Meddler entertains, but barely


meddlerThe Globe and Mail’s movie review gave it three out of four stars but me and my gal pal panel who went to see it yesterday would only give it two out of four, and we’re a pretty astute bunch. We enjoyed it, somewhat, but can’t say any of us were overly impressed. And that’s from four women who can strongly relate to the main character.

Susan Sarandon stars as Marni, the Brooklyn-bred mother of Lori, played by Rose Byrne, who follows her screen-writer daughter to Los Angeles following the death of her husband. In order to give meaning to her new life as a widow, Marnie helicopter-parents her adult daughter and everyone she encounters in her daily life. A romantic interest appears in the form of a former cop called Zipper played by J.K. Simmons which takes the pressure off meddling in the love life of her daughter.

The movie had some lovely chuckles and was entertaining but you might want to wait and catch it when it comes on television, unless you’re in the mood for an afternoon or evening out with some nice warm theatre popcorn and Diet Coke. Even at the rip-off prices, that alone is usually worth the money.


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Two movies about interesting women


Today we have a two-fer. Two movie reviews in one posting because they have similar themes—eccentric ladies of a certain age coping with life. I just saw The Lady in the Van and Hello, My Name is Doris within the past week and both were fun and worth the price of admission.

vanThe name Maggie Smith practically guarantees great acting, a worthy plot-line and good writing. Starring as Margaret Sheppard, an elderly bag lady living in her dilapidated van, her character is abrasive, funny, intelligent and unpredictable. Smith is delightful in the role without being over-the-top or pathetic. She parks her van in front of various houses on a particular street in Camden Town until she runs into trouble with parking authorities and accepts the offer of playwright Alan Bennett to park in his driveway. And there she remains, for fifteen years. The Lady In The Van is loosely based on a true story written by Bennett, owner of the driveway and sponsor of the character on which she is based. Alex Jennings, an Elton John look-alike plays Bennett. As a confirmed Anglophile, I loved the movie, which I watched on Pay-Per-View as it didn’t seem to last very long in theatres.

dorisSally Field plays the lead character in Hello, My Name is Doris about a boomer-aged woman who has dedicated her entire adult life to taking care of her mother while living in her childhood home. She is an odd character, an eccentric dresser but otherwise, one of the drones who toil away at data entry in a small cubicle for a company that keeps her on because she’s pretty much invisible. She reminds me of office girl “Kaaaaiye” played by Tracy Ullman many years ago, for those who remember that wonderful character. When a handsome young new Creative Director shows an interest in her, Doris mistakes his attention for romance and her life takes on a new dimension. Field often over-acts  in this movie but considering the character, it’s understandable. Not an Oscar-worthy movie, but a fun chick-flick. I attended with three girlfriends and we laughed heartily and frequently while tossing back our popcorn and Diet Coke.

There are few movies targeted at the mature Boomer market and for that reason alone we need to support and encourage them. I think you would enjoy both of these movies but I’d love to know your opinion. Let me know.

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