The Epistle of Q — Chapter Sixty-Two (Happy New Year) — Part B

Is skiing all I did once the Levee was finished?
No, not really. I find that skiing at night, unless the lights are on, is a somewhat reckless activity. So I tend to look for other moments of rejuvenation.

So far, in this New Year I have seen three interesting movies: “Our Souls at Night”, “Just the Way It Is” and “The Darkest Hour” (the first two via Netflix).

“Our Souls at Night” is an excellent examination of some of the more intriguing issues that befall those of us who have passed the sixty-year mark. Children, grandchildren, off-piste actions during our energetic years and their impacts later in life, all are looked at along with some of the pressing moments in the aging process itself. Starring Robert Redford (still looking very fit and quite handsome) and Jane Fonda (who is similarly mocking the traditional views of what we ought to look like when we get older), the acting is superb and the script is thoughtful with just enough humour to make one chuckle at situations, even though you may well have faced the same crisis. This is a Netflix movie so it will not be at your local cinema — if you don’t have Netflix, then find someone who does and make them watch it with you. No kleenex is really needed, but a good glass of wine may seem appropriate — especially when it concludes!!

“Just the Way It Is” (the actual title may be something a little different — remember I have ADHD, so an accurate memory is not something I can count on) is also a look at aging but it is a little more predictable than “Our Souls…”! The stars include Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton — two more of my favourite actors — and they do an excellent job with a script that is solid but not as nuanced as the one Redford/Fonda enjoyed working with. This story is more centred on the desire for aging folk to still be something special and someone liked. Keaton’s character is in many ways the more enjoyable as she is trying to get to better; Douglas however does portray the falling success story very acutely and with some sympathy. Nevertheless whether you have ever been successful or still want to be, this film is worth the time it takes to view it — if only to see that aging doesn’t have to be ugly or pointless. Probably should have a scotch before turning it on.

“The Darkest Hour” is in many ways the parallel to “Dunkirk” in its examination of the early days of WW II. The actor portraying Churchill is as good as the one in Netflix “Crown” (Season One) but receives a more intense focus. This is really reinforced on the big screen of the movie theatre, when at times one almost feels as though we are walking with him through the underground in London and into the bunkers and even the subway. King George is portrayed in a manor that really helps one appreciate the importance of the crown in a constitutional monarchy (having met David Johnston our recently retired Governor General and been in his company on several occasions, I can attest that these largely ceremonious positions carry an immense thoughtful presence in times of crisis and it is important to have some one in the position who actually can think the end game). The film also gives considerable attention to the dynamic at play for Churchill with the continuing influence of Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax who were hell-bent on trying to make peace with Hitler. In many ways, by the end of the story one is ironically glad that Chamberlain died early in the war and so was excused from facing what would have been devastating criticism at the end of the war for his significant and continuing mis-reading of Hitler. Lord Halifax was sent to the USA so was out of the eye of the Brits who were much more lined up behind Winston. This is a film that should be shown on every campus (college and high school) along with “Dunkirk” across North America… democracy sometimes hangs on a thread, sometimes requires real action by those who may not think of themselves as important…

By the way, Season Two of “The Crown” is not as bad as some critics have indicated. It is just somewhat inconsistent. The episode involving Ghana as well as JFK is solid. There are several others that are tightly focused and thus are interesting studies. The ones that pay too much attention to Princess Margaret are often overly long and too drawn out; and sometimes an episode flits from one idea to another without much sense of a common thread. Nevertheless, overall the acting continues to be solid and Prince Phillip is getting better and the Queen continues to be real (as does her mother and her sister).

Continue to enjoy this new year…