Video Vault: Young at Heart

Young at Heart
2007: Stephen Walker
PG – 107 minutes
Vault Rating: 9

When I grow up, I want to be in the Young @ Heart Chorus.

The Vault Rating of 9 isn’t because today’s feature is the most cinematically magical. It isn’t because the acting is great. Actually, there IS no acting in this charmed documentary about a chorus of elderly people, 80 and 90 years old or better, some of them, who tour the world performing rock standards.

This film works because it reminds us in a beautiful way that our time is limited on this earth. These people are singing, determined to make the most of the time left them, in such a way as to subtly disarm and invite you into a kindly place where you might just learn something, sonny.

The bold comedy of the punk rock video, “I Wanna Be Sedated,” shot hilariously in an old folks’ home, will get you if the subversive treatment of the disco classic, “Stayin’ Alive,” doesn’t. Either way, you will doubtless agree that these old people, who would otherwise have nothing left to live for, are simply, despite myriad life and death health risks, going for it.

The message is, then, why aren’t WE younger people going for it? Every single day. We’ve only got so much time to make this tired old world a better place. So what are we waiting for?

Nowhere in the film is the message more resounding than when the group, headed by band director/task master Bob Cilman and a host of top-notch session men, performs for an audience of prisoners prior to their 2007 European tour. You can feel these young men, so many of whom have wasted so much time, looking within themselves, weeping, and asking themselves questions they might never have entertained.

Young @ Heart began in 1982 in a Northampton, Massachusetts, elderly housing project. Over the years, the project grew and changed and produced a number of very original stage productions. In 1997, the chorus was invited to a European arts festival, the perfectly apt theme of which was “Forever Young.” The uproar hasn’t diminished since.

To me, the chorus’ treatment of the Coldplay song, “Fix You,” is almost a perfect application of the song. Its a song about failure and faults, love and loss. It reminded me of my departed grandmother who always cursed her failing body thus: “It’s hell getting old.” Yet the song offers grace in its weeping chorus:

“Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try… to fix you.”

Sung by a frail elderly man, struggling just to take another breath, the song has the effect of catching an anvil.

Now, to join the Young @ Heart Chorus, one has to be at least 73 years old and live year-round within a 40 mile radius of Northampton, Mass. So snowbirds need not apply, apparently. I had hoped for warmer climates in my … what?… “declining?” … or rather, “ultimate,” years.

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If you’d like to find out more about the Young @ Heart Chorus, they’re easy to find on the web. Click here.

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Not that the Golden Globes are the end all and be all, but they did the Video Vault proud by giving three nominations and one trophy to “In Bruges,” which I told you about back in August.

Click HERE for a pretty darn good “I told ya so.” “In Bruges” (pronounced Broozh) is one of those little films that most people miss and for which the Video Vault lives.

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We looked up a few oldies that were decent. You can do worse than the 2007 Bruce Willis actioner, “Live Free or Die Hard.” Willis takes on a computer nerd sidekick, Justin Long – the cool guy of the Mac Computer commercials, to do battle with a computer terrorist group trying to take down America’s infrastructure. The movie could have gotten a neat if misplaced kick if the bad guy had actually been “the PC guy,” John Hodgman.

Notwithstanding the comically magical way the bad guys (Timothy Olyphant and the wickedly leather-clad Maggie Q) cause chaos with the pressing of a single “enter” key, there are exciting chases, fights and explosions. Especially fantastic was the police car vs. attack helicopter sequence. I assure you, a Ford Crown Victoria cannot, simply cannot, emerge victorious from that chase. Still, the movie was fun to watch.

Also checked out the Tom Hanks 2002 vehicle, “Road to Perdition,” and emerged with my thumb and forefinger forming an OK sign.

In this one, Hanks portrays a 1930s Chicago hit man who goes on the run after his wife and son are murdered. Seeking vengeance against a world full of shady characters (toughies like Paul Newman, Daniel Craig, Stanley Tucci, Jude Law), Hanks fights to secure a safe life for his remaining son.

“Perdition,” of course, is a reference to eternal damnation and I’ve heard the road to perdition is paved with good intentions. This film has its strengths and weaknesses, to be sure, but it plays okay, especially if you like gangster movies and a lot of shooting.

Until next time, enjoy!

Video Vault: Vicky Christina Barcelona
Video Vault: The Happening

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