Good Time is just a generic enough title to scroll past while looking for something to watch. Plus, a bleach-blonde Robert Pattinson thumbnail image doesn’t really help matters. (Though, to be fair, he has done interesting films lately, like the equally generic, falsely upbeat titled, High Life. I almost watched The Lighthouse last night, but didn’t want to pay $3.99. Instead, I paid $3.99 to watch The Guest–am I the only one who preferred Dan Stevens slightly more doughy?)
It’s not a bad movie, and I started liking it even more when I realized Jennifer Jason Leigh played his girlfriend. Since I was fairly young, and not a teen when Fast Times At Ridgemont High was popular, I assumed Jennifer Jason Leigh was older than me, but not significantly, like maybe early 50s now. It turns out she’s 58, which makes the casting of a 55-year-old love interest for a man in his early 30s even a little more radical.
No one is talking about Marriage Story anymore (thank god) but thinking about Jennifer Jason Leigh makes me dislike it all over again. Also, how is Noah Baumbach only 50?
Extra credit reading: “It’s a Good Time to Be Jennifer Jason Leigh.”
I just read (ok, skimmed) an article in Glamour, “A 38-Year-Old Woman Is the Bachelorette—And Yes, It Matters” and had the realization that I’m probably going to have to shift my age focus upward.
When I first started this pet project, I was in my early 40s and was fixated with women doing cool things over 40. But each year, I get older, as one does, and well, 38 being representative as an older woman is absurd, no matter how true it is on TV.
Women 50+ are becoming more interesting to me, just as women 60+ are going to be exciting to me, personally, in probably a decade. That’s the way life works.
That said, recent news of a casting call for singles 65+ for a senior edition of The Bachelor doesn’t make me feel any better. I don’t even watch reality dating shows, but I’m well aware that most contestants are under 30. An extreme pivot the other direction is good and well, but there’s also a lot of uncharted territory between 30 and 65.
I know, I know, I’m sounding like one of those size 8-10 women who complain they’re not represented by either straight-sized or plus-sized models.
Who will think about all of the middle-aged people!?
In the Netflix sci-fi series, Ad Vitam, 63-year-old women hang out at clubs. You see, this is a show about what happens when science prolongs death.
Even in this near-future fantasy, men can’t date their own age, of course. This scene involves a flirty guessing game with a man who turns out to be 91. Near centenegarians can only do it with 63-year-old women who look 36.
The “third” in this scene is referring to a career, for what it’s worth. I could use a few more decades-worth of help with mine.
I never thought I would get some prime “Screen Time’ material from The Handmaid’s Tale. Gilead is not exactly a party. Thanks to the magic of backstories and flashbacks, we now know Aunt Lydia was once a family court lawyer turned horny teacher who gets carried away with her boss, after a New Year’s Eve party where she does a karaoke duet and sings “Islands In the Stream.”
I also must note that her boss is played by John Ortiz, the actor that spurred Melanie Lynsky’s character in Togetherness to have an affair because they were both consumed by passion for charter schools. Education is sexy, I guess.
I unintentionally watched Yours, Mine and Ours, the movie that was the basis for The Brady Bunch a few weekends ago. It came on and I was too lazy to turn it off. Well, lazy, but also intrigued by how old the main characters were supposed to be since Lucille Ball was playing the military widow who moved from Seattle to the Bay Area with her eight children, one who appeared to be no older than three.
Lucille Ball was 57 when this movie was made. Fine, I’ll suspend my disbelief and accept that a 54-year-old woman could give birth in 1968, but SPOILER ALERT she gets pregnant AGAIN before the end of the movie.
My boyfriend seems to think that I enjoy policing (my word, not his) women because I often call out casting impossibilities. This isn’t about saying women are too old for X,Y, and Z, and blaming delusional vanity on the actresses, it’s that by casting older women in younger roles, aging is clearly transmitted as undesirable, not to mention forcing the audience to go along with a plot that’s completely fantastical.
But the point of this post was to highlight one of my favorite types of movie scene, older women drinking in bars.
Civilian nurse Helen North (Lucille Ball) is taken out on a rare date by Navy officer Frank Beardsley (Henry Fonda) to Señor Pico (created by Victor Bergeron of Trader Vic’s fame) in Ghirardelli Square. It’s a swingin’ place where the olds have little breathing room to sip their Irish coffees among all the hippie-era youth. Helen’s false eyelash gets dislodged and her slip, which she insisted on wearing with the miniskirt her daughter made by cutting her regular-length skirt fell down onto the floor. Frank then crawls on the floor, among all the young, exposed legs, trying to retrieve it. Typical fish out of water antics.
The scene where Fleabag (I only just realized the character doesn’t have a proper name) was having martinis with the “Woman in Business” award-winner immediately caught my attention because I’m always attuned to older women drinking on-screen. Then it took a turn into a soliloquy about aging while female, which took a turn into menopause.
Belinda: I’ve been longing to say this out loud — women are born with pain built in, it’s our physical destiny — period pain, sore boobs, childbirth, you know. We carry it with ourselves throughout our lives. Men don’t. They have to invent things like gods and demons… they create wars so they can feel things and touch each other… and we have it all going on in here. Inside, we have pain on a cycle for years.
Just when you feel you’re making peace with it, what happens? The menopause comes, the fucking menopause comes, and it is the most wonderful fucking thing in the world. And yes, your entire pelvic floor crumbles and you get fucking hot and no one cares. But then you’re free, no longer a slave, no longer a machine with parts, you’re just a person, in business.
Fleabag: I was told it was horrendous.
Belinda: It is horrendous, but then it’s magnificent. Something to look forward to.
Wow, ok, though I wasn’t sure if I was meant to identify with the messy 33-year-old or the wise 58-year-old. Millennials are becoming curious about menopause because it’s a major life change still in the abstract future while Gen X might already be there, at the threshold, or just a few years off. It’s neither hypothetical nor lived experience, for the most part.
The two characters in Fleabag that are most likely Gen X are Claire (Sian Clifford, 42), one of those chilly, successful self-controlled sheath dress women that I’m in awe of because that type is so foreign to my core being (that everyone mistakenly thought she was a lawyer rather than in finance was fitting) and the godmother, and the former is trying to get pregnant and the latter in a no-so-distant flashback expressed that she still might like to have a child. So, that’s what we have.
Sometimes I have knee-jerk reactions that aren’t immediately sensical. I want to see older women on screen. Obviously, it’s absurd that male leads require considerably younger actresses to be cast as love interests. When I do see age-appropriate casting it’s practically jarring.
Here is the non-sensical part. Sometimes it even goes too far and and I’m left questioning if it’s equality and I should be happy or if it’s unbelievable and we shouldn’t be casting older women in clearly younger roles because…I’m not sure why exactly. I need to get to the bottom of these feelings. I also tend to be literal about actress’s ages relative to characters they play, which maybe isn’t fair since, duh, it’s acting.
For instance, on Breaking Bad, it never made sense to me that a woman in her early 40s married to a high school science teacher in his 50s, living in New Mexico on their first marriage (presumably) and had a teenage son would decide to have a new baby at that point in their lives.
Laura Linney in Ozark
Jason Bateman (50) being married to an actress days away from 55 is great and conceivably realistic despite seeming radical to me when I first watched Ozark just because it’s so unusual to see. I want to believe that Marty Byrd could be attracted to a woman five years older than he and they didn’t have kids until her late 30s/early 40s, though that doesn’t quite make sense for their characters.
Sandra Bullock in Birdbox
There is no way that I’m buying a 52-year-old woman being pregnant, even with strangely smooth skin.
Catherine Keener in Kidding
I actually thought Catherine Keener was a few years younger than 59. I love her and she looks really good (and even if she didn’t, so what) but I seriously couldn’t tell if she was supposed to be Maddy’s mom or what in Kidding.
Season 5 of Younger, a rich source of “Screen Time” material, managed to slip through the cracks for me last year, but I was finally able to stream the show. It did not disappoint.
Watching it from Portland, though, I worried (just a bit) about how at some point I will no longer recognize NYC venues or have first-hand experience with au courant references.
Liza: No weird hipster places where you have to walk through a fake barbershop to get to the bar.
Kelsey: Don’t worry, we’’ll go to one of your places.
Lauren: Oh my god. I’m sorry, is this an assisted living facility? What are we doing here?!
Kelsey and Lauren leave and get a car to The Cock while Liza decides to go back into the bar. She sits next to the ogler.
Guy: I saw you and your friends making fun of me. I used to make fun of guys my age.
Liza: I’m 41.
The truth is freeing.
I caught the end of “Cactus Flower,” a late ‘60s movie that had eluded me to date when I was staying in a semi-suburban Airbnb. I happened to flip by during a party scene at what looked to be a T.G.I. Friday’s (the original swinging UES location) facsimile. It turned out to be called The Slipped Disc.
It caught my attention because there appeared to be a wide age range in attendance, from Goldie Hawn to Ingrid Bergman, who I was shocked to discover was 54. (Apparently, the role had been written for Lauren Bacall who was in her 40s at the time.)
I guess Goldie Hawn was Walter Matthau’s fiancee and he had lied to her and led her to believe Ingrid Bergman was his wife that he was leaving. She was not, and Ingrid Bergman caused a scandal when she started dancing with a young man and left with him. In fact, Walter Matthau scolded her, despite being engaged to someone 25 years younger. “It’s disgusting,” he said.
I would interpret her retort: “I’m going to make up for the time I lost, and I’m going to keep on doing it” as empowered but it turns out they were in love with each other the whole time and I don’t really approve of all that subterfuge.