Respect your Elders

September 9th, 2012 by Arik Shtern

While the summer was dominated, as usual, by movies dealing mostly with heroic young people punching each other or blowing stuff up, September gives much due respect to senior citizens – today is National Grandparents Day in the U.S. and next Monday is Respect for the Aged Day in Japan. We’ve decided to join in on the celebrations with titles dedicated to the elderly.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

This critically acclaimed documentary not only chronicles the life and work of a legendary elderly chef and his never ending quest to create the perfect sushi dish, but also takes a look at his complex relationships with his son and with the special place food holds in the Japanese society.

The Ballad of Narayama

Shohei Imamura’s Cannes festival winner takes place in a remote mountain village and offers a distinctly bleak account of the hardships of village life in 19th century Japan, were tradition dictates everyone who reaches the age of 70 to leave his family in an act of self sacrifice.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

In another place and another time, a group of English senior citizens decide to spend their golden years in a far less distressing way than their Japanese counterparts. They discover, however, a retirement home completely different from the one they’ve imagined, trying to overcome the culture clash they’ve stumbled into.

Harry Brown

You can always trust Michael Caine that he will not go away quietly, especially when his neighborhood is overrun by juvenile delinquency and social decay. The loss of a friend sends him into an increasingly violent spiral of vengeful vigilantism in this rough and suspenseful late addition to his long career.

Le Havre

This uplifting and offbeat tale of human spirit, which won the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes, revolves around an old man who finds himself alone after his wife has been hospitalized. His loneliness is blissfully disrupted by a young African illegal immigrant on the run, with whom he forms an unlikely friendship.

Robot and Frank

The elderly aren’t usually associated with technological advancement. This is not the case with ex-burglar Frank who, in order to save his girlfriend’s library, teams with his robot friend to become one of the unlikeliest criminal duos in recent memory.

Lonesome Dove

Widely regarded as a television masterpiece, this epic story, set in the old west follows two aging buddies who go on the road, traveling from Texas to Montana in order to open a ranch. But, as expected, their journey can’t go without encounters with some unsavory types.

Trash Humpers

This darkly humored independent film from Harmony Corrine features the elderly in a most unusual way. The dirty old men at the center of this piece engage in all kinds of pranks and anti social behavior. Don’t expect too much coherency, but you can count on a high cynical quirkiness factor.


Michael Haneke’s uncharacteristically touching story about elderly lovers facing the wife’s illness added to his already considerable awards collection by winning the Palme d’Or in Cannes this year. (can you detect the slight ageism pattern in the French festival?)


The Old Guys

Being old does not necessarily equal being mature, as evidenced by the immature odd couple at the center of this sitcom, whose favorite pastime is clumsily wooing their neighbor.

Bonus: #Eastwooding

Everyone’s favorite gruff octogenarian, who’s playing an aging baseball scout in the upcoming Trouble with the Curve, proves that it’s never too late to become a media sensation, and that sometimes, it’s a bit hard to respect the elderly…


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