Jul 21

“Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me”–The Final Documentation of Her Life

Award-winning and beloved actress Elaine Stritch died last week at the age of 89—soon after the DVD release of Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, a highly acclaimed new documentary.

THE FILM: AN OVERVIEW

Scott Foundas, Variety: “‘She’s still here … but not for much longer’ is the subtext…”

The Elaine Stritch trailer reveals a good deal of what she was all about:

MORE ABOUT ELAINE STRITCH

Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News: “…fully possessed of that odd combination of narcissism and self-doubt that is peculiar to performers. She has reached the age when she refuses to waste her time on fools. (One suspects she may have reached that age by her mid-teens.)”

Rex Reed, New York Observer: “…sharp, funny, brittle, caustic, demanding, exaggerated, critical (especially of herself) and infuriating. She is also elaborately unique and awesomely brilliant.”

HER LOVES

Stephen Holden, New York Times: “She admits that the kind of love an audience gives her is what she needs the most and couldn’t get any other way. She recalls her happy marriage to the actor John Bay, who died of brain cancer in 1982. She loved being married and in love, she says, but never found it again.”

HER ALCOHOLISM

Substance.com: “…(T)he most surprising revelation is that during the filming she began drinking again after 20 years in recovery, about which she was characteristically open. She says that she will allow herself only one cocktail a day (she favors Cosmopolitans.) ‘It relaxes me,’ she says in a moment fraught with quiet desperation.”

HER HEALTH 

Scott Foundas, Variety“There are hospital stays (as her diabetes worsens), followed by more anxiety attacks, and one truly frightening episode — a medical emergency during a visit to the Hamptons — that plays like an outtake from ‘Amour’.”

Stephen Holden, New York Times: “The disparity between the blazing stage performer with the glare of a lion on the prowl and the frail, fearful old woman seen in the hospital after a medical crisis could hardly be greater.”

THE RETIREMENT DECISION

Soon after the film wrapped last year, Stritch headed to Birmingham, Michigan (near her home town of Detroit), to at least “semi”-retire (Vulture.com).

May 22

“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”: Challenges of Retirement

In the new film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (For the Elderly and Beautiful), seven British retirees—one couple and five singles—are looking for something different than what they can find in their own environment and fall for the allure of falsely advertised accomodations in India. It turns out that the young man running the hotel, Sonny (Dev Patel), does have a sincere dream to rehab it into a classier place—it just isn’t anywhere near there yet. In the meantime, his idea is to find seniors from other countries who might desire a less expensive “outsourcing” of their retirement.

Probably the best part of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the excellent ensemble cast that includes Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, and more. But there are also notable moments of charm, wit, and romance as each individual struggles to move forward in his or her life despite serious obstacles, e.g., loss of a spouse, serious health and/or financial problems, etc..

Mary Pols, Time: “…a charming celebration of aging. There are brutal truths about the declining years in Best Exotic, from loneliness to financial woes that can’t be solved by getting a new job, but they are amply padded with comedy and cheery messages about acceptance; this is no bitter pill to swallow.”

The trailer for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel:

Best line, said repeatedly and with attempted cheer by Sonny: “Everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not the end.”

Some Pertinent Reading

Retirement expert Nancy K. Schlossberg was asked in an interview, What do we need most for a happy retirement? She stated:

We need to matter. It is important for people to believe that they count in others’ lives. The loss of the challenge of the work itself, the relationship with colleagues, the connection to an environment, an office to go to, and the daily routines can leave people wondering whether they matter anymore. We all need to figure out ways to bolster our own sense that we count.

Her book Revitalizing Retirement: Reshaping Your Identity, Relationships, and Purpose (2009) offers helpful tips for those seeking to make retirement a more fulfilling experience.

Gene D. Cohen, MD, PhD, Director, Center on Aging, Health and Humanities, The George Washington University: “Concepts like the Psychological Portfolio, reflecting a depth of understanding and wisdom, take you on a positive journey in relation to personal identity, purpose, and relationships. This book is not about making the best of, but creating the best in retirement.”