Senior DVDs
November 26, 2004 4:49 PM   Subscribe

Please help me pick some dvds for my grandmother. [mi]

I purchased a DVD player for my 90 y.o. grandmother a few months back. I also gave her the LOTR special edition, Master & Commander (thought grandpa would like it) and Whalerider. Although she loved the LOTR series in book, she couldn't watch the films because they literally give her nightmares. Anything, film or novel that is at all violent gives her nightmares. Apparently, this is a common problem with the elderly. I think it has something to do with her meds.

Anyway, we watched Whalerider yesterday and she LOVED it. She said it was the best film she had seen in years. I think that she liked that it was a story about a young girl and it ended on an upbeat note.

I want to get her more films in the Whalerider vein but I'm coming up blank. Any recommendations?
posted by Juicylicious to Media & Arts (38 answers total)
My favourite film ever with elderly characters is Strangers in Good Company. The characters therein are stronger than their age lets on, and the movie feels very much like a meditative experience rather than just a story.

Mine is also very fond of Pixar films, like most everyone is.
posted by Evstar at 4:56 PM on November 26, 2004

Defending Your Life (good movie... my grandma really liked it)
Also.... How about some of her favorite TV shows that came out on DVD.... or maybe a broadway show? (They will have a lot more features than when they came out on VHS)
posted by kirstin at 5:04 PM on November 26, 2004

Bend it Like Beckham
posted by Roach at 5:24 PM on November 26, 2004

Fly Away Home is an underseen girl-comes-of-age classic I recommend to anyone, but it sounds like your grandmother would really love it. A Little Princess is good too. Other possibilities:

The Straight Story

Enchanted April
Calendar Girls
Tea with Mussolini

However, my grandma, who is older than your grandma, really liked Team America: World Police. Your grandma mileage may vary.
posted by melissa may at 5:24 PM on November 26, 2004

My grandma really likes the TV show Homicide. Maybe yours might, too.
posted by funkbrain at 5:25 PM on November 26, 2004

Going My Way (1944 with Bing Crosby)
posted by zelphi at 5:35 PM on November 26, 2004

The Gods Must be Crazy
posted by Cryptical Envelopment at 5:42 PM on November 26, 2004

Rabbit-proof Fence may be something she would enjoy. It doesn't exactly have an "upbeat" ending, but it is certainly moving and, like Whale Rider, stars young girls.
posted by stefnet at 5:46 PM on November 26, 2004

On Amazon, it suggests Winged Migration as something someone who liked Whale Rider might enjoy. I haven't seen it, but it looks like what you're looking for - although the review says there is a brief hunting scene, which may be upsetting for the gunshot noise.

These might seem too childish, but they are or seem like quality and I think a good family movie is good for all ages: Anne of Green Gables (the excellent Canadian tv version), Little Women (whichever version you prefer, I suppose), Black Beauty, The Secret Garden (I haven't seen the last two).

Also, hopefully funkbrain just neglected to read the question fully, rather than is actively being an ass.
posted by livii at 6:11 PM on November 26, 2004

Last of the Blonde Bombshells was a terrific little HBO movie, featuring older people showing off some style and wit.
posted by helcat at 6:12 PM on November 26, 2004

Big Fish!
There is minimal violence, and it's faily cartoonish. I cry every time I see it.
posted by Coffeemate at 6:54 PM on November 26, 2004

Waking Ned Devine.
posted by davey_darling at 7:53 PM on November 26, 2004

Billy Elliot
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:55 PM on November 26, 2004 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions. I have a feeling I'm going to go broke buying DVDs that I can't even be sure that she'll watch when I'm not visiting since the DVD player intimidates her.

The tv series suggestion is also helpful. I know that she really liked Northern Exposure and it's available on Amazon.
posted by Juicylicious at 8:39 PM on November 26, 2004

A mixed bag of heartwarming movies I trot out for family events:

The Princess Bride!

I haven't seen Amelie, but everyone who's told me about it goes all gushy, so that would probably be a good one.

The Legend of Bagger Vance
Toy Story 1/2
Monsters, Inc
Pay It Forward
The Fifth Element
James Bond movies (assuming no children present)
The Full Monty (also assuming no children)
posted by mechagrue at 8:39 PM on November 26, 2004

Actually, I'd suggest that The Full Monty is just fine for children, but the Vance, Pay it Forward and any non-Connery Bond shouldn't be shown to adults. But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

More usefully, if she liked Whale Rider, may I second Waking Ned Devine, and recommend to you the superb Local Hero and not-quite-as-good vut still fine The Dish.
posted by mojohand at 8:59 PM on November 26, 2004

Oh, and did you know that the first two seasons of ER and Sports Night and first three of West Wing are out on DVD? That's when those shows were at the top of their game and about as good TV as you'll ever see. And then there's Buffy and Firefly, but I'd have to know Granny better.
posted by mojohand at 9:05 PM on November 26, 2004

I bought my grandfather a 20-DVD set of old westerns at BestBuy last Christmas. Last I heard he was still watching them.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:26 PM on November 26, 2004

Everybody really seems to get a kick out of Finding Nemo.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:30 PM on November 26, 2004

I'm not being an ass, and I did read the question fully. My recommendation was sincere

To the best of my recollection, there was no actual violence graphically depicted on the show Homicide.

(Actually, I retract that; there were depictions of violence. However they pale in comparison to the elf-on-orc violence shown in LOTR).

My grandmother is very sensitive to depictions of violence, too. She loves the show.
posted by funkbrain at 10:12 PM on November 26, 2004

Seducing Doctor Lewis is in the Waking Ned Devine/Local Hero vein; funny in that rural-town sweet kind of way. The mention of Whale Rider just made me think of The Secret of Roan Inish for some reason; I haven't seen it in years, but maybe she'd like that.
posted by transient at 10:31 PM on November 26, 2004

Seeing as I just watched it for the nth time tonight, I feel compelled to recommend The Sting, with Paul Newman and Robert Redford, the crown jewel of the con movie genre. It lacks violence, the good guys win, it's set in the 1930s, and unlike a lot of 'tame' movies, it fucking rocks. As a general principle I refuse to associate with people who do not love this movie.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:12 PM on November 26, 2004

A Dog of Flanders
How to Make an American Quilt
Cinema Paradiso (Italian w/subtitles)
posted by invisible ink at 11:50 PM on November 26, 2004

triplets of belleville
secondhand lions (i haven't seen it but my mother-in-law loved it - she hates violence)
about a boy - i don't know if she'll get some of the pop culture references, but it's definitely heartwarming and happy ending stuff
also the princess diaries - again, pop culture references, but it stars a young girl coming of age, has funny moments, and kind of has this old-fashioned quality that's sweet

and i second secret of roan inish.
posted by littlegirlblue at 12:44 AM on November 27, 2004

The idea that "the good guys win" in The Sting is kind of dubious -- there are no good guys in it -- but it's a great movie.
posted by kindall at 12:49 AM on November 27, 2004

The Dinner Game
posted by faux ami at 1:19 AM on November 27, 2004

Love Comes Softly (originally a Hallmark movie shown on TV, but now for sale as DVD)
Ever After
posted by invisible ink at 3:18 AM on November 27, 2004

Although she loved the LOTR series in book, she couldn't watch the films because they literally give her nightmares. Anything, film or novel that is at all violent gives her nightmares. Apparently, this is a common problem with the elderly. I think it has something to do with her meds.

I'm gonna digress horribly about this, but it might be helpful, and I swear I'm not preaching. I'm just trying to share my perspective. I make no assumptions or judgements about how you or anyone treats their elder family members. Obviously you care, a lot, a whole lot more than most, and I'm not devaluing or attacking that at all.

I think that the most succinct way I can put this is that the elderly appreciate life a lot more than the young. (How's that go? Youth is wasted on the young? Life is wasted on the living?)

Those that are of grandmother or great-grandmother age today have seen and heard of enough violence over the past century to give anyone nightmares for an eternity. They lost husbands, brothers, friends and family in dozens of wars plus conflicts, accidents, diseases and more. My grandma talked a great deal about this, and it took me a long time to understand she was just trying to understand the senselessness of it herself, and to talk to someone about it. (Empathy is a weird thing with me, and it's probably Asperger's Syndrome.)

They generally don't find conflict and violence to be entertaining and "good storytelling" in the same way the young do, who have mostly never really "tasted blood" or tested their own mettle except in fiction, and who are much more likely to identify and map their fantasies to these violent tales; Tales of conquest, of testing oneself, of conflict, of revenge.

The elderly - of course - are also closer to death, and facing mortality in a much more immediate way.

I lived with and helped care for my maternal grandma for almost 3 years, ending about 7 months ago. She had a stroke about 5 years ago and is basically lucky to be ambulatory and capable of language. Despite all that, despite all the post-stroke weirdness and language difficulties, she's still quite sharp in a debate, and we debated and discussed things a lot. Politics, religion, war, society, sexuality, life, death, you name it.

People don't give the elderly enough credit. These doddering old folk, with their silly notions and their "It used to be like this..." and all that, it's all too easy to just gloss over it and devalue it. "Oh, silly grandma. Poor, silly old grandma."

But these elderly are the survivors of a generation. They had to be sharp and tough to make it this far, and they have a lot to say if one listens.

So, anyways. I watched LoTR with my grandma once, the sanitized-for-broadcast version. And it is violent, and I'd even say excessively so. The whole series is grossly Hollywood. Most of the nuances of the book, most of the beauty and light and wonderfully enjoyable and pleasant mental landscapes that were in the book are totally gone in the Peter Jackson films. All of the battle scenes are overplayed and brought to the foreground, with little left to the imagination. (Don't get me wrong. Watching the first one was damn near a religious experience to me, to see how much Jackson got dead on.)

Needless to say, she didn't like it much, and she's read the books more than once.

We also watched The Matrix once, the broadcast version, and it just about gave her the screaming terrors. The whole concept was just so foreign to her. Not the mangled part about Plato's allegory of the cave, which she immediately got and wished that they'd stop hammering at in such a disreputable and unsubtle fashion. But the whole part about why someone would find such a tale entertaining. She said something to me along the lines of "Well, I'm glad I'm on my way out. You, on the other hand have a very complex and confusing world to live in and deal with." (Heavily paraphrased, forgive me.)

So, bringing that back to movies. It might bore many of us to tears to watch 50s era TV or golden-age Hollywood movies over and over again, but for them I bet it's a lot like the nostalgia we feel when we go back and watch The Breakfast Club (or whatever), or a listen to a few favorite retro tunes, or anything that brings up pleasant memories of our own golden age.

I know my Grandma would prefer to watch I Love Lucy over and over than watch any of the drek on broadcast TV these days, and I know she's seen every single episode a dozen times. She would also like the classic Twilight Zone series, or Hitchcock. She loves it when they play old movies. And it mystifies the hell out of me when she starts naming off her favorite stars and starlets of the era. Cary Grant and Lauren Becall are easy. She drops names I can't even find on IMDB, and it does my head in she can remember all that stuff but can't remember how to check her email.

Ask your grandma what her favorite TV shows and movies were, or are. Delve into the classics, or even the not so classic. Ask her if she'd like some radio shows from the era. You could burn a season or several seasons to medium bitrate MP3 so they could play sequentially on the DVD player. Surprise her with stuff that's known to be good from the era.

I don't think it's a cop-out to just give her what she's familiar with if she enjoys it and finds comfort in it. I know that the desire to share what contemporary works you find to be excellent with her is enormous; I was constantly trying to get my grandma to listen to my (intelligent) techno and electronic stuff, because she's very musical and I felt she'd appreciate the craft and structure involved in it*. And there's nothing wrong with trying to share that. But don't be afraid to just give her what she's familiar with, either.

(*And she did appreciate some of it, some of which I didn't expect. But part of the problem was that much of it was too thoroughly modern, and she didn't have the framing to place it anywhere, she didn't have the mental language to deal with it and filter it. There's no reference point there for her for almost all the music I prefer to listen to. Though, watching my grandma do a little hand-flare like she was raving in a warehouse while saying "Oooh, that sounds weird. It makes me want to do a funny little dance!" made it all worth it. "That's what it's supposed to do, grandma!", I said. She's never seen anyone trance dancing, and I found it just plain cool that the music was that self referential and self explanatory. That moment opened up a 3 hour discussion on primative cultures, dancing, shamanism, free-form dancing and more. Fabulous.)

Anyways, I warned you. Horribly, terribly digressive. I hope it helps you as much as it helped me to write it.

Oh! I strongly recommend Return to Oz, especially if she's read the books, and she probably has. It's Oz as it should have been, not that MGM fluff orgy of a musical. It's just dark enough to make a good tale, but absolutely wonderful in intent and message, not to mention in execution.
posted by loquacious at 4:24 AM on November 27, 2004

The Triplets of Bellvue is also amazingly good. Seconded. But now I've got that darn theme song stuck in my head, the catchy bastard it is.
posted by loquacious at 4:27 AM on November 27, 2004

A lot of people are recommending fairly recent DVDs, and that's fine, but why not ask your grandma what her favorite movies are? Perhaps ones she liked way back when? Certainly there are a lot of films from the golden age of cinema available on DVD now, and it might make her happy to watch stuff she hasn't seen since she went to the movies as a teenager.
posted by fricative at 4:40 AM on November 27, 2004

The Whale Rider made me think of Smoke Signals which was a terrific movie. I rarely meet people who have seen it - Sherman Alexie wrote the screenplay I believe. Good, interesting movie.
posted by Slothrop at 7:02 AM on November 27, 2004

I apologize, then, funkbrain, but it really seemed horribly inappropriate, at least from what I remember about that show.

And Waking Ned Devine and Billy Eliot - those were the types of movies I was trying to pull out of my head, but couldn't. I think they're right up the same alley as Whale Rider.
posted by livii at 7:17 AM on November 27, 2004

Response by poster: Thank you, thank you, thank you. You all rock!

Smoke Signals, Triplets of Bellevue, Ned Devine, Billy Elliot, Finding Nemo, The Gods Must be Crazy, The Secret of Roan Innish, The Full Monty, Fly Away Home, etc. . . . all great films. Why didn't I think of them?

Now the question is where do I buy all these films without going broke?
posted by Juicylicious at 8:18 AM on November 27, 2004

Buy them all??? What a waste of money. Why not rent? Make it a regular movie night at Grandma's place; perhaps bring a snack she likes and can eat easily. Then if she particularly loves any of the films, you can buy her a few as a lovely gift commemorating your time spent together.
posted by boomchicka at 8:27 AM on November 27, 2004

What about O Brother Where Art Thou?
posted by furiousthought at 9:00 AM on November 27, 2004

Response by poster: boomchicka - because they live 3 hours away from me and I only get up there once every two weeks. But you have a valid point. I could take a rental with me and leave a purchased one with her to watch without me.

O Brother, another good rec!
posted by Juicylicious at 9:05 AM on November 27, 2004

I remember Rabbit Proof Fence as actually being quite traumatic and heart-rending (true story which starts with young girls being forcibly separated from their weeping mother and grandmother) and, without wanting to go to far on a spoiler, the "what happened next" at the end was also sad. An inspirational film but maybe not a good one if she's prone to be overcome with the emotion of a film.
posted by penguin pie at 9:59 AM on November 27, 2004

Nobody has suggested Driving Miss Daisy yet?
And what about:

Fried Green Tomatoes
Best of Show
Sling Blade (violence implied but I don't think shown)
Mighty Wind
Room with a View
Little Women (any version)

I hesitate to recommend The Piano because of the explicit sex, but you might sound her out on that.

What about trying Netflix? $17.95 a month for 3 DVDs at a time, no late fees, no mailing fees. You watch a movie return them in the prepared envelope and they send you the next movie on your viewing list. See the previous AskMe question on this if you need more information.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:02 PM on November 27, 2004

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