May 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

Victoria and I trolled through the on-demand section of our cable provider the other night, which is mostly a wasteland of movies made for teenagers and porn made for men with the emotional and sexual maturity of teenagers, but we came across a delightfully silly little movie, Morning Glory, featuring the magnificent Diane Keaton, Harrison Ford and Rachel McAdams among others.

I’m not a film critic. I rarely review films in this column and, in fact, I’m not reviewing this film. What I want to discuss is my relief at seeing Harrison Ford finally move into the kind of role for which he’s been appropriate for some time.

It’s always depressing to see movie stars try to hang on to their identities as leading men and women when the sands of time have so clearly blown them into a different phase. The pity of it is that they’re cheating themselves of a lot of fun; the best part of aging is the slow detachment from form, which should allow us a large degree of freedom in expressing ourselves and an attendant lack of concern for others’ opinions, states of being which really should have been present all along.

Mr. Ford, who was a hero to this writer thanks to his having acted in some of the greatest Hollywood films of all time (leave out the two big franchises- what about Witness, Blade Runner, The Fugitive?), has gone through a depressing decline recently, not due to his acting, but rather as a result of awful choices. Instead of rebranding himself as an older character actor (something Paul Newman understood very early) and allowing himself to show other aspects of his personality, Harrison Ford kept making diabolical, big-budget celluloid offal, culminating in the unremittingly disastrous fourth Indiana Jones picture, which I have since struck from memory.

And then, just when I thought it was over, Victoria and I watched Morning Glory, released last year to no one in particular, in large part I assume because it is a movie, albeit a fluffy one, made for grownups, and therefore given absolutely no marketing push by the studios (which moves me to ask why the hell they even bothered to make it in the first place, but that’s another column). Directed by Roger Michell, a pro who directed entertaining popcorn flicks like Notting Hill and the surprisingly engaging Changing Lanes, Mr.Ford plays a sanctimonious, pompous, misanthropic newsie with a heart of, well, zinc.

And he’s funny. In every scene. For two hours. Let’s face it, the guy’s always been a bit of a goofball. Han Solo wasn’t exactly Mr.Smooth. Then he got trapped as an actor. I blame Air Force One: he played the President and from then on he started being cast as the President of Movies, a role which has now devoured Tom Hanks, another goofball whose brilliance is rarely on display these days.

As mentioned, no one saw the movie. I couldn’t care less- Hollywood has been lost to adults for twenty years. I’m just happy to see someone embrace their age and rediscover the expressive freedom and authenticity that got them there in the first place. Maybe if there were more films featuring people aging authentically, and more actors prepared to embrace the new tones, shades and notes that are available to all of us as we get older, we might not all be so afraid of saying goodbye to our “youth”.

As Harrison Ford demonstrated to Victoria and I the other night: some things might weaken as we age, but if we’re willing to be exactly where we are in our lives with no regrets and release the past, the spirit can shine just as brightly. Maybe more so.

Picture: Diane Keaton & Harrison Ford… adults for adults.


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