Let’s hear it for attractive older men!
Sean Connery – Finding Forester 2000 Directed by Gus Van Sant. Teenager Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown) plays basketball in front of a building where reclusive author William Forrester (Sean Connery) is living out his days, sometimes watching the boys play. His friends dare Jamal to break into the stranger’s apartment. He does, but when almost caught, runs out leaving his backpack. In it, Forrester finds journals that show the boy has writing talent. When Jamal opens the pack left out front to be collected, he finds constructive notes.
The author agrees to mentor him if their association is kept secret. Jamal’s writing improves so much, he’s accused of plagiarism, then, ironically put into a situation where using Forrester’s work seems the only way out. Things get messy but are resolved in the best way possible. Both characters come out of habitual comfort zones. Low key Connery is eminently attractive and 70 at the time of filming. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Harrison Ford‘s most recent film is 2020’s The Call of the Wild based on the Jack London novel. Directed by Chris Sanders. The star is an out-sized CGI dog that takes getting used to, but once one does, this is an entertaining yarn with great cinematography. Ford, unrecognizable at first, gets kudos for acting with a scene stealer that isn’t there or one that had a stand in. He’s tender, gruff and credible. His eyes have it, and his tone.
Buck (the inordinately smart dog) gets kidnapped from a rich southern home and shipped to The Yukon during the 1890s Gold Rush. He serves on a mail sled (squaring off with a jealous lead dog and rescuing one of the human mail carriers) and is then purchased by a naive and greedy prospector who ignores warnings and leads his team to death. John Thornton (Ford), who’s left his family looking for peace after his son’s untimely death, keeps running into Buck who finally settles with him.
The rest of the story focuses on their relationship while taking an excursion into unmapped territory and on Buck’s establishing primal roots with a pack of wolves he’ll eventually lead. Ford continues to be appealing at 78 years old, though preferably with less facial hair. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Jeff Bridges – Crazy Heart 2009 Based on the novel by Thomas Cobb. Directed by Eric Brenner, Scott Cooper. Fifty-seven year-old Otis “Bad” Blake (Bridges) is a down and out alcoholic, country singer, playing whatever small town gigs he can get based on past hits. (The actor’s musicianship buoys authenticity.) Blake has five ex-wives and a son with whom he lost contact many years ago. When not pie-eyed, he’s still a really good performer. A protégé, now star, is after him for new songs.
In Santa Fe, New Mexico, Blake connects with single mother, part-time journalist, Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal). She and her son seem to offer a new beginning. After an inebriated car accident, he calls his own son, then invites Jean and her boy to visit him in Texas, but messes up big time. Jean breaks up with him.
Blake resolves to get sober – and does. The couple, however, does not get back together. Well written, well acted, good music (T. Bone Burnett). Bridges, won both the Oscar and Golden Globe for his performance. Age 60 when he made the film, he’s desirable even somewhat soft and sloppy. With Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Robert Redford – The Old Man & The Gun 2018 Based on the life of career criminal Forrest Tucker and an article by David Grann. Directed by David Lowery. Having escaped prisons and reformatories 16 times, 74 year-old, still-on-the-lam Forrest Tucker (Redford) decides to continue with what he’s always done best and robs a series of banks. The charming, neatly-dressed, older man is completely unsuspicious. When he assists a woman whose car seemed stalled, she offers him a diner lunch.
Tucker is so taken with Jewel (Sissy Spacek), he not only tells her the truth about himself, but pays the mortgage on her farm. Cops track him down there. Jewel convinces the robber to give himself up and stick out his sentence at San Quentin, which he does. She picks him up upon release and genially offers a room. (There’s no sexual innuendo.) One day, he goes out on an errand… Redford is easy, engaging, sexy and was 82 while filming. With Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tom Waits. Cinemax Trial through Amazon Prime.
Sam Elliott – I’ll See You in My Dreams 2015 Directed by Brett Haley. Widowed for 20 years, Californian Carol Peterson (Blythe Danner) lives alone with a beloved dog. Her daughter lives in New York, three dear friends (all widowed, none failing) are in a nearby retirement community. The ladies play cards and golf. One of them talks her into speed dating which is an embarrassment to watch. Carol makes friends with the young, dorky pool man. Just friends.
One day, Bill (Sam Elliott) compliments her in passing. They run into each other twice more. He asks her out. (Oh, that voice!) They go on several, long, lovely dates and then to bed. He’s smitten but easy about it. She’s wary but hopes. Alas… Elliott has a small, pivotal role. With Mary Kay Place, June Squibb, Rhea Perlman. Rent on Amazon Prime.
If you want to watch the actor hold a film, try The Hero 2017 loosely based on the 2015 Tamil film Uttama Villain. Directed by Brett Haley. Former Western star Lee Hayden (Elliott) is scraping by with an occasional fried chicken commercial. With the advent of cancer, he faces mistakes and mortality. Elliott rises above the formulaic script with understated performance. The actor plays his age, a weathered 73, no less attractive than he was in, say, The Mask. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Sam Neill – Palm Beach 2020 Directed by Rachel Ward. (This Palm Beach is in Sydney Australia.) Very old friends fly in from all over for Frank’s eighty-something birthday. Frank (Bryan Brown, also notably attractive) just sold his business for a great deal of money. Leo (Sam Neill) is a journalist and Billy (Richard E. Grant) writes jingles. The three once had a rock band and a single hit. Frank’s and Leo’s kids are also present. The house on a cliff overlooking water is unpretentiously beautiful. Meals are mouth watering, parties great fun. Everyone seems happy.
This is a Big Chill kind of film, however. We know it won’t last. Secrets come out. Insecurity and jealousy result in actual fights. Age, health, and loyalty are issues. Characters are sympathetic adults, issues (though packed tightly) are recognizable. Women are as solidly written and played as men. Neill and Brown were both 73 during the shoot. With Frances Berry, Jacqueline McKenzie, Heather Mitchell. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Brendan Gleeson – Hampstead 2020 Based on the life of Harry Hallowes who claimed and won ownership rights of a plot on which he’d built a squatter shack at Hampstead Heath. Directed by Joel Hopkins. American Emily Walters (Diane Keaton)is widowed in England surrounded by snooty friends who came with the marriage. She works in a charity shop but has few extracurricular interests.
Emily witnesses and stops a ruffian attack on Donald Horner (Brendan Gleeson) outside what looks like a garbage heap, but is, in fact, his home at Hampstead Heath. (Inside is a cozy, culture-filled revelation.) They begin an awkward relationship and fix the shack. She finds herself campaigning for Donald’s rights.
The squatter wins by way of a curious British law, but just when it looks like the couple will get together, their lifestyle differences overrule romance. All is not lost, however. The script isn’t great, but Keaton and Gleeson are charming. He’s a gentleman teddy bear, infatuating, despite his size. With James Norton, Leslie Manville, Simon Callow. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Alas, Liam Neeson’s most recent film, the only one in some time in which he doesn’t play a vigilante, is Ordinary Love 2020 Directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn. Neeson and the wonderful Lesley Manville play a middle aged couple who must face her breast cancer from anxiety, to surgery, then radiation. The script is deft, acting excellent, but oh, the subject matter! Neeson looks just fine, thanks. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Bill Nighy’s latest, Hope Gap, is similarly a downer. 2020 Directed by William Nicholson. After 29 years of marriage, passive, soft spoken teacher, Edward (Nighy), having met someone, decides to leave his editor wife, Grace (Annette Bening). Constantly berating him, Grace assumes the bottom will hold (laws of Catholicism) and is alternately oblivious and crazed even when he moves out and serves papers. Superb acting, but perhaps not a film to watch during lockdown. Josh O’Connor plays the son caught between. Rent on Amazon Prime.
A better and certainly more fun look at the elegant Nighy might be The Worricker Trilogy, David Hare’s spy series in which a scrupulous MI5 operative, thrown off by 21st Century’s lack of distinction between ally and enemy, finds himself under suspicion. We track the smart, cynical protagonist from London, to exile on a Caribbean Island, to life on the run with former lover and fellow agent, Margot Tyrell (Helena Bonham Carter). With Rachel Weisz, Felicity Jones, Michael Gambon, Christopher Walken, and Ralph Fiennes. Free with Amazon Prime.
Top Bigstock photo: Jeff Bridges at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 6, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.