"Young @ Heart" ****

Sunday April 27, 2008

As a Baby Boomer growing up in the late 50's and 60's, I was always struck by the diversities of musical interests and tastes between me and my parents. I can still hear them screaming at me to "turn it down"! I always thought that was the ultimate dividing line between generations. It was always rock vs. Sinatra. The New Wave era vs. the Big Band era. The alternative sound vs. the . . . well, you get the picture. The disconnect between us was always this constant: the music defined who we were and we would always be as different as the music of our youth. This all came back to me in spades as I was sitting there at the latest offering at the Cinema Sunday Club at The Charles watching the absolutely amazing documentary "Young @ Heart". All of these differences just seemed to disappear as all of the generations have now come full circle in a way that I could never have imagined. First time filmmaker Stephen Walker has hit a grand slam out of the park with this utterly fascinating look at his elderly chorus who specialize in covering songs, not of their youth, but songs of my youth, as well as the youth of the 70's, 80's, & 90's! You might think that this is a laughable gimmick, but I challenge you to plunk down your hard earn cash in order to spend some of the most amazing 108 minutes in a movie theater ever. Walker takes us on an amazing ride as he documents 50ish director Bob Cilman as he readies his chorus for a big concert gig at the Academy Theater in Northampton. Along the way, he focuses on several key members as they are shown rehearsing songs by such diverse artists as Coldplay, The Talking Heads, Bob Dylan, James Brown, Sonic Youth, and The Ramones-just to name a few. One of the most poignant parts of the journey shows them performing at a local prison. You can read the prisoners' faces as to what they must be thinking as they watch the performers and the result is both touching and powerful. Mixed into all of this are some stylish, hilarious videos. However, it is not all fun and games as you will quickly realize that a lot of these folks are not embarking on a new long career-that their days in the chorus, as well as on the planet are, indeed, finite. It's been awhile since I have laughed and cried so much in once sitting. This life affirming film will have you completely rethink what our existence is all about and, believe me, you'll never look at the elderly the same way again. I know I never will.