Oliver Cross: We’ve passed screen test for the more mature generation

Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent in Le Week-End.
Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent in Le Week-End.
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THE film business has recognised that it has a self-interest in making rather old-fashioned films because young working people, who might like to see stories involving explosions, sex, vampires and zombies, generally have less money to spend on movie-going than many pensioners do.

And, which is a bonus for the movie-makers, the special effects on oldie films cost a lot less than they do on youngie films because, among the cardigan-wearers, thrilling, heart-clutching scenes could have unfortunate medical implications.

The home of oldie films in Leeds is the Cottage Road cinema in Headingley, where every Thursday they put on a suitable matinee, with concessions for ‘seniors’ and a free cup of tea, which me and my partner Lynne always enjoy, even though it makes us feel a little as though we’ve reached the day-centre stage of our lives.

It’s a sort a club for people who, after leading hard-working lives, now have time to spend an afternoon bunking off to the cinema, which I’ve always thought, having had an unadventurous youth, is one of the most decadent things a person can do.

When, having entered the cinema in full daylight, we emerge at twilight, it feels as though the world has been transformed, like a caterpillar turning into a moth, although obviously that’s putting it too dramatically. We see the overburdened toiling classes struggling home after a bad day in the office and we feel their pain, although, if we also feel a little smug, it’s because all that’s behind us and we’ve just seen a good film in good company, not forgetting the free cup of tea.

Last week, the matinee film was Le Week-end, about a ‘senior’ couple attempting to rebuild their relationship through a trip to Paris and which could, I think, be described as a bittersweet comedy, providing you don’t expect too much of the comedy side of the equation.

It did drag a little but it also provided very good parts for Jim Broadbent (aged 64), Lindsey Duncan (63) and Jeff Goldblum (61) and I think most of the Cottage Road audience would have related to seeing ageing people being gainfully employed. Before that at the Cottage Road, we saw Philomena, the pleasantly traumatic (I can do oxymorons, me) story of an appallingly mistreated unmarried mother in Ireland, starring one of the most senior of seniors, Judi Dench (78).

Next, it’s Saving Mr Banks, with Tom Hanks (57) and Emma Thompson (54), which is all about the woman who created Mary Poppins, PL Travers (114).

Maybe the old cinema classifications should by revised, so that ‘A’ for adult doesn’t indicate sex or violence but merely means a film which can be appreciated by grown-ups.

And talking about obsolete cinema terminology, which is an area I seem to have wandered into, I’m not so sure about the current idea that we should call female performers ‘actors’ rather than actresses on the grounds that the Victorian word ‘poetesses’ now seems hopelessly patronising.

This is true, particularly when applied to seriously heavy writers like Sylvia Plath, but the case seems less persuasive when applied to the likes of Pam Ayres or Barbara Windsor, who having a sense of fun, might, like me, enjoy the suffix ‘esses’, as in the very respectable professions of actresses heiresses.

Also, the old jokes about what the actress said to the bishop don’t really work when rephrased into what the actor said to the bishop.

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