20 April 2008

HOLLYWOOD POV: "Young At Heart"

© 2008 by Digital Dogs
March 27, 2008, 04:55 PM EDT

Forget those demographics that chase the false golden chalice of the male audience age 18-34. It's too bad all those demographic pundits are telling their clients to focus on a younger audience. Those clients are wasting their money and enriching the very people who don't know what they're doing by chasing a losing demo. The big bucks in this country are in the bank accounts and pockets of the quickly-aging Baby Boomers.

The best film of the year so far crosses all demographics and features a cast with an average age of 80. YOUNG AT HEART is an amazing feel-good documentary that won the doc competition at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival, and stars people who range in age from 72 through 95 who sing rock 'n roll classics with amazing ferver. They rock, they roll, they do it with humor and talent and a positive outlook on life that you will be inspired by.

YOUNG AT HEART is moving, touching, wonderful, and
inspiring and it's the perfect film to see with your entire family. And you heard it here first, YOUNG AT HEART is the first nomination-worthy documentary of 2008.

In 1982 a young boomer, Bob Cilman, living in Northampton, MA, was kicking around trying to create his life. He happily found a job with health insurance at an old age home and began applying himself. Soon a piano player came to Cilman and asked him if he could find something for him to do. Out of that trail of happenstance grew an amazing story that will remain with you as long as you live. That story is about the cover band, the Young @ Heart Chorus. The film YOUNG AT HEART brings us a story more memorable and more heart-achingly brave than any you will likely ever see on the big screen.

A few years ago the producing partner and wife (Sally George) of Brit director, Stephen Walker, dragged him to a London Young @ Heart performance (who wants to see old people singing rock songs anyway? he thought) and within minutes he was enthralled. He walked out with his head spinning and he and his wife began bouncing ideas off their heads. Off to Channel 4 they went with visions of a documentary singing in their heads.

In Spring 2007 their small documentary aired on Channel 4 in the UK. A few months later the producers entered it in competition at just one film festival in thte US, the Los Angeles Film Festival. The audience was packed and the small documentary went on to win its category. Someone in the audience had the ear of Fox Searchlight and an offer was made that lifted this small TV documentary out of obscurity and into a full length feature film with global distribution.

Fox Searchlight's money was put to good use by the filmmakers, they re-mastered their original video into 35mm, redid the sound entirely into surround sound and paid for clearing the expensive music rights for most of the songs they perform. The money was used wisely and the film is being released now in the US.

The filmmakers also made a few music video set pieces with their Fox Searchlight funds; one standout is The Ramones I Wanna Be Sedated which the chorus performed in a hospital and just has got to be seen to be believed, it's that good; another great set piece is David Bowie's Road To Nowhere. You can meet the Young @ Heart Chorus here in a Fox Searchlight video at youtube.

Some of the iconic rock songs covered by the Young @ Heart Chorus are simply amazing. Coldplay's Fix You is one of those mesmerizing moments, as is the chorus singing Bob Dylan's heartbreaking Forever Young to a prison audience right after they found out a long term member of the chorus had just passed away. The prisoners sat enthralled as the chorus gave new meaning to Dylan's words. Click on the links to watch the videos on youtube.

If you're like me, you'll feel the urge to write the titles down because you won't want to forget them, they're that good... I've listed them below so you don't have to, but I'm sure I've left a few out. Having older people at the twilight of their lives singing these songs gives a whole new meaning to the words of songs that already have so much meaning for so many of us; it's an entire new spin on the words that end up meaning even more and much more deeply. And boy can these oldsters rock on!

Here's a small sampling of the songs covered in the film along with the names of the groups/people whose songs they are (links are provided to watch the performance videos on youtube, don't miss them):
  • Fix You by Coldplay
  • Schizophrenia by Sonic Youth
  • I Wanna Be Sedated by The Ramones
  • Staying Alive by The BeeGees
  • Forever Young by Bob Dylan
  • Walk On the Wild Side by Lou Reed
  • I Will Survive by Glorai Gaynor
  • One Fine Day by David Byrne (Byrne sings with the chorus in this video)
  • Life During Wartime by David Byrne
  • I Feel Good by James Brown
  • Every Breathe You Take by Sting & the Police
  • In the Midnight Hour - now a standard sung by just about everyone
  • Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix
  • Oh Yes You Can, Can
  • Golden Years by David Bowie
  • Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen
  • Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O'Connor
  • Somebody To Love by Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane
  • Road To Nowhere by David Byrne
  • She's Not There by the Zombies

Don't let anyone tell you that our tax dollars should not go to help support the Arts, without funding from The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the city of Northampton the Young @ Heart chorus would likely not still be around.

If there's one life lesson to be learned by YOUNG AT HEART, it's that It's never too late to fulfill your dreams. Allow yourself to be inspired. If ever there was a film that deserved your movie-going bucks YOUNG AT HEART is it.

Digital Dogs rating: A

MPAA rating: Rated PG for some mild language and thematic elements.

Running Times: 107 minutes

Producers Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Sally George, Stephen Walker, Director Stephen Walker, DP Edward Amrritz, Actors Bob Cilman, Young @ Heart Chorus
© 2008 by Digital Dogs

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