Tag Archives: Jessica Tandy

Cocoon (1985)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Cocoon</strong> (1985)

(Second Viewing, On Cable TV, January 2019) I remember seeing Cocoon as a kid, but considering the film’s themes of aging it’s very different to see it as a middle-aged adult. (There’s one shot in the film, in which “human skins” are discarded and thrown to the floor by the alien characters, that seriously freaked me out when I was younger.) Efficiently directed by Ron Howard, this is a clever blend of SF, romance and comedy as retirement-aged characters discover alien eggs and the rejuvenating effects of the pool in which they’re stored. Of course, the aliens are there for a reason and their minders have good reason to be concerned. The script cleanly moves between one mode to the other, gradually making its way to a sentimental action-driven finale. There’s a tremendous amount of irony and foreshadowing in Cocoon’s early lines, showing the craft in the script. This probably remains the best film in which Steve Gutenberg ever starred, although his acting simply can’t reassure up to the impressive elderly ensemble cast assembled in between Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and others. Now that the baby boomers are taking over retirement homes, I expect the film to undergo a modest rediscovery as its themes of eternal youth directly addresses them. For younger viewers, Cocoon can occasionally be a meditation on growing old (and what people would do if there was an alternative), although it doesn’t forget to leaven the meditation with genre elements and comedy.

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Driving Miss Daisy</strong> (1989)

(On Cable TV, July 2017) In retrospect, it seems almost amazing that such a restrained piece of social-issue cinema as Driving Miss Daisy would go on to win the Best Picture academy award. It is, after all, nothing much more than the story of a growing friendship between an elderly Jewish lady and her black chauffeur, spanning years from the fifties to the seventies. Arguably more about aging than race relations, Driving Miss Daisy is a surprisingly quiet movie. No big speeches, a few soft-spoken disagreements, unusually generous pacing (which is to say: slow) and plenty of character moments. Jessica Tandy won an Oscar for her role as the lady who learns better, while Morgan Freeman broke through the mainstream with his performance. While the result hasn’t aged very well (it’s curiously well-mannered), it’s still not a bad film by any means. Still, most will see it either as Oscar completionists or fans of Morgan Freeman.