Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Measuring prospects for a long life

A minor documentary about a major subject.
Concerned about the rude and inexorable encroachments of age, director Mark S. Wexler, son of famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler, sets out to explore the possibilities of extending life well beyond anything we now regard as a normal allotment of years. Hexler's discursive documentary, How to Live Forever, sounds wisest when it reminds us that perhaps we should accept the inevitable rather than deny it, but the movie is far more amusing when looking at the possibilities for lives that extend well beyond 100 years. Wexler visits places where people routinely outlive most of us (Okinawa), spends time at a mortuary trade show, discusses cryogenics and current biological research as he visits with folks who have yet to go (gently or otherwise) into that good night. Among them: Fitness guru Jack LaLanne,* a 94-year-old surgeon who still practices medicine, an elderly Japanese man who has made a second career out of what he calls "senior porn," and a 101-year-old Brit who ran the London Marathon. Wexler employs an unexpectedly light touch that mixes amusement with reflection for a documentary that's better for its eccentricities than for its insights.

*LaLanne died in January of 2011; he was 96.

No comments: