My grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s for several years before she died, used to crack me up with the crazy things she’d say after the disease took hold. She also brought profound sadness to our faces when she couldn’t remember the basic events of her full and happy life.
Pauline in her final years was the first image that came to mind as I watched Alan Alda’s amazing performance as Uncle Rollie in the Hart-Lunsford movie, “Diminished Capacity” at a special premier at the Kentucky Center last night. The movie was selected for this year’s Sundance Festival, and was screened here as a fund-raiser for the local Alzheimer’s organization.
Anyone who’s known someone with Alzheimer’s will chuckle at the movie’s comic moments. Sherwood Kiraly, who wrote the novel upon which the movie is based, told the handful of folks who stuck around after the film ended that Rollie was based on his real-life experiences with his own father.
Tons more along with photos and commentary from Jake after the jump…
Alda’s character believes the fish in a lake near his home can type literate thoughts, and he can’t remember that his brother is dead. But he has something he knows is valuable – a baseball card featuring Chicago Cub Frank Shulte from the early 1900s. Some of the movie’s funniest moments focus on Cub fandom and a baseball card show in Chicago, where Alda ends up with his nephew Cooper (Matthew Broderick) and his high school sweetheart (Virginia Madsen).
Those who knew that Alzheimer’s was a featured topic might have expected something a little more somber than the 87-minute film provided. But if this was a message movie, it was delivered with some high humor, like the line delivered by the lowbrow character, Donny, concerned he couldn’t get a job because he looked too old. “I need to get ‘youth-anized'” he said.
That line, in fact, was one of Kiraly’s favorites. He told the Louisville audience after the screening, in a Q-and-A with producer Ed Hart, said it was tempting to end the move with the fish typing “The End” but, in the end, passed.
Let’s hope Louisville audiences will get to see the film when it gets a wider release, but to get here, Hart said it will have to do well in a limited release. Another Hart-Lunsford film with high expectations, “Grace is Gone” did poorly in limited release last year and is destined for the DVD market.
First, the Courier-Journal’s Judith Egerton needs to take a step back in her criticism. It’s in poor taste to include unwarranted negative reviews of a film when writing about it– if you haven’t even seen it– when all proceeds from a screening are going to a very worthy charity. It’s almost like Egerton wanted to diminish (pun intended) potential return for the charity. Apparently we’re going to have to leave our post as a grammar queen and move on to being the etiquette queen. Ugh.
All that said, you should see this film when you have the opportunity. It’s a testament to the talent we have right here in Kentucky. Both Ed Hart and Bruce Lunsford, through Hart-Lunsford Pictures, are consistently producing Sundance-caliber films with powerful messages.
We walked into the reception in the lobby of the Kentucky Center in a less than upbeat mood, thanks to the fancy rain & dark clouds over the river. Naturally, we expected the film to squish our mood further into the oblivion of blah. Thank goodness we were wrong. We weren’t just pleasantly surprised by the movie and it’s heartfelt message about the realities of Alzheimer’s, but by the crowd that showed up.
State Senator Walter Blevins, Jr. and another state legislator (whose name escapes me at the moment) showed up. Blevins (from our hometown of West Liberty) supported the 2007 Senate Joint Resolution 6 to require an Alzheimer’s disease study. The resolution thankfully passed and now an assessment will be done to study the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on Kentuckians, examining existing services and resources and will develop strategies to meet the needs of those affected. Kudos to him.
Bruce and Ed presented the Greater Kentucky/Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association with a $30,000 check.Hopefully last night’s event won’t go unnoticed by the media. At least a dozen folks from the press were on-hand, including LEO’s Cary Stemle.
Other folks in attendance: Dale Emmons & wife Allison, Ann Oldfather, the Mulloy family, Chris Sanders from Change to Win, Candidate for District Judge Sheila Berman, David Jones, Jr., 4th Congressional District candidate for Congress Michael Kelley, along with a slew of folks from the business community, activists and film buffs.
A great night for hundreds of people to support a great cause. And since it’s such a great cause, you should make a charitable contribution by CLICKING HERE. Amounts as little as $5.00 make a difference, so no one really has an excuse for holding back.
Additional photo credit: Sean Kennedy