After the holiday season, the movie world is slowly cranking up to speed. Although the really big news doesn't start until next week, with the announcement of the Oscar and Bafta nominations.
This week's biggest nominee announcement came from the Producers Guild of America, seen as a taste of the Best Picture Oscar race. The PGA's 10 feature film nominees are: Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Les Miserables, Moonrise Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook, Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty.
For his directing debut, Dustin Hoffman takes no chances, filling the screen with gifted actors who are working from an intelligent script. So even if it's essentially a rather flimsy little drama that never really stretches the talented cast, there's plenty to like along the way. And Hoffman makes sure that we enjoy ourselves, inserting some sparky humour and a bit of romantic comedy to keep us smiling.
It takes place in a stately home for retired British musicians, which is planning its annual fundraising gala. Then iconic soprano Joan (Smith) arrives, and the gala's diva-like director (Gambon) decides to reunite the quartet known for a famed performance of Verdi's Rigoletto. The other three have long been residents: womanising Wilf (Connolly) and ditzy Cissy (Collins) are up for it, but Reggie (Courtenay) has never recovered after his marriage to Jean failed decades ago. Of course, everyone connives to get Jean and Reggie to talk to each other, but getting Jean to come out of retirement to sing again is an even more daunting task.
Aside from the central theme of second chances, there isn't much to this film beyond watching a group of superb veteran actors have a lot of fun on screen together. As the swishy ringleader, Gambon camps it up hilariously, even as everyone else ignores him. Connolly gleefully chomps on Wilf's innuendo-filled dialogue, and Collins radiates warmth. While Sheridan Smith surprises with a strong turn as the doctor in residence. This leaves Smith and Courtenay with the script's only meaty scenes, and they make finding the raw honesty in these wounded people look easy.
Continue reading: Quartet Review
Dustin Hoffman, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Dame Maggie Smith and Sheridan Smith - Dustin Hoffman, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Dame Maggie Smith, Sheridan Smith Monday 15th October 2012 56th BFI London Film Festival: Quartet - American Airlines gala held at the Odeon Leicester Square - Arrivals.
Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Maggie Smith, Tom Courtney, Sheridan Smith and Dustin Hoffman - Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Maggie Smith, Tom Courtney, Sheridan Smith and Dustin Hoffman Monday 15th October 2012 56th BFI London Film Festival - Quartet - Premiere Arrivals
In 1898, Albert (Close) works at an upscale Dublin hotel, and no one suspects that he's actually a woman. Quietly going about his work while saving to open a tobacco shop, Albert is unassuming and relentlessly polite. Then he's asked to share his room with visiting painter Hubert (McTeer), who learns his secret and reveals one of his own: he's a woman too. But Hubert has managed to have a normal married life. This inspires Albert to pursue the hotel maid Helen (Wasikowska), which is complicated by her lusty relationship with handyman Joe (Johnson).
Continue reading: Albert Nobbs Review
Pauline Collins and John Alderton - Pauline Collins and John Alderton London, England - Hidden Gems Photography Gala Auction in aid of Variety Club the Children's Charity at the St Pancras Hotel Wednesday 30th November 2011
After years of marriage, Alfie and Helena are getting divorced, this is mainly due to Alfie's midlife crisis and lust for a much younger woman called Charmaine. Whilst Helena seeks guidance from a fortune teller her daughter is also facing troubles of her own. Sally works in an art gallery work whilst her husband stays at home hoping to write a novel that repeats the success of his first.
Pity poor Shirley Valentine-Bradshaw, a blowsy mid-40ish Liverpudlian housewife whose indifferent husband Joe (Bernard Hill) and sullen daughter treat her like hired help. So lonely is Shirley that she frequently talks to her kitchen walls in order to keep some kind of conversation going.
Continue reading: Shirley Valentine Review