Sunday, January 6, 2013


We went to see Quartet this arvo.

Is it interesting that the first film directed by Dustin Hoffman is an English film?

What often makes English films disappointing is the sound. It can be very uneven. I don’t know how many English films have won a best sound Oscar, but maybe there should be a Most Improved Sound in an English Film award.

At home Aunty uses some hi tech wi fi hearing gizmo she bought from a hearing aid specialist. This means we can all watch TV together and all hear what’s happening without anyone suffering noise pains.

Uneven sound isn’t usually a problem in a cinema where the volume is so loud my ears often bleed, but about 20 minutes into the story I realised just how hard I was focusing to pick up some of the dialogue and I wondered if Aunty was hearing any of the dialogue at all. The answer is that she’ll have to wait for the DVD to catch the good bits. She loved the music.

The story is about a home for retired musicians. The music is absolutely fantastic if you like opera, which I do. Well, okay, I’m a bit of a music slut, really. Any genre will do. [Well, almost any genre.] There’s also a wee bit of Gilbert & Sullivan with just a soupcon of music hall thrown in as well.
I know it’s a well made story because nothing is harder than fighting the urge to lean back, close the eyes and give in to good music, but I managed to stay awake.

English movies can be very good at exploring human issues in a positive way without being uncomfortably earnest. This is a story that works because it’s not a film about ageing so much as a film about several older people coming to grips with their own age and perception of decline as a process.

It's advertised as a comedy but this is typical marketing bollocks. The Life of Brian is a Comedy. Quartet is a very good drama with quite a few laughs in it - a completely different creature altogether. 

It was interesting to see Billy Connolly play a proper dramatic role. It takes a while for the story to unfold, and the script/Dustin have made good use of Connolly’s naturally amusing personality to keep up some momentum til all the characters come together. It works without being distracting.

Pauline Collins is incredibly good in this. Her usually ‘cheerful’ face isn’t quite so relentlessly cheerful, and in this case her cheerfulness fits well anyway.

How could I ask “who’s Tom Courtenay?” Because, from a quick peek at imdb, it seems I’ve missed some good films with Tom Courtenay in them. He’s awfully good in Quartet.

With the exception of one or two moments, Maggie Smith gets to not be Maggie Smith in Quartet. While she does do the withering look and sardonic comment thing well, she is capable of so much more, and in this film she gets to show some depth again.

Michael Gambon? Irritating. It’s not him, it’s the part… I think.

Someone somewhere compared this movie with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but my goodness, will Best Exotic become the benchmark for every movie featuring older people? I hope not. Quartet is infinitely better in many ways.


  1. Sounds like an interesting film. I may have to look it up! I can relate on the movie theater sounds - BOOMING!

    1. And industrial ear protection is required while all the ads are running before the main feature...

    2. Yes And industrial ear protection is required while all the ads are running before the main feature... and I have earplugs. I am looking forward to this film a lot. Ignored Marigold Hotel as I find everything* about India VILE, and that was before the bus crime last week. (* except saris which are lovely)
      Dustin has had a lot of English film connections that I can easily think of without even being a particular fan. He was in a GREAT film with Emma Thompson - Stranger Than Fiction - that he enjoyed so much he wrote another film to make with her.

    3. The whole bus crime thing is an insult - suttee is fine, but insult a male by assaulting his woman and now they care?

      Anyway, shall have to look for Stranger Than Fiction. Thanks for the tip.

  2. Quartet was my NYE entertainment, followed by a low key dinner, home to watch a bit of the Tattoo until midnight-ish, then bed.

    It's been a long time since I enjoyed a NYE even half as much!!

    1. Sounds like a lovely way to spend an evening.

  3. I can' t wait to see it FC, i adore English movies, somehow they seem so much more 'real' than, let's just say 'others' haha! I do like Dustin Hoffman as an actor, hidden talents it seems. You've spurred me on, this week or bust..did you mention rumpy pumpy!?!?!

    1. You know I'm far too prudish to mention something like rumpy pumpy! Que ce que c'est anyway? ha ha