The Movie “Quartet” is a Winner: Dustin Hoffman’s Directorial Debut at 75 Grade: A


If you’re a baby boomer or above, you’re facing some realities. You aren’t going to look like your 25 no matter how much you try. You start noticing other changes too. You get tired faster.  Some people notice a little forgetfulness creeping in. Imagine how it’s going to be in your  70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

Acceptance of very old age is beautifully portrayed in the movie, “Quartet.” It is Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut (at 75) and he does a sensitive job. He was wise enough to do his first production with the best actors. Try Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, and  Pauline Collins,   Even though they’re elderly, they’re effective.  Just like the characters they portray in the movie.

The movie is about people living in a retirement home for musicians,  Beecham, residents are notable instrumentalists and opera singers. They don’t sit around and play Bingo; they play and sing music. Most of it classical and operatic There is plenty of music interspersed throughout the movie. There’s some authentic singing done by some of these masterful actors, singers and instrumentalists.

One of the conflicts comes into play when a former diva Jean Horton, portrayed by Maggie Smith, has to make contact with her ex husband Reginald portrayed by Tom  Courtenay. You know it was a serious breakup by their reaction to each other.

The retirement home needs to put on a show to raise money so they can stay in business. Smith’s character doesn’t want to tarnish her reputation since she can’t hit the high notes she used to. Part of the movie deals with Jeans reluctance to perform again.

Although the movie drags a little in the beginning, it picks up speed and by middle, you’ll be completely captivated.

*If you live in Columbus, Ohio, it’s playing at The Drexel Theater in Bexley.

Stay for the credits. They have some before and after pictures of the actors.

( I attended this movie with people I’ve been singing in a choir with for over 20 years. By the end of the movie, we were joking about scoping out a retirement home now.  I couldn’t think of people I’d rather live with when  I’m really old! )

English: Dustin Hoffman at the Cannes Film Fes...

English: Dustin Hoffman at the Cannes Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Downton Abbey makes an American splash in newest series debut: A review


I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so I tuned into Downton Abbey on PBS. This British series actually held my attention. It was a combination of the good acting, intrigue and fantastic costumes.

The show is about the interplay between the aristocracy and their servants. The family is the Crawley Family. According to Wikipedia , “ The series, set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the Edwardian and post-Edwardian era — with the great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy.

In the opening episode of Season 2,  they were all really worried that their huge old mansion would have to be sold because  Lord Grantham, owner of the estate, made a bad investment in a railroad.  The time is now 1920.

Despite the fact that Lord Grantham is about to lose everything, he throws a huge audacious wedding for his daughter and fiance.   She drove to the church in a horse-driven  carriage.  To make matters worse, her soon-to-be husband has suddenly inherited a pile of money that he refuses to use to salvage her family’s mansion.

Maggie Smith, a seasoned British actress, plays the main English grandmamma Violet Crawley. On this episode, she clashed with the American grandmamma, Martha Levinson, played by  Shirley MacLaine. They couldn’t find better actresses to play these parts. Smith was properly snobby, and MacLaine played an inappropriate loud American who says what’s on her mind. Maclaine is finally showing her age despite her obvious plastic surgery. Smith has let herself age. I think she looks more real.( They’re both the same age in real life, 78.)

Maggie Smith and Shirley Maclaine in English series, Downton Abbey.

Maggie Smith and Shirley Maclaine in English series, Downton Abbey.

The servants live downstairs, and help the aristocracy dress and feed themselves. (They put the food on their plates). The higher class has to get dressed for dinner, and the servants also have to wear proper servant’s attire. There is all kinds of drama going on between the servants.  In this episode one of  daughters brought home her Irish husband who used to be the chauffeur.

I also liked seeing Elizabeth McGovern, mother, Cora Crawley,  who I haven’t see since she played a teenager in Ordinary People in 1980. Luckily, she still looks pretty good . She’s not that old.

The acting was so good that I will catch up on it next week on Sunday night on PBS at 9:00.

According to Reuters,  I’m not the only one who tuned in because it scored a record 7.9 million viewers for public broadcasting.  This quadrupled the average ratings for a premiere episode. The show is also nominated for some Golden Globe awards.

It just goes to show you, that Americans love gossip about the English, even if it’s make-believe. Besides, we all like to see filthy rich people squirm. (Unless your filthy rich too).

Did you watch the opening show of this season?  What did you think? Did you stay tuned the whole time? Why do you think this show is so popular with American audiences?

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: A Movie About Aging and India


Judi Dench at the BAFTAs at the Royal Opera Ho...

Judi Dench at the BAFTAs at the Royal Opera House in London. Français : Judi Dench photographiée lors de la soirée des British Academy Film Awards dans le Royal Opera House à Londres. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you think old age is an excuse to sit around and vegetate, maybe you ought to see the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

If you are older, you will recognize some of the outstanding English actors in this production. It’s all about a group of seven retirees who don’t want to stop living because they are older.

They trek over to India to stay in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Like them, the hotel has seen better days. It is run by a dreamy young optimistic Indian man who is trying to forge his own identity. He has trouble standing up to his mother; she doesn’t want him to marry his beautiful young girlfriend, or run a hotel.

The retirees soon learn that the young Indian man,  computer enhanced the hotel in his advertising, and  it’s not what he promised. However, the guests learn to like it and they improve along with the hotel.

The theme of this movie is that life doesn’t stop for you just because your get old; unless you just give up, and wait to die. We all know people who are perfectly willing to use old age as an excuse for not accomplishing anything.

The acting in this movie is terrific. Evelyn Greensleeves (Judy Dench) finds out her husband was not good at finances and she is flat broke. Luckily, she gets herself to The Exotic Marigold Hotel, and starts her new life. She also finds a job in a phone center. (I won’t tell you how or why). One man reclaims a lost love,  a few conclude their looks can’t get them what they are used to getting.  A couple has to come to terms with their marriage.

The characters are still interested in their lives, and they still are adventuresome. Some have lived with poor choices they made when they were young.There are stories about loss and love. Other noteworthy actors include: Maggie Smith and Hugh Dickson. It is refreshing to see these people practice their craft so skillfully.

If you’ve ever been curious about life in India, this offers you glimpses of how different and colorful life is there. People who have visited there, or are curious, might enjoy that aspect of the movie.

The only criticism I have of this movie is it was too long. I started wondering if it was ever going to end.  When the ending came, it was satisfying.  Maybe a wee bit of fantasy there, but it is a movie!

I would recommend this movie if you’re older. I don’t think younger people would appreciate it as much—nothing explodes and there isn’t much blood and guts.  The story about the young Indian and his beautiful girlfriend isn’t enough to hold a young person’s interest.

I was happy that the actors were about 10 or more years older than me! It made me feel momentarily young. I’m no spring chicken myself!

I give this movie a B+

Agree or disagree with my review?

How do you feel about getting older. Are you aging gracefully, or is it difficult for you?