John F. Hanley

  • Quartet – A stunning must-see film even if you're not yet grey!

    I loved this. The script was sharp, acting superb, humour infectious and the cinematography lustrous. It's Dustin Hoffman's first real outing as a director and, at the age of 75, he has created a beautiful and moving film.

    I have a particular empathy for this film as unlike Jack Renouf, the protagonist in my series, whose decision about what to do with his life at 18 was forced on him in 1939, I chose to attend a drama school in London after I finished my A levels (graduated from High School) back in 1965. Not just any theatre training establishment either but the Guildhall School of Music and Drama which was then located just off the embankment and only yards from the Thames on one side and Fleet Street on the other.

    We drama students were confined to the basement but the many storeys of the grand old building buzzed with music all day every day (apart from Sundays when even theatres are closed in London). During my time there I helped out in several operas and, despite having no singing ability, found myself on stage alongside brilliant opera singers. In the Magic Flute I played the High Priest and had to drag Pamina away while she and three others sang the most beautiful quartet in four part harmony. I was so transfixed on opening night that she had to shove me off stage! Therefore, living out my final years in a home for retired musicians would be no hardship at all.

    None of the principal cast of Dame Maggie Smith, Billy Connelly, Tom Courtney, Pauline Collins and Sir Michael Gambon are singers and wisely Hoffman doesn't make them try unlike the misguided director of Mama Mia! However, the retirement home is stuffed full of real performers including Dame Gwyneth Jones a majestic soprano who though now nearly 80 can still shake the rafters and bend the glass with her incomparable voice.

    There are also cameo roles for a trio of well-known British comedy actors, Trevor Peacock, Andrew Sachs and David Ryall but the stars are the retired musicians who make this film sing with emotion.

    If you have to choose between 5' 6" Tom Cruise trying to convince as 6' 5" Jack Reacher and this film as your first for 2013 then forget the hype, high heeled shoes and macho nonsense, indulge yourself and dream that your retirement home could be like this!

    Tomorrow, I'll have something to say about music in novels and how I've tried to incorporate it into my writing.

    1 Comment

    • 1. Jan 3 2013 2:44PM by AA Bell

      Hi John

      Great Blog!

      We just met thru the ASMSG "Like Party" so you might also like my Ballady Blog;

      Hugs & Good Luck!



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