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‘Quartet’ celebrates living in the moment

‘Quartet’ celebrates living in the moment

“Quartet” (2012). Cast: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon, Sheridan Smith, Andrew Sachs, Dame Gwyneth Jones, Michael Byrne, Trevor Peacock, David Ryall, Eline Powell, Luke Newberry, Shola Andewusi, Jumayn Hunter. Director: Dustin Hoffman. Screenplay: Ronald Harwood. Play: Ronald Harwood. Web site. Trailer. Many of us regrettably spend large parts of our lives chasing ever-elusive impressions of what was or what we hope might be. But, in doing so, we tend to neglect who and where we are in our lives, missing out on the joys of what they have to offer. Learning how to immerse ourselves in that often-ignored present moment is what the delightful new comedy, “Quartet,” is all about. Life’s aflutter at the Beecham House Home for Retired Musicians. The converted estate in the idyllic English countryside provides a pleasant retirement setting for an eclectic assortment of operatic singers, instrumentalists, conductors and musical comedy performers. The home’s capable staff attends to the residents’ health care needs in their sunset years while simultaneously providing a full program of activities to keep the seniors alert and vital, with a strong emphasis on encouraging them to continue doing what they do best – performing. At first glance, ...
‘Amour’ illuminates the power of love

‘Amour’ illuminates the power of love

“Amour” (“Love”) (2012). Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert, William Shimell, Alexandre Tharaud. Director: Michael Haneke. Screenplay: Michael Haneke. Web site. Trailer. Love is one of those sublime intangibles that artists of all callings, from Shakespeare to the Beatles, have sought to define, revere and embrace through their creations. Yet it encompasses such a vast array of embodiments that it’s difficult to encapsulate, or even grasp, all that it entails and makes possible. Nevertheless, the daunting nature of that task has not deterred those who would pay proper homage to the subject, as is amply evidenced in the latest offering from director Michael Haneke, “Amour” (“Love”). Former music teachers Georges and Anne Laurent (Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva) enjoy a comfortable retirement. The middle class octogenarian couple lives a rich, rewarding life in Paris filled with evenings at the arts, visits from Eva, their daughter (Isabelle Huppert), and Alexandre, a now-famous former student (Alexandre Tharaud), and, above all, the loving company of one another. Indeed, despite the passage of many years, it’s obvious that Georges and Anne are still very much in love with one another. Which is why it’s so utterly heartbreaking when Anne’s health takes a turn for ...
'Les Misérables' envisions hope for a world of our dreams

‘Les Misérables’ envisions hope for a world of our dreams

“Les Misérables” (2012). Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, Daniel Huttlestone, Isabelle Allen, Colm Wilkinson, Michael Jibson, Natalya Wallace, Stephen Tate. Director: Tom Hooper. Screenplay: William Nicholson, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer. Music: Claude-Michel Schönberg. Original Lyrics (French): Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. Translated Lyrics (English): Herbert Kretzmer. Web site. Trailer. Daring to dream a world better than the one that we have takes foresight and vision. But, above all, it also takes courage, the fortitude to picture an existence that breaks the chains of limitation and embodies the notion that things don’t have to be as they are. Such is the message inherent in the film adaptation of the epic musical drama, “Les Misérables.” Based on the classic Victor Hugo novel, “Les Misérables” tells the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) and his struggle to build a new life for himself in post-revolutionary France, a time when class inequality once again threatens to sweep across the land. After spending 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread, Valjean is released by Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe), the officer responsible for ...
What To Expect Out of This Year’s Oscars

What To Expect Out of This Year’s Oscars

The 85th Academy Award nominations were announced earlier this month, and most of those receiving Oscar nods followed projections, with a few surprises (and snubs) thrown in just to keep things interesting. But making predictions on this year’s winners is a bit trickier than in the past; with roughly a month to go until Oscar night, there are some genuine horse races in progress, unlike recent years, when most of the recipients were pretty much foregone conclusions. So, with that said, here’s what I expect out of the major categories in this year’s competition as of now. Best Picture The Field: “Amour,” “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Misérables,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Zero Dark Thirty” Who Will Likely Win: “Argo.” This picture has the momentum behind it at the moment, having recently won best picture (drama) honors at the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice Awards. It’s also well-represented in the nominations for the upcoming Screen Actors Guild Awards. And, as an entertaining, critically acclaimed, technically well-made picture that honors unsung American heroes, it’s a popular and politically correct choice, even if it isn’t the best offering in the pack. Who Should Win: ...
‘State of Illusion’ reveals the reality of reality

‘State of Illusion’ reveals the reality of reality

“People v. The State of Illusion” (2012). Cast, Fictional Segment: J.B. Tuttle, Michael McCormick, Kevin McDonald, Melanie Lindahl, Tad Jones, Amy Baklini; Expert Commentators: Austin Vickers (narrator), Thomas Moore, Candace Pert, Debbie Ford, Joe Dispenza, Robert Jahn, Brenda Dunne, Peter Senge, Michael Vandermark. Director: Scott Cervine. Screenplay: Austin Vickers. Web site. Trailer. We all know how reality works, right? Or do we? Many of us like to think of our existence as an easily definable, quantifiable experience governed by readily identified laws that apply across the board. But is it really that simple, or is there something more subjective at work, especially when discrepancies make their presence felt? Those are just some of the considerations addressed in the enlightening documentary “People v. The State of Illusion,” now available on DVD. Aaron Rogers (no relation to the Green Bay Packers quarterback) (J.B. Tuttle) is having a difficult time in life. Separated from his wife and potentially facing a layoff from his job, he struggles to get by. But that’s all before things go downhill. One evening, after attending a school play featuring his daughter, Hope (Melanie Lindahl), Aaron runs a red light while driving her home, causing a tragic car accident ...
‘The Impossible’ reveals how beliefs beat the odds

‘The Impossible’ reveals how beliefs beat the odds

“The Impossible” (2012). Cast: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast, Marta Etura, Sönke Möhring, Geraldine Chaplin, Ploy Jindachote, Johan Sundberg, Jan Roland Sundberg, La-Orng Thongruang, Tor Klathaley, Douglas Johansson, Emilio Riccardi, Nicola Harrison. Director: Juan Antonio Bayona. Screenplay: Sergio G. Sánchez. Story: Maria Belon. Web site. Trailer. Under trying conditions, reconciling oneself to seemingly obvious inevitabilities might look like the only option available. But is it really? What if another choice were possible? And what would it take to materialize it? Those of just some of the questions addressed in the affecting new drama, “The Impossible.” It’s December 2004, and the Bennett family is anxiously looking forward to a Christmas vacation in Thailand. Parents Henry (Ewan McGregor) and Maria (Naomi Watts) and their three children, Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast), are excited about their upcoming stay at a luxurious beach resort in Khao Lak. They arrive on Christmas Eve and enjoy a festive time together, a suitable prelude to a merry yuletide celebration the next morning. But, on December 26, things change drastically, in ways no one ever could have predicted. While swimming and sunning at the resort’s pool, the Bennetts ...
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