Quartet (2012)

Tom Courtenay and Maggie Smith who star in Quartet, directed by Dustin Hoffman.
Tom Courtenay and Maggie Smith being utterly lovely in Quartet, directed by Dustin Hoffman.

The screen adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s stage play Quartet is a quirky yet touching depiction of the lives of former opera stars grappling with their personal and professional pasts, as well as – in one case – approaching a senile future.

In its own way – there are some crafting issues which do jar a little in places – Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut succeeds in bringing the audience in touch with the realities of the music world, one in particular most of us overlook: those responsible for our own formative musical experiences are themselves getting old. And of those who don’t have a family or money to cushion them in their old age, some end up in homes like the fictional Beecham House for Retired Musicians.

An horrific situation for a professional musician. You spend your teenage years and early twenty-years handling the competitive atmosphere dripping from the walls of music college, only to find yourself having to handle similar pressures in your professional life. The critics are constantly yapping at your ankles and then there’s the ever-increasing possibility that the very tool your career is dependent on is in danger of letting you down. And after that? You find yourself back in close proximity with the very same kind of people, if not the very same individuals.

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Round-Up #1: Money, Moaners and Homework

Memories of Christmas and New Year are now passing into fuzzy recollections of alcohol, rich food and wrapping paper. Our eyes blink as we look upon the hostile reality of the first few days of 2013. What next is there to look forward to?

Eurovision. That’s what. The 58th Grand Final is on Saturday 18th May. Mark it in your diary if you haven’t already.

It’s official: Lithuania’s 2012 act Donny Montell continues to scrub up well.

There’s plenty of ground to cover before then. An inordinate amount of nonsense to get across before the Eurovision bus splutters into action.

So crank up Spotify and get yourself in the mood with such 2012 classics as Compact Disco’s Sound of Our Hearts, Loreen’s quality win for Sweden with Euphoria or, if you’ve a weakness for gratuitous use of dry ice and a cheesy spot of air guitar take a look at adorable Lithuania’s Donny Montell whose Love is Blind still entertains (for all the wrong reasons).

Such trips down memory lane are mere hors d’oeuvres for the next wave of Eurovision hopefuls who have already been selected in programmes produced by eager European broadcasters, some chosen by their incomprehensibly enthusiastic audiences.

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