TCFF Day 3: Reviews of QUARTET and We Are Wisconsin Documentary

Man, can’t believe the third day of TCFF has come and gone already, time sure flies by fast when you’re having a good time! The highlight of the day for me is definitely seeing Quartet, Dustin Hoffman’s debut on the lives of retired musicians and Opera singers. Seems like people of all ages enjoyed the film, check out Ingrid Moss’ interview with the audience after the film:

And here are the reviews of the day:


I don’t know why but I quite enjoy comedies about old age… especially when it has a stellar seasoned cast! I saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel recently, which I haven’t got a chance to review yet, and similarly, Quartet puts a comedic spin on aging and mix it with lush, beautiful music.

Based on a play by Ronald Harwood, Quartet is a dramedy, or specifically, it’s a comedy about the dramas of four retired opera singers as they deal with old grudges, passion, pride, romance… and Rigoletto. The all-British cast are led by Dame Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins, with Michael Gambon as a curmudgeon opera director Cedric.

I tell you, I wish that in my old age I get to retire in a place like Beecham House! It’s the most opulent retirement home I’ve ever seen, people are treated like royalty here and there’s beautiful music every where you turn as the residents are either playing violins, piano, what have you, or singing together. It’s like living in an Opera house! But prima donna Jean Horton (Smith) isn’t keen on having to live here, despite such a tremendous welcome from current residents that harkens back to her old days. Her arrival also disrupts the peace of Reginald Paget (Courtenay) who shared a not-so-rosy past that he’s not prepared to let go.

The dynamics between them are fun to watch. Maggie Smith‘s character Jean is the most developed here as she navigates through pride and bruised ego, as well as attempting to atone for her failed relationship with Reginald (Regi for short). I’ve always loved stories of lost love and it’s depicted in such a sweet way. Billy Connolly is especially amusing with his cheeky remarks unabashedly flirts with all the women in Beecham House, including the young, compassionate doctor played by Sheridan Smith (whom I just saw recently in Hysteria). I’ve always liked the Scottish thespian since Mrs. Brown, and he was hilarious as Merida’s father in Pixar’s Brave earlier this year.

It’s no surprise what the major highlight of the movie is the music, and as a huge fan of classical music it’s such a treat for me. The whole thing feels like a love letter to classical music and opera, with also a nod to hip hop and rap. Say what? Yep there is an especially touching scene when Regi teaches a group of students and prompted one of them to perform rap in class.

I applaud Dustin Hoffman in crafting such a charming film. It’s not flawless however, the films feels meandering at times, but despite the lack of focus in parts, it’s still a delight to watch because of the performances. Hoffman is certainly deft in selecting the cast that works well together. I thoroughly enjoy this movie… beautiful music, mirthful dialog, gorgeous scenery and lovely performances. What’s not to love?

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels

Special thanks to the Minnesota Opera for sponsoring this film for TCFF!

We Are Wisconsin

I’m not sure why, but this screening was not sold out. Out of the three documentaries that I have seen so far, this was the best by a long shot. It communicated a serious issue that is close to home. We are Wisconsin spotlighted the occupation that took place during May in the Wisconsin State Capitol, as a result of the bill that Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans were trying to push through.

There was definitely biased towards the Liberal political views – or rather the people that opposed what was trying to be passed. There were moving testimonies from people leading and participating in the revolt, and the images of inside the Capitol as the issue progressed.

I had not followed this story in the news while it was going on, and before seeing this I still only had a loose grasp on exactly what happened. But after the first images of the people who were actively fighting for their beliefs I was transfixed. Many facts could have been omitted, but I was successfully convinced of the injustice politics can inflict on the government’s citizens.

Laura Glass, the main teacher that gave testimonies in the documentary, was present for this screening. Her presence in the audience helped drive home the feeling of how relevant this is in American culture. Footage of the protests and people occupying created this energy that made me feel like I should be taking a more active role in Minnesota’s politics for this November’s election. Real emotion was evoked, and that is not something every documentary accomplishes.

– review by Emery Thoresen

4 out of 5 reels

Also check out June’s review of Quartet & prankster comedy STAG
with Scrubs‘ Donald Faison

TCFF Schedule and Ticket Info »

Has anyone seen these films? Well, what did you think?

25 thoughts on “TCFF Day 3: Reviews of QUARTET and We Are Wisconsin Documentary

  1. I think with the exception of Bro yesterday, your ratings have all been pretty high. Seems like a great time there at TCFF!! I wonder how many of these I’ll get to see before the year ends… sadly I don’t think it’ll be much.

  2. Ted S.

    Sounds like you’re having a blast over there Ruth, sorry I’ve been sick the last few days. I’ll try to see if I can make it to one of the showings later this week, I’m still home sick. I hope I’ll feel better in the next day or so.

  3. I also love films and comedies on old age 😉 they are usually always very delightful especially which such a brilliant cast as this one has. MARIGOLD was also such a delight!

    1. ruth

      Hi Dezzy! Glad to see you love this kind of comedies as well. The cast is a winner here, just like in Marigold Hotel. I love the English Dames, Judi and Maggie. I hope you get to see this one, I think this is right up your alley 🙂

    1. Thanks T. Oh yeah, The Last Quartet is one I’m looking forward to on Friday. I mean Walken + Seymour-Hoffman, that’s just mind-boggling how good the cast is! I do love the cast of Quartet though, y’know I love the Brits 🙂

    1. Thanks Mark! Btw, seeing Billy Connolly makes me think of GB, he’s kind of the older version of him with his cheeky, impertinent remarks, he..he..

      1. So throughout the ageing process of a Scots character, you’d have James McAvoy as the younger, Gerry Butler as middle aged and Billy Connolly as the older? All good guys and fine Glasgow Celtic Football Club supporters. 😉

        1. Oh I LOVE it! Yes, I wish they’d make a film with all three of those awesome Scots!! It think that’d absolutely work, I could see them playing one character. Btw, I can’t wait to see GB’s next film, the surfing movie, and then the soccer one where he’s playing a former Celtic soccer star! 🙂

          1. I’m looking forward to those as well. D’you know Robert Duvall has a big liking for Scottish Football as well. He done a film in Scotland years ago called “A Shot At Glory” where he played a scottish manager in charge of a small team that makes it all the way to a cup final. He used a lot of genuine football players from the Scottish league and the film also had Cole Hauser and Michael Keaton in it. Hard to believe but it’s true. I have a copy at home. The film isn’t great but it’s interesting nonetheless. Check out Imdb for it.

  4. 70srichard

    I really hope that Quartet gets a release and is not just straight to VOD and DVD. I think a movie like this will be enjoyed in the company of others.

    1. I hope so too, Richard. It’s really a delightful film and you’re right, it’s fun to watch in a group. I don’t mind watching it again when it’s out on rental.

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  7. Pingback: TCFF Roundup – Part 1 – A Late Quartet, Things I Don’t Understand & Problem Solving the Republic Reviews |

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