Stranger than Fiction

Stranger than Fiction was playing on tv this morning while I was getting ready for work, and I could hardly drag myself away. I’d forgotten how much I really loved this sweet, whimsical, absurdist tale of a buttoned-up and completely anal IRS agent (Ferrell) who begins hearing a prim, British, female voice in his head, narrating his life with potentially devastating consequences…..

More surprising now, as I look back, I realize that this, one of my favorite films ever, was directed by Marc Forster, who went on to make Quantum of Solace and World War Z, both cracking, complex, big-budget action adventures. This is something quite different and really quite lovely.


Quartet isn’t Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, not by a mile. But Dustin Hoffman’s directing debut is nevertheless a bittersweet, quirky, eversobritish, golden years tale where the great and good of Anglo thespery show their chops and impress upon us what a magnificent generation of performers they are.

Quartet is set in a raucous, seraphic retirement home for musical theatre folk. It tells of the painful reunion of Reg (Tom Courtenay) with the self-centred Jean Horton (Maggie Smith), the wife who betrayed him years (and years) ago, as they work towards a benefit concert for the survival of the home. (the perilous fiscal status of Blighty’s old-age care being a current cinematic meme) It’s very well-meaning, but not particularly mindblowing. Billy Connolly is great – and looks rather dashing without the curls.


Quartet filmed at the exquisite Hedsor House in Buckinghamshire. Completed in Italianate style in 1868, it’s part of an 85 acre park that overlooks the Thames and is available for weddings and stuff, should that be your wont. Incidentally, there actually IS such a place for retired musos, but it’s in Italy. Casa Verdi. So now you know.