Sunday, February 10, 2013

Seen Any Good Movies Lately?

Seen any good movies lately?  Yes, in fact, two recent movies, "Hyde Park on the Hudson" and "Quartet".  Both of these are small movies with large performances by several of the actors.

"Hyde Park" is the story of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's meeting with King George VI and Queen Elizabeth shortly before the beginning of World War II.  The King came to FDR's home in Hyde Park, New York, seeking his support for England.  Bill Murray gives an excellent performance as the President.  More known for his performances in movies such as "Groundhog Day" and other comedies, Murray captures the president's accent and appearance to a "t".  Although Murray pushed hard for an Oscar nomination, he was not nominated for his role. See the movie and judge for yourself whether his performance was Oscar-worthy.

In addition to Murray, the movie stars Laura Linney as FDR's fifth cousin, Daisy, with whom FDR reputedly had an affair. In fact, the movie is based in part on diaries, letters and other documents found after Daisy's death which apparently detailed the affair with her as well as several other women.

One of the highlights of the movie is a scene at FDR's retreat, Top Cottage, where the king and queen are treated to a picnic of hot dogs. Watching the king eating a hot dog is hilarious.

"Quartet" is set in a home for retired musicians and classical singers in England.  While that doesn't sound like a very promising venue for a movie, it is well worth a look.  Directed by Dustin Hoffman, it recounts the relationship between two opera singers who had been married and divorced and who meet again after many years at the retirement home. Maggie Smith, recently of Downton Abbey, stars as the diva and Tom Courtenay (he of the early sixties movie, "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner") as her ex.

Sort of an operatic "Glee", the movie follows the characters as they prepare for a gala to try to keep the retirement home open following financial problems, it is well worth a look. 

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