Proving it’s never too late for fresh starts, Dustin Hoffman is embarking on a brand-new directing career at the ripe old age of 75. His first feature is Quartet, a gentle Brit comedy-drama set in a home for retired opera performers.

Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, and Tom Courtenay plays a trio of longtime friends and colleagues enjoying their golden years together at the facility, only to be thrown off balance by the arrival of the former fourth member of their singing quartet — a famed diva played by Maggie Smith. Michael Gambon also stars, as an opera director. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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Dustin Hoffman has long been established as one of the most significant actors of his generation, but he has never directed a film until now*. His directorial debut, Quartet, is based on an acclaimed play by Ronald Harwood (who also scripted Hoffman’s film) and it stars some real luminaries: Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Tom Courtenay and Michael Gambon.They play residents at a retirement home for retired opera singers. Seriously.

Given that plot you might expect something fairly arid and stodgy, but the first trailer for Quartet suggests that it is a pretty broad comedy with crowd-pleasing aims. The trailer promises a gentle, slightly cheeky good time, and it’s a nice breath of comedy to kick off this light holiday week. Check it out below.

Edit: Apologies, but we’ve had to pull the embed.

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What a strange thing this is. Albert Nobbs is a passion project for Glenn Close, who plays the title character, a woman who poses as a man so she can take a job in a hotel in 19th century Ireland. You’ll probably hear a lot of award-season talk about Close’s performance here, and watching this trailer that just released, it’s easy to see why. But I can’t make out what sort of film this is meant to be — a serious drama, a slightly mannered comedy, or a blend of several styles. Check it out for yourself, after the break. Read More »

Whitney Houston is set to return to the big screen for the first time in 15 years for Sparkle, a remake of the 1976 drama based on the real-life tale of Diana Ross and The Supremes (yes, kind of like Dreamgirls, only Sparkle came first). The story follows the rise and fall of fictional girl group Sister & the Sisters, the members of which find their personal lives falling apart even as their act reaches ever higher levels of fame and success.

Houston, who’s also set to executive produce, will play the “not-so-encouraging” mother of the girls in the band. Houston has actually been attached to the project since back when it was supposed to star Aaliyah, who passed away in 2001.¬†Also in the cast are Jordin Sparks making her cinematic debut in the title role, and Mike Epps in the part of destructive comedian Satin. Salim Akil (Jumping the Broom) is set to direct the feature from a script by his wife Mara Brock Akil. [Movieline]

After the jump: Dustin Hoffman snags some fine British talent (including two notable Harry Potter actors) for his directorial debut, and Twilight star Ashley Greene signs on for a weird, “ultra-modern” version of a Charles Dickens classic.

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