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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A movie I’m really curious to see, whenever the chance arises, is Gambit. Directed by Michael Hoffman, the movie is a remake of a 1966 romantic caper movie that originally starred Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. This version was scripted some time ago by Joel and Ethan Coen, and finally shot with Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz in the lead roles, supported by Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci, Tom Courtenay and Cloris Leachman.

The original version of the story features Caine as a slick professional thief who recruits MacLaine to help him accomplish a major theft. This version is a bit different, as it follows this path: “An art curator decides to seek revenge on his abusive boss by conning him into buying a fake Monet, but his plan requires the help of an eccentric and unpredictable Texas rodeo queen.” With the Coens scripting I’m hoping that some of the weird comic charm of the original is intact, or altered in an interesting fashion.

We don’t know much about how the project came out, but two posters have come online as part of the film’s international promotion, and there is also a very brief look at footage. It’s all below. Read More »

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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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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Some few years ago the Coen Brothers scripted a remake of the ’60s romantic caper comedy Gambit (originally starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine) and the remake is finally shooting now under the direction of Michael Hoffman (The Last Station). Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz star in the key roles, and Stanley Tucci and Cloris Leachman have joined Alan Rickman and Tom Courtenay in the supporting cast. The first image of the leads is out now, and you can see a larger version after the break.

Also lurking below the jump is the first image from Abel Ferrara‘s new film, 4:44 Last Day on Earth, which stars Willem Dafoe. Neither of these images are quite earth-shaking, but they’re minor teases of what is to come. Read More »

The casting for David Cronenberg‘s adaptation of the Don DeLillo novel Cosmopolis has been an up and down affair, with original talents Colin Farrell and Marion Cotillard dropping out. Robert Pattinson is now the male lead — he plays a young billionaire who deals with quite a few problems as he spends a day crossing Manhattan in his limo. Also in the cast are Juliette Binoche and Paul Giamatti.

And now Robert Pattinson tells MTV that Samantha Morton is in the film, and that a new young actress has been chosen to play his character’s wife, but that he can’t yet reveal her name. I’m very interested to hear who that will be, but in the meantime having Samantha Morton in the cast is a great thing. She is reliably excellent, and even without knowing her specific role the fact that she is cast says good things about the movie overall.

After the break. The Coen Brothers-scripted Gambit gets Alan Rickman, and Rick Yune is in RZA’s kung-fu movie. Read More »

Dustin Hoffman to Direct Quartet

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Dustin Hoffman may be ready to make his directorial debut. He’s in talks to helm Quartet, which is being written by Ronald Harwood based on his play by the same name. The story is about an aging, retired intelligence agent who has to fend off violent attacks by younger, better armed operatives. Oops. Wait. That’s the story for Red, the movie with Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and many more. This one is about elderly opera singers. Close enough? The cast is great, and the names are after the break. Read More »

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