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IN SHORT: nnn. [Rated R for graphic nudity, some sexuality, and language. 118 minutes]
Fred and Mick, two old friends, are on vacation in an elegant Swiss spa at the foot of the Alps. Fred, an eminent British composer and conductor, is now retired. Mick, an American film director, is still working. They look with curiosity and tenderness on their children's confused lives, Mick's enthusiastic young writers, and the other hotel guests. While Mick scrambles to finish the screenplay for what he imagines will be his last important film, Fred has no intention of resuming his musical career. But someone wants at all costs to hear him conduct again.]
That would be the queen and this film for film students is the kind you discuss afterwards. Not what we've been writing about all these years and not anything that doesn't want to win nominations for roles that lesser actors wouldn't know what to do with. Re-creating "real" life. That means little of interest happens and the big payoff -- face it, we all expect a big payoff -- is just a small one.
Musician Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) is a reknowned composer and conductor whose most famous, and accessible, work is called "Simple Songs." As we meet the man, he has been refusing to perform his work for years. This film presents him with a request by Her Royal Majesty, the Queen of Engand, who has offered a knighthood in exchange for the performance. Ballinger succinctly explains that Simple Songs was written to be sung by his (now deceased) wife and that he will hear no one else sing the piece.
Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) on the other hand, is a film maker eager to collaborate with a quartet of fawning screenwriters on one last film. At its heart, it is written for the fading star Brenda Morel (Jane Fonda) , whose brief appearance and most confusing exit in this film is quite a waste of Ms. Fonda's talent.
, Lena Ballinger (Rachel Weisz), Jimmy Tree (Paul Dano),
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Youth, he would have paid . . .
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