TORONTO -- Grabbing a smoke on the patio of downtown Toronto restaurant Terroni at the “Argo” party the other night, we were talking to actor Scoot McNairy about downtown L.A. French dip institution Cole’s and the lost art of the three-martini lunch. McNairy introduced his friend, Jake, who told us he was in town to see the premiere of his dad’s new movie, his first as a director.
With the Toronto Film Festival’s lineup of 289 feature films and 83 shorts, we smiled and nodded and thought it was nice that Jake’s dad’s debut movie found a home among the crowded lineup. Then we went back to talking about why, really, the three-martini lunch should make a comeback.
When that particular conversational thread had run its course, we asked Jake the name of his dad’s movie.
“‘Quartet,’” he answered, matter of factly. “It’s having its premiere Sunday night.”
“Quartet’s” first-time director: 75-year-old Dustin Hoffman.
Jake, 31, bearded and with a full mane of hair, strikingly resembles his father both in appearance and the articulate manner with which he wields his deep voice. He has enjoyed a nice career of his own as an actor, including an episode this year on the HBO series “Luck,” in which he played the grandson of Dustin’s character, lifelong gangster Ace Bernstein.
“You know, for research for ‘Argo,’ they gave us this stack of magazines, People and stuff like that, to read,” McNairy tells Jake, talking about preparing for his work in Ben Affleck’s thriller, set during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979. “Your dad was all over them. ‘Kramer vs. Kramer,’ right? I learned a lot about him."
Watching “Quartet,” which we saw the next morning, we learn a little more. The film tells the moving story of a group of opera singers living in an English retirement home, focusing on the rejuvenating and healing power of art and music. Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay and Pauline Collins star. It’s charming, classy and beautifully told.
We’ll be talking to Jake’s dad tomorrow about his second career and whether he has any plans for a follow-up.
“Quartet” opens in limited release on Dec. 28, expanding wider on Jan. 11.