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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

One month on from where we left the recently retired Brits in Jaipur, India – we return to see how they are getting on. They’ve settled nicely into “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and into an acceptable routine, where the proprietor, Sonny (by Dev Patel) reads roll call every morning, to check they are all still here (and none has made their final departure during the night). After one or two changes, our roll call checks the wellbeing of each of our residents …

  • Muriel (by Maggie Smith) – a harridan and now sometime-Manager and senior advisor to Sonny.
  • Douglas (by Bill Nighy) now single since his wife Jean returned to Britain without him.
  • Evelyn (by Judi Dench) recently widowed and broke – finding a new life here in Jaipur.
  • Madge (by Celia Imrie) – still trying to keep the good life a part of hers.
  • Norman (by Ronald Pickup) – our perpetual Casanova, with his partner Diana (by Carol Parr)

Our ambitious proprietor, Sonny, is in USA with his senior advisor, Muriel, to gain support and funding for his expansion into his second hotel. His potential funders, Evergreen Hotels, proposes to send an inspector to the Marigold to check it out, so Sonny and Muriel return to Jaipur to await the outcome of the investment decision and prepare for Sonny’s magnificent wedding to his fiancé Sunaina (by Tena Desae). The hotel inspector duly arrives and Sonny falls over himself to show the inspector a good time. Other guests arrive to sample the Marigold’s wonders – American writer, Guy Chambers (by Richard Gere) and dutiful British woman Lavinia (by Tamsin Grieg) seeking a holiday destination for her ageing mother. The Marigold’s guests rub along as best they can, whilst they deal with the health and financial challenges brought on by retirement and ageing. Sonny’s ambition threatens to get in the way of his happiness with Sunaina and their wedding celebrations are put in jeopardy when he is distracted by the needs of his business.  People don’t seem to be able to settle … surely life isn’t meant to be this tricky? 

Just like the first one, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” – I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Jaipur is shown in all its splendour and we also get the pleasure of Mumbai in this movie – it’s spectacularly and beautifully shot in all its remarkable colour and culture.  Once again, the very strong cast are the gems in this simple, but enjoyable story. Douglas, as awkward and down-trodden as ever – is just lovely (beautifully played by Bill Nighy once again) and Judi Dench’s Evelyn is equally great.  It’s hard to choose a favourite character this time – Maggie Smith is just incomparable and wonderful. I thought the addition of Richard Gere as the American Guy Chambers would be terrible, but it’s a great addition.  He is supremely handsome and I love Sonny’s line in the movie “… he’s so good looking, he’s got me questioning my own sexuality!” …  Tena Desae as Sunaina is exotic and totally enchanting. The wonderful celebrations for the Hindu wedding are beautiful and much of this movie is lavishly presented. All performances are excellent and the lovely Dev Patel is once again, verbose in the extreme but always means well. It is one of those typical British movies where the characters just fall over their own awkwardness and you want to grab them by the shoulders and say “just do it!!!” …If you liked the first on, you will enjoy this – it’s good.

Made in 2015. Directed by John Madden.

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Posted by on April 9, 2015 in Movies

 

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Philomena

Philomena Lee (played by Sophie Kennedy Clark) is a good Catholic girl. In 1952, she’s a young teenager and lives a happy, simple life in Roscrea in Ireland. One day she gives in to the “sins of the flesh” and ends up a girl “in trouble” – she is left in the care of the nuns at the local convent. Her son, Anthony, is born and she stays at the convent for the next five years to pay her debt of gratitude to the nuns who took her in. Fifty years later, Philomena (now by Judi Dench) attends her local church to light a candle – she is struck by melancholy as this day is Anthony’s fiftieth birthday – but she hasn’t seen him for several decades and doesn’t speak of him at all. When she gets home, her daughter Mary (by Mare Winningham) asks if she is okay and she learns of Philomena’s painful past. Soon after, Mary comes in contact with a British journalist, Martin Sixsmith (by Steve Coogan), who is currently between assignments. Mary asks for Martin’s help to try to piece together Philomenas’ story and perhaps find Anthony. So he begins to unravel the story of the young mother and her long search for the child she was separated from at the Irish convent so many years before …

This is a wonderful movie. To know that it is based on a true story makes it even more compelling. The performances are marvellous – Judi Dench is captivating as Philomena Lee, she takes the viewer along with her through the emotions she experiences in this drama – curiosity, delight, fear, happiness, guilt, anger and sorrow. It is honest and very good. Steve Coogan is equally as strong as Martin Sixsmith. The content regarding the actions of the Catholic Church towards teenage mothers and their babies during the 1950’s is topical and somewhat controversial, which come people may find confronting or offensive. Philomena Lee’s sad tale is incredible – her blind faith in God and her religion has somehow provided her a crutch, to save her from trying to explain the utter heartbreak of her experiences. However, she has led a life with broad experiences and she’s no doormat – which is expertly revealed as the drama unfolds. She won’t be protected from real life and this brings a good counterpoint to the story. Steve Coogan’s character balances her very well – both Philomena and Martin have clear human weaknesses, but their strengths shine through – they are great together. Every scene is marvellous. Stephen Frears’ work is exemplary – as a viewer, I found myself totally captured by this movie, and by Philomena. The cinematography presents her beautifully. It is based on Sixsmith’s 2009 book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee” and it’s great. In the upcoming 2014 Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards, Judi Dench has been nominated as most Outstanding/Best Actress, the movie has been nominated for Best Motion Picture and the screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope has been nominated for an award also. Very well deserved.

Made in 2013.  Directed by Stephen Frears.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2014 in Movies

 

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A Room With a View

Its the early 1900’s – Lucy Honeychurch (played by Helena Bonham Carter) and her chaperone, cousin Charlotte Bartlett (by Maggie Smith) are on holidays in Tuscany. They are a little affronted by the state of their rooms – imagine being in Florence, in a room without a view! Honestly, it’s not befitting at all for such well-heeled English women … and it just will not do! Two English gentleman guests in the establishment, Mr Emerson (by Denholm Elliott) and his son George (by Julian Sands) gallantly offer to swap their rooms with the women, but Charlotte won’t hear of it … and so begins the visit to Italy and the sequence of events that introduces the young Lucy to a series of fascinating characters and the ways of the adult world. Back in England, Lucy spends happy times with her family – mother Marian (by Rosemary Leach) and her brother Freddy (by Rupert Graves). They host a parade of visitors, including the fellow guests from their holiday in Florence. Then Lucy is courted by Cecil Vyse (by Daniel Day Lewis) and she spends a confused summer trying to understand her feelings and manage the expectations of her family and society in general …. all she wants to do is please her family, marry well and hopefully be happy …. that shouldn’t be so difficult, should it?

This is an exquisite movie; the production is lavish and the audience is expertly taken right into Edwardian life, the art and culture of Florence and the stunning Tuscan countryside. You can almost sense the warmth in the sun, taste the grapes and breathe in lungs full of fresh Italian country air … Helen Bonham Carter is perfectly cast as the young Lucy, with marvellous and faultless support from Maggie Smith, Rosemary Leach, Judi Dench, Daniel Day Lewis and Denholm Elliott – one can hardly imagine anything going wrong with this stellar and gold-plated cast. Both Denholm Elliott and Maggie Smith were nominated as Best Supporting Actors for their work by the Academy. Of course, there is absolutely no surprise that in 1986 the production won Academy Awards (Oscars) for Art Direction, Set Decoration, Costumes and Screenplay. The score is marvellous – it features the heavenly Puccini aria “O Mio Babbino Caro” performed by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa … another perfect addition to this ensemble and another component that adds to the atmosphere of the entire piece. It’s wonderful … just enjoy it.

Made in 1985. Directed by James Ivory.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Movies

 

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Skyfall

“We meet again, Mr Bond …”

James Bond 007 (played by Daniel Craig) is on assignment, but during an action-packed pursuit something goes seriously wrong. Left at the mercy of British field agent Eve (by Naomie Harris) and her skills, Bond is in a precarious situation. M (by Judi Dench) takes drastic action on behalf of the British Government, but somehow M16 gets compromised and a security breach leads to agents across the globe at risk of being exposed. After serious threats, then attacks, M must act fast – relocate the agency and protect her staff (putting her own life at grave risk). Her authority and position are challenged by the new Chairman of Intelligence & Security, Minister Gareth Mallory (by Ralph Fiennes). But M is adamant and won’t give in to political pressure – she is left with only one ally she can trust: Bond. He and Eve follow a trail to unravel the threats and mystery … directly into the hands of the evil Silva (by Javier Bardem), who has lethal and hidden motives …

As Bond movies go, this 23rd offering is one of the best. The action sequences are well done, very little time is wasted on glamour and romance (thank goodness, in my view the last couple of Bond movies had been overdone in this respect) and here M takes a far more active role which is great. Javier Bardem is particularly good as Silva. The main cast are well supported by Albert Finney as Kincade and our new “Q” is very comfortable in his role – well done Ben Whishaw. In the 2013 Academy Award (Oscar) presentations, this movie won the Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song (sung by Adele) and tied for Best Achievement in Sound Editing with “Zero Dark Thirty”. It was also nominated for Best Achievements in Cinematography, Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score) and for Sound Mixing. It’s a good movie.

Made in 2012. Directed by Sam Mendes

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in Movies

 

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Jane Eyre

Jane (performed by Amelia Clarkson and then Mia Wasikowska) has had a lonely and bleak childhood. She was abandoned by her parents and a heartless aunt I(by Sally Hawkins) gave her lodgings before sending her to a charity home for girls. From here, Jane is engaged as a governess at Thornfield, the home of Mr Rochester (by Michael Fassbender), to care for his daughter. The housekeeper, Mrs Fairfax (by Judi Dench) is the first person to ever treat Jane kindly and she warms to her. She has a happy life at Thornfield, excelling as a governess and enjoying the landscape and lifestyle in the country. Gradually a tentative, then deep relationship develops between Jane and Mr Rochester. But the path of true love is difficult for this pair and several barriers arise that threaten to destroy any chance of happiness they may have.

Although this story is one of searing passion, wide Yorksire landscapes and beautiful costumes – all the hallmarks of a wonderful, true “girls own” romance – this particular version did not “get” me. Unlike others (such as Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey or Sense and Sensibility), I did not feel any empathy towards these characters. Mia Wasikowska is beautiful and a very authentic Jane – and Michael Fassbender is perfect as the mysterious and flawed Mr Rochester, but unfortunately I could not “feel the passion” in this story. There is little on-screen chemistry between them.  Judi Dench is wonderful as the lovely housekeeper, Mrs Fairfax.  I would say it is okay as a period movie, but there are certainly better.

This movie is adaptation of the story by Charlotte Bronte, which was her first novel published in 1847.

Made in 2011.  Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Movies

 

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Seven recently retired Brits have found that continuing to live in England has become just too expensive, so they have decided to try an alternative – in India. They’ve each discovered a resort that sounds ideal … it promotes itself as “the best exotic Marigold Hotel (for the Elderly and Beautiful)” and they each set out to participate in it. This is an eclectic group …

  • Muriel (played by Maggie Smth) is an open and unashamed racist, but she is also in dire need of a hip replacement which she can’t afford in an English hospital, so she is reluctantly getting it done in Jaipur
  • Married couple Douglas (by Bill Nighy) and Jean (by Penelope Wilton) have lost all their retirement savings because Douglas invested it in their daughter’s start-up business, which is dismally failing
  • Recently widowed Evelyn (by Judi Dench) always trusted her husband to manage things, only to find he left her in significant debt
  • Jaded and exhausted High Court Judge, Graham (by Tom Wilkinson) spent his early years in India and yearns to return
  • Madge (by Celia Imrie) is not ready to give up the good life and would love to find a rich husband
  • Norman (by Ronald Pickup) is a perpetual casanova who’s just lonely and looking for love. 

They all arrive at the Marigold together but each have their own experience in this new, alien, colourful and totally sensory-overloaded world. They discover that the young owner of the Marigold, Sonny (by Dev Patel) has majorly exaggerated the hotel’s amenities and it is really a run-down, set of ruins that is barely habitable.  However, within all this disappointment, the travellers discover that life still brings its surprises, challenges and joys, They also discover that even if their plans don’t quite work out as expected, this doesn’t always mean bad news …..

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The environment of Jaipur is totally ‘in your face’ and chaotic.  The stellar cast are all marvellous and my favourite is Judi Dench’s Evelyn. She is a “take it as it comes” kind of woman now having to find her own way in the world and blossoming as she gains in confidence. I also really enjoyed the hapless Douglas – Bill Nighy’s performance is wonderful. You just want to tell Douglas to “man up and tell that b*** of a wife how miserable she’s making everything!!”. But things do work out very well for Douglas, so that balances out the ledger. All performances are excellent and the lovely Dev Patel is perfect as the charismatic, witty and desperate Sonny – trying so hard to make a silk purse out of the obvious pig’s ear. His girlfriend, Sunaina, is played by the beautiful Tena Desae and she is very good. The movie is uncomplicated and entertaining and the messages are very nice – it’s the kind of movie that you will be watching and suddenly realise you’ve been smiling the whole way through.

Made in 2012.  Directed by John Madden.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Movies

 

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Iris

Iris Murdoch is a well known and highly respected British writer. This movie tells the life story of Iris (played first by Kate Winslet and then by Judi Dench). We meet Iris as a strong-minded young academic teaching philosophy at Oxford University in the 1940’s. She meets John Bayley (by Hugh Bonneville then by Jim Broadbent), a fellow professor and socially awkward fellow, who seems totally opposite to the free-spirited and confident Iris. But theirs is a special match and they form a deep and enduring relationship. Through John’s memories, we learn about their relationship – how they met, their courtship, his total enchantment with the vibrant and highly intelligent young novellist Iris. They have a busy social life including Iris’ long time friend Janet Stone (by Penelope Wilton). Then we watch through his eyes as her writing career flourishes and then she slowly develops Alzheimer’s disease, until it transforms her into an unrecognisable Iris who is unable to function independently and needs John’s full time care, This journey is exhausting for John and he lives with the total frustration and utter heartbreak of it.

This movie is excellent. My heart went out to both Iris and John as they lived such a wonderful and happy life, then as their world started to change and gradually erode as Iris’ disease began to take hold of her. Judi Dench is just wonderful as Iris. In fact, the performances of all three – Kate Winslet (as the flirty, flightly, excited and highly intelligent young Iris), Judi Dench (as the mature, eccentric then confused and frightened Iris) and Jim Broadbent (the totally smitten, deeply passionate, involved, tenacious and enduring John) – are just superb.  They are all marvellous and Jim Broadbent totally deserves the 2001 Oscar for Best Supporting Actor here, he also won a Golden Globe award. Judi Dench and Kate Winslet are also both more than worthy nominees for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively. Judi Dench received a BAFTA award for her portrayal of Iris.

A really great movie.

Made 2001. Directed by Richard Eyre

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Movies

 

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