Bill Nighy

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

2012

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by John Madden

Produced by Graham Broadbent

Written by Ol Parker

Based on “These Foolish Things” by Deborah Moggach

Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) is way in over his head but he’s got enthusiasm, confidence and pluck enough to fill Yankee Stadium.  He’s inherited a dilapidated business from his deceased father, THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL and he’s positive he can turn it into a spectacular success.  All he has to do is convince a local businessman to invest in the place before his two older and more successful brothers tear down the place and keep his mother off his back.  She wants Sonny to return to Delhi and an arraigned marriage but he insists that he can make the hotel pay off big time.  His mother demands to know how.

“Look at the world around us!” Sonny tells her.  “The whole world is outsourcing their jobs to India!  Why not outsource their old people here as well?”  Because that’s the heart of Sonny’s plan as he changes the name of the hotel to: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel For The Elderly And Beautiful to complete its transformation into a retirement hotel for British retirees.

It’s not as hard to get clients as Sonny has slightly exaggerated the luxuries and charms  of the Marigold Hotel.  The retirees who decide to relocate to The Marigold Hotel are all British retirees but from all levels of their society’s structure.

Evelyn Greenslade ( Judi Dench) has recently been widowed and is forced to sell her house to cover her husband’s debts.  For her, this is the adventure she never got to have and she embraces it warmly, keeping a blog to inform her family and friends of her new life.  Douglas and Jean Ainslie (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilson) have invested and lost their life savings in their daughter’s internet business.  Their marriage is already desperately unhappy and they simply cannot face their future together in such circumstances.  They may not be able to face it in India, either.  Penelope is immediately attracted to High Court judge Graham Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson) who lived in India until he was 18.  He’s returned to find the love of his life and find closure for that bittersweet relationship.  Militantly racist Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) needs a hip replacement badly.  Unfortunantly the waiting list is six months long unless she goes to India where the operation can be done almost immediately.  Aging playboy Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) seeks to recapture his youth through one-night stands.  He isn’t as good at picking up women as he used to be but the old boy is in there trying.  Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie) is just as horny as Norman but she’s got her cap set on bagging a rich husband to share her golden years with.

All of these characters intertwine their lives in The Best Marigold Hotel in the most unexpected ways as it often happens when total strangers are thrown together in strange circumstances.  And it’s touching, whimsically sad, hilarious and downright life-affirming to see how these people handle being older while making new relationships with each other and a new country.   They’re at the time of their lives when they have more days behind than ahead and it’s increasingly more precious to them as a result of how they spend those days.

The cast couldn’t be better.  Bill Nighy steals the movie far as I’m concerned and considering who he’s co-starring with, that isn’t easy.  But I could sympathize with this quiet man who simply wishes to get along with his wife and make the best of a bad situation.  As his wife Jean, Penelope Wilson at times will make you hate her and sometimes feel sorry for her, all in the same scene.  There’s no point in me telling you that Judi Densch and Maggie Smith are brilliant because if you know their work then you know that they’re incapable of being anything less.  And Tom Wilkinson has the most poignant and surprising character arc, one that is handled with extraordinary sensitivity and pathos.  Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup are mainly here for the comedy relief and they handle the job with wicked dialog.

As for India, which is just as much of a character in the movie as the human cast…every time I watch a movie about India I want to jump in a plane and go there myself just to see if it’s as exotically packed full of life and color as it looks in the movie.  I especially liked a scene where Judge Dashwood takes time out from his search for his lost love to play a game of cricket with a group of children.

So should you see THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL?  I’m glad I did and I think you should as well.  First off, I like it that a movie like this is in theaters now as not everybody wants to see superheroes or big CGI blockbusters.  It’s a nice change of pace to see such a warm, human movie filled with characters so pleasant to spend time with.  Just because the movie stars senior citizens doesn’t mean it’s an old story.  Stories as enriching as THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL never grow old.

124 minutes

PG-13


Wrath of The Titans

2012

Warner Bros. Pictures/Legendary Pictures

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

Produced by Basil Iwanyk and Polly Cohen Johnsen

Screenplay by Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson

Story by Greg Berlanti

Most of my friends disowned me after my coming out in favor of the 2010 “Clash of The Titans” and my saying that I liked it a lot.  They saw my liking of the film as a betrayal of the original version that was the last movie done by stop motion visual effects legend Ray Harryhausen.  I never understand why nowadays people feel it necessary to have to like one version of a movie over another.  Can’t you like two versions of a movie for different reasons?  And one of the reasons why I liked 2010’s “Clash of The Titans” is that it wasn’t a slavish remake of the original. It took the basic story and put its own spin on it.  Much like how those ancient Greeks took the original myths and legends and every time they retold the story, they added stuff on or left stuff out they didn’t think was important.

It’s the same reason why I like WRATH OF THE TITANS.  It has many of the same characters as the previous movies and adds some new ones to change up the character interaction dynamics.  It gives Perseus a new motivation to go on an heroic quest.  It gets in what I think are some knowing, loving winks to the Harryhausen movie.  Bubo the mechanical owl makes another cameo appearance that I didn’t expect, didn’t see coming and made me laugh as the scene he appears in played out.  And like the previous movie, I was surprised that I liked it a lot more than I thought I would.

Perseus (Sam Worthington) has been living peacefully for ten years, earning his daily bread as a fisherman.  He’s been raising his son Helius (John Bell) alone as his wife Io died giving birth.  Perseus is happy with his life and says so to his father Zeus (Liam Neeson) who comes to Perseus for help.  Since men no longer pray to the gods their power is fading away and so they cannot keep imprisoned the demons kept in the underworld prison of Tartarus.  Perseus has no wish to become involved again in the business of the gods.

It’s up to Zeus, Poseidon (Danny Huston) Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Zeus’ other son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) to go down into Tartarus and fix things.  But it turns out to be a trap.  Hades and Ares have cut a deal with the imprisoned Kronos, the most powerful of The Titans: they drain Zeus’ power to free Kronos and they will be part of the new pantheon of gods once Kronos is back on top.

Poseidon gets away and gives his trident to Perseus, charging him with passing the weapon on to Poseidon’s demigod son Agenor (Toby Kebbell) Perseus goes one better. After rounding up Agenor and Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) he sets out to descend into Tartarus and rescue Zeus.  To do this he’ll need the help of Hephaestus (Bill Nighy) who constructed Tartarus and the insanely impossible labyrinth the intrepid band have to navigate and survive to reach Zeus.  And even after that, Perseus must recover two more powerful weapons to join with the Trident of Poseidon to form The Spear of Triam, the only weapon that can stop Kronos.

I really enjoyed WRATH OF THE TITANS because it’s so unpretentious.  This isn’t a movie that’s out to reinvent the genre.  Its sole purpose is to tell an entertaining adventure fantasy story for 100 minutes and I felt entertained once it was over. Rosamund Pike takes over as Andromeda from Alexa Davalos who played the role in “Clash of The Titans” and she brings a whole new energy to the role.  Which is welcome as Andromeda has much more to do in this movie, strapping on a sword and fighting right alongside Perseus.  Toby Kebbell brings some welcome humor to the adventure as the son of Poseidon who is much more of a trickster than the heir to the throne of the God of the Sea.  Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes have a lot of screen time together in this one in a really nicely performed character arc revolving around their characters that is brought to a resoundingly satisfying conclusion.  Sam Worthington appears more relaxed in this movie and allows Perseus some moments of warmth and humor and he even gets to smile.  I’ve liked Edgar Ramirez ever since seeing him in “Carlos” and he brings a good intensity to his role as Ares as if he’s been doing this kind of movie all his life.

So should you see WRATH OF THE TITANS?  If you saw the 2010 “Clash of The Titans” and didn’t like it then there’s no reason why you should want to see this one. But if like me you did enjoy it then I see no reason why you wouldn’t want to see this one.

100 minutes

PG-13