Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The (2015; UK; Colour; 122m) ∗∗∗ d. John Madden; w. Ol Parker; ph. Ben Smithard; m. Thomas Newman. Cast: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Penelope Wilton, Diana Hardcastle, Tena Desae, Lillete Dubey, Richard Gere, David Strathairn, Tamsin Greig. As the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has only a single remaining vacancy – posing a rooming predicament for two fresh arrivals – Sonny pursues his expansionist dream of opening a second hotel. More of the same sequel, which coasts on the charm and skills of its excellent cast and vibrant locations. Plot lacks originality but the vibe is good even if the movie is a little overlong. [PG]
A preview of Shaft: Imitation of Life Issue #1 is now available on Google Books. The preview has the lettered versions of the early pages as well as some of the later pages including this extract below. The comic book is due to be published by Dynamite Entertainment on 10 February.
Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993; USA; Technicolor; 104m) ∗∗∗½ d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman; ph. Carlo Di Palma. Cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston, Jerry Adler, Lynn Cohen, Ron Rifkin, Ira Wheeler, Joy Behar, William Addy. A middle-aged couple suspects foul play when their neighbour’s wife suddenly drops dead. Witty mystery with a top-class cast. Hand-held camera work and Woody’s trademark naturalistic approach to dialogue helps create some tension, but its Allen’s one-liners and Keaton’s scatty characterisation that are the real pull here. Alda’s lonely playwright and Huston’s confident novelist also score. [PG]
Father of the Bride Part II (1995; USA; Colour; 106m) ∗∗∗ d. Charles Shyer; w. Nancy Meyers, Charles Shyer; ph. William A. Fraker, Elliot Davis; m. Alan Silvestri. Cast: Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Martin Short, Kimberly Williams, George Newbern, Kieran Culkin, B. D. Wong, Peter Michael Goetz, Kate McGregor-Stewart, Jane Adams, Eugene Levy, Rebecca Chambers, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, Annie Meyers-Shyer. In this sequel to 1991’s FATHER OF THE BRIDE, George Banks (Martin) must accept the reality of what his daughter’s ascension from daughter to wife, and now, to mother means when placed into perspective against his own stage of life. Entertaining follow-up, which doesn’t vary from the sunny formula set by its predecessor and provides just enough laughs to sustain its run-time. Remake of FATHER’S LITTLE DIVIDEND (1951). [PG]
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015; USA; FotoKem; 135m) ∗∗∗∗½ d. J. J. Abrams; w. J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, Michael Arndt; ph. Daniel Mindel; m. John Williams. Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Greg Grunberg, Kenny Baker, Simon Pegg, Katie Jarvis, Christina Chong, Miltos Yerolemou, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ken Leung, Harriet Walter, Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Warwick Davis, Jessica Henwick, Daniel Craig, Billie Lourd, Judah Friedlander. 30 years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat rises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of Heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance. Fans of the original trilogy will love this continuation and overlook some of its flaws – notably in originality in plot and character development. But this is the start of a new trilogy that also succeeds in capturing the spirit of those first three films. The result is a lively, action-packed and thoroughly enjoyable addition to the series. It’s great to see Ford back as Han Solo and his scenes will give older fans a warming and satisfied smile. Also shot in 3-D. 
Bleeding Cool website has posted a view of the cover to Shaft : Imitation of Life, Part 3: Love and Loss, due out 13 April.
Father of the Bride (1991; USA; Technicolor; 105m) ∗∗∗∗ d. Charles Shyer; w. Nancy Meyers, Charles Shyer; ph. John Lindley; m. Alan Silvestri. Cast: Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Kimberly Williams, George Newbern, Kieran Culkin, Martin Short, Peter Michael Goetz, BD Wong. A remake of the 1950’s Spencer Tracy/Elizabeth Taylor classic in which an ordinary guy has to take on the planning, expense, and complications of his daughter’s wedding. Wonderfully entertaining with a smart script, if a little over-sentimental, and top-class performances from Martin and Keaton. Short is also superb as eccentric wedding co-ordinator. For dad’s everywhere. Followed by FATHER OF THE BRIDE PART II (1995). [PG]
Dynamite have updated the release dates for Issue #1 of the new comic book Shaft: Imitation of Life and the novel Shaft’s Revenge as 10 February. Whilst Amazon on both sides of the Atlantic quote later dates, the latest being 23 February (US) and 25 February (UK) for Shaft’s Revenge, this is likely driven by when the stock is available at Amazon.
Day the Earth Caught Fire, The (1961; UK; B&W; 99m) ∗∗∗∗ d. Val Guest; w. Val Guest, Wolf Mankowitz; ph. Harry Waxman; m. Stanley Black. Cast: Janet Munro, Leo McKern, Edward Judd, Michael Goodliffe, Bernard Braden, Reginald Beckwith, Gene Anderson, Renée Asherson, Arthur Christiansen, Austin Trevor, Edward Underdown, Ian Ellis. Political science fiction drama about a global ecological disaster caused by nuclear weapons testing. Taut direction and a strong script backed up by an excellent cast add authenticity to the doom-laden political messaging. Strikingly photographed with great matte work, overseen by art director Anthony Masters, to capture a heat ravaged London. Look out for Michael Caine as a traffic policeman.