Film Review – THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2015)

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' Begins the New WFS SeasonTHE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (UK/USA, 2015) ***
      Distributor: 20th Century Fox (UK) / Fox Searchlight Pictures (USA); Production Company: Blueprint Pictures; Release Date: 26 February 2015 (UK), 6 March 2015 (USA); Filming Dates: began 10 January 2014; Running Time: 122m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Film Format: 35 mm (anamorphic) (Kodak Vision 2383), D-Cinema; Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), F65 RAW (4K) (source format); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: John Madden; Writer: Ol Parker (based on a story by Ol Parker and John Madden); Executive Producer: Michael Dreyer, Jonathan King, John Madden, Jeff Skoll; Producer: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin; Associate Producer: Tabrez Noorani; Director of Photography: Ben Smithard; Music Composer: Thomas Newman; Film Editor: Victoria Boydell; Casting Director: Michelle Guish, Seher Latif; Production Designer: Martin Childs; Art Director: Dilip More; Set Decorator: Ed Turner; Costumes: Alison Lewis, Riyaz Ali Merchant; Make-up: Daniel Phillips; Sound: Ian Wilson; Visual Effects: Fay McConkey, Thomas Proctor, Emma Moffat.
      Cast: Judi Dench (Evelyn Greenslade), Maggie Smith (Muriel Donnelly), Bill Nighy (Douglas Ainslie), Dev Patel (Sonny Kapoor), Richard Gere (Guy Chambers), Celia Imrie (Madge Hardcastle), Ronald Pickup (Norman Cousins), Penelope Wilton (Jean Ainslie), Diana Hardcastle (Carol Parr), Tina Desai (Sunaina), Claire Price (Laura Ainslie), Lillete Dubey (Mrs. Kapoor), David Strathairn (Ty Burley), Tamsin Greig (Lavinia Beech), Shazad Latif (Kushal), Rajesh Tailang (Babul), Denzil Smith (Mr. Dharuna), Sid Makkar (Jay), Avijit Dutt (Nimish), Seema Azmi (Anokhi).
      Synopsis: 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.
      Comment: A more-of-the-same sequel, which coasts on the charm and skills of its excellent cast and vibrant locations. The plot lacks originality and veers too far toward a sit-com approach at the expense of depth in characterisation, but the vibe is good. Patel and Smith are looking to expand their hotel business and look for sponsorship from the US. When Gere arrives, Patel believes he is an inspector charged with assessing the business and he goes out of his way to charm him – echoes of Fawlty Towers. The cast is in good form again but has less to get their teeth into here and the film comes across as both unnecessary yet still entertaining.

Film Review – THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2011)

The-best-exotic-marigold-hotel.jpgTHE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (UK/USA/UAE, 2011) ****
      Distributor: 20th Century Fox; Production Company: Blueprint Pictures; Release Date: 30 November 2011 (Italy), 17 February 2012 (UK), 25 May 2012 (USA); Filming Dates: began 10 October 2010; Running Time: 124m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Dolby | SDDS; Film Format: 35 mm (anamorphic) (Fuji Eterna-CP 3514DI), D-Cinema; Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Super 35 (source format); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: PG-13/12.
      Director: John Madden; Writer: Ol Parker (based on the novel “These Foolish Things” by Deborah Moggach); Executive Producer: Jonathan King, Jeff Skoll, Ricky Strauss; Producer: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin; Director of Photography: Ben Davis; Music Composer: Thomas Newman; Film Editor: Chris Gill; Casting Director: Michelle Guish, Seher Latif; Production Designer: Alan Macdonald; Art Director: Peter Francis; Set Decorator: Tina Jones; Costumes: Louise Stjernsward; Make-up: Beverley Binda; Sound: Ian Wilson; Special Effects: Shiva Nanda; Visual Effects: Karen Clarke, Fay McConkey.
      Cast: Judi Dench (Evelyn Greenslade), Bill Nighy (Douglas Ainslie), Dev Patel (Sonny Kapoor), Tom Wilkinson (Graham Dashwood), Maggie Smith (Muriel Donnelly), Penelope Wilton (Jean Ainslie), Ronald Pickup (Norman Cousins), Celia Imrie (Madge Hardcastle), Tina Desai (Sunaina), Sid Makkar (Jay), Lillete Dubey (Mrs. Kapoor), Diana Hardcastle (Carol), Seema Azmi (Anokhi), Paul Bhattacharjee (Dr. Ghujarapartidar), Liza Tarbuck (Staff Nurse), Denzil Smith (Viceroy Club Secretary), Honey Chhaya (Young Wasim), Bhuvnesh Shetty (Muriel’s Physiotherapist), Rajendra Gupta (Manoj), Jay Villiers (Evelyn’s Son).
      Synopsis: British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.
      Comment: The top-notch cast is the big draw to this adaptation of Deborah Moggach’s novel “These Foolish Things”. They are helped by a witty script, which manages to navigate the more predictable and familiar elements of the story. A group of elderly Brits each have their own reason for the late-in-the-day change to their lives when they decide to stay at a residential hotel for the elderly in Jaipur, India. the hotel is run by Patel’s dreamer. Once there, each of the residents finds their own way to come to terms with what they had been looking for in the later years of their lives. It is a charming and winning film which coasts on the supremely talented cast and the exotic location. Those looking for more depth, will not find it in abundance here despite the occasional moment of poignancy, but what they will find is an entertainment that has more than enough attraction to win them over. Followed by THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2015).

Film Review – DOWNTON ABBEY (2019)

Image result for downton abbey 2019DOWNTON ABBEY (UK, 2019) ***
      Distributor: Universal Pictures International (UPI) (UK), Focus Features (USA); Production Company: Carnival Film & Television / Focus Features / Perfect World Pictures; Release Date: 13 September 2019 (UK), 20 September 2019 (USA); Filming Dates: began 10 September 2018; Running Time: 122m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Film Format: Digital (Digital Cinema Package DCP); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: PG – mild threat, language.
      Director: Michael Engler; Writer: Julian Fellowes (based on characters created by Julian Fellowes); Executive Producer: Nigel Marchant, Brian Percival; Producer: Julian Fellowes, Gareth Neame, Liz Trubridge; Director of Photography: Ben Smithard; Music Composer: John Lunn; Film Editor: Mark Day; Casting Director: Jill Trevellick; Production Designer: Donal Woods; Art Director: Mark Kebby; Set Decorator: Gina Cromwell; Costumes: Anna Robbins; Make-up: Elaine Browne; Sound: David Lascelles.
      Cast: Matthew Goode (Henry Talbot), Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Talbot), Joanne Froggatt (Anna Bates), Maggie Smith (Violet Crawley), Tuppence Middleton (Lucy Smith), Elizabeth McGovern (Cora Crawley), Imelda Staunton (Maud Bagshaw), Stephen Campbell Moore (Captain Chetwode), Geraldine James (Queen Mary), Allen Leech (Tom Branson), Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith), Sophie McShera (Daisy Mason), Mark Addy (Mr. Bakewell), Kate Phillips (Princess Mary), Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham), Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes), Raquel Cassidy (Miss Baxter), Susan Lynch (Miss Lawton), Robert James-Collier (Thomas Barrow), Jim Carter (Mr. Carson), Penelope Wilton (Isobel Merton), Brendan Coyle (Mr. Bates), Max Brown (Richard Ellis), Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore), David Haig (Mr Wilson), Kevin Doyle (Mr. Molesley), Perry Fitzpatrick (Chris Webster), Harry Hadden-Paton (Bertie Hexham), Simon Jones (King George V), Michael Fox (Andy Parker), Philippe Spall (Monsieur Courbet), James Cartwright (Tony Sellick), Douglas Reith (Lord Merton).
      Synopsis: An aristocratic family and their staff have to prepare for an unexpected visit from the King and Queen.
      Comment: Fans of the TV series, which ran for six seasons, will no doubt love this big-screen adaptation. Casual viewers may get lost in the abundance of characters, well played by the ensemble cast, and their carry over backstories. The story itself is slight, based around the tensions caused by the Royal visit to the household. There are nods at the Irish hatred toward the crown and the underground gay movement, but these are not fully explored. Instead, the writer and director focus on the inter-relationships between the main characters. Sumptuously designed, it’s all very civilised and often witty, but the lack of substance means this will only really have any lasting legacy with its sizeable fan base.

Film Review – QUARTET (2012)

Quartet (2012; UK; Colour; 98m) ∗∗∗  d. Dustin Hoffman; w. Ronald Harwood; ph. John de Borman; m. Dario Marianelli.  Cast: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon, Sheridan Smith, Andrew Sachs, Gwyneth Jones, Trevor Peacock, David Ryall, Michael Byrne, Ronnie Fox, Patricia Loveland, Elaine Powell, Luke Newberry. A group of ageing former musicians living in a home for retired opera singers prepare to hold their annual concert celebrating Verdi’s birthday. Slight story is considerably enhanced by a top quality cast and some poignant observations on the process of ageing. Hoffman frames the setting pleasingly. Based on a play by Ronald Harwood. [12]

Film Review – THE LADY IN THE VAN (2015)

Lady in the Van, The (2015; UK; DeLuxe; 104m) ∗∗∗½  d. Nicholas Hytner; w. Alan Bennett; ph. Andrew Dunn; m. George Fenton.  Cast: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Jim Broadbent, Dominic Cooper, James Corden, Frances de la Tour, Samuel Anderson, Gwen Taylor, Rosalind Knight, George Taylor. Based on real events, about a vagrant who the playwright Alan Bennett allowed to park her van in his driveway, where she lived for fifteen years. Amusing, if slight, character study is chiefly memorable for Smith’s brilliant performance as the eccentric lady of the title. Bennett’s wry observations on life and himself are witty and droll. [12]