The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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DIR:  John Madden  • WRI: Ol Parker • PRO: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin • DOP: Ben Smithard • MUS: Thomas Newman • DES: Martin Childs • CAST: Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Richard Gere, Judi Dench

Four years on from the first instalment, the golden-years residents of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and the Beautiful have acclimatised to life in Jaipur, India. We check in on new couple Evelyn (Judi Dench) and Douglas (Bill Nighy), as they manoeuvre the difficult world of dating after decades of marriage to other people. Muriel (Maggie Smith) is keeping pace as the acerbic right-hand woman keeping the hotel management in check. Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Carol (Diana Hardcastle) are finding out that leaving behind the Lothario lifestyle isn’t as easy as you might think, and Madge (Celia Imrie) is trying to choose between two suitors in her own particular Blanche DuBois way. Meanwhile, the exuberant owner of the hotel, Sonny (Dev Patel), dreams of expansion as he simultaneously plans his wedding to the woman of his dreams Sunaina (Tina Desai), but a proposed partnership with a big hotel chain brings undercover hotel inspectors who might derail everything. New arrivals Guy (Richard Gere) and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig) shake things up for the residents, as complications occur in everyone’s dream of the simple life in India.

 

There is plenty to like about The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – the cast might as well be old friends, so comfortable are they (and us) with their position onscreen; the colours and sounds of Jaipur are simply gorgeous; the script manages a few laughs here and there; and there’s even a new love story to keep us involved. But somehow it falls a little flat – perhaps behind all the colour there’s just too much awareness of how much this resembles an escapist, post-colonial dream of a passive India. There is even a Bollywood dance number – which Patel and Desai perform with gusto, and what looks like genuine enjoyment, but it still has an undercurrent of performative traditionalism, especially since the guests of honour at a family wedding are unaccountably a group of English and American old folks. Fans of the original might enjoy reacquainting themselves with the characters, checking in on how they have conquered Jaipur and all of its vagaries, but there isn’t a lot here to pull in converts. The ending of the first film left suggestions of happiness to come, whether through Sonny’s marriage, Evelyn and Douglas’s fledgling romance, or Muriel’s shedding of her racist beginnings and embracing of Indian culture. This sequel, then, has an air of wish-fulfilment – giving the audience an answer to all of those lovely hints of happy endings…but giving an audience what they want is rarely a recipe for a great movie, and the film stumbles along wearily trying to tell sub-plot after sub-plot while never really finding an actual narrative arc.

 

While generally harmless, and at times enjoyable enough in terms of the acting, this sequel was a bit unnecessary and just raises more questions about the achievable life of enlightenment it purports to depict. While it’s never exactly a chore to spend a couple of hours in the company of some of the finest actors to ever grace the silver screen, the film lacks the verve of the original in a way that’s quite hard to get on board with. Perhaps it’s time to leave these characters to their golden years without disturbance.

 

Sarah Griffin

PG (See IFCO for details)
122 minutes

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is released 27th February 2015

 

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  – Official Website

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Cinema Review: Arbitrage

 

DIR/WRI: Nicholas Jarecki • PRO: Laura Bickford,
Robert Salerno, Kevin Turen, Justin Nappi  DOP: Yorick Le Saux  ED:
Douglas Crise  DES: Beth Mickle  Cast: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim
Roth, Brit Marling, Nate Parker, Bruce Altman

As we look back over the past 12 months at some of the worst comedies
that have graced our cinema screens, there are two films that will
feature quite prominently. The Adam Sandler vehicle That’s My Boy and
the star-laden Movie 43 were widely panned by critics and audiences,
with the latter in particular sparking much debate about the
involvement of so many A-List performers in what was a seemingly
torturous experience for all concerned.

Theories have abounded as to how exactly the producers of Movie 43
(and indeed That’s My Boy) managed to secure the services of some many
talented actors and actresses, although Peter Farrelly’s explanation
that the participants of the former were ‘guilted to death’ is
probably the most plausible.

A-Listers appearing in films that seems well below their usual
standards is nothing new, however, and it is often suggested that they
agree to take part in certain films because they know a much more
worthy role is about to come their way.

Nicholas Jarecki’s debut feature, Arbitrage, could be viewed as one
such example, as it features top-of-the-range performances from Movie
43‘s Richard Gere and That’s My Boy star Susan Sarandon.

Gere takes on the role of Robert Miller, a multi-billionaire who
manages a hedge fund with his daughter Brooke (Brit Marling), with
Sarandon co-starring as his long-suffering wife. With his 60th
birthday having just passed, Miller is locked in a deal to sell the
fund for an extremely large profit, but unbeknownst to those involved
in his company (including his own daughter), he has cooked his own
books in order to cover an investment loss, making his upcoming
transaction all the more crucial to his future.

If these dodgy dealings are discovered, he faces the possibility of
being imprisoned for fraud, but even greater trouble lurks on the
horizon for Miller when he is involved in a late-night car crash with
his mistress (Laetitia Casta). When she is killed as a result of the
impact, Miller abandons the scene (realising that he could be
implicated in her death), covers his tracks as much as possible, and
enlists the help of a friend from his past to drop him back to his New
York home.

His efforts to sweep this incident under the carpet are not entirely
successful, though, and the suspicion of his wife and NYPD detective
Detective Bryer (Tim Roth) are raised, leading to a hectic few days
for the troubled Miller.

On paper, the combination of novice filmmaker Jarecki and screen
veteran Richard Gere was a curious one that had the potential to
produce mixed results. However, it has turned out to be a winning
partnership as the 33-year-old Jarecki provides the tools for Gere to
construct one of the most engaging and richly textured performances of
his highly accomplished career to date.

In the past, his abilities as an actor has been the subject of intense
scrutiny, but Gere has always been at his best when playing conflicted
or morally ambiguous characters, with the most obvious examples being
his iconic roles in American Gigolo, Breathless, Internal Affairs and
Days of Heaven, as well as Lasse Hallstrom’s much underrated, The
Hoax.

The character of Robert Miller is very much in this mould, and the
Pennsylvania actor clearly relishes playing a man that has allowed
himself to become compromised on so many different levels.

However, one of the great traits that Gere has generated in his 38
years working in cinema is his likeability factor, and although there
are several moments throughout Arbitrage when your appreciation of a
two-timing, corrupt businessman are brought in to question, the Pretty
Woman star ensures that you symphatise heavily with his situation.

Arbitrage is by no means a solo effort, though, as Sarandon is also on
top form as the put upon spouse, who is not entirely enamoured with
the ventures that her husband and daughter are involved in, but
nonetheless benefits financially from her husband’s elevated status.

Marling (who is best known for strong central portrayal in the
indie-spirited Another Earth) provides plenty of brio and verve as
Miller’s offspring, while Roth is on hand to supply the appropriate
level of threat that the script requires.

There are occasional mis-steps in the overall package, but with strong
acting across the board, confident direction from Jarecki, and a
screenplay as sharp as anything you are likely to see in the early
months of 2013, Arbitrage is a highly accomplished offering from a
very promising director, and serves as a welcome reminder of what Gere
and Sarandon are capable of when they place themselves in the right
environment.

Daire Walsh

15A (see IFCO website for details)

106mins
Arbitrage is released on 1st March 2013

Arbitrage – Official Website

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We Love… St Valentine: ‘Pretty Woman’

We Love... St Valentine

Illustration by Adeline Pericart

Get a bottle of Blue Nun, splash yourself with them cheap Christmas smellies your Auntie got you for Christmas, slip on your Penny’s underwear and turn up the stereo with the sweet, sweet sound of Barry White. And hey, if you have a partner that’s an added bonus. Yes, it’s that time of year, when St. Valentine comes to town. So in his honour the film lovers here at Film Ireland present their favourite lurve-themed films.

We’ll be adding to the list in the run-up to the 14th – check it out here. As always, feel free to add your own favourites. If you’d like to include your own review, contact steven@filmbase.ie

Now let’s get it on…

Pretty Woman

Gemma Creagh

Nothing says romance more than hookers and champagne.

Valentine’s Day is a day for lovers – even the professional ones. Pretty Woman is the perfect movie for a his-and-hers romantic compromise; sweet, touching, great story, a very handsome Richard Gere and Julia Robert’s boobs.

This touching 1990 romantic comedy is the ultimate Cinderella story: an LA call-girl, Vivian’s (Roberts) life changes one night while she’s out working the streets with her drug-addicted friend. On Hollywood Boulevard she has a chance meeting with Edward, (Gere) a focused businessman, which ends with him hiring her services for a week. Over their time spent together; he wines her, dines her and finds out they have more in common than they originally thought.

Amidst the synthy eighties ballads, the coolots, and the eerie sweeping shots of the Twin Towers, there’s a brilliant warts-and-all love story. Two extremely diverse and flawed characters from two conflicting worlds meet only to change each other’s lives forever. Yes, it sounds so cheesy on paper but Pretty Woman is such a well-written and brilliantly acted film that it oozes sincerity – the one thing that’s missing from 99 out of 100 rom-coms that grace our cinemas at the minute(I’m pointing a finger at YOU Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher).

But what a different film Pretty Woman could have been… According to highly reliable online sources, the first incarnation of the script was not the adorable feature that we all know and love today; it was actually a dark drama about prostitution in LA. Originally titled $3,000 this very different version saw the lovable Vivian character addicted to drugs – and her deal with Edward was staying off cocaine for the week. Instead of the [Spoiler Alert] uplifting fairytale ending; the previous incarnation’s finale saw Vivian and her prostitute buddy on a bus to Disneyland. More heart-breaking than warming.

Also before they settled on the dashing Richard Gere, the execs had a few alternates lined-up for the part of Edward. Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve and apparently SYLVESTER STALLONE all turned down the chance of playing the iconic male lead – and what a depressing disaster that could have been.

Luckily for us, Pretty Woman made it through the wringer at the Hollywood factory and came out the other end shinier than ever. A romantic classic and an enjoyable film, Pretty Woman will be the source of many heartfelt smiles long after the botox has inhibited these in both its leads.

Click here for more We Love

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