Lady Sandra Abbott is relieved to finally be planning a well-deserved retirement with her wealthy husband, but when she catches him having an affair with her best friend, she is forced out of her privileged life to a run-down old council estate in central London where her older sister Bif lives. They couldn't be more different a pair; while Sandra is all about status and the finer things in life, Bif is a free spirit who loves to date, dance and generally live life to the fullest no matter how little money she has in the bank. All Sandra wants is to be happy again, and so Bif encourages her to attend a local dance class for older people where she meets friends Charlie, Jackie and Ted. It's then when she realises that there's a lot more to retirement than she initially thought, because she's about to have the most fun she has ever had.
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It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since it's directed by Gore Verbinski, who made the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies, as well as Rango and The Lone Ranger. And the screenplay by Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road) starts well, stirring in some resonant themes amid the growing, gnawing nastiness. Unfortunately, over the film's overlong running time, it just gets sillier and simpler.
The story centres on Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), a rising star workaholic New York broker who's been caught in some dodgy dealings. To redeem himself, he is sent to collect the company's boss (Harry Groener) from a Swiss sanatorium, where he seems to have gone native. Or something. But when Lockhart arrives at the picturesque Alpine castle, things quickly begin to spiral out of control. He's injured in a car crash, forcing him to become a patient at the spa alongside the rather too-cheerful elderly residents, who are undergoing some sort of odd treatment. As Lockhart digs deeper, he runs afoul of the director, Dr Volmer (Jason Isaacs), especially when he befriends the doctor's star patient, the oddly naive Hannah (Mia Goth). And as things get freakier, Lockhart begins to worry that he'll never get out of here.
Verbinski develops a darkly gothic atmosphere from the first frames of the film, and things get increasingly offbeat from there. Some elements are blackly comical, but the overall tone is grotesque, with a special emphasis on slimy eels, which appear alarmingly everywhere Lockhart looks. Meanwhile, Haythe stirs in a convoluted mythology about the mad baron who lived in the castle 200 years earlier. When combined with underlying themes about the stresses of modern-day life and the relative morality of Wall Street bankers, this is all rather intriguing. Unfortunately, these clever textures slip away quickly, leaving little more than a series of repetitive set pieces designed to give the audience the jitters as they remind us of other movies.
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Judi Dench and Bill Nighy appeared to have a lot of fun during their set adventures.
After The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel earned nearly $140 million on its release in 2012, the all-star cast and crew were keen to reassemble for a sequel. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel hits UK cinemas this weekend and arrives in America next week, adding Richard Gere and Tamsin Grieg to a cast that includes Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Dev Patel and Penelope Wilton.
Richard Gere is a newcomer in 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'
For Nighy, the biggest fear during filming was "killing the national treasure that is Dame Judi" while filming a sequence on a scooter. "This is the second time I've been on a motorcycle - the first was the first movie - and it's probably the last," he laughed. "That's enough for my motorcycling career!"
A badly under-developed script leaves a fine cast without much to do in this sequel to the 2012 hit. Reuniting in India, the actors find moments of comedy and emotion that help make the film watchable, and the big Bollywood-style finale leaves the audience with a smile on its face. But the simplistic plot-threads never amount to much at all, which leaves the project feeling like a missed opportunity to deepen the characters and push the premise in more interesting directions.
Business at the hotel in Jaipur is booming, so managers Sonny (Dev Patel) and Muriel (Maggie Smith) are looking for investors to expand into a second property. But this distracts Sonny from his upcoming wedding to Sunaina (Tena Desae), and she's not too happy about that. There are also two new guests (Richard Gere and Tamsin Grieg) who may be important. Meanwhile, Evelyn (Judi Dench) is offered a new job just as she realises she might like to pursue a relationship with Douglas (Bill Nighy), whose ex-wife (Penelope Wilton) turns up unexpectedly. Madge (Celia Imrie) is struggling to choose between her many suitors. And Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) are having relationship issues due to their lack of communication.
All of these momentous plots, and a few more, swirl around over the course of about a week, which means that none ever has a chance to develop. It also means that the characters are all so busy with their own stories that they don't interact very much, and what contact they do have feels rather contrived. As a result, the film feels like an awkward mix of disconnected slapstick, farce and melodrama. That said, these high-powered actors can hold together even the flimsiest scene. Dench and Nighy generate some lovely emotional resonance in their contrived storyline, while Smith finds some quiet pathos in Muriel's own journey, even if the filmmakers seem to have forgotten to hire someone to do her costumes, hair and make-up.
Continue reading: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Review
Richard Gere adds even more star power to the 'Marigold Hotel' sequel.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel had a tough act to follow. Its predecessor remains of the best loved British movies of recent times and its subtle casting, genuinely funny script and heart-warming narrative saw it gross over $130 million on a budget of just $10 million.
Richard Gere joined the cast for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The sequel - out in cinemas this week - follows the expansionist dream of Sonny (Dev Patel) who has his eye on a promising new property now that his Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a success. Judi Dench, Bill Nighty, Celia Imrie and Maggie Smith all return for Second Best, while Richard Gere and Tamsin Greig are among the new arrivals.
Celia Imrie - A host of stars were photographed as they attended the UK premiere of 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' which was held at the Odeon Leicester Square in London, United Kingdom - Tuesday 17th February 2015
There are so many plot holes in this silly British holiday sequel that the script hardly seems to exist at all. As in the previous two Nativity! movies, the emphasis is on Christmas wackiness, with inane set pieces designed only to keep small children giggling. Writer-director Debbie Isitt clearly isn't interested in connecting these scenes together into something more than vaguely coherent, asking us to just go with it. And if you can do that, you might have some fun with this.
Once again, it's all change at St. Bernadette's School in Coventry. This time there's a new headmistress in the humourless, astonishingly unobservant Mrs Keen (Celia Imrie). She sensibly sacks the dopey teaching assistant Mr Poppy (Marc Wootton) and instead hires "super-teacher" Mr Shepherd (Martin Clunes), who immediately gets rid of Poppy's donkey, the class mascot. In the process though, Shepherd takes a blow to the head and loses his memory, which is a problem because he's due to get married to Sophie (Catherine Tate) in New York. So Shepherd's daughter Lauren (Lauren Hobbs) teams up with Poppy to get the kids into a flashmob competition that culminates with a final round in, of course, Manhattan. The problem is that the competition is being organised by Sophie's preening ex Bradley (Adam Garcia), who wants her back.
Issitt keeps the film moving at such a hyperactive pace that there's barely time to notice that nothing about this story makes any sense. But before we can say, "Wait a minute!" the film has already lurched into a corny slapstick sequence or a big musical number performed with screechy karaoke-style authenticity. Although the songs are packed with clever hooks and repeated so many times that they're impossible to get out of our heads. Oddly, the children are sidelined in this movie, appearing at random for a bit of cacophonous mayhem or another pastiche holiday number. Only Hobbs registers as a character.
Continue reading: Nativity 3: Dude Where's My Donkey?! Review
Although its story easily could have spun right off the rails, this British comedy uses earthy honesty to win the audience over. The filmmakers also refuse to shy away from things that are usually taboo in family movies, like marital problems, sexuality and mortality. And by never indulging in wacky slapstick or trite moralising, the movie makes the point that sometimes the worst thing we can do to our kids is try to protect them from what's really happening.
The story starts in London, as Abi and Doug (Rosamund Pike and David Tennant) set off to drive north to the Scotland Highlands for the 75th birthday of David's father Gordy (Billy Connolly). They've told their three hilariously overactive kids Lottie, Mickey and Jess (Emilia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge and Harriet Turnbull) not to say anything to anyone about their crumbling marriage. And when they arrive it's clear that everyone has something they don't want to talk about. Gordy is avoiding conversations about his terminal cancer, while David's brother Gavin (Ben Miller) and his wife Margaret (Amelia Bullmore) are also covering up facts from their recent past. Then on a day trip to the beach, the holiday takes a startling turn.
Where the film goes from here hinges on the actions of three children under 10 years old, and all three actors are terrific, creating believable characters who are bursting with individualistic personalities. Watching them try to decode the adult world around them is thoroughly engaging, with the humour lightly balanced by some darker truths. Meanwhile, the grown-up cast get to play the more obviously comical moments, including a few rather too-broad gags. But each of them keeps their character in focus, never letting them tip over into cartoonish silliness. Pike, Tennant and Connolly are all terrific, with pointed support from Miller and Bullmore, plus Imrie as a rather too-knowing social worker.
Continue reading: What We Did On Our Holiday Review
Mr. Shepherd is the new teacher at St Bernadette's Catholic School in Coventry who is eager to propose to his friend Sophie, to the delight of his young daughter who wants so badly to have a new mother by Christmas. Meanwhile, the school has also gained a new headmistress, Mrs. Keen, who deeply disapproves of the school's favourite teacher - the ever child-like Mr. Poppy - and their pet donkey Archie. The latter pet-peeve is probably for a good reason as soon enough, Mr. Shepherd finds himself deeply concussed after being kicked by Archie, completely forgetting who he is, where he is, where Archie is and, more importantly, that he's soon to be married on Christmas Eve in New York. Mr. Poppy and the class decide to band together to get him to his bride by joining a flash mob, where the top prize is a trip to the Big Apple. Will the class succeed in their latest endeavour and make this Christmas the best yet?
Set eight months after the 2012 original film, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel sees the majority of the cast return India for this sequel from director John Madden. In the run up to Sonny's (Dev Patel) wedding to Sunaina (Tena Desae), he is struggling to find the time to work at his hotel. With only one room left in the hotel, Sonny is confronted with an interesting situation when two new arrivals turn up - Guy (Richard Gere) and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig). With help from Murial (Maggie Smith) acting as the co-manager, will Sonny will be able to juggle his personal and working lives?
When Doug (David Tennant) and his family travel to the Scottish Highlands for his father's (Billy Connolly) birthday party, hilarity ensues as they embark on what will no doubt be a holiday to remember. Along the way there will be plenty of time spent allowing the children to drive and verbally battle with their grandfather. That, and debate with their Uncle Gavin (Ben Miller) whether he is rich or not and how he is able to live in such a big house.
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