Audiences Will Enjoy Their Stay At The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainemtn/Fox Searchlight

Hollywood has had a seemingly insatiable appetite for churning out prequels, sequels, and remakes for the better part of the last decades.  It’s been so strong that movie critics and audiences alike have questioned both the current state of the movie business and its future.  While it may seem at times that Hollywood has lost its originality and its soul, a movie comes along every so often that re-ignites the flame of hope, proving that originality is still alive.  It just needs that chance.  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is one of those movies.  On the surface, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is just one more ensemble story.  On a deeper level though, it’s a deep and moving dramedy starring some of the industry’s top names today.

 

The story of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel centers on seven individuals who came together as a result of their trip to the hotel in question.  Each individual comes for their own reason.  Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith—Harry Potter) came to stay due to a hip operation.  Douglas Ainslie (Bill Nighy—Pirates of the Caribbean) and his wife Jean (Penelope Wilton) came for a getaway.  And then there is Graham Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson—Batman Begins, The Samaritan).  Graham came for a reason that is one of the story’s biggest surprises.  That surprise is just one of a handful that make the story that much more enjoyable.  The surprises aren’t all that make the movie enjoyable.  What really makes this story worth the journey is each individual’s journey of self-re-discovery and personal growth.  Given at times, the story does tend to drag its feet.  But that can be forgiven as audiences will feel satisfied and fulfilled by the story’s end.

At the beginning of their stay at the hotel, things are rather rough for the group.    However, as their stay moves forward, each member of the group of seven changes in their own way.  The most important of those changes comes on the part of Muriel.  Muriel starts out her journey to India as an overt racist individual.  But ultimately, she ends up playing perhaps the biggest and most surprising role of all in the story’s outcome.  In hindsight, it’s a somewhat predictable ending.  But as with the story’s pacing, it too, can be forgiven as it will move any open minded viewer.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a very deep and moving story.  But it is also very funny in its own right.  It has more than enough comical moments for its audiences.  One of the most memorable of those moments comes early on when the group arrives.  They are having their first dinner at the hotel.  And the young hotel manager, Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) is doing his routine, when Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) falls over, leading Sonny to think he [Norman] is dead.  The reality is the exact opposite though.  And the reaction from everyone makes for one of the story’s funniest moments.  At another point late in the story, Evelyn (Dame Judi Dench—James Bond) comes up to the hotel’s balcony area and proceeds to drink one of the other group member’s drink.  She states that she needed some water, to which she gets the response, “I know that now.”  The way in which that moment is delivered is kind of a dry, witty moment.  But it’s also very funny.  There are many more funny moments throughout the movie’s roughly two hour run time.  And any audience who is open minded enough to take in the journey will find their own favorite funny moments.  They will also find their own favorite moving moments throughout the story when they rent or buy the movie for themselves.  Through it all, audiences will discover that while it may not be the year’s best, it is one of the year’s more underrated movies.  It’s one that any true lover of movies should see at least once.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct here:  http://www.foxsearchlight.com/thebestexoticmarigoldhotel/.

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Jackson Just As Good On The Small Screen As The Silver Screen

Courtesy: IFC Films/mpi Media Group

Samuel L. Jackson has made a career of being an action star.  Starring in movies the likes of xXx, Pulp Fiction, and most recently Marvel’s Avengers and its related movies among many others has made him a household name.  His resume stretches all the way back to the early 1970’s.  So starring in IFC Films’ latest action/drama, The Samaritan, was old hat for this veteran actor.  Starring as ex-con Foley, Jackson eases his way throughout the story written by Elan Mastai and David Weaver.  Having played so many roles throughout his career, he shows once again his ability to adapt to any role and any story.

For the most part, The Samaritan runs as well as any big screen crime drama.  If one were to watch this story without knowing it’s an indie flick, one would think it was a major blockbuster that they simply hadn’t heard of.  That’s thanks in large part to the story’s writing.  It’s got enough crosses and double crosses to leave audiences guessing who is on whose side right to the story’s closing minutes.  The fact that the movie clocks in at barely over an hour and a half makes it that much more watchable for audiences.  Perhaps the only major downside to the story would be the blatantly disturbing twist involving Foley’s relationship to Iris (Ruth Negga).  The way in which this relationship played into the story was disturbing to say the least.  The argument would be made that that was the intent.  But  it could have been written differently than it was.  Had their relationship been written differently into the story, then that alone might have made it far more appealing to general audiences.

The issue with Foley and Iris’ relationship aside, The Samaritan still has plenty going for it.  The cinematography is stunning.  The shooting done throughout the film really gives it a modern pulp fiction vibe.  There’s something about the way that the lighting was used that makes watching the movie appealing.  The contrast of the buildings lit up against the night sky, and the general camera angles add a certain extra touch that makes it that much more enjoyable.  Combine the top notch cinematography with a story that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats the entire time, and audiences have a movie that while it is an indie flick is one more impressive work from one of Hollywood’s best actors.

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The Gruffalo’s Child is a rare welcome sequel

Courtesy: NCircle Entertainment/Magic Light

Three years ago, one of the most unlikely family hits was released to dvd in the form of The Gruffalo.  The Gruffalo was about a little mouse who inadvertently creates a creature called The Gruffalo in an attempt to escape being eaten by a fox, an owl and a snake.  Now, fans of that hit will be treated to its sequel on August 14th in The Gruffalo’s Child.

Author Julia Donaldson notes in the behind the scenes feature included in the dvd presentation of The Gruffalo’s Child that this sequel was not originally planned after the publication of The Gruffalo.  She notes that after The Gruffalo was originally published, she went to work on a number of other books.  But then The Gruffalo’s Child came along.  And audiences can say that for once, it’s nice to see a sequel that meets the bar set by the original. 

In The Gruffalo’s Child, the mouse (voiced again by James Cordon) has to outsmart the younger Gruffalo, so as to not be eaten by her.  She is voiced by Shirley Henderson.  Cordon is joined again by Tom Wilkinson as the Fox, John Hurt as the Owl, and Rob Brydon as the slippery snake.  Helena Bonham Carter returns again, too, as the voice of the mother squirrel, who tells the story of what happened when the Gruffalo’s child went off into the deep dark woods in search of the big bad mouse.  She tells her children of how tthe Gruffalo’s child–who is unnamed–meets the snake, the owl, and the fox.  Each one tells the Gruffalo’s child of where they believe the mouse is, until she finally comes face to face with the creature that scared her father so badly yeas ago.  How the mouse outsmarts the Gruffalos’ child won’t be revealed here.  But it’s worth its own share of laughs.

The story behind The Gruffalo’s Child is a wonderful story for the entire family.  But the story itself isn’t all that makes this dvd so impressive.  Just as the original story of The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child is simple in its presentation and its music.  It even makes some subtle statements along the way.  Unlike so many other “animated” movies out there, The Gruffalo’s Child  is a mix of claymation and CG, rather than being entirely CG-based.  The comparisons to The Fantastic Mr. Fox are inescapable.  That aside, being that so few “animated” features out there take this hybrid course, it helps The Gruffalo’s Child to stand out just as much as The Gruffalo.  The Gruffalo’s Child also boasts the same music as The Gruffalo.  It’s a simple soundtrack that actually serves to heighten the emotion of each scene, rather than simply be background noise.  And the subtle statements included in the story range from lessons about children needing something in which to believe to that inate need that each person has to be scared at least to some extent.  Given these may have been totally unintentional statements.  But they are there.

The Gruffalo’s Child is a simple movie.  Its run time is noted as forty minutes on the case.  However, the actual presentation itself is just over twenty-five minutes.  That’s a perfect run time for the attention span of younger audiences.  Combine that in with the overall simple presentation and story, and audiences of all ages are offered what is one of the year’s best “animated” family features.

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