Unfinsihed Song A Complete Joy

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Everybody knows the story of The little Engine That Could.  Well now, people are going to start learning the story of the little movie studio that could.  That’s thanks to Anchor Bay Entertainment’s latest home release, Unfinished Song.  This latest release is one more from Anchor Bay that has found its way onto this critic’s list of the year’s best independent movies.  The other is the recently released rom-com, Shanghai CallingUnfinished Song is nothing like Shanghai Calling.  It is also entirely unlike 20th Century Fox’s geriatric drama, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  Despite attempts by some to make a comparison, there is no comparison as the two are wholly separate stories.  Unfinished Song is its own story.  And it is a story that will both entertain and move audiences just as much as the aforementioned works.

Unfinished Song boasts so much heart throughout its roughly ninety-minute plus runtime.  It is centrally a story about family.  On a deeper level, one could argue that it is also a story about appreciating life.  Throughout both story elements, writer/director Paul Andrew Williams throws in more than enough laughs to keep audiences of any age laughing, too.  His ability to balance both the story’s dramatic and comedic elements is to be highly commended, especially considering the story’s length.  Also to be considered in the success of Unfinished Song is the story’s casting.  Terrence Stamp (Superman II, Get Smart, The Adjustment Bureau) was the perfect choice to fill the role of grumpy old Arthur Harris.  And Vanessa Redgrave (Howard’s End, Mission: Impossible, Cars 2), was just as solid a choice to play Arthur’s wife Marion.  The two play off of each other so well.  Their interpretation of Williams’ scripts draws viewers in even deeper, and thus makes suspension of disbelief that much easier.  The resultant effect of both of that acting prowess and the general writing make this movie one more surprise hit from Anchor Bay, and one of the year’s surprise hits.

The writing behind Unfinished Song is, as already noted, one of the keys to the movie’s success.  Despite attempts by some to compare this movie to the likes of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the two stories are total opposites.  The latter is centered more on the elderly acquaintances’ personal journeys of self realization.  Unfinished Song is its own story in that it is more centered on family.  Audiences are introduced in this story to Arthur Harris, a very Scrooge-like character that doesn’t want to have a good time or smile.  He’s just a crotchety old man.  But underneath that rough exterior, Arthur is very much the sympathetic character, as audiences will learn as the story progresses.  The change that he eventually undergoes as the result of a tragic event completely envelops audiences and makes them cheer even more for him; perhaps even more than his fellow choir members.  By the story’s end, Arthur’s transformation is complete so to speak.  And audiences will realize just how deeply they have been pulled into the story thanks to Williams’ writing and by Stamp’s acting.

The acting on the part of the veteran Stamp was perfect from start to finish.  Though, his wasn’t the only acting that audiences will appreciate.  The passion in Redgraves’ voice when Marion sang ‘True Colors’ to Arthur will bring even the strongest person to tears.  And his reaction to what happens after the fact is even more powerful.  Of course there are some funnier moments that come from the supporting cast.  Audiences will find themselves laughing uproariously as the members of the elderly choir perform Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ and Salt ‘N Pepa’s ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ to an audience made up of people of various ages.  There is just something hilarious about a group of older people trying to rock out to Motorhead.  And one would think that older people would be more conservative when approached with the idea of singing Salt ‘N Pepa seductive song.  Yet, they were entirely open and enthusiastic about it.  Their reactions are more than worth the laughs that are generated.  And countered by Arthur’s view of the song, it makes this moment even funnier.  Paul Andrew Williams has given audiences quite the story, as is evidenced here.  He has written a story that boasts a perfect balance of comedy and heart.  It is a story with equally excellent acting.  Whether for the acting, the writing, or both factors, both work hand-in-hand to make Unfinished Song a story that will leave viewers feeling entirely complete.  It will be available this Tuesday, September 24th on DVD in stores and online. It can be ordered direct online from the Anchor Bay Home Entertainment website at http://www.anchorbayent.com/detail.aspx?ProjectId=3967a252-b0ce-e211-838a-d4ae527c3b65.  More information on this release is also available here and through Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBayEnt.

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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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