Throwback Thursday: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)

Retirement presents an interesting conundrum. Our working years are over, but that does not mean that our lives are over. There are opportunities for experiences that simply could not or did not exist when we had to go to work.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) is the story of a group of British retirees who decide to pick up and move to India. Among them are Evelyn (Judi Dench), Douglas (Bill Nighy), Muriel (Maggie Smith), Graham (Tom Wilkinson), Jean (Penelope Wilton), Norman (Ronald Pickup), and Madge (Celia Imrie). They find a rundown hotel and in addition to the individual adventures, go about fixing it up.

Assisting them is Sonny (Dev Patel). Sonny is long on enthusiasm and dreams, but short on the practical aspects of opening and maintaining the hotel. He also has a significant other that his mother openly disapproves of.

The prequel to The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, this movie is charming, entertaining, and lovely. The cast is picture perfect, the imagery is lovely, and the story is perfect. It proves that life does not end when we stop working.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Downton Abbey: A New Era Movie Review

When Downton Abbey premiered more than a decade ago, it looked to be nothing more than your run-of-the-mill BPD (British Period Drama). Who knew that it would become a worldwide cultural phenomenon that still enthralls audiences?

Downton Abbey: A New Era hit theaters a few weeks ago. The film starts with the wedding of Tom Branson (Allen Leech) and Lucy Smith (Tuppence Middleton). After the ceremony, the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) announces that she has inherited a previously unknown villa in the south of France. While Robert (Hugh Bonneville), Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), and most of the family travel to see this newest acquisition, Mary (Michelle Dockery) stays behind.

With the roof leaking, she has accepted an offer from a Director to use the Abbey as a film set. Jack Barber (Hugh Dancy) brings the glamour of Hollywood along with his lead actors: Guy Dexter (Dominic West) and Myrna Dalgleish (Laura Haddock).

The best word to describe the experience of watching this film is meta. This movie was made with so much love that it pours out of the screen. Julian Fellows brilliantly balances both the instinctive narrative and the wants of the audience. It’s not an easy task, given the expectations of the fanbase.

I’ve been a fan of the show since the first episode. I was not disappointed. It was everything I wanted and more.

My only qualm is that a little over 2 hours, it is just a tad long. However, Fellows gets a pass, given the number of storylines he has to balance.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Downton Abbey: A New Era is presently in theaters.

Thoughts On the full trailer for the Downton Abbey Movie

A good movie trailer is essentially a tease of the full movie. It gives enough away to tempt the audience to pay to see the movie, but it doesn’t (well hopefully it doesn’t) give away too much of the narrative.

The full trailer for the Downton Abbey movie was released earlier today.

Based on the uber-successful BPD Masterpiece television program of the same name created and written by Julian Fellows, the movie starts in 1927, a year after the series ended. King George V and Queen Mary will soon be visiting Downton, causing all sorts of commotion. I also fully expect there to be plenty of personal drama between the characters while the household is preparing for their royal visitors.

I am definitely looking forward to seeing this movie.

P.S. Whoever decided to end the trailer with a delicious verbal duel between Isobel (Penelope Wilton) and Violet (Maggie Smith) is a genius.

Tea with the Dames Movie Review

There is nothing like getting together with old friends. Especially, if you have been friends for multiple decades.

The new movie, Tea with the Dames, directed by Roger Michell, is a conversation between four of the greatest living actresses in modern Hollywood. In the film, Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Joan Plowright, and Dame Eileen Atkins discuss life, love, career, family and everything in between.

What I loved about this documentary is that these women not just pretending to be friends for the sake of the camera. This is not another role where they pretend to be someone else and have pretend relationships with their co-stars. They have a real emotional bond and years of friendship that easily comes across the screen. In addition to the interviews with the film’s subjects, the documentary also includes archival footage from their past work, images from their personal life and images of roles they have played in the past.

I absolutely recommend it.

Tea with the Dames is presently in theaters. 

 

Thoughts On The 25th Anniversary Of Sister Act

Sister Act was the one of the biggest movies in 1992.

Deloris (Whoopi Goldberg) is a lounge singer in Reno. When she witnesses the mobster boyfriend commit murder, she is sent to a convent under the witness protection program. When she starts to turn some of the nuns to the dark side, Mother Superior (Maggie Smith) steps in and sends Deloris to join the church choir. While Deloris finds her niche in the church choir, her boyfriend is looking for her.

This week, Whoopi Goldberg hosted a reunion of the movie on The View. It was the perfect reunion for a movie that still holds up 25 years after it hit theaters.

What makes this movie stand out is the humor and the strange in the strange land who finds themselves narrative.

If you have not seen it, I recommend that you do. It will time well spent.

Happy Birthday, Maggie Smith

There are many who dream of earning their living as a performer. For all those who dream, only a small percentage will see their dreams become reality and an even smaller percentage will become legends for their performances.

Today is the birthday of Dame Maggie Smith, one the most respected performers on both sides of the pond.

Her two most famous roles are Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter film series and the Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey.

Both characters are well past their prime. In a culture where youth is prized over experience (especially for women), both characters not only proof that there is life after a certain age, but we can be as vital and alive in our waning years as we were when were young.

Happy Birthday Maggie Smith (and please be in the Downton Abbey movie, if it is made. Downton wouldn’t be the same without the Dowager’s one liners).

Downton Abbey Series 4 Episode 2 Recap

As usual, this recap contains spoilers.  If you have not seen the episode, read at your own risk.

Upstairs

Edith brings Michael to meet her parents and hopes to receive approval on their relationship. Robert’s lack of money and business acumen comes into play once again when he nearly loses the estate in a card game and Michael has to bail him out.

Half listening to Carson, Robert agrees that Dame Nellie Melba (Kiri Te Kanawa), who is coming to perform should dine with the servants.  Cora rightly calls him out on his error.

Robert is a nice guy, but for the rest of his life, to keep his wife and family happy he should do two things.  Every time Cora makes a suggestion, the only words he should say in response is “yes, dear”.  Any money or estate matters should be filtered by Mary and Tom, otherwise there might be nothing left for George and Sybee.

Anthony Gillingham (Tom Cullen), a childhood playmate of the Mary and Edith has come to visit and seems to be the one who might finally pull Mary out of her grief.

Isobel is still grieving for Matthew. While she doesn’t want Mary grieving for the rest of her life, Isobel is unable to move past the death of her son. My favorite performance of the entire episode was Penelope Wilton’s performance.  While the press and praise often go to Michelle Dockery or Maggie Smith, Ms. Wilton deserves the same press and praise.  If I could have walked through the screen to hug Isobel, I would have.

Tom is feeling out of place and foolish, trying to socialize with his in law’s friends.

Downstairs

I don’t want to talk about Mr. Green raping Anna, but it’s unavoidable.  Of all of the female characters, Julian Fellows chose this fate for Anna. If he was looking for a way to shake up the marital happiness of Anna and John Bates, there are other story lines. Unless he is looking to make a statement.

Mrs. Patmore has an anxiety attack and is forced to relinquish control of her kitchen.

Evil Edna is determined to lay her claws in Tom, even if it means seduction.

Analysis

The series is moving along and as happens in everyone’s life, things happen.  I am looking forward to next week’s episode.

Dowager Moment/Quote Of The Week

“If I were to search for logic, I would not look for it in the English upper class.”

A Good Quartet

Quartert is one of the more interesting movies I have seen in recent months.

The story focuses on the residents of a senior home for retired musicians. Every year, they have a concert to bring in funds and keep the home open.

Reggie (Tom Courtenay), Wilf (Billy Connelly) and Cissy (Pauline Collins) are long time residents of the home when Jean (Maggie Smith) moves in. Reggie and Jean were married years ago, but they divorced and not amicably.

The concert is getting closer, Wilf, Reggie and Cissy are convinced that if they performed with Jean, the tickets would sell, but Jean is not so sure if she wants to take part in it.

The movie is funny and touching and charming. It reminds me that life does not stop when you get to be a certain age.

I would see this movie again.

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