Tuesday, March 24

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Film Fatales revisit the land of sequels and request a refund

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. 2015. Rated PG. Starring Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Richard Gere. Directed by John Madden.

As the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has only a single remaining vacancy - posing a rooming predicament for two fresh arrivals - Sonny pursues his expansionist dream of opening a second hotel. [IMDb]

Nicole: When last we left Muriel (Maggie Smith) and Sonny (Dev Patel), they'd found a way to keep their joint business venture The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a long-term inn where ex-pats choose to live out their golden years, in business. The sequel reunites us, not long after the last film concluded, with all of the familiar faces...and some unnecessary new ones (I'm looking at you Richard Gere).

elizabeth: I loved this cast, but I would like to take them and drop them into another movie that does not resemble The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I was quite content and amused by Movie #1, but someone forgot to write a storyline that would resonate with the audience. I love Dev Patel’s energy and was a tad annoyed with Bill Nighy and Judi Dench’s pathetic dance (grab her and kiss her NOW!) and it hurts to say anything that is not positive about Dench and Nighy.

Nicole: Agreed. While a lot does happen (a lavish wedding, three proposals, two hotel purchases, one sordid affair, unwitting attempted murder, divorce, and dancing...there is A LOT of dancing), it all happens at the same pace and manner as the first film. So, what am I getting at? OK. I'll say it. Just like the first film, it's entertaining, but it's...well...it just is. Enjoyable. Check! Great cast. Check! Amazing scenery. Check! And yet... Meh.

elizabeth: My fear with doing any more sequels of this movie is that all the actors will have been killed off. Except for Richard Gere.

Nicole: I question the need for a sequel. The first film ended in a tidy fashion. It didn't leave me with any burning questions. I felt confident every character involved was moving in the right direction and would be happy...if not right then and there...then very soon. The thing with movies with very large casts, such as this, is that there's very little time to devote to each character. Then by adding additional characters with the intent to spice things up the opposite effect is haplessly achieved. But don't mistake me...this is a very enjoyable movie filled with enjoyable performances, namely Dev Patel, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith. I don't think, however, it's required or grounds for repeated viewing.

elizabeth: You are too kind. I think I am going to watch Chucky’s 300 – the great grandchildren go to the moon to kill the cast from The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.


The Rewrite

The Film Fatales realize The Rewrite could use a rewrite. 

The Rewrite. 2014. Starring Hugh Grant, Marisa Tomei, J.K. Simmons, Chris Eliot, Allison Janney. Written and directed by Marc Lawrence. In theaters & On Demand.

An Oscar-winning writer in a slump leaves Hollywood to teach screenwriting at a college on the East Coast, where he falls for a single mom taking classes there. [IMDb]

Nicole: Great cast, huh? Shame none of the characters played by this terrific cast were developed well enough to do their acting skills any justice. But, wait... I'm getting ahead of myself. The Rewrite comes to us from the same creative team responsible for Music and Lyrics and Two Weeks Notice, both of which not-so-coincidentally star Hugh Grant. Grant is anything if not loyal to his director friends, and most of the time it serves him well. Unfortunately, it didn't this time.

elizabeth: I was hoping we were going to have a Four Weddings and a Funeral or Love Actually movie for 2015. But no. I don’t want to write too much about this movie because it seems the writer did not want to write a screenplay that could bring Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei together in a humorous romp. So boring.

Nicole: Such potential. Such opportunity. Such a loss. The Rewrite centers around Keith Michaels (played by Grant), a nearly washed up Oscar-winning screenwriter who is forced to leave LA and head to Binghamton, NY to earn some much-needed cash as a guest screenwriting instructor. Once there, he falls into all of the expected pitfalls that a once famous quasi-celeb turned professor might experience: shacking up with a student half his age, unwittingly sexually harassing a faculty member who sits on the ethics committee, and phoning in anything that has to do with teaching his class. There is very little that is likable about Keith Michaels, except, of course, Grant's signature adorably bumbling delivery. But, at least his character grows...he has an arc, which is more than can be said of any other character in the film.

elizabeth: You are being too kind. At 54, Grant should lose that adorable bumbling delivery of his 20s and 30s and had given us an actor with range which I think he is quite capable of doing. I just wonder if all of these actors needed to experience a month in Binghamton, NY. I see no other reason for this film.

Nicole: I dunno. I still have a soft spot for his type of characters. Let's face it... I will watch almost anything with Hugh Grant, because I'm shallow. Hey, at least I admit it. He ticks all the boxes in my book. But, he was not enough to turn this into a great film. Ultimately, the problem with The Rewrite is rather ironic...in that it's in dire need of a "rewrite." It meant well, and it could have been something special with a bit more effort. Still, it's not entirely unwatchable. It's pleasant enough--just don't expect to be bowled over.

The Film  Fatales give THE REWRITE

Saturday, March 14

Kingsman: The Secret Service

The Film Fatales buck up and do battle with British spies. 

Kingsman. 2015. Rated R. Starring Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson (blink and you'll miss him, Jack Davenport). 

A spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency's ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius. [IMDb]

Nicole: I do love a spy movie. I also love British movies. Combine the two, and I'm in heaven. That's why I'm so surprised that I have very mixed feelings about Kingsman...a film I've been anxiously waiting to see since I heard about pre-production. I mean, come on... British Secret Service, Colin Firth as a suave spy, bad-ass villain Samuel L. Jackson and a host of super-cool gadgets? How could it possibly go wrong? Well, it doesn't go all wrong, just 1/4 wrong. But, it's a pretty strong 1/4 in my book.

elizabeth: I am not a big spy fan because I feel my pea-sized brain can’t take it all in. Plus, I feel they are made for men. Some of the sexist stuff that goes on in this type of movie sets my feminist hair on fire. But I was convinced to go see Kingsmen because Mr. Colin Firth was draped in a Saville Row pin stripped suit. A modern day Mr. Darcy who has knives in the tips of his shoes.

Nicole: Let's discuss what's right about about Kingsman...and there's a lot. First, the casting. This was a dream-worthy cast... Colin Firth, who is impeccable as the lead "Harry, aka Galahad" spy of the Kingsman -- a level of the British Secret Service so secret most people don't know or believe it exists. Kingsman is led by Arthur (Michael Caine. Let's face it, you simply cannot have a movie without Michael Caine. It's one of the Ten Commandments). Also on hand are tech guru Merlin (Mark Strong--wonderful in this role) and Lancelot (Jack Davenport), whose untimely death sets the Kingsman on the hunt for his killer and the search for his replacement at the "round table." The new recruits, led by newcomer Taron Egerton, are run through the paces to test their skills and abilities to pass muster as a future Kingsman worthy of replacing Lancelot. And, eventually, they end up embroiled in the hunt for baddie Samuel L. Jackson (often amusing), who has a taste for murder yet can't stand the sight of blood. The cast is stellar. No complaints. Moving on.

elizabeth: It pains me, but I agree about the casting. But there was only one strong female role and she was quite naughty. Sofia Boutella’s Gazelle had a way with cutlery that I have never seen before. Mark Hamill is unrecognizable as Professor Arnold. Samuel L. Jackson was slightly amusing, but he does something in the movie that I never want to see again in my life.  Mark Strong. who I mistook for actor Stanley Tucci, keeps the movie moving. He was also quite good in The Imitation Game, so I think I need to see what other movies he has done. And, Colin Firth can do no wrong.

Nicole: No, he cannot. The choice of music for certain scenes was totally ingenious. Visually, this is a fabulous looking movie... From set direction, to wardrobe, to styling, to visual effects (even if the last few scenes are heavy handed and a tad ridiculous)--it's all good. It's a fun romp with a sense of humor...but, on that point is where one of the first flaws occurs, in my opinion. With a movie of this nature, the filmmaker needed to make a decision...is this going to be a humorous parody? Or, is this going to be a kick-ass, effects-laden action movie? There was a bit of an identity crisis going on here. Some of the jokes fell flat in the face of gratuitous violence. In their defense, I get what they were trying to do based off the comics. I just just think it could have been more palatable without some scenes that crossed the line (namely the church scene and some of the final scenes). Also, some of the jokes were cheap and corny (I'm looking at you, Princess Tilde). Look, I'm no stranger to gross-out parodies of genre films (Shaun of the Dead is among my favorites), but perhaps I went in with expectations that were too high and I left a little let down.

elizabeth: I was thinking it was going to be a funny romp into the world of secret service, but why the hell the director had to mix it up with some really revolting violence is beyond me. You lost me forever. The storyline was on acid and not the good kind. Some of the last scenes were beyond asinine and director Matthew Vaughn should have to spend five minutes with Gazelle. That will teach him.

Nicole: What I loved about this movie, I really loved. What I disliked, I really disliked. That is a shame...because it's holding me back from counting this among some of the best films I've seen. And dammit, if that ain't a real pain in my arse.

elizabeth: The only thing I loved about this movie was how Colin looked in a well-made pair of trousers. He can walk away from me anytime.

The Film Fatales give KINGSMAN