The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


It's a Bollywood world and we're just living in it.

It’s a Bollywood world and we’re just living in it.

(2015) Dramedy (Fox Searchlight) Dev Patel, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, Celia Imrie, Diana Hardcastle, Tina Desai, Richard Gere, Lillete Dubey, Tamsin Grieg, Fiona Mollison, David Strathairn, Shazad Latif, Avijit Dutt, Denzil Smith, Ashok Pathak, Poppy Miller, Neeraj Kadela, Vikram Singh, Rajesh Tailoring, Penelope Wilton, Claire Price, Christy Meyer. Directed by John Madden

In many ways, we’ve lost sight of the respect that is due to the elderly population. Sure, I can get aggravated with them when they chat loudly in movie theaters, or drive slowly on city streets. I don’t, however, agree with the current mindset of sticking them in sterile nursing homes where they wait to die. There should be some dignity in the process.

In Jaipur, the residents of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel have settled into a routine of life. Muriel (Smith) has become co-manager of the establishment, while Evelyn (Dench) has become a fabric buyer for a company which now wants to hire her full-time even though she’s in her late 70s. This puts a crimp in the already awkward relationship with Douglas (Nighy) who is running sightseeing tours but because he is having memory issues is relying on a young local boy to read facts and figures over a radio that broadcasts to a receiver in his ear. He’d very much like to take his relationship with Evelyn further but the two are talking at cross-purposes and Evelyn, a widow, isn’t quite ready to resume romance. And of course, Douglas is still technically married even though his wife Jean (Wilton) has left him and returned to England.

The other residents are also dealing with their own issues. Madge (Imrie) is trying to decide between two wealthy suitors and yet is spending much time with her driver Babul (Tailang) and his niece, trying to make up her mind. Norman (Pickup) who is working at the Viceroy Club, believes he’s inadvertently hired a hitman to take out his girlfriend Carol (Hardcastle).

Sonny (Patel), the owner and co-manager of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, has a lot on his plate. He is preparing for his upcoming wedding to his sweetheart Sunaina (Desai). He also realizes that his hotel is a victim of its own success; there are no rooms at the inn. The only thing he can do is expand and in order to do that, he needs money. A lot of it…and soon. He reaches out to an American hotel chain magnate (Strathairn) who tells Sonny that he’s intrigued by Sonny’s vision and will send an inspector to evaluate his existing property and whose recommendation would be crucial in making his decision.

He has his eye on a property nearby but into the picture steps Kushal (Latif), Sunaina’s ex-boyfriend and a wealthy and handsome young man who seems destined to be better at everything than Sonny.  Sonny becomes uncontrollably and unjustifiably jealous, feeling that Kushal is there to steal everything Sonny has away from him. In the meantime, a new resident named Guy (Gere) from the States is there to write a novel – although Sonny believes him to be the hotel inspector – and falls for Sonny’s mom (Dubey) as a matter of course.

The first Best Exotic Marigold Hotel took me a bit by surprise in that I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. The sequel doesn’t get the advantage of surprise that the first one got, but it still nevertheless connected with me. While in some ways being easily digestible and unsurprising like a bowl of cream of wheat, it does carry with it a flavor of India so that that bowl of cream of wheat has tandoori spices to be sure.

Of course, when you have a cast like this one, it’s really hard to go wrong. Smith and Dench are two of the greatest actresses alive today and both know how to deliver an acerbic line with the best of them. Nighy is likewise delightful, stealing the movie in many ways with his somewhat droll yet hip demeanor.

The script by Ol Parker, who also wrote the first one, doesn’t give short shrift to the backing characters either. Imrie in particular has some truly poignant moments to work with and while Pickup’s Norman is a bit of a one-dimensional bumbling lothario unused to the whole monogamy thing, even he has some depth as you can tell by that sentence alone. There is also a Bollywood-like dance sequence, something that the first film didn’t provide, which is utterly charming.

While a bit pedestrian, the lovely scenery of Jaipur and Mumbai where the film primarily takes place help keep the movie from ever getting boring visually and the performance of the aforementioned cast keep it from getting boring in any other way. While not quite as good as the first, the second visit to Sonny’s home for the elderly and beautiful is an enjoyable feast that reinforces a previously unknown desire to visit the sub-continent one day. If this movie teaches you anything, is that nothing is impossible nor unattainable no matter how old you are.

REASONS TO GO: Dench, Smith and Nighy are wonderful. Delightful Bollywood elements. Nice visuals.
REASONS TO STAY: A little bit bland and predictable.
FAMILY VALUES: A bit of foul language and suggestive comments.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Evelyn claims that Muriel is 19 days older than she is, but in reality Judi Dench is 19 days older than Maggie Smith.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 3/17/15: Rotten Tomatoes: 63% positive reviews. Metacritic: 51/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Unfinished Song
FINAL RATING: 8/10
NEXT: The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest

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Four-Warned: March 2015


The Second Best Exotic Marigold HotelEvery month I’m going to look at every movie on the release schedule and try to assign them a numerical value corresponding to how anxious I am to see it. The lower the number, the more I want to see it. A one means I would walk through hell and high water to see it; a four means there’s no interest whatsoever. The numbers are not arrived at scientifically but they aren’t arbitrary either.

The numbers aren’t a reflection of the artistic merit of any of these films, but merely a reflection of my willingness to go to a movie theater and see it. The top four scores will be gathered as a means of reflecting the movies I’m anticipating the most; you may use that as a guide or not.

Most of the movies will never play theatrically where you live (unless you live in either New York or Los Angeles) but many of those that won’t will be available through Video-on-Demand; check with your local cable or satellite providers to find out if any specific movie is available through that medium.

Each entry is broken down as follows:

NAME OF FILM (Studio) Genre A brief description of the plot. Release plans: Wide = Everywhere, Limited = In selected markets. RATING A brief comment

Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.

FOUR TO SEE
1. CHAPPIE (1.3)
2. THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT (1.4)
3. RUN ALL NIGHT (1.5)
4. CINDERELLA (1.7)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (1.0)
2. MAN FROM RENO (1.4)
TIE. MERCHANTS OF DOUBT (1.4)
4. KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER (1.5)
TIE. WHITE GOD (1.5)

RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see

MARCH 4, 2015

THE LESSON (Film Movement) Genre: Drama. A teacher whose drunken lout of a husband has mortgaged their house to repair his junkyard car and is unable to find a legitimate means of paying off the debt must seek out a loan shark whose terms may be more than she can afford to pay. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 A morality play about modern economic desperation that may hit too close to home for some.

MARCH 6, 2015

A YEAR IN CHAMPAGNE (Goldwyn/IDP) Genre: Documentary. Six Champagne houses in France from major players like Bollinger to boutique labels are examined in this look at how the magic sparkling wine is made and marketed. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Looks fascinating at the tribulations of making a wine in a region which is just on the edge of where winemaking is possible, to how it has become connected with celebrations large and small.
BAD ASSES ON THE BAYOU (Goldwyn) Genre: Action. The third installment of the franchise finds senior ass-kickers Frank Vega and Bernie Pope headed to a wedding of a friend in Louisiana, only to find that chaos can happen even in Cajun Country. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Danny Trejo is always a hoot but this franchise may have already worn out its welcome.
BUZZARD (Oscilloscope) Genre: Dramedy. Forced to flee his home town for the urban danger zone of Detroit, a paranoid small time con man is forced to rely on his wits to survive. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Kind of an indie punk rock heavy metal caper film revolution which is fine if you’re into that kind of thing.
CHAPPIE (Columbia) Genre: Science Fiction. The development of a self-aware robot brings corporate and governmental powers that be down on the developer and the being itself. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.3 From the creator of District 9 comes his take on Isaac Asimov’s favorite subject.
FAULTS (Screen Media) Genre: Thriller. The parents of a young woman who has been brainwashed by a cult consult with one of the world’s foremost experts on mind control, who finds the situation isn’t anything like what he thought it would be. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 The trailer has a quirky sheen not unlike the Coen Brothers.
HAYRIDE 2 (Freestyle) Genre: Horror. When the serial killer Pitchfork escapes from custody, a manhunt ensues with the killer taking refuge in a hospital. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Doesn’t look to have added much to the traditional unkillable slasher genre.
KIDNAPPING MR. HEINEKEN (Alchemy) Genre: Crime Thriller. The true story of the kidnapping of a beer magnate whose captors would receive the highest ransom ever paid for an individual. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.0 Anything with the great Anthony Hopkins in it is going to be worth the effort to go see it.
THE LIFE AND MIND OF MARK DEFRIEST (City Drive) Genre: Documentary. When a legendary escape artist comes up for parole after 30 years behind bars, the shock becomes palpable when his original four year sentence for a minor offense is considered. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Has anyone mentioned that our justice system is completely broken?
LIKE SUNDAY, LIKE RAIN (Monterey) Genre: Drama. A 12-year-old musical prodigy of wealthy parents but a cold existence is cared for by a 23-year-old au pair who is a sometimes musician and a full-time rebel estranged from her own family. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Played the Orlando Film Festival last year.
MERCHANTS OF DOUBT (Sony Classics) Genre: Documentary. Spin merchants with no qualifications whatsoever pass themselves off as scientific experts to debunk climate change, the effects of toxic chemicals and overuse of pharmaceuticals. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.4 And here I thought this was going to be a comedy.
OCTOBER GALE (IFC) Genre: Thriller. In an isolated cabin on the Canadian coast, a recently widowed doctor finds a man suffering from gunshot wounds hiding out from two men intent on killing him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 A different kind of role for Patricia Clarkson; color me intrigued.
ROAD HARD (FilmBuff) Genre: Comedy. With his career in a shambles, a former movie/sitcom superstar is forced to return to a standup career on the road, which is not his cup of tea at all. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Wasn’t impressed with the trailer; this sounds like a great idea for a movie too.
THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Comedy. The plucky AARP warriors are back along with their ambitious young Indian hotel manager as the success of the retirement resort necessitates the creation of a second. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.0 The first movie was one of my favorites of 2011.
STRAIGHT OUTTA TOMPKINS (Indican) Genre: Drama. A Noo Yawk street kid tries to survive in the brutal urban jungle of junkies, cops and pushers. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Based on the young director’s own experiences which at least make it an interest just for authenticity.
THESE FINAL HOURS (Amplify/Well Go) Genre: Thriller. With the world ending in just a few hours, a pair of young people fight through a city gone mad to unite with loved ones before it all goes to hell. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Really nice idea but the trailer for this Aussie apocalyptic thriller didn’t look particularly scintillating.
TWO MEN IN TOWN (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Drama. Released from prison, a troubled man uses his newfound Islamic faith to curb his violent impulses; the sheriff of the New Mexico town he lives in however thinks he won’t win that fight and goes on a campaign to get him jailed again – this time forever. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Forest Whitaker vs. Harvey Keitel? Sounds like a winner to me!
UNFINISHED BUSINESS (20th Century Fox) Genre: Comedy. After starting up a new company, a hot shot salesman finds that he’s competing with the ruthless corporation he left for an account that his new firm needs to survive. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 For whatever reason I’ve always found Vince Vaughn to make pretty decent movies; even when they’re bad, he’s decent.
X/Y (eOne) Genre: Drama. Caught in the cracks between Generations X and Y, a group of friends try to establish relationships in an era of technology and social media Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Has a lot of potential but needs to be light on the soap opera and heavy on the social commentary.

MARCH 10, 2015

BITE SIZE (Bond/360) Genre: Documentary. Childhood obesity is at epidemic levels; four kids from diverse backgrounds wage their own battle of the bulge in an attempt to beat the scale. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 We are a society obsessed with weight and image; kids these days are caught in between a rock (bullying) and a hard place (eating compulsions).

MARCH 13, 2015

3 HEARTS (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Drama. After missing a train home to Paris, two Parisians make a connection in a provincial town but end up going their separate ways but when one unknowingly marries the other’s sister, sparks end up flying. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Nobody knows the ways of the heart like the French and given this is a master filmmaker with a strong cast, well, you do the math.
ALONGSIDE THE ROADWAY (Indican) Genre: Comedy. Two young people from two different cultures take a road trip together to the largest music festival in California. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Has that indie vibe that can be a little bit overly precious.
ANARCHY (Lionsgate) Genre: Crime Drama. Crooked cops and an outlaw biker gang collide in all-out war over drug trade supremacy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Based on Shakespeare’s play Cymbaline.
CHAMPS (Amplify/Starz Digital Media) Genre: Sports Documentary. Follows the careers of Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Bernard Hopkins, how all three took differing roads from some of the most horrifying circumstances imaginable to become world boxing champions. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Not just a look at triumph vs. adversity but also at one of the most corrupt and vicious businesses in sport.
CINDERELLA (Disney) Genre: Fantasy. The live action version of the timeless fairy tale in which a scullery maid, horribly abused by her wicked stepmother, is transformed by a fairy godmother into a mysterious beauty who catches the eye of the Prince. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.7 Lushly filmed by Kenneth Branagh but the trailer didn’t really wow me.
THE COBBLER (Image) Genre: Fantasy. Working in the same shoe repair shop that has been in his family for generations, a man discovers a magical heirloom that allows him to step into the lives of his customers. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 An Adam Sandler fantasy that is coming out via the indie route; an interesting concept.
EVA (Weinstein) Genre: Science Fiction. A cybernetic engineer tasked with creating a realistic robot child develops a special bond with his niece. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Sounds fascinating and I really like Daniel Bruhl but couldn’t find a trailer.
HOME SWEET HELL (Vertical) Genre: Dramedy. When a man living the perfect life embarks on an extramarital affair, he has no idea what lengths his image-obsessed wife will go to in order to maintain the facade of the perfect marriage. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Patrick Wilson and Katherine Heigl are appealing leads.
IT FOLLOWS (Radius) Genre: Horror. Following an odd sexual encounter, a teenage girl has the inescapable feeling that something is following her and that something terrifying is closing in on her; and as it turns out, she’s right. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Turns the urban legend horror convention on its ear.
THE LOVERS (IFC) Genre: Adventure. In a coma following a diving accident while trying to save his wife, a young archaeologist finds himself in 18th century India where he is an English sea captain involved in a steamy romance with an Indian warrior. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 A love story transcending time from acclaimed director Roland Joffe.
MUCK (Anchor Bay) Genre: Horror. Teenagers fleeing an ancient evil in a burial ground find refuge in a house, only to discover something even more evil lurks there. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 One of those horror movies that you can tell will either be great or just awful.
RUN ALL NIGHT (Warner Brothers) Genre: Action. When an assassin saves his estranged son from being shot by the son of a mob boss – who happens to be his closest friend – he must take his none-too-happy boy under his wing for the night to avoid teams of thugs and crooked cops out to kill them both. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Liam Neeson is the current king of the action stars.
SEYMOUR: AN INTRODUCTION (Sundance Selects) Genre: Documentary. Piano prodigy Seymour Bernstein, who retired from performing to concentrate on teaching, is profiled by actor Ethan Hawke who met Bernstein while dealing with his own stage fright issues. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 While ostensibly about the artistic impulse, it is also about life; very inspiring.
TREADING WATER (The Orchard) Genre: Romantic Comedy. Going through life with a rare condition that leaves him smelling like a fish, a young man tries to cope with an eccentric family, loneliness and a childhood crush that might be his saving grace. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Yet another indie film that looks like it takes its own quirkiness too seriously.
WALTER (eOne) Genre: Comedy. The son of God may be a movie ticket taker who has the ultimate responsibility to judge all who come into his theater which is fine until he meets a ghost stuck in Purgatory who wants a decision – Heaven or Hell – and he wants it now! Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.7 A pretty stellar cast and I have to admit the trailer is a lot better than I thought it’d be.
THE WRECKING CREW (Magnolia) Genre: Musical Documentary. One studio band played behind the Beach Boys, Frank and Nancy Sinatra, the Monkees and Sonny and Cher; they became legends in the industry and helped create rock and roll as we know it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Another “unsung heroes” musical documentary but all of them have been very good to outstanding in quality.

MARCH 18, 2015

AMOUR FOU (Film Movement) Genre: Drama. During the German Romantic era, a poet sorely wants to link love and death in a suicide pact but his lover, a married woman, will have no part of it – until she discovers she’s contracted a terminal illness. Release Strategy: New York City. RATING: 3.1 Seems a little morbid and more than a little pretentious.
KUMIKO: THE TREASURE HUNTER (Amplify) Genre: Drama. A Japanese office worker, condemned to a humdrum life, sees a fictional movie and becomes convinced that it is a documentary and that there is treasure buried in North Dakota and journeys to America to find it. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles March 20). RATING: 1.5 Beautifully shot, this has the quirky quality of a Coen Brothers film, appropriately enough.

MARCH 20, 2015

BACKCOUNTRY (IFC Midnight) Genre: Thriller. After agreeing to go with her outdoorsy boyfriend on a camping trip, a city girl sees everything that can go wrong go wrong – a creepy stalker guy who has eyes for her, then her boyfriend gets hopelessly lost, then they wander into a bear’s territory. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 …and then a dinosaur leaps out of a trans-dimensional portal…just seems a little bit too much to me.
CAN’T STAND LOSING YOU: SURVIVING THE POLICE (Cinema Libre) Genre: Musical Documentary. The rise, fall and reunion tour of one of the seminal New Wave bands of the 1980s.. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 One of my favorite bands from that era, always good to see footage you haven’t seen of a band you love.
CUPCAKES (Strand) Genre: Musical Comedy. Accidentally entered into the Universong competition as the representatives for Israel, a group of misfits set out to take the competition by storm – in their own unique style. Release Strategy: New York City. RATING: 2.4 There’s a disco-era kind of vibe that I found oddly charming in the trailer.
DANNY COLLINS (Bleecker Street) Genre: Dramedy. An aging singer-songwriter who hasn’t written a song in decades tries to resume writing music and reconnect with his estranged son after finding a long-lost letter written to him by John Lennon in the 1970s. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 A pretty impressive cast here with Al Pacino, Annette Benning, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Garner and Christopher Plummer.
THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT (Summit) Genre: Science Fiction. The power-hungry Erudite group go to war with the rebels led by Tris and Four to rule over what’s left of Chicago. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.4 I have to admit I liked the first movie but the trailers I’ve seen for this one are troubling.
DO YOU BELIEVE (Pure Flix) Genre: Faith Drama. Encountering an old time street corner preacher, a suburban pastor is shaken to the core by his visible faith; twelve people whose lives have taken different courses are about to intersect at the crossroads of the titular question. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 Something to get the church crowd excited.
GROWING UP AND OTHER LIES (eOne) Genre: Comedy. On his last day in New York City, an artist and three of his buddies decide to recreate their moment of glory – a walk down the length of Manhattan but of course things don’t go quite as planned. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Kind of your typical indie 30-something deal with growing up ensemble thing.
THE GUNMAN (Open Road) Genre: Action. Betrayed by the international intelligence organization he worked for, an operative must survive in a hunt across Europe to clear his name and find out who is responsible. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 Sounds like a pretty typical spy film – only this one’s with Sean Penn.
HUNTING ELEPHANTS (XLRator) Genre: Comedy. Two Israeli rest home residents, a penniless English lord and a precocious 12-year-old plan to rob a bank. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Quirky Israeli comedy with, of all people, Sir Patrick Stewart in a supporting role.
JAUJA (Cinema Guild) Genre: Drama. In 19th century Argentina a Danish engineer arrives with his daughter to work for the Argentine army which is in the midst of a genocidal action in Patagonia; when she runs away with a soldier, he goes after her despite the hostile atmosphere. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Beautifully shot and interesting concept; all this and Viggo Mortensen too.
LA SAPIENZA (Kino-Lorber) Genre: Drama. Trying to generate some passion, a middle aged architect and his bored wife travel to Italy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Looks very pretty from the trailer but get the sense this is very slow-paced.
THE LETTERS (Freestyle Releasing) Genre: Drama. The correspondence between Mother Teresa and her spiritual adviser Father Celeste van Exern over a 50 year period gives us insight into the woman behind the saint. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 The trailer hints at a very powerful spiritual experience.
LILY AND KAT (Mance) Genre: Dramedy. The friendship of two young women in New York is tested when one of them falls in love with an artist. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Looks a little bit vacuous and the characters more than a little shallow.
LOST AND LOVE (China Lion) Genre: Drama. 15 years after his two-year-old daughter was kidnapped, a dogged Chinese father continues the search for her. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 The more I see of Andy Lau the more I want to see.
SECRET OF WATER (Paladin) Genre: Documentary. Water makes up most of the planet and most of our bodies but we seem to as a species take it for granted; this documentary points out why that’s not a smart move. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Worthy subject for a documentary but no trailer anywhere.
SHE’S LOST CONTROL (Monument) Genre: Thriller. A sexual surrogate takes on a new client and finds her line between professional and personal beginning to blur. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Illustrates the vulnerability of a surrogate; looks to be quite gripping.
SPRING (Drafthouse) Genre: Horror. While in Italy fleeing his past, an American gets involved with an Italian girl, unaware that her own past harbors a dangerous secret. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 One of those heady films that throws knockout punches when you least expect them.
TRACERS (Lionsgate) Genre: Action. Deeply in debt to a violent gang, a parkour expert joins a crew that uses the discipline to pull of increasingly daring heists that throw him from the frying pan into the fire. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Very kinetic action sequences but looks pretty generic and with Taylor Lautner starring I’m definitely hesitant on this one.
THE WALKING DECEASED (ARC) Genre: Horror Spoof. The recent craze in zombie movies get their turn to be skewered by a spoof. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.4 I have to admit I’ve never seen a horror spoof I’ve liked but hope springs eternal.
ZOMBEAVERS (Freestyle Releasing) Genre: Horror. Groupies on the prowl for a good time get lost in a swamp infested with undead beavers.. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 I’m beginning to think that we’re running out of ideas.

MARCH 25, 2015

THE KIDNAPPING OF MICHEL HOULLEBECQ (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Dramedy. Accidentally abandoned by his squad in Belfast in 1971, a British soldier struggles to make it back to his barracks over the course of a deadly night. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 A soldier caught behind enemy lines always makes for compelling drama.

MARCH 27, 2015

A GIRL LIKE HER (Parkside) Genre: Drama. The victim of a school bully secretly takes video footage of her bullying which threatens to tear their community apart. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Bullying has been a serious subject as of late in movies and on television; this is a different look at it.
THE BARBER (ARC Entertainment) Genre: Horror. A man on the hunt for a serial killer – not to capture but to become his protégé – finds one in a mild-mannered barber. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 I’ve always had a soft spot for Scott Glenn.
GET HARD (Warner Brothers) Genre: Comedy. Convicted of a white collar crime, a man who has lived a pampered and sheltered existence and has 30 days to get his affairs in order turns to the only black man he knows to get him ready for prison – despite the fact his friend is as upstanding a citizen as there is. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart is a partnership I can get behind.
HOME (DreamWorks) Genre: Animated Feature. A well-meaning but kind of klutzy alien is hunted by his own people to the place where he has taken refuge – Earth. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 2.0 Seems an awful lot like Lilo and Stitch to me with only some minor character differences.
MAN FROM RENO (Gravitas) Genre: Mystery. Two people – one a small town sheriff, one a best-selling mystery writer taking a breather from a brutal book tour, both encounter a mysterious Japanese man who disappears without a trace. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.4 I think I could get into the noir element that this movie seems to embrace.
NIGHTLIGHT (Lionsgate) Genre: Horror. Five teens camping in the woods for a night of flashlight games and ghost stories awaken a slumbering evil that will have them fighting for their lives. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Judging from the trailer this is another found footage horror movie; hope the movie is better than the trailer.
THE RIOT CLUB (IFC) Genre: Drama. Students at Oxford are recruited for an underground society which promises wealth and luxury but descends into an orgy of violence. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Based on an actual club at Oxford that counts current Prime Minister David Cameron among its alumni.
SALT OF THE EARTH (Sony Classics) Genre: Documentary. Photographer Sebastiao Salgado has turned the focus of his lens from great events in human history to chronicling pristine places on Earth to pay tribute to the planet’s beauty – while these places still exist. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 The Oscar-nominated doc from acclaimed filmmaker Wim Wenders.
SERENA (Magnolia) Genre: Drama. In the 1920s, a North Carolina timber baron’s marriage is threatened when his wife learns about secrets from his past. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Reunites Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence from American Hustle.
WELCOME TO NEW YORK (IFC) Genre: Drama. The business trip of a French banker to New York descends into debauchery, ending in a shocking event. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Based on an actual incident that grabbed headlines all around the world not that long ago.
WHILE WE’RE YOUNG (A24) Genre: Drama. A middle-aged couple seems to have things figured out until they are befriended by a younger couple. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles (expanding in April). RATING: 2.1 Noah Baumbach is a director to be reckoned with, particularly when he has a cast that includes Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried and Adam Driver.
WHITE GOD (Magnolia) Genre: Drama. When the State turns against dogs, dogs turn back against the State. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 Looks like a great movie, but as a soft-hearted dog lover I don’t know how well I’ll be able to handle it.
A WOLF AT THE DOOR (Outside) Genre: Thriller. The ultimate parental nightmare happens to a Brazilian couple; their daughter has been picked up by a strange woman from school and has disappeared but what makes things even worse is that it is discovered that the husband has been having an extramarital affair and his paramour may be involved. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Sounds like a compelling drama but the trailer is oddly unexciting.

MARCH 31, 2015

TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS (Sony Classics) Genre: True Life Drama. Hooked on drugs, a young Orlando teen makes a heroic effort to kick her habit and inspires others to create a foundation to help kids just like her. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Was the 2012 Florida Film Festival opening night film, finally getting a theatrical and VOD release; you can read my review of the movie, which was then entitled Renee here.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Chappie, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Unfinished Business, Cinderella, Run All Night, The Wrecking Crew, Danny Collins, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, The Gunman, Get Hard, Home

New Releases for the Week of March 6, 2015


ChappieCHAPPIE

(Columbia) Hugh Jackman, Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver, Yo-Landi Visser, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Ninja, Brandon Auret. Directed by Neill Blomkamp

In a future in which crime is fought by mechanized police forces, a robot is stolen and reprogrammed, given the ability to learn, grow and feel. Renamed Chappie, this is the first truly artificial intelligence with the potential to be a lifeform which makes a lot of people nervous. These people will stop at nothing to make sure that Chappie is eliminated and none like him ever emerge. Not. Ever.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and B-roll video here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard, IMAX (opens Thursday)
Genre: Science Fiction
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: R (for violence, language and brief nudity)

Hayride 2

(Freestyle) Sherri Eakin, Jeremy Sande, Jeremy Ivy, Corlandos Scott. When the serial killer Pitchfork escapes from custody, a manhunt ensues with the killer taking refuge in a hospital. There the bloodthirsty killer has all sorts of opportunities to work on his craft even further.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Touchstar Southchase
Rating: R (for bloody horror violence throughout and language)

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

(Fox Searchlight) Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Richard Gere, Judi Dench. The success of the hotel has left only one room available, which poses a dilemma for new arrivals of the opposite sex. Expanding with a second hotel takes a lot more of the ambitious manager’s time, considering he is about to get married. Meanwhile the residents continue to adjust to their new lives in India not always as smoothly as they’d like.

See the trailer, clips and featurettes here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard (opens Thursday)
Genre: Dramedy
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG (for some language and suggestive comments)

Unfinished Business

(20th Century Fox) Vince Vaughn, James Marsden, Sienna Miller, Tom Wilkinson. After leaving a large corporate entity to start his own small business, a hard-working savvy entrepreneur travels to Europe with his other two employees to close the deal that will establish his business and take them from sure bankruptcy. However he must overcome nearly every obstacle imaginable – including competing against his old business to win the bid that will save his company.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and B-roll video here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard (opens Thursday)
Genre: Comedy
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: R (for some strong risqué sexual content/graphic nudity, and for language and drug use)

What We Do in the Shadows

(Unison/Paladin) Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jackie van Beek, Jonny Brugh. A documentary film crew follows a group of four vampires sharing a flat together which isn’t always as easy as it sounds when you’re the egotistical undead. From the New Zealand lunatics who brought you Flight of the Conchords.

See the trailer and clips here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Horror Comedy
Now Playing: Enzian Theater
Rating: NR