Monday, May 9, 2016

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Year 8, Day 130 - 5/9/16 - Movie #2,330

BEFORE: I see that TCM's going to be running a Fred Astaire marathon this week - now I'm wishing I hadn't skipped "Top Hat", "Blue Skies" and "Swing Time" during their "30 Days of Oscar" programming in February, if I had saved those and put them together with tomorrow's programming ("Flying Down to Rio", "Royal Wedding", "Silk Stockings", etc.) then I'd really have something.  But right now there are too many newer movies to be added, and I JUST got my watchlist down to 130 films, adding 7 Astaire films right now would constitute negative progress, and would work against my desire to try and finish the project within calendar year 2016.  I'm just going to have to make a mental note to catch up with Astaire (& Rogers) at the end of the year if there are still spaces available.  These are the tough decisions I'm forced to make, with little idea how my choices are going to play out. 

As for today's film, I have no more Coogan films, so I'm following the Judi Dench thread, she carries over from "Philomena".  

FOLLOW-UP TO: "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (Movie #1,631)

THE PLOT:  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.

AFTER: It's a tough thing for some people, realizing that people in their 70's and 80's are remaining sexually active.  The number of STD's in nursing homes is apparently on the rise - yeah, good luck dealing with that one.  The "Exotic Marigold Hotel" series also faces an uphill struggle, as it presents the relationship issues that develop among a certain set of seniors who have decided to spend their twilight years in sunny India, instead of cold & rainy England.  Hey, older Americans are always getting the advice to move down to Florida or New Mexico for the dry climate, that means that India is a bit like England's New Mexico, right?  

The Exotic Marigold hotel is not so much a temporary-stay kind of place, it's more like a combination of nursing home and senior center, combined with a prison.  Every morning the manager takes roll call very loudly, to make sure none of the inmates (sorry, guests) have died during the night.  That's how you start the day on a positive note, "Congratulations, you're still alive!"  And things are going so well that there are only a couple of rooms still available, and people don't seem to be "checking out" of the hotel at the expected rate, so naturally there's talk of expanding to a second property.  

 For this, they need investment money, so the first sequence sees the hotel manager and owner traveling to the U.S. to meet with the owner of a large hotel chain, who insists on sending someone to check out the operation.  Now, I've seen enough episodes of "Fawlty Towers" to know that whoever the manager THINKS is the secret hotel inspector couldn't possibly BE the secret hotel inspector, it's more likely the person who gets horribly inconvenienced while he's fawning over the most likely suspect.  Hey, British humor is nothing if not formulaic.  

There are about 5 or 6 intertwined plotlines here, as different seniors deal with different relationship issues, falling in and out of infatuation with each other.  But so many of them seemed contrived - I would like to think that by the time people get into their 70's they've got relationships figured out to a certain extent, so they don't do silly things like fall in love with two people at the same time, or have to travel halfway around the world to ask someone for a divorce.  Mostly I found these different plotlines very confusing - but I don't really understand Indian culture, is it really THAT important that the bride and groom perform a specific choreographed dance at their wedding?  Who cares?

Then we've got a husband who thinks he might have accidentally asked a cab driver to run over his wife - how can he not be sure about this?  Either he did, or he didn't.  And then one man's daughter comes over to India to visit him, or perhaps she's there to speak at a conference of some sort, this was also very confusing.  The ending in particular seems to come out of nowhere, causing everyone to do a Bollywood dance.  Ugh, give me a break.

Indian is one of those tricky nationalities to portray on film - like German or, I don't know, Mexican. The more emotive and expressive an actor gets, the easier it is for them to fall into cartoonish stereotypes.  I think Dev Patel was great and subdued in "Slumdog Millionaire", but ever since then, it feels like he's been trading on his culture by playing a very excitable cartoon version of an Indian person. 

Also starring Dev Patel (last seen in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"), Maggie Smith (last seen in "California Suite"), Bill Nighy (last seen in "About Time"), Celia Imrie (last seen in "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason"), Richard Gere (last seen in "Primal Fear"), David Strathairn (last seen in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"), Diana Hardcastle (also last seen in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"), Tina Desai (ditto), Lillete Dubey (ditto), Penelope Wilton (last seen in "Pride & Prejudice"), Ronald Pickup (last seen in "Never Say Never Again"), Tamsin Greig (last seen in "Shaun of the Dead"), Shazad Latif, Rajesh Tailang, Claire Price.

RATING: 5 out of 10 Chilla pancakes

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