The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Falling somewhere between the exoticism and heightened sentiment of a Merchant Ivory production and the deft, lighthearted character drama of something like Made in Dagenham, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel takes a group of British retirees and puts them into the colorful chaos of modern India. Director John Madden has been blessed with a cast that includes Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup and Penelope Wilton, so that even if the concept is a trifle twee, the effortless characterizations by these fine actors are a delight to watch. The film also stars Dev Patel, of Slumdog Millionaire fame, who holds up well and proves that he should be forgiven for his part in The Last Airbender.
Common Heroes (貧民英雄)
Following on from the success of Night Market Hero (雞排英雄), another movie about the average Taiwan Joe making a difference, this new movie feels the need to buy into the current superhero craze and play out various low-rent spoofs. The point of departure is once again corruption, in this case a financial scam. Four victims of the deception get together, and more by accident than design, kidnap the villain’s wife. There is a string of celebrity cameos and rumor has it that a Hollywood post-production team was brought in to give the special effects a boost. But judging by the trailer, the money could have been better spent elsewhere.
Described in its press blurb as being part of a new wave of Hong Kong crime thrillers, Nightfall is directed by Roy Chow (周顯揚), and sports not only a strong cast, but also impressive noir atmospherics. The film stars Nick Cheung (張家輝) as a man who has served 20 years for murder. On his release, he is immediately caught up in events that turn the police spotlight back on to the crime for which he was originally convicted. Cheung is a tough outsider who is once again on the run, and his only hope is a cop played by Simon Yam (任達華), who is hell bent on chasing him down. There are some brutal fight scenes and a good chase, but the pacing is uneven, and Chow is less than assured in handling the convoluted plot.
My Own Love Song
In My Own Love Song, sentimentality weighs down an eye-catching cast that includes Renee Zellweger, Forest Whitaker, and Nick Nolte. Director Olivier Dahan, who made his name in music videos, is not one for subtlety. His last major release, La Vie En Rose (2007) was a melodramatic telling of the tumultuous life of chanteuse Edith Piaf. With My Own Love Song, he continues his focus on music, though this time taking his addiction to heightened emotion and mystical belief in the power of love and music to such lengths that no amount of fine acting can prevent the dialogue from sounding cheesy. Zellweger, a singer who has fallen silent after being confined to a wheelchair following a car accident, is at her most frumpy and screechy. She embarks on a journey of rediscovery with her best friend (Whitaker), who has also suffered personal tragedy. There is almost no respite from the self-help platitudes.
Prison breakout movie starring Guy Pearce that does not try to be much more than a solid genre entertainment. Despite the silly concept — the president’s daughter gets held hostage in a prison located in outer space, and only one man has the talents to rescue her — it is well staged and well paced, and despite containing every genre cliche in the book, is reasonably entertaining. Pearce proves once again that he is a versatile and appealing screen presence, and he puts his own stamp on a role that is pretty much a rehash of Kurt Russell’s in John Carpenter’s Escape From New York.