Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel...a review

Went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel last night with great ambivalence. On the one hand, the trailer was interesting and it featured great actors like Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson. On the other hand, it's about old people and aging, a topic I increasingly wish to avoid. The first thing I noticed about this film was the nature of the previews. As I sat trying not to eat too much of my popcorn while they were playing, I noticed that in 5 separate movie previews I hadn't witnessed a single explosion, no post-apocalypse zombies trudged across the screen, no not-of-this-world 3D cleavage thrust in my face. What was going on here? I had stumbled into the tiny adult section of the Cinema.

The movie itself was nice. The story was thoughtful and witty, the acting superb. Judi Dench, age 77, remains a beautiful woman and lit up every scene in which she appeared. The entire British cast was terrific. Each character was likable on some level which made the film enjoyable for me. The plot revolves around a run down hotel in India run by an enthusiastic if incompetent young Indian man who is determined to bring the place back to its colonial-era glory. He wants to make his hotel a haven for the elderly from all over the world from countries who "don't like old people". He lures guests there by offering to pay their air-fare. In this way, our cast is randomly thrown together, seven pensioners and their back-stories which play out before us amid the chaos, color, and squalor of modern India. There were humorous moments, but this was a movie with a lot to say about getting old, regret, and redemption, and did so with intelligent reflection rather than witty repartee, and it worked. I felt smarter when I left, but more determined than ever to die in a sky-diving accident at an age when I still have all of my faculties.

One minor irritant. Even this movie could not make it through 2 hours without a gay-themed plot line. It seems that every script-writer the world over must take a pledge or something. Every movie has to have a gay character nowadays. In this case, it was one of the more moving scenes in the film so I have no objection to it as such, it's just curious to me. For a segment of the world's population that registers between 1% and 5% in most studies, its amazing how many of their number find themselves with major rolls in motion pictures. Of course, I suppose that an argument could be made that for years they were completely ignored in films so now their sudden prominence is affirmative action of a sort to rectify past exclusion. Come to think of it, some classic films of the past would be very different if written today by modern screen-writers....

Gone With The Wind....Scarlett admits to Rhett that she was always attracted to Ashley because he was so effeminate, which was the closest she could possibly hope for in 1864 since she was hopelessly in love with Mammy.

Citizen Kane....."Rosebud" turns out to be a gay speakeasy in Santa Monica

Casablanca....the on screen tension between Rick and Captain Renault gives new meaning to the "beautiful friendship" line at the foggy airport.

The Godfather....It turns out that Fredo is a bumbling incompetent mobster, not because of his goofy nonchalance, but rather because he is being blackmailed by Moe Green, his gay lover.

I could go on this way all day, I suppose. Anyway, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a nice movie and worth the time and money. Oh, and it's special effects budget came in at $38.66.