Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Hit and miss

Ladies in Lavender (plus chums) go East - and once again the gay gay gets it. Reactions I was not expecting to THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL and Kevin Spacey's BEYOND THE SEA.

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL seems a big hit here in the UK, probably coasting on the success of THE KING'S SPEECH that other rather pedestrian film which brought older movie-goers back to the mulitplex.

Here, our motley crue of British thespians, all with their own backstories, move to the titular hotel in Jaipur, Rajasthan (which of course looks great) to 'outsource' their retirements to cheap and cheerful India. The hotel is not as expected from the brochure, as run by the manic Dev Patel, who is trying to sort out his romantic problems.. Dependable Bill Nighy and raging snob Penelope Wilton have to downsize after losing their retirement money in their daughter's failed internet company; recent widow Judi Dench also has to economise, Maggie Smith plays against type as a working class racist looking for a cheap hip replacement operation, Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup are both looking for romance or at least sex, while retired judge Tom Wilkinson is looking for the man he loved all those years ago .... can they be happy and find their heart's desire as they get used to this strange now exotic location? Maggie won't eat anything she can't pronounce ...but turns out to be a dab hand with accounting and sorts out the hotel's finances, while Judi gets a job teaching the local call centre staff how to deal with customers like her! How did the Indians manage without them? Penelope Wilton gets to do her nagging bitch again .... so the formula of putting a respected cast in an exotic location and you have a movie that practically writes and directs itself, if only they had a bit more imagination with the stories though.
SPOILER AHEAD ... (if you have not seen it)

Most annoying of all is Tom Wilkinson as the gay (as he tells everyone) judge trying to trace his long lost friend. He does, and then promptly dies of a heart attack - clearly signposted as we ominously focus on that bird flying away - is his spirit flying away with it? How twee. Couldn't he be allowed a happy old age too? His character was not even in the book by Deborah Moggach so its just a script invention, it seems a dreadful lack of imagination if they can't include the gay guy in everyone else's stories at the end,  as though they can't think what else to do with him .... So the rest of the cast get a nice reflective scene at his open air cremation; its as though he doesn't deserve the happiness or resolution they get. (One can see their lazy thinking - he has had his moment of epiphany, so his story arc is over - now they have no more use for him or can see no other future for him apart from dropping happily dead...).He though was the only one to have had a relationship with a native - so why couldn't he have lived and have another one? Just asking ...

I wasn't sufficiently interested in John Madden's MRS BROWNE to catch it's initial release, but loved SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (which I reviewed again here a while ago - costume drama label) but that may have been due to the witty script by Tom Stoppard and the great cast and it was all vey colourful - but I did not want to see his film of CAPTAIN CORRELLI'S MANDOLIN as I loved the book and was horrified at the changes I read about - again eliminating the great gay character Carlo, and changing so much that it was just a greek travelogue, with miscast leads. This new one is riding on the coat-tails of THE KING'S SPEECH as a movie for older people but it is just the same tired formula. Moviemaking by numbers. Good though to see Nighy and Dench team up again - they were in a wonderful BBC play ABSOLUTE HELL 20 years ago.

Finally, Kevin Spacey's 2004 film about Bobby Darin: BEYOND THE SEA, I had imagined this would be terrible with the too old Spacey as our hip singer but it turned out to be much more engrossing than I imagined, as Spacey - obviously influenced by Fosse's ALL THAT JAZZ with our near death hero conversing with his younger self. A footnote at the end says it is not a linear biography of Darin (1936-1973), and again lots of liberties have been taken. It seems there was a second marriage that is not included here, we get the usual rags to riches story as Bobby somehow becomes an overnight sensation but is stranded as musical tastes change in the '60s, then he finds out who his real mother is .... lots of Darin's other movies are ignored too (TOO LATE BLUES was particularly good, by John Cassavetes)

Spacey's Darin is volatile, driven by the love of performing, ambition, perfectionism, and belief that he's living on borrowed time - a fatherless lad learning music and dance from his mom (Brenda Blethyn). He is then on top of the charts and on "American Bandstand." He wants to be an entertainer, not a pop star, so he aims for the Copacabana; then it's on to the movies, where he meets and marries Sandra Dee - I remember the huge hit COME SEPTEMBER was in 1961. Kate Bosworth makes a pretty if vapid Dee, with Greta Scacchi as her pushy mother. Bob Hoskins is solid as usual as Bobby's devoted brother and John Goodman his agent. We get lots of singing and dancing and angst as Kevin's Bobby dances around a lot in a yellow suit. It is an obvious labour of love (maybe Spacey's CITIZEN KANE), which seems to go on a bit too long towards the end as our hero's health declines ... Spacey in his '40s would seem too old for the 20s Darin, but after a while it does not matter as one gets used to that wig and false nose too ..... but he certainly loves the material and the songs, as we get "Dream Lover", "Mack The Knife" and yes "Beyond The Sea" among others.

1 comment:

  1. So they took out the gay character in "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" and put in one in the Exotic Hotel whom they then killed off. I see ...