Rental Picks: A Separation and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Happy Friday!

What will you be watching today, folks? Are you going to the cinema to see the latest of the Disney animated feature Wreck-It Ralph (check out my pal Terrence’s review), the Kung-fu movie The Man with the Iron Fists or Denzel Washington’s Flight? Well, if you decide to rent something, here are a couple you might want to check out if you haven’t already:

A Separation (2011)

The first Iranian film which wins an Oscar. Yes that sentence is enough to catch my attention to see A Separation at the cinema. The film tells the story of a married couple Nader (Peyman Moadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami) which have to live separately because of their differing decisions either to move out of the country for the sake of their child or to stay in Iran to take care of their dad suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Parent vs. child. It’s never an easy choice.
It all started with various daily things which need to be done after Simin move out from the house to live separately. Then Nader hires a caregiver to take care his father. The film shows in a matter-of-fact way what a separation could possibly bring to a family. The writer/director Asghar Farhadi managed to build more and more conflicts from the beginning until the very end of the movie.
The film was playing on my emotions a lot. Curious, sad, angry, sympathy. As the audience, I don’t even know on which sides they are actually on. The way this movie reveal the facts practically reminds me of Nothing But the Truth. I can’t stop questioning which fact of the movie is true. It’s a drama that turns out to be a thriller, too. Not only did the film make me think, A Separation has a great cast which really support the dramatic parts. Every main character plays a strong role to tell the whole story. One of my favorite scenes would be when Nader teaches her daughter some lessons for her school. I could see a very strong bond of how a father wants her daughter to be smart and mature.
In the end, A Separation delivers their targeted message very well. A beautiful conclusion which will let the audiences have their own thoughts about a marital separation.

– Review by Cecilia R.

4.5 out of 5 reels


Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)

As I’ve alluded to in my review of Quartet, I LOVE films about older people’s adventure. Perhaps because I grew up with my grandmother for years, I’m not sure. Now the main draw for me to see this British dramedy is the stellar cast! It also marks Judi Dench’s third collaboration with director John Madden — the first two earned her an Oscar nomination and win for Mrs. Brown and Shakespeare In Love, respectively.

The title refers to a hotel in Jaipur, India which is advertised as a newly-restored “for the elderly and beautiful.” Well, after a lengthy and exhausting journey, all seven of the British retirees want to do is relax in their luxurious lodging, only to find the place to be well, less sumptuous than what they had in mind. The hotel turns out to be a run-down place run by a young man who dreams of restoring his family business to its pristine condition.

Each of the characters deal with this unpleasant surprise in multiple different ways, just as each of them have their own reasons to come to the country in the first place. Some of the multiple storylines work better than others. I don’t know if I’d call the direction uneven but certainly there are parts of the movie I just don’t care for.

For me, my favorite parts involve the two Dames, Judi Dench (Evelyn) and Maggie Smith (Muriel), and also Tom Wilkinson’s character who attempts to fulfill his lifelong wish to reunite with someone from his past he cares deeply about. I think Muriel has the biggest personal growth of them all, as she overcomes her own prejudice out of her encounter with a hotel’s employee who can’t even speak English. Evelyn who’s a widow not only become accustomed with the culture, she also finds a job and perhaps a second chance at love. The elderly Brits’ stories are inter-weaved with the hotel manager Sunny (Slumdog Millionaire‘s Dev Patel) whose buoyant spirit lives up to his name. He deeply clashes with his mother’s career aspiration for him, as well as the cultural expectation of arranged marriage as he’s in love with a girl who works at Evelyn’s call center.

There’s plenty of humor for sure, but the story also has some poignant moments that are pretty affecting. There are themes of cultural taboo and also outright racism that make you wince at times, but overall the spirit of the film is pretty light and colorful, just like the vibrant India setting. It’s not a flawless movie however, the pace at the beginning could be much improved, and the relationship between Dench and Bill Nighy just wasn’t handled as well as I expected. There are also some cringe-worthy moments of Ronald Pickup’s character that I don’t find it particularly amusing. But despite all that, this is quite a lovely movie and I’m definitely not disappointed by my favorite cast here, especially Dame Judi. I always enjoy watching her act and she looks particularly radiant here.

‘Everything will be alright in the end’ that’s the motto Sunny tells his guests when they’re disappointed. It’s an uplifting motto we could all take to heart.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


Have you seen either one of these films? Well, what did you think?

Most Anticipated 2012 Movies – Part II (April – June)

The first week of March has come and gone, so it’s time for Part II of this year’s most-anticipated flicks.

Can you believe it I still haven’t seen Coriolanus from my Part I which had been screening all over the world but here in Minnesota!! And one of the movies I listed under March, Gerry Butler’s Playing The Field, is pushed back all the way until Christmas day 😦

January and February have been a super slow movie-watching month for me. I haven’t gone to the cinema for about a month now, but I might venture out this weekend or the next to catch some March releases. So anyway, here are a list of movies that I’m hoping to catch between the months of April – June (release dates are for USA – info from IMDb unless otherwise noted):

APRIL

The Cold Light of Day (April 6)

A young American (Cavill) uncovers a conspiracy during his attempt to save his family, who were kidnapped while on vacation in Spain.

Ok, I gotta admit that if the lead actor wasn’t Henry Cavill this movie might’ve flown right past me. But y’know, the trailer looks pretty good and I like the supporting cast too. Bruce Willis as Henry’s mysterious dad and Sigourney Weaver as the villain. I’m definitely game to see the future Man of Steel in an action-packed International thriller.

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Movie 43 (April 13)

I’ve heard about this movie for quite a while, but given that it’s to be released in about a month, there’s barely ANY buzz for it. It’s quite odd since the Farrelly Brothers are fairly well-known and it boasts a spectacular ensemble cast that’ll put the recent ensemble-cast rom-coms like Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve to shame. Here’s a sampling in alphabetical order:

Elizabeth Banks, Gerard Butler, Kieran Culkin, Hugh Jackman, Johnny Knoxville, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Moretz, Liev Schreiber, Sean William Scott, Tony Shalhoub, Emma Stone, Matt Walsh, Patrick Warburton, Naomi Watts, and Kate Winslet.

Photo courtesy of http://screenrant.com/

As I mentioned briefly in this post two years ago, this feature film is in the vein of ParisJe t’aime in that it’s comprised of interconnected short comedy segments with multiple directors. Back in February, Collider interviewed the Bobby & Peter Farrelly and Peter gave a glimpse of what the plot is about, which centers on “…two 15-year-old stoners and their 11-year-old egghead brother/computer whiz, who are trying to find the elusive Movie 43. It’s the most banned movie in the world. It was banned in all countries because it’s so subversive. They have heard about it and they are trying to find it on the Internet. They keep breaking into other banned sites and movie archives, and finding these other shorts…”

Leslie Bibb revealed via ComingSoon that she’s playing Wonder Woman and sounds like one of the segments could very well be a spoof of DC’s Justice League… “[In my segment] is me, Jason Sudeikis and Justin Long and Bobby Cannavale and John Hodgman is the Penguin… Cannavale is a jacked up Superman who smokes and we all are these f**ked up superheroes. Like, I’m sleeping with Batman. He won’t call me back. I’m kind of crazy.  Kristen Bell is Supergirl and Uma Thurman is Lois Lane or something. And we’re all just dysfunctional superheroes, like superheroes who can’t get a date. We’re all at this speed dating.

Apparently the movie was made for $5 million, and it’s a hard R. Well naturally, right? I can’t wait to see the trailer for this!
.. 

MAY

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (May 4)

British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.

When I first saw the trailer I was just in glee, it just looks so delightful and chock full of my favorite seasoned actors: Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, and that kid from Slumdog Millionaire Dev Patel. Just check out this fun trailer, nice to see these fine thespians looking like they’re having so much fun making this movie.

The Avengers (May 4)

Nick Fury and the international agency S.H.I.E.L.D. bring together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki & his nefarious army.

Well if you don’t know anything about this one then you probably have been living under a rock. I’ll go out on a limb that this could very well be the Hulk-smash of a hit this coming Summer. Check out the latest trailer if you haven’t already.
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Moonrise Kingdom (May 25)

A pair of lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them.

I’m not too familiar with Wes Anderson’s work, apart from The Royal Tennenbaums, but this delightfully hilarious trailer just won me over. It’s so quirky that one just can’t help but be curious enough to find out. The cast is awesome as well, there’s his muses Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman (who happens to be the cousin of this movie’s co-writer Roman Coppola), Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton and Bruce Willis, among others.

Check out the wacky trailer below:

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JUNE

Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1)

Out of the two Snow White adaptations battling it out this year, I’m more inclined to see this one on the big screen. I’m still not sold on Kristen Stewart‘s casting but I do love Charlize Theron as the evil queen and Thor’s Chris Hemsworth looks pretty bad ass once again as the huntsman sent to kill the fair princess.

Check out the trailer »

Prometheus (June 8)

A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

There’s been much hullaballoo all over the geekosphere about the connection between this and Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi horror classic. Well I think all the evidence seems to point out that it is indeed a prequel to that movie. I read over at i09 site that Guy Pearce‘s role is the likely connection between the two films. This is what Scott said: “When the first ‘Alien’ movie and ‘Blade Runner’ were made, I thought that in the near future the world will be owned by large companies. This is why we have the Tyrell Corporation in ‘Blade Runner’, and Weyland-Yutani in ‘Alien’. They sent the Nostromo spaceship. The Prometheus is owned by an entrepreneur called Peter Weyland, and is played by Guy Pearce. That’s the connection between the two films, and nothing more. Prometheus is a new film, a new world, and is full of new ideas. And of course new monsters as well.”

Besides Pearce, the cast is full of today’s brightest & easy-on-the-eye talents: Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, and Noomi Rapace. This eerie teaser trailer is marvelously cryptic, giving sci-fi fans enough to salivate over what Mr. Scott has in store.

Pixar’s BRAVE (June 22)

Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.

I think you know by now I’m super excited for the latest Pixar’s movie. I’ve been blogging quite a bit about this movie, so just follow the linkage to check out the poster, US trailer and the Japanese version.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22)

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them.

Here’s another case where the casting first caught my attention when Rufus Sewell was cast. But the idea of for this is just so freakishly bizarre that I just had to find out more about it. The first teaser trailer was cut in such blinding speed that you barely see anything but the International Trailer is a bit better and you can also check out the featurette on that post.

It’s got super stiff competition with BRAVE and I doubt it’ll stand a chance against that one at the box office, but I still might catch this on the big screen depending on the reviews.


Well, those are my anticipated list for the next three months. Any one of these on your must-see list?