About Time – Film Review

About Time

Having seen About Time over a week ago I seemed to spend a lot of time this past weekend bringing it up in conversation so I think it deserves a few words from me over here.

About Time comes from writer/director Richard Curtis who has spent his career teaching us to expect well written and genuinely funny romantic comedies as rich English people fall in love with a few pitfalls along the way. About Time doesn’t stray too far from this template but is notable for being Curtis’ first foray into Sci-Fi as he dabbles with some time travel (let’s ignore Doctor Who and Blackadder’s Christmas Carol for now).

After turning 21 Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is told by his father (Bill Nighy) that the men in his family can time travel simply by going into a dark enclosed space and thinking about a specific moment from their past. Any complicated time travel mechanics or rules are eschewed in favour of a more simplistic approach so that the focus can be on the story and the characters rather than any Sci-Fi nonsense. Tim uses his new power mostly to fix social situations and in the romantic pursuit of a young American woman called Mary (Rachel McAdams) who catches his eye in a pitch black restaurant. The focus of the story would seem to be the romance between Tim and Mary but what has been lingering with me ever since was the relationship between Tim and his father. That is where the heartstrings were really tugged and the tear ducts lubricated.

With the presence of a Sci-Fi plot device and a focus on emotions and character over the fictional science I know what you are asking yourself… Is this HeKniSciFi? A quick look at Rachel McAdams cardigan should tell you all you need to know:

About Time - Domhall Gleeson & Rachel McAdams

Just look at how warm she looks!

About Time is a flawed film. The time travel logic doesn’t always make any sense, or stick by its own loose rules, and the central love story is charming but a little bland. Somehow though none of this matters. The mechanism of the time travel is not what is important to Curtis (or me) nearly so much as the impact that the time travel has on Tim and his relationships. Though this supernatural plot device Tim is taught that there are certain things in life that can’t be changed, that sometimes bad things have to happen, and that there comes a time to let go. Time travel here is as it always should be, servicing the film but not dominating it. And as for the lacklustre love story… the world’s best father-son relationship more than makes up for that.

Richard Curtis isn’t making a time travel film with the intention of boggling your mind, all he wants to do is warm your heart and he succeeds here with flying colours. I very nearly cried (tears may have formed but they did not fall) and that is no mean feat. While the characters may seem unrelatable with their large homes and clipped English accents but Curtis has a way of reaching past this and touching you regardless. Unintentionally creepy metaphor there…

Moving away from any insinuation of Richard Curtis molesting his audience I’ll take a paragraph to compliment the supporting cast which includes great performances from the likes of Tom Hughes, Vanessa Kirby, Will Merrick, Richard Cordery, Lindsay Duncan, Lydia Wilson, and the fantastic Tom Hollander. We are also treated to a few brief appearances from Margot Robbie who is a rising star and has been troubling me since her Neighbours days.

About Time - Margot Robbie

Bill Nighy completely steals the show in a film best watched snuggling with a loved one on a rainy day. Fathers and sons will get the most out of it though may prefer not to snuggle while they watch. Leave any cynicism at home and enjoy what will become a staple film in my collection and try not to think how good the film would have been had Zooey Deschanel not dropped out.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Review

In The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel eight British pensioners are tempted away from their native country with the promise of a free flight to India and the chance to live out their retirements in a luxury hotel. On arrival they find the hotel is in disrepair and run by a young man called Sonny (Dev Patel). Over time the group grow to either love or loathe their new home, Sonny battles to keep his vision of an extraordinary retirement home afloat and each senior citizen goes on their own unique journey.

With such a large cast of British acting royalty the film is at risk of feeling fragmented as at least seven separate stories are told, but somehow it works. The various characters are each seeking something different; a lost love, sex, life after the loss of a partner, a new hip, a rich husband or to save their marriage. What links them together, and highlights their differences, is India itself. The country is photographed beautifully and the film is filled with vibrant colours, a myriad of sounds, and various exotic smells. Perhaps the smells were only in my mind. The characters learn to cope with their new surroundings with varying degrees of success, some thriving amongst the new experiences and others shying away from the terrifying world outside the hotel.

The various story threads bring with them a nice mix of humour, drama and even a little romance. The trailer may have sold the film as a slightly faster paced comedy than it is, but The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel still has plenty of laughs spread across its running time. What the film also offers, that perhaps the trailer does not showcase enough, is plenty of heartfelt moments and plots that go a little deeper than most light comedies allow. It doesn’t hurt that every role is filled by a beloved British face, from Judi Dench to Maggie Smith, from Bill Nighy to Tom Wilkinson, and from Penelope Wilton to Celia Imrie. With talent like this given the rare opportunity to strut their stuff in leading roles the two-hour running time flies by and at the end I wanted to check into the Marigold Hotel and stay a little while longer.

With an older cast and a gentler approach to comedy than is normally seen on the big screen, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is not going to excite everyone. I overheard a fellow critic at my screening suggesting that perhaps it would be preferred by an older audience, but speaking as a 23-year-old I recommend this film as proof that you don’t have to be the same age as the cast to find this film funny.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a gentle comedy with a lot of heart. The visuals were stunning and cast of British legends were wonderful to watch in their element. It was enough to make me want to whisk Judi Dench off to India and retire in a dilapidated hotel.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is on general release on 24th February 2012.

Are You Old Enough for Racism?

Last night I was invited along to a screening of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a film with a trailer so filled with British ‘National Treasures’ that I nearly fell over myself with excitement. As someone who only falls over themselves once a week, this was no mean feat. I can’t tell you whether I liked the film or not, but I can bore you with something interesting* I noticed over at the BBFC. Just try to stop me.

The BBFC has rated The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as 12A and in their consumer advice say that the film “contains strong language, moderate sex references and racist remarks.” I was surprised to see racist remarks highlighted as a reason parents may not want their children to see a film, though I’m not sure why as racism is of course vile and reprehensible. I’m not afraid to take a widely supported and uncontroversial stand.

Digging deeper, as only someone with too much time on their hands does, I found over at the Parents BBFC website guidelines for what sort of language the BBFC will allow at 12A:

Discriminatory language may be present but will not be endorsed by the work as a whole. Aggressive use of discriminatory language (for example homophobic or racist terms) is unlikely to be acceptable at ‘12’ or ‘12A’ unless it is clearly condemned.

So there you have it, you can only hear racist slurs which are not clearly condemned when you are at least 15 years old. I suppose the aim is to not expose the nation’s children to endless streams of fully endorsed racism until they are old enough to feel sufficiently outraged. Makes sense to me.

Interesting* also to note that American History X, a film about neo-Nazis and filled with racism so strong it borders on the unwatchable, has no mention of racism in its consumer advice from the BBFC. Hmm.

There you have it, a series of facts strung together into something almost resembling a coherent dialogue. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go and wrestle with the Oscar Nomination live-stream again.

*Debatable

2012 Golden Globes Nominations

With awards season truly hotting up we are treated with the nominations for the 2012 Golden Globe Awards. They’re an interesting bunch, a lot of the more challenging and/or smaller films have been passed by. The Los Angles Times has it spot on when they say that the nominations seem to recognise those works featuring the A-list actors, more accessible films and less dark dramas. No Tyrannosaur or Like Crazy to be found below.

What you will find is my gut reaction and my opinions for each category (apart from Best Original Song and Best Original Score as that is not my strong suit) whether you want it or not. Continue reading

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Trailer

If there’s one type of actor I love it is an older English actor, the more honours the better. Put a Dame in a cast list and I will be queuing up on opening night. There’s something about an actor with a huge career behind them who continues to produce quality work that I find irresistible… in a cinematic sense of course.

When I heard about The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a comedy about seven British pensioners having a romp in India, I could hardly believe my eyes. Dames all over the place! Meet me after the trailer:

 

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How much fun does that look? Providing the best jokes aren’t all in this trailer it looks like we have a British comedy starring a plethora of our older stars, showing the young up-and-comers how it’s done. Even more exciting is that this film stars my all time favourite “National Treasure”, or rather an amazing combination of six. With a cast like this I feel the trailer should simply list the cast while rousing music plays, think Burn After Reading.

Sorry Ronald Pickup, I have no idea who you are.

No. If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t want to eat it.