Archive for Penelope Wilton


Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on July 15, 2017 by Mystery Man


Roald Dahl’s spooky children’s book is transformed into a family-friendly fantasy centering on young orphan Sophie, who meets a colossus called the Big Friendly Giant — who’s exiled from his peers for refusing to eat boys and girls.

What people are saying:

“…this splendid Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation makes it possible for audiences of all ages to wrap their heads around one of the unlikeliest friendships in cinema history, resulting in the sort of instant family classic “human beans” once relied upon Disney to deliver.” 4 stars

“An undeniable master at telling deeply affecting matinee-style tales, [Spielberg’s] 29th feature retains enough magical elements from the source novel to delight kids and captivate adults.” 4 1/2 stars

“This is one of the few Roald Dahl books I’ve never read, so I can’t speak for the accuracy regarding the book, but I thought this movie was brilliant of its own accord. The graphics are beautiful, the story is touching and the acting is perfect. I honestly only planned to see it because I’m willing to see just about anything Disney releases, but I was very impressed and will definitely be seeing this again.” 4 stars

“The animated ’89 version of The BFG was a staple of my youth, so naturally I was excited for a Steven Spielberg redo. Unfortunately, I don’t think the tale lends itself well to the live action format. That, or the hands making this piece were unable to concentrate the narrative to where it went. In either case, the end product is a film with many tiny endearing moments of nostalgia that at no point come together to create a laudable whole.” 2 stars

“Well acquainted with the quirky Roald Dahl books from when I was a kid, I enjoyed this and it’s pleasing to see that Disney didn’t water it down. The screenplay was penned by the late Mellissa Matheson (ET The Extra Terrestrial) and the CGI was visually superb and believable. Infact, the warm-hearted giant was rendered very lifelike (looking as he did, like Liam Neeson!) and terrifically voiced.” 3 1/2 stars


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Recently widowed housewife Evelyn (Dench) must sell her home to cover huge debts left by her late husband. Graham (Wilkinson), a high-court judge who had spent his first eighteen years in India, abruptly decides to retire and return there. Jean (Wilton) and Douglas (Nighy) seek a retirement they can afford, having lost most of their savings through investing in their daughter’s internet business. Muriel (Smith), a retired housekeeper prejudiced against Indians, needs a hip replacement operation which can be done far more quickly and inexpensively in India. Madge (Celia Imrie) is hunting for another husband, and Norman (Pickup), an aging lothario, is trying to re-capture his youth. They each decide on a retirement hotel in India, based on pictures on its website.

When the group finally arrives at the picturesque hotel, despite its energetic young manager Sonny (Patel), the hotel is very dilapidated. Jean remains ensconced in the hotel, while her husband Douglas explores the sights. Graham, finding that the area has greatly changed since his youth, disappears on long outings every day. Muriel, despite her racist attitudes, starts to appreciate her doctor for his skill and the hotel maid for her good service. Evelyn gets a job advising the staff of a call centre how to interact with older British customers. Sonny struggles to raise funds to renovate the hotel and sees girlfriend, Sunaina (Tena Desae), despite his mother’s disapproval. Madge joins the Viceroy Club seeking a spouse, and is surprised to find Norman there. She introduces him to Carol (Diana Hardcastle). He admits he is lonely and seeking a companion, and the two begin a relationship.

Graham confides in Evelyn that he is trying to find the Indian lover he was forced to abandon as a youth. Social-climber Jean is attracted to Graham, and makes a rare excursion to follow him, but is humiliated when he explains he is gay. Graham reunites with his former lover, who is in an arranged marriage of mutual trust and respect. Graham dies of a heart condition. Evelyn and Douglas grow increasingly close. Douglas finally admits he is tired of defending his wife’s negative attitude, revealing just how unhappy their marriage has become. Muriel reveals that she was once housekeeper to a family who tricked her into training her younger replacement and now she feels that she has lost purpose in her life.

Sonny’s more successful brothers each own a third of the hotel, and plan to demolish it. His mother (Lillete Dubey) agrees and wants him to return to Delhi for an arranged marriage. Jean and Douglas prepare to return to England. Douglas returns to the hotel to say goodbye to Evelyn, but Muriel tells Douglas that Evelyn is not there. Now that the hotel is closing, Madge prepares to return to England and Norman agrees to move in with Carol. Madge, after encouragement from Carol and Muriel, decides to keep searching for another husband.

On their way to the airport, a rickshaw driver tells Jean and Douglas that he can only take one of them. Jean decides to leave Douglas behind. He follows his wife to the airport, misses the plane and spends the rest of the night wandering the streets. Sonny finally tells Sunaina that he loves her and confronts his mother, who finally gives the couple her blessing. Before the guests can leave, Muriel reveals that the hotel can make a profit and that Sonny’s investor has agreed to fund his plans as long as Muriel stays on as assistant manager. All the guests agree to stay. Douglas arrives just as Evelyn is leaving for work, and says he’ll have tea waiting for her when she gets back.

A closing montage shows Muriel checking in customers as assistant manager, Madge dining with a handsome older Indian man, Norman and Carol living happily together, and Sonny and Sunaina riding a motorbike, passing Douglas and Evelyn on a scooter


Like many of you, I have heard the horror stories about what happens in retirement homes and how residents are all but reduced to infants because of the way they are treated. This is where The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel comes in, as these elderly citizens don’t want to go to a place like that, but rather live out their lives in a place they can enjoy, such as scenic India, for instance.

What is this about?

To make the most of their meager retirement savings, a group of British seniors moves to India to live out their golden years at the Marigold Hotel. But upon arrival, they discover the once-lavish resort has wilted considerably.

What did I like?

You’re only as young as you feel. Many people worry about getting old and losing touch with their humanity, blah, blah, blah. This film actually takes people who are of an age we seem to forget and treats them as if they weren’t second class citizens, but rather real people with real problems, and that is what makes this film so endearing to the audience.

Cast. Everyone…well, most everyone, is recognizable to audiences as great actors from across the pond. Someone said these were all the leftovers from the Harry Potter films, just need Michael Gambon and Alan Rickman to make an appearance. Rumor has it that there will be a sequel, so maybe they’ll show up.

McGonnagall. Maggie Smith’s character was one of the best things about this film, what with her old-fashioned, but not really offensive, racism, and hard-nosed focus, not to mention the one-liners she pops out now and then. Recently, I’ve begun watching Downton Abbey and in the episode I’ve seen with her in it, the two characters are very similar. I may change my mind, though, after I watch a few more episodes.

What didn’t I like?

Big or small. It seems as if the film knows the star power of its cast and gives them relative screen time. For instance, it can be argued that Dame Judi Dench is the biggest star in the film, and she gets the biggest amount of screen time followed by Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith. I get the idea behind that, but some of the more interesting stories were only touched upon, such as the two who are looking for love and the guy who is coming back to where he spent his childhood. These are stories that we probably should have gotten more of, in my opinion.

Mummyjii. What is the deal with Indian guys and their mothers? This is like the 4th or 5th time I’ve seen something like this in the past few months. Is this something culture related? If not, than it is just not a good plot device, as it does nothing but make the men look weak-willed. No wonder these same guys can’t keep their women!

Hotel. I was going to mention how rundown the hotel is, but there are some hotels here in the US that aren’t in that great of shape. However, I have to wonder about the phones. Was this just a device they threw in for comic effect, or was this place in such disrepair that the phones really didn’t work? How can you run a successful hotel without working phones? Sure, these days everyone uses cell phones, as opposed to landlines, but you still need at least one landline, just in case, and with tenants of the previous generation, landlines are more common and comfortable to them than a cell.

When all the smoke clears, I found The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to be a heart-warming, charming, dramedy. I did find it to be a tad bit longer than it needed to be, but that isn’t something I couldn’t get over, what with the great performances that the cast turns in. I’m not going to highly recommend it, but it is worth watching, so give it a shot sometime.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Shaun of the Dead

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on October 30, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a 29-year-old salesman whose life has no direction. His younger colleagues at work show him no respect and he has a rocky relationship with his stepfather, Phillip (Bill Nighy). He also has a tense relationship with his housemate, Pete (Peter Serafinowicz), because of Ed (Nick Frost), Shaun’s crude best friend who lives on their couch and deals marijuana. His girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), is unsatisfied with their social life, because it consists primarily of spending every evening at the Winchester, Shaun and Ed’s favourite pub, as well as the fact that they never do anything alone together – Shaun always brings Ed and she has to bring her flatmates, David (Dylan Moran) and Dianne (Lucy Davis). After a miserable day at his work, Shaun gets stopped on the street by an old friend Yvonne (Jessica Stevenson) who asks him what he and Liz are doing for their anniversary — a question which makes him realise he forgot to book a table at the restaurant he’d promised Liz the previous night. Faced with this failure on Shaun’s part, Liz decides she’s had enough and breaks up with him; Shaun then drowns his sorrows with Ed at the Winchester, and Ed, consoling him, ironically quotes “It’s not the end of the world.”

Just at that moment, a man (probably already a zombie) bangs on the window sluggishly. Ed laughs at the lumbering man as obviously already being drunk. The two return home after midnight and spin electro records as a kind of impromptu breakup party, only to have Pete confront them, who is suffering a headache after being mugged and bitten by “some crackheads”. Pete berates Shaun and tells him to sort his life out. Shaun, at first angry, slowly lets his (still intoxicated) mind absorb what Pete has told him, and indeed resolves to sort his life out.

All these revelations and upheavals comes at the same time as an apocalyptic uprising of zombies, although Shaun is too hungover to notice at first. He and Ed just barely begin to become aware what is happening after watching reports on TV and after several zombies appear at their house, and they decide they need to ensure they are somewhere safe. Shaun and Ed arm themselves with weapons from the shed and realise that the safest place they know is the Winchester. They plan to collect Shaun’s mother, Barbara (Penelope Wilton), and Phillip, and Liz and her flatmates and head to the Winchester. They discover that Pete is still in the house and is now a zombie, but manage to escape in Pete’s car. After collecting Barbara and Phillip, who is bitten in the process, they switch cars and drive in Phillip’s Jaguar and head to Liz, Dianne and David’s flat, and collect them. Before they make it to the Winchester, Phillip dies of his bite, after he manages to make peace with Shaun. Forced to abandon the car, they set off on foot, bumping into Yvonne and her own band of survivors. Discovering that the path is infested with zombies, they devise a plan to sneak by, pretending to be zombies, with the help of Dianne, who is an aspiring actress. Ed and Shaun get into an argument and the zombies, after watching the commotion, realise they are not dead and approach. David smashes the window with a dustbin and, while Shaun distracts the zombies, everyone takes refuge inside the pub. Shaun joins them after giving the zombies the slip.

After several hours, the zombies return. Ed inadvertently gives away their position when he wins on the fruit machine and the zombies converge on the pub. At that moment, the pub’s landlords, also zombies, arrive and attack them. Ed manages to get the Winchester rifle above the bar working and they use it to fend off the zombies breaking in. However, Barbara reveals a bite wound she picked up along the way and subsequently dies. Realising she is about to become a zombie, David points the rifle at her, only to meet resistance from Shaun and Ed, and in the ensuing confrontation, Dianne reveals that she is aware that David loves Liz and not her. After Barbara returns as a zombie, Shaun shoots her, and punches David. David grabs the rifle and attempts to shoot Shaun, but discovers that the rifle is out of ammo. Before anyone can react to his attempt to kill Shaun, David angrily storms to the door. Dianne talks him away from it, and David begins to apologize to Shaun. At that moment, the zombies break through a window and drag him out, disembowelling and dismembering him. Frantic, Dianne unbolts the door to leave and rescue David, exposing Shaun, Liz and Ed to the zombies. Ed prepares a Molotov cocktail to fend them off, but Pete arrives and bites him. He manages to get over the bar and Shaun uses the cocktail to ignite the bar. They escape into the cellar. Finding themselves cornered, they contemplate suicide, but discover a service hatch. Shaun and Liz escape through the hatch, and Ed, now mortally wounded from the ensuing zombie attack, stays behind with a cigarette and the rifle. Back on the street, Shaun and Liz prepare to fight the zombies once more, but at that moment, the British Army arrives and they are rescued. Yvonne, who has also survived, shows up and tells Shaun and Liz to follow her. They approach the safety of the trucks, reconciled.

Six months after the outbreak, all of the uninfected have returned to daily life, and the remaining zombies, retaining their instincts, are used as cheap labour and entertainment. Liz and Shaun have moved in together in Shaun’s house, and Shaun is keeping Ed, who is now a zombie, tethered in the shed and playing video games


Zombies seem to be the next big thing on the horizon, thanks in large part to AMC’s Walking Dead. So, my other Halloween selection this year is the zombie spoof, Shaun of the Dead.

Now, if you’re not a fan of the dry wit that British comedy has, I would strongly urge you to stay away from this film, as you may not find it entertaining in the least, except for the zombie deaths and stuff. However, if you do enjoy British humor, you’ll notice how hilarious this film is.

Simon Pegg has made a niche for himself and it really works for him. Couple that with his “sidekick” Nick Frost, and you have one of the great comedic duos of our time.

Bill Nighy is also in here, but he plays this kid of douche-y stepdad role, but, in typical Nighy fashion, he steals the show without being the star of the film.

The main drawback to this flick is that it seems to spend too much time trying to get the audience to feel something for Shaun. While that makes sense, I still found myself wanting them to hurry up and get to the zombie parts. I mean, that’s the reason we’re watching this anyway, right?

On that note, these zombies actually didn’t look half bad, especially for a comedy. I must say that I was a tad bit impressed, but not overly so.

If you’re looking for gore, this isn’t the zombie flick for you. Remember, this is a comedy after all. Having said that, please don’t let the lack of blood and guts keep you from watching this very funny spoof on the genre. It is a really good film and, dare I say, a must-see. Why not check it out when you get the chance?

3 3/4 out of 5 stars