Posts Tagged ‘Celia Imrie’

Bella Donna

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Director: Ol Parker

Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, Colin Firth, Cher, Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner, Jessica Keenan Wynn

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel screenwriter Ol Parker does behind the camera as director for the much anticipated sequel / prequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again featuring the original cast from Mamma Mia! (2008) including some fabulous additions such as pop diva Cher and Cinderella’s Lily James as the young Donna.

Shot mostly on location in Croatia, doubling for the Greek Isles, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is strictly for ABBA fans and those who loved the original 2008 film.

Thanks to a preview screening organized by United International Pictures at Suncoast Cinecentre, Durban, I was fortunate enough to see Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again whose highlights included Cher’s superb rendition of the song Fernando sung to her long lost love and some crisply orchestrated numbers featuring Lily James and a plethora of gorgeous young men played by Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner and Josh Dylan respectively, who all represent the younger versions of Sophie’s three Dads played in the original film by Pierce Brosnan, Oscar winner Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) and Stellan Skarsgard.

While the storyline is as haphazard as a lost yacht in the Mediterranean, the singing and the music for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is what audiences should come and see this musical comedy for.

With a bigger cast and some daring lines uttered by the wine swigging Tanya played by Christine Baranski (The Bird Cage) including “Be Still my Beating Vagina”, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a sparkling musical comedy with the pure aim of reviving all those toe-tapping ABBA songs.

There is sufficient Man Candy both young and old to satisfy a diverse range of female audiences and in the immortal words of BBC Talk Show Host Graham Norton on interviewing pop diva Cher – “This is one of the gayest films being released in 2018!”

Leave your worries at the door and enjoy Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again which gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10, held together by two sensational performances by Lily James and Cher.

Reinventing Sandra

Finding Your Feet

Director: Richard Loncraine

Cast: Imelda Staunton, Celia Imrie, Timothy Spall, Joanna Lumley, John Sessions, David Hayman, Phoebe Nicholls

Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake) plays Sandra in the British comedy Finding your Feet directed by Richard III and Wimbledon director Richard Loncraine.

Sandra discovers during her husband’s retirement party that he has been having an affair for five years which sends her on a journey of self-discovery as she gradually shrugs off the snobbery of her former life and moves in with her hippie older sister Bif played by Celia Imrie (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Cure for Wellness).

Bif leads a completely unconventional life with the help of her friend Charlie played by British star Timothy Spall (Mr Turner) and soon the pair introduce the uptight Sandra to dance classes and a flash mob dance contest in Piccadilly Circus to create awareness for the aged.

With the able assistance of Bif’s hilarious friend Jackie wonderfully played by Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley, Sandra soon takes up dancing and discovers an entirely different world made all the more charming by the blossoming courtship with Charlie as they wonder down Oxford Street to see the Christmas Lights.

Finding your Feet is a truly delightful British comedy set mainly in London and also in Rome, which adds to the glamour of the film, held together by superb performances by Imelda Staunton and Celia Imrie who play sisters rediscovering their sibling relationship after years of estrangement.

Highly recommended for audiences that enjoyed such films as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Tea with Mussolini and Four Weddings and a Funeral, Finding Your Feet proves that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself and discover romance again.

Finding your Feet gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is a charming British comedy with a sufficient dash of poignancy to satisfy the tastes of more mature audiences.

 

Living the Dream is the Best Revenge

Absolutely Fabulous

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Director: Mandie Fletcher

Cast: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield, Julia Sawahla, Gwendoline Christie, Kathy Burke, Celia Imrie, Robert Webb, Chris Colfer, Lily Cole, Kate Moss, Joan Collins, Jon Hamm, Rebel Wilson

Living the dream is the best revenge sweetie darlings especially when you apparently kill supermodel and party waif Kate Moss. Yes Patsy and Edina are back!

Its director Mandie Fletcher’s full screen film version of the hit BBC TV series Absolutely Fabulous featuring the notorious Patsy superbly played by Joanna Lumley (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Edina based on a hilarious screenplay by Jennifer Saunders who plays her in the film.

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Absolutely Fabulous is hilarious, making lots of smart references to current and past British pop culture from celebrities (look out for guest appearances by Graham Norton, Suki Waterhouse), to Technology to Fashion. Set in London, Patsy and Edina find themselves fresh out of Bolly (Champagne, darlings) and realize that their credit cards have been cut up, an oblique reference to the global recession, so naturally they have to go out and earn a living.

Edina has written a book and Patsy is still apparently running a Fashion house although it’s actually the foul-mouthed and handbag flinging Magda, a brilliant and vicious cameo by veteran actress Kathy Burke, who is really calling the shots.

At a bizarre and incredibly oversubscribed launch party for some new Fashion House, Edina accidentally bumps Kate Moss into the icy Thames River and arch PR rival Claudia Bing, garishly played by Celia Imrie, lays the blame for the supermodels apparent demise on Edina and of course Patsy – it’s guilty by association, sweetie darlings! Audiences should look out for cameos by Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect) and Joan Collins of Dynasty fame.

The London fashion world plunges into a media frenzy as everyone darlings, including the gay boys and Gwendoline Christie go into mourning. Edina is vilified on Twitter, she even complains to her straight laced daughter Saffy, wonderfully played by Julia Sawahla, that she is a pariah.

Saffy asks “Do you know what a pariah is mother?” Edina answers: “Yes darling it’s a fish”.

Even designer Stella McCartney throws a brick threw their Holland Park window, and then Patsy and Edina realize after much vodka and drugs, that its best to go on the run. To where sweetie darlings?

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Cannes, on the French Riviera where everyone is a foreign yet glamourous criminal. Naturally darlings! The second half of Absolutely Fabulous is hilarious. Soon the French police track the infamous pair down to a villa belonging to the wealthiest dowager on the Riviera.

Meanwhile back in London, French designer Jean-Paul Gautier is strolling by the Thames and who should emerge from the river, still looking gorgeous, Sauvignon Blanc in one hand and cigarette in the other?

Whilst Patsy and Edina constantly lose the plot, so does the film version of Absolutely Fabulous, but nevertheless it is still a hilarious fun-filled romp, paying homage to the successful and long running TV show which became a massive BBC hit.

Absolutely Fabulous is not everyone’s glass of Bolly darlings.

Like similar transformations of 30 minute hit TV series into 90 minute films namely Entourage and Sex and the City, Absolutely Fabulous, the movie will only really appeal to those that faithfully followed the TV series and are naturally knowledgeable about current British pop culture. Nevertheless, sweetie darlings, it’s still light hearted and bloody good fun!

 

Overdue but worth the wait

Bridget Jones’ Baby

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Director: Sharon Maguire

Cast: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Emma Thompson, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Joanna Scanlan, Sarah Solemani, Celia Imrie

Oscar winner Renee Zellweger (Cold Mountain) after a six year screen absence reprises her role of Bridget Jones in the third instalment of the hit film franchise, simply entitled Bridget Jones’ Baby. The first two films were based on the bestselling novels by Helen Fielding. Zellweger tackles her role of Bridget Jones with familiar vigour and she is joined onscreen for continuity purposes by Oscar winner Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) as uptight London lawyer Mark Darcy and new comer Patrick Dempsey as dating expert Jack Qwaint.

Zellweger and Firth have matured as actors which is evident onscreen, for the best scenes in Bridget Jones’ Baby is shared between them.

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Bridget Jones finds herself at 43, working as a TV assistant producer for a zany London talk show which is being threatened by a group millennials. She begins to question whether she will ever have a baby, because let’s face it her biological clock is ticking. Never fear!

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With the help of her new best friend the naughty TV host Miranda, wonderfully played by Sarah Solemani, Bridget Jones soon lands up having amorous relationships first with Jack at a music festival which strongly resembles Glastonbury, shorty followed by a similar sexy scene where Jones and Darcy rekindle their much repressed love for each other at a Christening of a mutual friends baby.

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As per the film’s title, Bridget Jones soon finds herself knocked up but not quite sure who the father is. Enter a delightful cameo by Emma Thompson as her droll doctor who plays along for the sake of decency.

Bridget Jones also has to break the news of her pregnancy to her parents. Her mother who is running for some minor political office is superbly played by Gemma Jones and her father once again played by Oscar winner Jim Broadbent (Iris) is naturally supportive of his daughter carrying their first grandchild despite her not quite knowing who the father is.

I would be lying if Bridget Jones’ Baby is not aimed at a female audience, as the primary narrative in the film is about the main characters pregnancy and her impending birth, as well as trying to survive the pregnancy with the help of two potential fathers who naturally see themselves as rivals. There is a hilarious scene when Bridget Jones has to be rushed to the hospital only to eventually be carried by both of them, Mark Darcy and Jack Qwaint.

With the help of a delightfully witty script, director Sharon Maguire does justice to the Bridget Jones franchise even leaving the possibility open for a fourth film since Jones’ other main suitor the devilishly handsome Daniel Cleaver who was played by Hugh Grant in the first two films is feared dead, but body yet to be recovered…

Whilst the first half of Bridget Jones’ Baby is fun and quirky, with lots of hilarious moments, the second half does drag a bit, which was done intentionally so that the audiences could appreciate the baby when he finally arrives. Essentially, Bridget Jones’ Baby is highly recommended viewing, and should be a hit with the gang of book club ladies both young and old who seemed to pack the cinemas, shifting the film to number one at the box office.

A Blissful and Marvellous Reunion

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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Director: John Madden

Cast: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Diana Hardcastle, Richard Gere, Ronald Pickup, David Strathairn, Penelope Wilton, Bill Nighy, Tamsin Greig

After the surprise success of the delightful 2012 film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, it is no wonder that director John Madden decided to do a companion film and organize a more extravagant and blissful reunion of the cast of the first film with newcomers Richard Gere, no longer the Gigolo, and David Strathairn to make up the male parts for the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel set in Jaipur, Mumbai and San Diego.

Whilst the original film was a sort of bitter-sweet adventure, the second film is a celebration and continuation of everything so wonderful and colourful about the possibility of spending one’s Twilight years in the exotic location of Jaipur. This is Shady Pines with colour and vibrancy, wit and humour and proves that the older generation of actors can still pull off a charming and marvellous sequel infused with the energetic Sonny wonderfully played again by Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) and his impending wedding to Sunaina played by Tina Desai.

In The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Sonny has big plans for expansion and hopes to acquire another rambling hotel in Jaipur to extend his collection of gorgeous establishments for the aged and semi-retired. The scenes between Patel and veteran actress Maggie Smith are crackling with wit and exuberance especially as they approach a major hotel chain based in San Diego for some much needed venture capital to expand their business enterprise.

Back in India, director John Madden expands his palette from the first film and each shot of The Second Best Marigold Hotel is a simulacrum of all the great films made about that subcontinent from David Lean’s A Passage to India and Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding making for a positively blissful and gorgeous cinematic reunion.

Subtly directed and beautifully acted, although the story is at times whimsical, each of the British actors from Celia Imrie and Diana Hardcastle to Ronald Pickup and Bill Nighy have more scope and depth in this companion piece which will surely delight all audiences who so enjoyed The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Silver haired Richard Gere’s role as an enigmatic guest Guy Chambers and seducer of Sonny’s mom add to the romance of the Jaipur establishment. The structure of the film is centred around the marriage of Sonny and Sunaina from the lavish engagement party to the actual flamboyant and vibrant wedding. Intertwined with the portrait of young love, is the growing affection between Evelyn and Douglas played with the usual quirkiness by Bill Nighy.

The scenes between Dench and Smith are poignant and nuanced, both Oscar winning accomplished actresses as they give viewers a sense that their imminent cinematic retirement is drawing near, yet their stardom will last forever. Oscar winners Maggie Smith and Judi Dench have had amazing stage and screen careers and it is encouraging to see them still commanding the big screen in an age of the digital blockbuster.

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Whilst The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is not as brilliant or as unique as the first film, it still stands on its own as a delightfully fine companion piece. Judging how packed the cinema was, there is a huge market out there for these gorgeous films aimed at retired viewers who are not always willing to sit through some of the Hollywood commercial cinema which makes up the bulk of the studio releases.

The Second Best Marigold Hotel is recommended viewing for those that enjoyed the first film, and similar movies like Enchanted April, Tea with Mussolini and Ladies in Lavender.

 

 

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