Film Review – MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2017)

The Jam Report | REVIEW – 'Murder on the Orient Express'MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2017, USA/Malta) ***
Crime, Drama, Mystery
dist. 20th Century Fox; pr co. Twentieth Century Fox / Genre Films / Kinberg Genre / The Mark Gordon Company / Scott Free Productions / Latina Pictures / The Estate of Agatha Christie; d. Kenneth Branagh; w. Michael Green (based on the novel by Agatha Christie); exec pr. Matthew Jenkins, Dillon Kivo, James Prichard, Aditya Sood, Hilary Strong; pr. Kenneth Branagh, Mark Gordon, Judy Hofflund, Simon Kinberg, Michael Schaefer, Ridley Scott; ass pr. William Moseley; ph. Haris Zambarloukos (Colour. 70 mm (Kodak Vision 2383), D-Cinema. ARRIRAW (6.5K) (source format) (some scenes), Digital Intermediate (4K) (master format), Dolby Vision, Panavision Super 70 (source format). 2.39:1); m. Patrick Doyle; ed. Mick Audsley; pd. Jim Clay; ad. Dominic Masters; set d. Rebecca Alleway, Caroline Smith; cos. Alexandra Byrne; m/up. Chiara Ugolini, Luca Saccuman; sd. James Mather (Dolby Atmos | DTS 70 mm (70 mm prints)); sfx. David Watkins; vfx. Helen Judd, Veronique Messier Lauzon, Josiane Fradette, Jacinthe Côté, Mary Meng, Tim Pounds-Cornish, Peter Hume, Patrick Ledda, George Murphy, Sylvain Theroux, Vincent Poitras, Mathieu Raynault; st. James O’Donnell; rel. 3 November 2017 (UK), 10 November 2017 (USA); cert: 12; r/t. 114m.

cast: Kenneth Branagh (Hercule Poirot), Penélope Cruz (Pilar Estravados), Willem Dafoe (Gerhard Hardman), Judi Dench (Princess Dragomiroff), Johnny Depp (Edward Ratchett), Josh Gad (Hector MacQueen), Leslie Odom Jr. (Dr. Arbuthnot), Michelle Pfeiffer (Caroline Hubbard), Daisy Ridley (Miss Mary Debenham), Tom Bateman (Bouc), Derek Jacobi (Edward Henry Masterman), Lucy Boynton (Countess Elena Andrenyi), Olivia Colman (Hildegarde Schmidt), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (Biniamino Marquez), Gerard Horan (Aynesworth), Sergei Polunin (Count Rudolph Andrenyi), Phil Dunster (Colonel John Armstrong), Miranda Raison (Sonia Armstrong), Hayat Kamille (Susanne), Marwan Kenzari (Pierre Michel).

Branagh directs and leads an all-star cast in this mystery based on the best-selling novel by Agatha Christie. Everyone’s a suspect when a murder is committed on a lavish train ride, and a brilliant detective must race against time to solve the puzzle before the killer strikes again. This is the second big screen adaptation of Christie’s celebrated, but heavily manufactured mystery. Branagh dons a bewilderingly large moustache but manages to capture the essence of the Belgian detective. However, in the director’s seat, he falls short of adding the required slow burn tension and instead focuses on the visuals, which are heavily digitised giving the scenery the look of a painting. He also embellishes the story with a couple of action sequences that do not serve the plot and merely seem designed to change the pace and fill the Hollywood quota. That said the basic story is adhered to and even though a tendency toward melodrama often creeps in, there is enough here to hold the interest, if not to match Sidney Lumet’s 1974 adaptation. Also previously filmed for TV in 2001, 2010 and 2015.

Film Review – THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2015)

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' Begins the New WFS SeasonTHE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (UK/USA, 2015) ***
      Distributor: 20th Century Fox (UK) / Fox Searchlight Pictures (USA); Production Company: Blueprint Pictures; Release Date: 26 February 2015 (UK), 6 March 2015 (USA); Filming Dates: began 10 January 2014; Running Time: 122m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Film Format: 35 mm (anamorphic) (Kodak Vision 2383), D-Cinema; Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), F65 RAW (4K) (source format); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: John Madden; Writer: Ol Parker (based on a story by Ol Parker and John Madden); Executive Producer: Michael Dreyer, Jonathan King, John Madden, Jeff Skoll; Producer: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin; Associate Producer: Tabrez Noorani; Director of Photography: Ben Smithard; Music Composer: Thomas Newman; Film Editor: Victoria Boydell; Casting Director: Michelle Guish, Seher Latif; Production Designer: Martin Childs; Art Director: Dilip More; Set Decorator: Ed Turner; Costumes: Alison Lewis, Riyaz Ali Merchant; Make-up: Daniel Phillips; Sound: Ian Wilson; Visual Effects: Fay McConkey, Thomas Proctor, Emma Moffat.
      Cast: Judi Dench (Evelyn Greenslade), Maggie Smith (Muriel Donnelly), Bill Nighy (Douglas Ainslie), Dev Patel (Sonny Kapoor), Richard Gere (Guy Chambers), Celia Imrie (Madge Hardcastle), Ronald Pickup (Norman Cousins), Penelope Wilton (Jean Ainslie), Diana Hardcastle (Carol Parr), Tina Desai (Sunaina), Claire Price (Laura Ainslie), Lillete Dubey (Mrs. Kapoor), David Strathairn (Ty Burley), Tamsin Greig (Lavinia Beech), Shazad Latif (Kushal), Rajesh Tailang (Babul), Denzil Smith (Mr. Dharuna), Sid Makkar (Jay), Avijit Dutt (Nimish), Seema Azmi (Anokhi).
      Synopsis: As the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has only a single remaining vacancy – posing a rooming predicament for two fresh arrivals – Sonny pursues his expansionist dream of opening a second hotel.
      Comment: A more-of-the-same sequel, which coasts on the charm and skills of its excellent cast and vibrant locations. The plot lacks originality and veers too far toward a sit-com approach at the expense of depth in characterisation, but the vibe is good. Patel and Smith are looking to expand their hotel business and look for sponsorship from the US. When Gere arrives, Patel believes he is an inspector charged with assessing the business and he goes out of his way to charm him – echoes of Fawlty Towers. The cast is in good form again but has less to get their teeth into here and the film comes across as both unnecessary yet still entertaining.

Film Review – THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2011)

The-best-exotic-marigold-hotel.jpgTHE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (UK/USA/UAE, 2011) ****
      Distributor: 20th Century Fox; Production Company: Blueprint Pictures; Release Date: 30 November 2011 (Italy), 17 February 2012 (UK), 25 May 2012 (USA); Filming Dates: began 10 October 2010; Running Time: 124m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Dolby | SDDS; Film Format: 35 mm (anamorphic) (Fuji Eterna-CP 3514DI), D-Cinema; Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Super 35 (source format); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: PG-13/12.
      Director: John Madden; Writer: Ol Parker (based on the novel “These Foolish Things” by Deborah Moggach); Executive Producer: Jonathan King, Jeff Skoll, Ricky Strauss; Producer: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin; Director of Photography: Ben Davis; Music Composer: Thomas Newman; Film Editor: Chris Gill; Casting Director: Michelle Guish, Seher Latif; Production Designer: Alan Macdonald; Art Director: Peter Francis; Set Decorator: Tina Jones; Costumes: Louise Stjernsward; Make-up: Beverley Binda; Sound: Ian Wilson; Special Effects: Shiva Nanda; Visual Effects: Karen Clarke, Fay McConkey.
      Cast: Judi Dench (Evelyn Greenslade), Bill Nighy (Douglas Ainslie), Dev Patel (Sonny Kapoor), Tom Wilkinson (Graham Dashwood), Maggie Smith (Muriel Donnelly), Penelope Wilton (Jean Ainslie), Ronald Pickup (Norman Cousins), Celia Imrie (Madge Hardcastle), Tina Desai (Sunaina), Sid Makkar (Jay), Lillete Dubey (Mrs. Kapoor), Diana Hardcastle (Carol), Seema Azmi (Anokhi), Paul Bhattacharjee (Dr. Ghujarapartidar), Liza Tarbuck (Staff Nurse), Denzil Smith (Viceroy Club Secretary), Honey Chhaya (Young Wasim), Bhuvnesh Shetty (Muriel’s Physiotherapist), Rajendra Gupta (Manoj), Jay Villiers (Evelyn’s Son).
      Synopsis: 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.
      Comment: The top-notch cast is the big draw to this adaptation of Deborah Moggach’s novel “These Foolish Things”. They are helped by a witty script, which manages to navigate the more predictable and familiar elements of the story. A group of elderly Brits each have their own reason for the late-in-the-day change to their lives when they decide to stay at a residential hotel for the elderly in Jaipur, India. the hotel is run by Patel’s dreamer. Once there, each of the residents finds their own way to come to terms with what they had been looking for in the later years of their lives. It is a charming and winning film which coasts on the supremely talented cast and the exotic location. Those looking for more depth, will not find it in abundance here despite the occasional moment of poignancy, but what they will find is an entertainment that has more than enough attraction to win them over. Followed by THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2015).