Sunday, June 24, 2018

Hotel Artemis

The directorial debut of screenwriter Drew Pearce (whose most notable screenwriting credit is Iron Man 3), is Hotel Artemis, which suffers from the beginning by trying to do too much at once. It is not difficult to see where the compulsion came from, however, considering that the cast includes figures such as Sterling K. Brown, Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum and Charlie Day, something else was expected.

Things start with "Waikiki" by Sterling K. Brown, who by failing in a robbery with his brother (Brian Tyree Henry) is hurt in the process. Both end at the Artemis Hotel, an exclusive member-only hospital run by Foster and his portly assistant, Everest (Dave Bautista), while out in Los Angeles descends into rampant chaos. From there, things start to get confused. We are quickly introduced to a cast of characters that populate Artemis, from "Nice" (Sofia Boutell) an assassin for hire, to "Acapulco" (Charlie Day) a weapons dealer, who seem to have their own agendas.

Foster's character is called "The Nurse", as his specific code name, is the leader here. Hotel Artemis never decides exactly where it wants to put the weight of the narrative. Brown and Foster share most of the focus in the first act, but as the plot begins to build and the threads begin to converge, it becomes increasingly unclear who is the protagonist and who is on whose behalf. It becomes even more confusing when a wounded police (Jenny Slate) emerges, who appears just before the arrival of a crime lord known as The Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum) and his entourage, which makes this a variable Russian roulette of exposure and background structure.

While all these loose ends seem to have little connection, Pearce's script intelligently links them all and, equally importantly, a cast that performs without a weak performance.

Foster, of course, stands out as the neurotic nurse with a past. Dexterously, he goes from exploring the nervous side of his character to finding his sense of humor and, ultimately, his humanity. If vulnerability, sense of duty and threat can inhabit the same body, Brown dominates him as Sherman, courtesy of a script that allows him to explore his faults and remorses as if it were completely natural. While Foster and Brown are proven actors, it is Bautista who brings a lot of fun to his character. He is not only an ordinance but also an executor, his "Everest" gives a lot of value to the film.

The only problem with the cast is that Jeff Goldblum is not on the screen enough. In its limited time, it makes the audience feel like they are dating an old friend.

The cinematography of Chung-hoon Chung (Oldboy, The Handmaiden) shows a great eye for style, allowing its illumination, especially in the climactic scenes, which bathes in crimson, to establish the mood and tone.

For a film that clearly goes for the science-fiction action niche, it does not have many action sequences. The general lack of it, eventually, is based on some scenes of struggle with flavor to the classic cinema of martial arts enough satisfactory, that cheerfully they show so much the physicist of Boutella as the one of Baptist. Hotel Artemis is not particularly interested in surprising the spectators with acrobatics and visual effects, but in entertaining us with interesting dialogues and characters, but mainly with a decadent atmosphere that fascinates from its first shot.

Artemis Hotel is worth it in your short stay required.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)

The idea is not new. In 1932, the applied Hollywood producer Edmund Goulding related in 'Gran Hotel' the stories of several characters housed in a luxurious hotel. Beyond the established stories, what really mattered was the notoriety of the chosen actors, on whom fell the dramatic (and commercial) effectiveness of the proposal: Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Carwford, Lionel Barrymore and Wallace Beery. In 'The Exotic Hotel Marygold', eighty years later, the same criterion is repeated, changing the sophisticated American hotel to a ramshackle but charming hotel in the Indian city of Bangalore, the fifth most populated city in the country - what in the film in a way or another we can not remember, and turning into authentic stars of the show a handful of veterans and notable British actors: Tom Wilkinson, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Celia Imrie.

Here would end the direct comparisons between a classic Hollywood film and a British film with a Bollywood accent, which is the concept of any Anglo-Saxon production when it comes to Indian lands (see 'Slumdog Millionaire', the Oscar-winning film by Danny Boyle from which 'The exotic Marygold hotel' inherits its main actor, the contestant Dev Patel). But the formula is very similar: several characters, a central scenario in which all appear communicated, fragmented stories, tragic accent and some comic touch ...

What leads each of the protagonists to settle down in the least exotic of the Bangalore hotels is quite inconsistent, but that is only the starting point. John Madden, director who meets again some of his usual actors (Dench and Wilkinson), is interested in what happens from the moment in which the characters, some belonging to the third age, others in the last phase of maturity They arrive in a city that fascinates, worries and irritates them in equal parts, and as India in general and the hotel in particular influences their future experiences and decisions.

As in every choral story, from 'The Seven Samurai' to 'Alien, the 8th Passenger', from 'The Stagecoach' to 'Calabuch' - and Madden's film, as 'Grand Hotel', is choral - some characters have more force than others either because of the greater conviction of their interpreters or because the script places them in more privileged positions. Both coincide in the stories of Dench and Wilkinson, the emotional overcoming of her and the reunion with his youthful love; two experiences and two interpretations that are without problems to those of the rest of the stories and performances of the film.

In favor: the work of all the actors, especially Dench and Wilkinson, because they are the best and because their characters have more scope.

Against: the tourist tone, the hangover of Bollywood, the actor of 'Slumdog Millionaire'.