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Fairy and Lovely

Film: Cinderella
Cast: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Duration: 1 hr 45 mins
Rating: * * *
British director Kenneth Branagh has made a handful of Shakespeare’s adaptation, so he is no stranger when it comes to making classic stories into films. This time it is the popular folk story Cinderella which was made famous by a few writers including Brothers Grimm.
There have been a few of those fairy tales which have been made for the screen lately, which some of them have attempted to give it a twist, this film is a very straightforward adaptation. Branagh keeps it nice and simple and even though everyone knows the story very well, it is still a delight to watch because he doesn’t deviate from the basics.
Lily James plays Cinderella, the young girl who is orphaned and left in the clutches of her wicked step mother (Cate Blanchett, wickedly delightful) and step sisters. Richard Madden plays the Prince who is swept of his feet and Helena Bonham Carter is seen in a cameo as the fairy god mother.
Even after all the years, the story has considerable appeal, after all the good versus evil tales will never go out of fashion. The production values are the best that money can buy adding that extra factor to the visuals.
Overall, Cinderella is an enjoyable tale for children and adults alike.

Film: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Cast: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Bill Nighy
Directed by: John Madden
Duration: 2 hrs
Rating: * * * 1 / 2
A sequel to the utterly delightful sleeper hit of 2012 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, I am happy to report that The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is quite charming as well. While the first one had a fair bit of novelty, the quotient of the feel-good factor remains the same in both and that is a good enough reason to make a trip to the theatres to watch this John Madden film.
If the feel-good factor is not enough, take a look at the cast – it has some of the most distinguished names in the business and they all deliver in great style.
Even though the film doesn’t have a much of story to speak of, co-writer Ol Parker gets the essence spot on again. It opens with Sonny (Dev Patel) and Mrs. Donnelly (Maggie Smith) trying to convince a businessman (David Straithairn) in the US to invest in their new venture.
Back home at the Marigold hotel, all the visitors have become comfortable residents – Evelyn (Judi Dench) is sourcing fabrics and has a new assignment on hand, Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie) still can’t make up her mind which of the two Indian suitors she should marry, Douglas (Bill Nighy) has become an improvised tourist guide and he still harbors feelings for Evelyn.
The plot is centered around an inspector who has come to visit the property, could it be Guy Chambers (Richard Gere) who claims he is a writer and nothing more or Lavinia (Tamsin Greig) a new visitor at the hotel. While Sonny is trying to settle matters for the new hotel, his big fat Indian wedding is also around the corner.
Even though there aren’t any serious subplots, the spirit of the story remains the same. The optimism and positive radiance makes you forget that there isn’t much of a story. For most parts it’s a whirlwind with the next laugh or chuckle just around the corner. Full credit to the writers for the crackling lines and the odd philosophical one as well. Incidentally, the clever lines in the film come from the most unexpected characters.
The cast is in terrific form. Judi Dench and especially Maggie Smith (they are both 81 years old) steal the show. Smith has a meatier role and her performance is of the highest order. The rest, Bill Nighy, Richard Gere, Celia Imrie and even Dev Patel is in fine fettle. When it comes to an enjoyable time at the cinemas, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is second to none.

Decimal Factions

Film: Insurgent
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslett
Directed by: Robest Schwentke
Duration: 2 hrs
Rating: * * 1 / 2
The second book of the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, Insurgent follows from where Divergent left off. Tris (Shailene Woodley) who is hiding in Amity territory is chased by soldiers sent by Jeanine (Kate Winslett). She manages to escape along with Four (Theo James) and others and land up in another territory which is held by the Factionless.
From there they go to the Dauntless while Jeanine is trying to open a secret box for which she needs the help of a Divergent. Under pressure, Tris surrenders leading to a fairly impressive climax. To even understand the basics of this film, you need to be familiar with either the book or the first film otherwise you’ll be as lost as a man who has discovered that he has lost his wallet. The concept of various factions, depending on their skills was quite fascinating in Divergent but there isn’t much originality here. Watch it only if you are a fan of the series.

Part Time Lover
Film: Hunterrr
Cast: Gulshan Devaiah, Radhika Apte, Sai Tamhankar
Directed by: Harshvardhan Kulkarni
Duration: 2 hrs 20 mins
Rating: * * 1 / 2
Hunterrr belongs to that very rare genre in Bollywood of sex comedies and we are not talking of the ones with cheap jokes and double entendres. Hunterrr in many ways goes for the jugular and succeeds to some extent. While it is a novel effort of sorts, it fails in getting the basic right – such films have to be crisp, to the point and should not overstay their welcome, the final stretch of this debut film by Harshvardhan Kulkarni drags on.
He has got most of the things right – The characters are quirky and there is sense that they could be real – you may have actually seen some around you at some point. Gulshan Devaiya plays Mandar Ponkshe, as it happens in real life too, some guys instantly know how to get their way around the opposite sex while for others, it takes a life time to figure out.
Mandar belongs to the former category; he has cracked the ultimate formula of wooing the girls at a young age. Initially, the story oscillates between his past and present. Right from his college days he has been active enticing single girls (Veera Saxena) and a married woman (Sai Tamhankar).
At least in films, all playboys ultimately have to fall in love and Mandar is besotted by Trupti (Radhika Apte). He has a tough time though giving up what he likes the most.
While the film starts off in top gear, it gets slack in the latter half. Mandar’s childhood memories are the best part and director Harshvardhan Kukarni knows how to show teenagers having fun. The episode where Mandar is caught watching an adult film is a hoot.
There is needless cutting between the past and the present in the latter half of the film, it’s a comedy after all and not a thriller. The songs try to carry the narrative forward but don’t succeed every time and there a handful of songs of them here.
The director deserves kudos for making a film that deals with the otherwise taboo subject of sex and he does so without cheapening the stakes. Of the cast, Gulshan Devaiah fits the bill and the ladies are aptly cast. Hunterrr is good enough for a few laughs and I wish it was left with that rather than stretch it more.

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