Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Quick reminder – I am back in school so columns will be catch as catch can. Last week for my literature class we read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, which surprised me a bit as I had thought I didn't care for Looking Glass. Instead some of my favorite bits are actually from that book. The Jabberwock, the Cheshire Cat, the Walrus and the Carpenter – all from Looking Glass world. I'm still not much of a fan of chess but there is plenty to like for even the most passionate chess hater.

This week we are reading Dracula, which I have read many times before. We'll see if I can come up with anything new and interesting to say about it. Right now I am noticing a few details that may have slipped past me last time. While vampires are famous for not being able to enter a person's home without permission it also appears that they can't drag people willy nilly into their lairs. When Jonathan first comes to the castle Dracula says, “Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own free will!” The book goes on to say, 'He made no motion of stepping to meet me, but stood like a statue, as though his gesture of welcome had fixed him into stone.' I guess threshold crossing of any type requires free will.

I'm also still slogging through Moby Dick, which is more of a grind than I thought it would be. Some of it is witty and fascinating and some of it is as tortuous as sitting through the worst lecture by the most apathetic teacher ever.

Almost all of the films I watched recently were very good, but only one was fantastic and lots and lots of fun. (Although Silver Linings Playbook came close.) With an all star ensemble cast, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the story of what happens when a group of older citizens outsource their retirement, and some medical care, to India.

The images they see of the hotel, which has the same name as the film, is less the way the establishment is now and more the dream hotel in the young proprietor’s imagination. Sonny, played by Dev Patel, is running the family resort, which is pretty rundown. But Sonny has big plans for the place, which he will be able to set in motion once he makes some money. But he needs the hotel to be nice to make the money, hence the justification for luring elderly people to another continent under false pretenses.

A set of pensioners, all fantastic older actors including Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, are stunned when they arrive at the hotel. Some cope with it less well than others, depending on how racist they are, it seems to me. Some of them enjoy the adventure and the new experiences, sites and food, while others want everything to be exactly the way they were back in the UK. Some of them are even tempered and some of them are super grouchy.

While they are trying to settle in, or plotting how to return home, Sonny is fending off attempts to take over the hotel. He is also having family trouble, the kind that happens when one family doesn't approve of their child's romantic entanglements.

Is it necessary to say the acting is stellar? The cast is amazing, featuring some of the most brilliant actors of our time. It's no coincidence that Maggie Smith was nominated for two categories in the SAG awards, one for this film and one for Downton Abbey.

There is a little bit of almost everything in this film. (Except for crime – if you're looking for a heist film or a murder mystery you had probably better look elsewhere.) There is a long lost romance as well as some current romances. There are long lost dreams and some present day hopes and goals. There is comedy and there are some tragedies but Sonny assures everyone that, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.” The official trailer is below.

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is a comic from Nedroid. It's about a wizard, a waiter and a misunderstanding. http://nedroidcomics.tumblr.com/post/42786266078/wizard-dinner