What was once old is made young again
‘Men in Black 3’
Starring: Will Smith, Josh Brolin,Tommy Lee Jones
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
After a long absence, director Barry Sonnenfeld and crew have found a way to bring back our beloved men in black — Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith). It’s a clever jump back to the past that allows newcomer to MIB Josh Brolin to exercise his best Jones impersonation and reveal some secrets it seems K has been keeping for about 40 years.
As Sonnefeld has pointed out in publicity interviews, the entire premise to this third outing hinges on Brolin being able to convince audiences that he is K the younger. And with time spent together several years ago filming “No Country for Old Men,” Brolin was able to perfect the taciturn demeanor of Jones, uh … I mean K.
The trouble starts in the present day when a particularly hideous alien escapes from his prison cell on the moon and heads back to earth. Known as Boris (Jemaine Clement), he seeks, of course, the destruction of earth, but he also has a helluva grudge against K, who is the reason why he only has one arm.
Without going into too much detail, mainly because the time travel plot is too hard to explain anyway, J must go back in time to 1969 during the Apollo space launch to correct the present day and save K. This is the second film to come along in just as many weeks set in the recent past, and set designers must be working overtime to recreate these specific time periods for movies like “Dark Shadows,” set in the early ’70s, and now this.
As J convinces the younger K that he is indeed his partner from the future and they need to get to Cape Canaveral to save the world, the way-back storyline allows for some fun with retro futuristic props like K’s old neuralizer. It’s not as sleek as the newer version, but it does the job.
I love Sonnenfeld’s wacky sense of humor, which plays out in clever ways. As in the previous movies, be sure to keep an eye on the monitor screens at headquarters. You never know what celebrity or public figure is really an alien. And this is a director who loves pugs. He always finds a way to feature the little push-faced pups.
Besides Brolin, also new to the proceedings is Emma Thompson as O, a replacement head of the agency who was played by Rip Torn in the first two films. She has a little past with K that looks like it will be further explored in future movies. Did you doubt there would be a 4?
‘The Best ExoticMarigold Hotel’
Starring: Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson,
Directed by: John Madden
So this is what the “Downton Abbey” players did on their summer vacation. The cast of this great little movie is a Who’s Who of British actors, among them Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith, who “DA” fans will know as two matriarchs who disagree on just about everything.
Nothing has changed for them here except their surroundings as a group of elderly English folk travel to Jaipur, lured by an ad that promises a “luxury development for residents in their golden years” that turns out to be a dilapidated old hotel run by a young man, Sonny (Dev Patel), who has big dreams and no money for this place he inherited from his father. Each of them has a reason for making the journey, which, of course, serves as a metaphor for finding renewed purpose, and, yes, happiness at a certain age.
Judi Dench plays Evelyn, a recent widow who must sell her home to pay off her husband’s debts she knew nothing about. Bill Nighy and Wilton are an unhappily married couple who have depleted their retirement account to fund their daughter’s Internet start up — an investment that has yet to pay out. Maggie Smith is along in need of a hip replacement she can get faster in India rather than wait six months in England. And Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup play a cougar and an aging ladies man, each looking for their next romance in a new setting.
Directed by John Madden (“Shakespeare in Love”), the colorful setting in India is a beautiful backdrop for the multiple storyline. Of the group, perhaps the most poignant is Tom Wilkinson’s character, Graham, a barrister who has returned to India to correct a wrong he committed long ago. Based on Debra Moggach’s novel “These Foolish Things,” with a screenplay by Ol Parker, this is predictable in many ways – but not all – and is elevated by some outstanding performances. (Playing in Houston theaters.)