Cineast Movie Previews: ‘Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,’ ‘Unfinished Business,’ ‘ Merchants of Doubt’

"Unfinished Business"
"Unfinished Business"

This week, Cineast offers previews of the new movies The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Unfinished Business, and Merchants of Doubt.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

It’s been a while since they finished making those Harry Potter films, and so it’s good that The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has arrived to allow us to visit with a few grande dames of British cinema again. Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, to be specific, not populating a school for witchcraft but rather a place called the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a sort of resort/rest home located in India. And, though they’re not practicing magic per se, the characters played by these two aging actresses are after bewitching an eligible widower or two before they check out for good. They have plenty to choose from, too, including a silver-haired hottie played by Richard Gere. As the hotel fills with happy guests, there’s a space crunch. The solution? Open the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel! The ribbon cutting of the new location provides an opportunity for a couple of colorful Bollywood-style musical numbers.

Unfinished Business

After some early motor-mouth roles, Vince Vaughn has settled into the goofy Chevy Chase characters—you know, those lazy, unprepared guys who get laughs by bluffing their way through a series of disasters and by comically overestimating their own abilities and charm. In Unfinished Business, Vaughn plays Dan Trunkman, a businessman who leaves his employer after an undeserved demotion (his boss is a steely blonde played by Sienna Miller), starts his own small firm and lands a deal in Germany—only to find himself in competition with his old boss. This is all, of course, just an excuse to turn Vaughn’s goofball humor loose on the subjects of business, gender politics, and the oddities of German culture. Also starring Tom Wilkinson and Dave Franco.

Merchants of Doubt

Ever wonder who those “experts” are that come on TV and radio to argue that global warming isn’t real, to refute the dangers of pesticides, or to defend the energy industry? The documentary Merchants of Doubt will take you behind the scenes to meet with several of this type of pundit, who are not scientists but rather paid spokespeople. When news programs want to talk about these touchy subjects and provide some kind of balance, they will often pit a scientist offering a complex set of data against one of these telegenic talkers whose sole expertise turns out to be in smoothly obscuring the truth. There really aren’t that many out there, as it turns out—and the filmmakers have managed quite a coup in getting a few of them to reveal; their trade secrets on camera. One can only imagine that their corporate employers are not looking kindly upon their revealing the truth.

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