Tag Archives: wes anderson

Film Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

the-grand-budapest-hotel

An author recounts the tale of Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), devoted concierge of The Grand Budapest Hotel and his lobby boy Zero Moustafa (Toni Revolori). When Gustave is left a priceless painting by the deceased Madame D (Tilda Swinton), he and Zero must go to extraordinary lengths to keep it out of the clutches of her son Dmitri (Adrien Brody).

Many directors can be considered auteurs, but few boast such a distinctive style as Wes Anderson. Even the most casual cinephile can pick out one of his films from 100 paces, and we’ve even got to the stage where films are described as ‘Wes Anderson-esque’. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that The Grand Budapest Hotel is Wes Anderson’s most Wes Anderson-esque film to date.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a matryoshka of a film, a story wrapped within a story, wrapped within another story, and this is just the start of its curiosities. We begin with a girl looking at a statue of an author and holding a copy of a book entitled ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. We then briefly see the author (played by Tom Wilkinson) before cutting to a younger version of him (played this time by Jude Law) who is speaking to a man about how he came to own our titular hotel. Clear? Good.

And it’s at that juncture that Wes Anderson is unleashed, as if the author of the book has employed the director to tell his tale. From that point on it’s a full frontal assault on the senses that rarely lets up for a moment. Anderson’s signature style has never been more pronounced; the colour palette is deliciously vintage and every shot is meticulously framed within an inch of its life.

The abundance of static camera shots gives the impression we’re at times watching a play, whilst some of the stylised scenery harks right back to the birth of cinema with Georges Melies’ A Trip to the Moon. There’s also a nice bit of fun had with the screen ratios representing the different eras in which the film is set.

But it’s not all style; there’s plenty of substance to back it up. The script is razor sharp, dripping with dry humour and delivered brilliantly by the unbelievable cast (which includes among others Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, Owen Wilson, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel and Willem Dafoe). Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave, the frantically camp hotel concierge, is wonderful as he rattles off his lines in quick-fire fashion and displays a genuine affection for lobby boy Zero.

As you’ve probably gathered, The Grand Budapest Hotel is somewhat on the bonkers side, perhaps too much so at times. With so much going on so quickly and with so many characters popping up here, there and everywhere, it can be a little tricky to follow what’s going on, although it’s so much fun that this shouldn’t present too much of a problem.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a madcap caper of the highest order, a picturebook playground examining what’s so wonderful about cinema and presenting it in a truly wonderful explosion of action and colour.

No-one does Wes Anderson quite like Wes Anderson.

Pros

  • Wes Anderson’s distinctive style as pronounced as ever
  • Genuinely funny script
  • Ralph Fiennes is fantastic
  • Wonderful supporting cast

Cons

  • So crazy it can sometimes be tricky to follow

4 and a half pigeons

4.5/5 pigeons

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Guest Post – The Magnificent Andersons: Paul Thomas vs Wes

Let’s be honest: 2012 has not been that good of a year for the movies.  True, the year isn’t over yet, and the end of the calendar year is typically littered with the films that studios are looking to win Oscars with.  But as of now, the year has been terribly underwhelming.  Sure The Avengers was a lot of fun, but it honestly wasn’t much better than any other Marvel Comics film.  Beasts of the Southern Wild is a solid Sundance film that got far too much hype out of that festival.  Ridley Scott’s Prometheus was good, but it was also little more than a retread of his own film from thirty years ago, Alien.  Even one of my favorite films of the year so far, The Dark Knight Rises, simply pales in comparison to its predecessor.  However, there are two films that have been released this year that stand tall among the rest.  Both were made by innovative auteurs.  Both of those auteurs made their breakthrough in the 90s.  Both auteurs have been praised for their droll sense of humor.  Both auteurs have been praised for their utilization of popular music in their films.  And oddly enough, both auteurs have the same last name.  Those auteurs are Paul Thomas Anderson and Wes Anderson, and their films are The Master and Moonrise Kingdom, respectively.

While those films may not be the absolute best films of either director’s career, they serve as reminders that the Andersons are at the forefront of American cinema.  The Master picks up where PTA left off with his 2007 masterpiece There Will Be Blood.  It’s a gorgeously filmed and expertly performed epic about the American relationship between commerce and religion.  Moonrise Kingdom is a return to live action for Wes, after his hilarious venture into Claymation with his loving adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Whereas PTA’s recent films have been bleak, Moonrise Kingdom is a touching love story about two runaway kids that highlights his eccentric humor and his stylistic quirks.

Frankly, the two directors are very far apart, at least when it comes to visual style.  And while PTA is known for injecting humor into his films, they are unmistakably dramas that touch on subjects ranging from human avarice to drug addiction (Punch-Drunk Love aside).  Wes Anderson’s films are tragicomedies, films that maintain a morose sense of humor, typically set against the backdrop of a neurotic/broken family.  So while their films are largely different, the two men have some striking similarities apart from their surname.

In 1996, both Paul Thomas and Wes released their debut features, Hard Eight and Bottle Rocket, respectively.  For Hard Eight, PTA expanded on a subplot he used in his 1993 short film Cigarettes & Coffee.  He was allowed to do this after that short became a Sundance sensation, and investors at the Sundance lab gave him enough to make a feature.  In 1994, Wes Anderson directed a short named Bottle Rocket.  Academy Award winning director James L. Brooks saw it, and found Anderson the financing to expand his short.  Both Hard Eight and Bottle Rocket were met with positive, if unspectacular reviews.  It wasn’t until their second films, Boogie Nights and Rushmore, that the filmmakers received the acclaim they are now used to.

Since then, both directors have received Academy Award nominations (although PTA has three more).  They also have both been called the next Martin Scorsese by a man that would have some authority on the matter: Martin Scorsese.  Both Paul Thomas and Wes would be the first men to admit the influence that the great Scorsese has had on them.  Boogie Nights at times feels like the collaborative film Robert Altman and Scorsese never made, while Wes frequently employs the use of Rolling Stones songs in his films (sound familiar?).  Paul Thomas is well known for his use of music in film as well.  In fact, PTA and Wes mailed each other back and forth on ideas for songs that could be used in Wes Anderson’s most iconic film The Royal Tenenbaums.  This is the only time the two are known to have collaborated.

As far as American directors are concerned, Scorsese had quite a few extraordinary directors that he could have picked from as a standard bearer for the new generation of American auteurs.  Darren Aronofsky, Alexander Payne and Quentin Tarantino would all certainly qualify.  But for many film enthusiasts, the Andersons represent the cream of the crop.

About the author: Zack Mandell is a movie enthusiast and owner of www.movieroomreviews.com and writer of movie reviews. He writes extensively about the movie industry for sites such as Gossip Center, Yahoo, NowPublic, and Helium.

If anyone would like to be featured as a Guest Post, just give me a yell!

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