Dr. Donna Copeland’s
Ralph Fiennes Tony Revolri Saoirse Ronan Edward Nortnon Tilda Swinton Jude Law
Bill Murray Owen Wilson Adrien Brody Willem Dafoe Jeff Goldblum F. Murray Abraham Tom Wilkinson Harvey Keitel Jason Schwartzman Bob Balaban Lea Seydoux
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
There should never be any confusion about which films are by Wes Anderson. He is an auteur in every meaning of the word, as he has carved out a specific niche for his own distinctive creativity. Like a painter who reinvented brush strokes or a vocal artist with a special sound, Wes Anderson’s films are uniquely his own. He isn’t simply limited to the wildly imaginative characters with his favorite actors playing them, nor is his work simply distinctive because of the brilliant screenplays he delivers; a Wes Anderson film is most identifiable by its look, feel and appearance. Like the submarine world of Life Aquatic, the train travels of Darjeeling Limited or the remote and foggy island of Moonrise Kingdom, Grand Budapest Hotel has its own storybook quality with intricate moving pieces, fascinating people and delicious theatricality.
A young writer (Law) is eager to understand how the elderly Grand Budapest Hotel owner, Mr. Moustafa(Abraham), came to be in charge of the mountaintop retreat--and so the story begins… The original concierge M. Gustave (Fiennes) hired a young Zero Moustafa (Revolri) as a lobby boy, but their adventures together would make them more like brothers. Known for his amazing attention to detail and service, especially to elderly, rich blonde women, Gustave becomes embroiled in a family inheritance war when one of his patrons, Madame D. (Swinton), passes away. She wills him her most priceless position, and the ruthless family refuses to honor her wishes.
Wes Anderson, a Houston-Texas native, isn’t afraid of color; in fact, it’s used in vibrant accentuation with most of his films. He uses a dedicated color pattern for each large set, which almost always has its own duplicate miniature. The hotel’s exterior is light pink, the modern day lobby is groovy orange, the spa completely blue, the elevators a heightened red, and so on. The obvious miniatures (smaller versions of big sets like the hotel, ski lifts, etc) are also highly detailed, but the way the camera focuses on them reinforce the storybook idea, complete with chapters. His attention to detail is also extraordinary, and never has that been more apparent than in the makeup design for Oscar winner Tilda Swinton, who plays an 84-year old.
Each of Anderson’s stories/tales/films deliver adventures with interesting characters moving through them. Fiennes is working with Anderson for the first time and is given a surprising chance to be extremely funny; he excels in every scene with short, precise remarks and quips. Most of the actors Anderson has worked with in the past appear in small cameo scenes, which only makes the production seem more expansive, having prestigious names in roles with little to no dialogue. The film's greatest moments are certainly within the confines of the hotel and the lesser ones when our lead is imprisoned. If there is one thing Anderson’s films lack, it’s emotion, but everything else nearly makes up for it.
Final Thought – A delicious, pop-up storybook adventure.
By: Dustin Chase
Wes Anderson is a master at creating imaginative fantasies that keep the viewer transfixed, even while chuckling. So many of the frames and even some sentences can almost be a work of art by themselves. I see The Grand Budapest Hotel as an almost perfect work that could be used as a model for film students. The conception of the story does have characteristic elements of Anderson’s films—chases, humorous predicaments, colorful characters, and chapter titles, for instance—and in this film he adds murder and intrigue. A host of actors are well cast and skillful in their roles, and the music by Alexandre Desplat brings out the emotional experience of every scene. Robert D. Yeoman is on board as, I think, Anderson’s favorite cinematographer, who captures breathtaking landscapes and sumptuous palaces, right along with prisons and sewer systems.
The hotel’s eccentric concierge, M. Gustave (Ralphe Fiennes), a key figure in the story, is most proper and follows grand hotel protocol to the letter; but he is also kind, and loves the ladies, no matter how old they are. After a stiff interview, he takes young Zero (Tony Revolori)), the Lobby Boy, under his wing, and when the boy is put in danger when they’re on the run, he rewards him handsomely. For M. Gustave has been accused of murder and even has to spend some time in prison.
This is one of Fiennes’ best performances, which calls for him to be not only proper, but flirtatious, charming, resourceful, and able to fight off the bad guy. Another outstanding performance is that of Tilda Swinton’s; her usual attractiveness is almost totally disguised as a very old woman with sagging skin and claw-like hands. Even the movement of her hands and facial muscles are used to help her achieve the effect. There are too many other actors to go into detail, but the whole ensemble works seamlessly for the success of this fine action-oriented fun movie.
Grade: A By: Donna R. Copeland