Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Grand Budapest Hotel review; A Wes Anderson Triumph

FULL DISCLOSURE... I am not a fan of Wes Anderson films.  I'm not.  I simply do not understand his sense of humor, or have any interest in the subject matter explored in his films.  But... BUT.. The Grand Budapest Hotel was an absolute delight!  Let me tell you more about it.

What I liked about the film:
The Acting
The star of this show is Ralph Fiennes.  He is so good in this movie!  He plays a concierge in the film, and is such a unique character.  Charming, deceiving, witty, demeaning, smart, blundering.  Contradictory traits I know, but the Fiennes character embodies of all them.  I loved what he was able to do with the character of Gustave.  I truly believe, that in any other year, Fiennes would have been nominated for Oscar for his performance in this film.  The field is just too crowded this year.

As I mentioned above, there are a slew of a-list actors in supporting roles.  For the sake of time, and because I'm incredibly tired right now, I'll be brief.  Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe and Harvey Keitel play characters unlike anything I've ever seen them do before.  Jeff Goldblum and Jude Law make the most of their bit parts, as do Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman and Tom Wilkinson.  What an all star cast!

The Writing (The Dialogue/Story) 
The film is smart, it's fast, and it's witty.  Wes Anderson wrote the script and it really is different from his other films.  I know I keep saying that like it's a good thing, and I mean it to be!  I love how how the film reminds us of a much more elegant time.  The 1930's are brought to life with some great language spoken onscreen by some very interesting characters.  

The story is also a great part of the writing.  It's unique, it's different, and it's not like any of the other films nominated for a Best Picture Oscar this year.  When I started the movie, I had no idea it would feature a quasi-heist story.  And it juuuuust teeters on the side of weird.  

The Set Design
Adam Stockhausen's production design in the film is spot on.  His work was recognized by the Academy Awards last year, for his work on 12 Years a Slave, and again this year for 'Budapest Hotel'.  The 1930's is brought to life in what could easily be mistaken for a Broadway production.  Anderson and Stockhausen fool us into believing the movie is of a much larger scale that it really is.  In a matter of seconds, we see numerous sets flash before our eyes, as if the actors were running in front of a green screen.  This was one of my favorite aspects of the film.   

The Pacing
The movie is fast and swift, and doesn't waste any time with 'filler' scenes.  Every bit of information is important to the story, and we don't have time to get bored.  

What I didn't like about the film:
The Comedy
For as smart and witty as the movie is, the comedy doesn't hit every note.  Yes, it's meant to be dry and deadpan, but it felt like a sketch comedy at times.  This goes back to the multiple set pieces during a chase scene if you will.  It felt like a Saturday Night Live sketch at times.  Not really even a bad thing, so much as me being picky.  

The Verdict:
A Wes Anderson Triumph
I have to give credit to Wes Anderson.  He wrote and directed such a unique and interesting film.  I like that it is receiving Oscar nominations, but doubt it will pull off any upsets in the major categories.  I don't want to be cynical though, I really think the movie is great.  Fiennes' performance is so damn underrated, and that's too bad.  The movie is different in so many ways, and that can be refreshing when all I do is complain about Hollywood's lack of creativity.  I highly recommend you stream the film, as soon as you can!

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