I must admit I am party to a few cinematic sins. One of the most grievous of these is my general disdain for certain directors such as Quentin Tarantino and to a lesser degree the Coen brothers. But chief among my hatreds is that for Wes Anderson. I think he’s campy and twee and awful. Yes I know it’s intentional but I also don’t think the films are good enough without these devices to be worth my time. So when it came time to do a Wes Anderson review there is nearly no way I could be objective.
Luckily for you the blogger over at lowercasecapitalist makes a passionate but fair case for one of his most recent films The Grand Budapest Hotel. So read ahead and enjoy… if you like that sort of thing.
I must say I find that girl utterly delightful. Flat as a board, enormous birthmark in the shape of Mexico over half her face, sweating for hours on end in that sweltering kitchen while Mendl (genius though he is) looms over her like a hulking gorilla - yet without question, without fail, always, and invariably: she’s exceedingly lovely. Why? Because of her purity.- Ralph Fiennes
Movie Review 3: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
I’ve heard that Wes Anderson has a niche direction when it comes to films, satisfying his audience with idiosyncrasies and mannerisms only conventional to his filmography. Irrefutably, The Grand Budapest hotel is nothing but eye candy in its highest form. While other films concentrate on CGI, cinematography or picking the right actors for chemistry, Wes Anderson seemingly throws together the seemingly random combination of well known actors and enriches our vision with color and style through production elements.
The Grand Budapest Hotel mostly takes place in 1932, entailing the misadventures of M. Gustave, a well-established eccentric caretaker of the hotel, and his accomplice Zero Moustafa, a newly-employed Lobby Boy. After M. Gustave becomes entwined with the will of a deceased lover, the two character devise plots and plans to sell a priceless, escape from jail and live lavishly. Of course, nothing seems to go exactly to plan.
The rich purple colors of the Budapest Hotel employees are important to this eccentricity, especially of Ralph Fiennes’ bravado of elongated monologues and bursts of physical energy, juxtaposing periodic moments of stillness. Part of the cliche of Wes Anderson’s films, many lines are said deadpan and in quick succession, maintaining intensity and inert quirkiness of the film. The only downfall to these conventions is the deconstruction of reality in side characters. Although the film is anything but realism, characters like Edward Norton felt like a prop for these conventions, for instance when Ed is sticking out of the ground in a perfectly symmetrical shot, pointing at his officers and giving instructions. You can tell its Anderson’s little niche because it stands out like a sore thumb.
The editing is something that should be considered as genius. Maintain consistent inconsistency themes, the aspect ratio changes throughout the film from widescreen to narrower, historic ratios like 4:3. This helps the audience acknowledge the varying non-linear time shifts. Shots are well chosen, each individually nothing like I have seen in movies other than Wes Anderson. Consistent symmetric full shots of houses are incredibly noticeable and you begin to adapt to this consistency until it annoys you at the end that a painting is slightly askew. Pan shots are used selectively, often after a period of unnerving stillness but only to show the characters at hand have left the room or pursued the chase.
The dialogue is rich and corny. From the repeated lines of the priests to the indulgence of poetry from Fiennes’ character to the quick paced wit. Fiennes stands out indefinitely as the self-deprecating, arrogant M. Gustave. The romance bits are adorable and aesthetically small in nature, not taking away from the actual premise and quality of the film. Uniquely, there wasn’t a lot of overindulgence in human connection such as kissing or hugging, excluding the cinema scene, each character their own individual cinematic portraiture. Anderson spotlights characters actions and intentions rather than placing emphasis on groups or couples.
An extra mention must be made to the Mendl cakes, the complexity in construction demonstrated in the DVD extras. Saoirse Ronan admitted that making the hotel’s signature confection (the Courtisane au Chocolat) wasn’t easy stating “Forget the action scenes in Hanna (2011), these little pastries were the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a movie.”
All in all, even if you aren’t completely taken away by production elements, obscure filming techniques and director cliches, you will be humored and satisfied with The Grand Budapest Hotel. This stylized, comedic tale will cause sporadical laughter and unintentional grinning from the array of performances and quick witted dialogue.