Thursday, January 29, 2015

Advice: Check In to The Grand Budapest Hotel

In 2012, I ranked my favorite 6 Wes Anderson-directed movies, and it presented an argument for the quirkmeister being one of the world's very finest.

Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom, The Royal Tennenbaums, Bottle Rocket, and The Darjeeling Limited, in that order.

Now, along comes The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is deserving of its Academy nomination for best movie, but that may only be because the out-of-touch Academy voters have been so woefully behind on recognizing him. Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom, his last two, were nominated for best animated film and best screenplay respectively. But there was nothing before that.

The Grand Budapest Hotel falls in at #6 for me, not quite as good as Darjeeling, but quite a bit better than his arguable misstep The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

The cinematography alone makes it worth watching. Shot on locating entirely in Germany, there are also model-scale shots of the hotel, which add to many frames looking like great art pieces.

Jude Law plays a young author who stumbles into an interview of the elderly owner of the hotel, played by F. Murray Abraham. The movie is mostly a flashback to when the owner, named Zero, was just beginning a job as the "lobby boy" at the hotel. He is taken under the wing of Monsieur Gustave, who is played with brilliant nastiness, pompousness, and a desire for very old women by Ralph Fiennes (certainly among his finest moments, which is saying a lot).

When a royal old woman, played by Tilda Swinton, leaves Gustave a valuable painting named "Boy with Apple" in her will, her son (Adrien Brody) is enraged, setting off a Keystone Cops-like chase. Gustave and Zero get arrested and are sent to prison, where they plan an escape with Harvey Keitel, but then must avoid Adrien Brody's hitman, played by Willem Dafoe, which they do with a little help from a mafia of hotel owners seemingly led by Bill Murray.

Gustave and Zero make it through these adventures, and the movie then reveals how they came to their eventual demises, with the benefit that Jude Law's story of the wild history of this hotel's employees does indeed live on.

**** out of ***** stars


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