The Grand Budapest Hotel
Tonight I finally saw The Grand Budapest Hotel, at a lovely old theater a few blocks from my new home. I tend to love Wes Anderson movies, and still vividly remember the first time I saw my first one- The Royal Tenenbaums, crammed into an NYU dorm room with fellow interns, knowing by the opening credits that I loved it.
I'm going to give some impressions of the movie, so if you do not want anything spoiled, you may want to skip the rest of this post!
As usual, Wes Anderson has created a beautifully stylized world filled with amazing actors. I knew nothing about the film going in, other than Ralph FIennes was in it, and that I could probably expect the familiar Anderson crew. Surely enough, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, and Willem Dafoe all make appearances, some more memorable than others. Defoe once again manages to seem otherworldly, gaunt, and menacing as hell. Not only is this a talented bunch that Anderson recycles, but the fact that they continue to work together makes me appreciate them even more- while I can only imagine, it seems as though they have found themselves a little acting family that meets up every few years to bring us something sweet and funny and fresh.
But the real star of the film is Ralph Fiennes, as the suave concierge Gustave H who oversees everything at the hotel. Dressed in a dapper uniform, he is overly verbose, overly formal, overly cologned, a demanding boss, and sleeping with lots of rich old ladies. One of them (an incredibly made-up Tilda Swinton) kicks the bucket and the concierge and his "Lobby Boy" Zero end up mixed into a plot of murder accusations, art theft, and beautiful pastry salvation.
It's been a while since I've watched the older movies, but this one seemed a bit darker. Sure, there's the usual trademark animal harm, but with several of the characters being either criminals or creeps, things get a little bloody. There's even a war going on, with Nazi-like soldiers lurking about, who eventually begin shooting across the hotel en masse, with no idea what they're shooting at. It's a funny scene, but also a statement on the irrational nature of violence.
Overall, I really enjoyed the film and the performances within. If you can still catch it at your local cheap theater, it's one to see on the big screen, where you can really appreciate all of the carefully designed sets and costumes.