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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)


This type of nonsense would never occur at a Motel 6! That’s for certain!

In 1968, a writer (Jude Law), staying at a beaten-up, run-down hotel called “the Grand Budapest Hotel” meets millionaire Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), who apparently has a lot to do with the history of this hotel – the same type of history not many people actually know the exact story to. Together, the two decide to meet-up, have dinner and allow for Moustafa to tell his story and why he is the way he is nowadays. The story goes a little something like this: Back in 1932, young Zero (Tony Revolori) was hired as a Lobby Boy at the hotel, where he eventually became concierge Gustave H.’s (Ralph Fiennes) second-hand-in-command. Gustave, for lack of a better term, is Zero’s role-model and he’s a pretty darn good one at that: Not only does he treat his guests with love, affection and respect, but he even gives them a little “something” more in private. And apparently, he treats one guest of his, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), so well, that he’s apparently the owner of one of her prized-possessions, the same prized possession that her bratty son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) won’t let him have. But you can’t tell Gustave “no”, when he knows what is rightfully his, so therefore, he takes it, which leads onto all sorts of other crazy, wacky and sometimes deadly, hijinx.

So yeah, for the past week, I’ve been kicking ass and taking names with all of these Wes Anderson movies, and if there is one thing that I myself (as well as most of you) have learned about, is that I really do love his movies. I mean, yeah, I knew Wes Anderson has always been a favorite of mine, but what really surprised me with this past week is that not only have I been watching and taking note of how his style changes over time (or in some cases, doesn’t), but also, how he’s grown as a film maker and decided to get a whole lot more ambitious.

Did the elevator really have to be THAT red? You know what, never mind!

Okay, but on a serious note: Did the elevator really have to be THAT red? You know what, never mind!

And I don’t mean “ambitious” in the form that his movies are a whole lot bigger or more ensemble-driven, but more that they tackle on so many different-threads of meaning, rather than just being all about family-issues amongst a group of dysfunctional, troubled-characters. Don’t get me wrong, I usually love those said “family-issues”, but even I know when it’s time to move on, start trying something new and most of all, stretching yourself as a writer, director and overall creator.

Thankfully, not just for me, or you, or even Wes Anderson, but for all of us: Wes has finally shown us that he’s ready to take a swan-dive out of his comfort-zone and shock us with something that he’s almost never done before.

Key word being “almost”. More on that later, though.

First things first, I feel as if I am going to talk about any notable, positive aspect of this movie, it’s going to be the overall-style. Now, I think we’ve all known Anderson to be a bit of an eye-catcher with the way he has his flicks so colorful and bright, that you almost practically go blind because of them; but this, he truly has out-done himself. Since most of where this story takes place is made-up inside that creative little noggin of his, Anderson is practically given free-reign to just ran rampant with his imagination, where every set looks as if it was taken-out of an historic, field-trip brochure, dibbled and dabbled with some pretty colors, and thrown right behind everything that happens here. In some cases, that would usually take away from a film and be just another case of a director getting too “artsy fartsy”, but due to how crazy and rumpus most of this story is, it actually helps blend these characters in to their surroundings, as well as make this world we are watching seem like a believable one, even if they are so clearly made-up.

Which is why this is probably Anderson’s most exciting movie to-date. Of course though, Anderson’s other movies like Rushmore and even Bottle Rocket had an hectic-feel to them, but they were done so in a type of small, contained and dramatic-way – here, the movie is all about the vast, never ending canvas surrounding each and every one of these characters, and just how far it can be stretched-out for. So while those other movies of Anderson’s may have had a sense of adventure where a character would want to get out of the house, only to go running around in the streets, here, you have a bunch of characters who not only want to get out of their household, or wherever the hell they may be staying at, and get out there in the world where anything is possible. They could either go running, jogging, skiing, sight-seeing, train-riding, bicycle-hopping, parachuting, and etc. Anywhere they want to go, by any mode of transportation whatsoever, they are able to and it gives us this idea that we are not only inside the mind of Anderson and all of his play-things, but we are also stuck inside of his world, where joy and happiness is all around.

Though, there definitely are some dark elements to this story that do show up, in some awkward ways as well, the story never feels like it is too heavy on one aspect that could bring the whole movie crashing down. Instead, Anderson whisks, speeds through and jumps by everything, giving us the feeling that this is a ride that’s never going to end, nor do we want to end; we’re just too busy and pleased to be enjoying the scenery, as well as all of the fine, and nifty characters that happen to go along with it.

And with this ensemble, you couldn’t ask for anybody better! Ralph Fiennes isn’t just an interesting choice for the character of Gustave, but he’s also an interesting choice to play the lead in a Wes Anderson movie. We all know and love Fiennes for being able to class it up in anywhere he shows his charmingly handsome face, but the verdict is still out there on the guy as to whether or not he can actually be, well, “funny”. Sure, the dude was downright hilarious in In Bruges, but being that he had a dynamite-script to work with and was one out of three other main-characters, did the dude have much of a choice? Not really, but that’s besides the point!

What is the point, is that I was a little weary of Fiennes in a Wes Anderson movie, where most of the time, comedy and drama go side-by-side and would need all of the best talents to make that mixture look and feel cohesive. Thankfully, Fiennes not only proves that he’s able to make any kind of silly-dialogue the least bit “respectable”, but that he’s also able to switch his comedy-timing on and off, giving us a character we not only love and adore every time he’s up on the screen, but wish we saw more of. Because, without giving too much away, there are brief snippets of time where we don’t get to always be in the company of Gustave, and when those passages in time happen, they do take away from the movie.

No Luke?!?! Fine! I guess this chump'll do!

No Luke?!?! Fine! I guess this chump’ll do!

It isn’t that nobody else in this movie is capable enough of handling the screen all to themselves, but it’s so clear, early on, that Anderson clearly beholds this character as much as we do, and we can’t help but follow suit and wish to see him all of the time. Most of that’s because of Anderson’s witty and snappy dialogue that’s given to Fiennes to work with, but most of that is also because Fiennes is such a charismatic-presence that the fact of him actually making me, or anybody laugh, is enough to make you want to see a biopic made about him, and him alone.

But, like I was saying before, the rest of the ensemble is fine, it’s just that Fiennes was clearly meant to be the star of the show and plays it as such. Newcomer Tony Revolori feels like a perfect-fit for Anderson’s deadpan, sometimes outrageous brand of humor that’s practically winking at itself. What’s also worth praising a hell of a whole lot about Revolori is how he more than holds his own when he’s stacked-up against certain presences that aren’t just Fiennes (although the two make for a wonderful duo that they are another reason why it sucks whenever Gustave isn’t around). All of these other familiar faces that pop-up like Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson, and Saoirse Ronan, and even Jeff fuckin’ Goldblum are all great, but surprisingly, Revolori doesn’t get over-shadowed and keeps the heart and soul of the story clearly alongside with him, as it was intended to be. And yes, even though that heart may not be the most richest, most powerfully emotional we’ve ever seen Anderson bring to the screen before, it’s still the same kind of heart that has go along with Anderson on any ride he takes us, all because we know that, at the end, it’s all going to be totally worth it.

That, and also, that we’ll have something new to recommend to our white friends.

Consensus: The Grand Budapest Hotel is definitely Wes Anderson’s most ambitious work to-date, meaning that we get plenty of laughs, jumps, thrills, some chills, heart and enough familiar, talented-faces working with some wacky, but fun material from one of our finest writers/directors working today.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

All in the 'stache, ladies. All in the 'stache.

All in the ‘stache, ladies. All in the ‘stache.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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33 responses to “The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

  1. devnicsmith March 7, 2014 at 5:26 am

    I can’t wait to see this! Definitely one of my most anticipated films of the year. Your review got me even more stoked.

  2. caragale March 7, 2014 at 5:26 am

    Nice review, Dan! I might have to give this one a shot. Anderson is kind of hit or miss with me. Sometimes I think he’s brilliant, sometimes I think he’s trying too hard to be all hip and indie and it shows. But I’ve been curious about this, so we’ll see. And yeah–WOW that elevator. Hurts my eyes a little…

    • CMrok93 March 7, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      He’s either lovable and absolutely charming, or absolutely reprehensible and annoying. Here, he’s actually quite fine. It just doesn’t add to much.

  3. jjames36 March 7, 2014 at 5:39 am

    Thrilled to read you liked it so much. I hope I do the same. ;-)

  4. reviewedbymarkleonard March 7, 2014 at 6:12 am

    So jealous that you’ve seen this already, Dan! It looks wonderful. I’m a HUGE Anderson fan, and I adored “Moonrise Kingdom”, especially. I can hardly stand the wait for a theater to show his latest near me! ML

  5. Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop March 7, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Nicely done Dan. Off to see this today and really looking forward to it!

  6. Nostra March 7, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Nice to see you enjoyed this one as well. Thought it was a great film as well

  7. thycriticman March 7, 2014 at 8:23 am

    I am dying to see this, but will not be able to go watch it until some-point during next week. Went to 300 today since the buds were down for it, but I am going to have to wait for the girlfriend to come with me to this one. Not many mainstream folks or dudes our age really know about Wes Anderson, or appreciate his quirky style over here. Glad it scored high in your books, and I am sure that my eventual reaction will be very similar!

  8. thomasjford March 7, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Glad you liked this Dan, being a massive Wes Anderson fan I can’t wait to see it myself. Having a new child three weeks ago might have put paid to that though. We will see.

    Nice review mate.

  9. Zoë March 7, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Excellent review Dan! Hearing a lot of good things, seems you are a believer too, should check it out.

  10. Brittani March 7, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Great review! My theater is opening this in April, I can’t wait.

  11. vinnieh March 7, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Great review, I’m looking forward to seeing this movie.

  12. Jane March 7, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    I was so looking forward to seeing it this weekend, and now I see that it has a limited release and doesn’t open in Philly until next week! I’m bummed!!

    Great review though.

  13. Three Rows Back March 7, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Pleased as punch you like this Dan. Looking forward to seeing this, hopefully this weekend.

  14. ruth March 7, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Bummer I can’t post my review until Mpls opening date next weekend but I enjoyed this a lot, I might have a similar grade as yours, Dan.

  15. ckckred March 8, 2014 at 12:27 am

    I’m a big fan of Wes Anderson and can’t wait to see this. Nice review.

  16. Tom March 8, 2014 at 12:40 am

    Argh, I have to wait longer for this to come here, but I can’t wait! Your review definitely doesn’t make the wait easier! haha

  17. Writer Loves Movies March 8, 2014 at 7:43 am

    I’m bookmarking this review until I’ve seen the movie but I like your score! Can’t wait! :-)

  18. yyanchev March 8, 2014 at 8:25 am

    I hope that I have the time to watch this once it hits out theaters. I’m pretty much excited to watch it.

    P.S. Just saw your Daft Punk hug at FB, you can check out my latest post about them here: http://yyanchev.com/2014/03/05/da-funk/ :D

  19. Lucien March 9, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    This was my Most Anticipated Film of the Year, and I won’t say I was disappointed, but I certainly wasn’t overwhelmed. Tenenbuams and Moonrise Kingdom are, in my opinion, near-perfect classics, and whilst this was a lot of fun and better than anything i’ve seen in ages, it wasn’t on par with those films. You can read my review at http://buzzhub.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/hotel/

  20. Tim The Film Guy March 9, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Looks good and I always enjoy a bit of Anderson :D

  21. Courtney Young March 10, 2014 at 2:46 am

    Great review! I’ve never been a huge Anderson fan, but I enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom, so I’m gonna check this one out. Plus, his movies are always so beautiful to watch…

  22. Mark Hobin March 16, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Wes Anderson has a way of beautifully composing a scene so that it is cinematically perfect. I loved the look of the film. The story is a bit twisty with all the flashbacks in the begging. It’s a story within a story within a story within a story, but that’s part of its charm.

  23. Pingback: » Movie Review – Grand Budapest Hotel, The Fernby Films

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