Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Randi Reviews the Oscars: The Grand Budapest Hotel

The very name Wes Anderson conjures up images of opulence: crazy miniature sets, witty and dry humor, symmetrical shots, maybe a Bill Murray cameo. For some people, it sticks. For others, not so much. I've always been a fan of Anderson's whimsical story telling (The Darjeeling Limited is one of my absolute favorite movies), but The Grand Budapest Hotel is the best blend of all of these signature ingredients, coming together to make a film that is deliciously and deliriously great.

Ralph Fiennes is at his best as the decadent and hilarious hotel concierge M. Gustave. He's like James Bond if Bond had any manners. Hilarious and just a little heartbreaking. You can usually find Fiennes playing villains or at least morally gray characters, so seeing that he does indeed posses excellent comedic timing and a pitch perfect sense of ridiculousness makes the performance that much more awesome.

The cast around Fiennes is just as amazing. Tony Revellori as Zero the lobby boy and F. Murray Abraham as Zero's older self are both fantastic. Tony plays straight man to Fiennes whacky concierge, while also lending that note of sadness and seriousness to the story. Saorise Ronan as Agatha, Zero's love interest, is as always great. I'd love to see her do a more major role in an Anderson film. Jude Law as our narrator is great in a mostly only speaking role. As with many Anderson films, the very very minor characters make it great too. It's good to see Jason Schwartzman, the expected Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton (in old lady make-up nonetheless), Edward Norton, and many others, obviously having fun.

It's a good old fashioned caper movie that in any other hands would probably not have been not nearly as good. The amazing set design, full of bright colors and eye popping intricacy is even better than what one has come to expect from Mr. Anderson. Alexendre Desplat's score, full of jangling strings and weird yodeling, is one of his best.

It's clear that everyone involved in this movie really loved it, from behind the camera to those in front of it. And that's what makes the Grand Budapest Hotel so great, is that it is unapologetic in its silliness and its clear that it was a labor of love. It's a candy coated escapsim with just enough below the surface to not come off as shallow.  I adored it.


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