The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
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Wes Anderson has a unique style that is influenced by everything he has experienced in his lifetime. He is perhaps the best example of the auteur theory. He creates films that one would only need to view a few frames of to know instantaneously who is the creator.
I would like to imagine that all of his films take place in a single universe. For this reason, he makes films that are largely adored and attractive to his audience. The Anderson-verse is one in which we would all love to live in. One full of wit and airy whimsy. People aren't overtly cruel to each other, preferring to engage in pranks and mischief in which everyone has a laugh over.
To live in The Grand Budapest is to be momentarily frozen in time. A period that only dwells in the memory and imagination of those who know of its secluded existence. For me I would like to imagine that the hotel is the mirror image of Kubrick's Overlook Hotel. Winding maze-like corridors, distinctive carpet patterns, old-world charm. Whereas the Overlook was largely vacant during our stay there, we get to see the Grand near its prime and after time mostly forgets all about it. Both hotels are reflections of the world around them as well as of each other.
The influence of the caretaker or concierge is especially obvious. With Gustave H, the Grand flourishes. A grand facade that holds up all too well to cover the cracks in the foundations. But ultimately, nothing lasts forever and change happens whether we want it to or not. The spectacle of control we try to put forth will eventually dissipate when the reality we keep at bay checks-in for a night. And once it checks-out, nothing is ever the same. The grand chandelier is a bit dimmer, the champagne a touch less bubbly, the piano not as emotive.
However, I enjoyed my stay at the Grand Budapest and I shall return soon.
Of course it isn't meaningless. If you saw no meaning, you weren't looking properly.
It's a film about looking back, about nostalgia for an earlier time, and is both supportive and critical of it. The film revels in the fun and excitement of yesteryear, miring itself in the archaic, right down to its aspect ratio. It revels in the retro, delighting in the kind of plots over stolen artwork, cartoonish villainy and madcap chases that seem lost to modern film. Even the central macguffin of the movie is a painting, a preserved snapshot of something that no longer exists.
But it's also highly critical of looking back. The elder Zero keeps the Grand Budapest open, why? Out of nostalgia, of reverence for something long gone. But is he happy? Is he fulfilled? Of course not.
So YES, the film has meaning. It has something to say, a deeper motive to it. Several, if you want to dig deeper. If you choose not to, that's your loss.
One of the nice things about watching a Wes Anderson movie is I can be pretty sure I'm going to enjoy it.
Wes puts his trademark cinematography to hard work here - every scene looks perfectly, intricately laid out. Just like I imagine The Grand Budapest would be in real life, every shot of this movie feels expensive.
Ralph Fiennes is obviously the standout in the cast - the script is well-written but he brings it to life, proving he can work well as a comedic talent. A favourite scene is . Adrian Brody is excellent too, there's not nearly enough of his character.
So yes, another fine Wes Anderson picture. He seems to be moving from cult hero to becoming genuinely famous now, which is something that can only be encouraged.
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This movie ranks #13 in iCheckMovies's 2010s Top 100
This movie ranks #18 in A.V. Club's The Best Movies of the 2010s
This movie ranks #20 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films: 1001-2500
This movie ranks #21 in BBC's The 21st Century's 100 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #27 in Reddit Top 250
This movie ranks #35 in IMDb's 2010s Top 50
This movie ranks #36 in IMDb's Comedy Top 50
This movie ranks #48 in IMDb's Adventure Top 50
This movie ranks #50 in IMDb's Crime Top 50
This movie ranks #100 in Emma Beare's 501 Must-See Movies
This movie ranks #114 in TSPDT's 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
This movie ranks #141 in Golden Globe Award - Best Motion Picture
This movie ranks #186 in IMDb's Top 250
This movie ranks #518 in Academy Award - Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #974 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #989 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
This movie ranks #1250 in The Criterion Collection