This is Wes.
He makes movies.
And he’s made a new one. His eighth in fact.
It’s called The Grand Budapest Hotel….
So why not come with us and take a peek behind the hotel curtain at this new motion picture, with our resident film fool, Christopher A Edmed.
PART1: THE REVIEW
Chris sits alone as he types, adorned in a fluffy blue dressing gown. An old Kinks album playing in the background. He looks up at the camera and speaks…
CHRIS: Welcome to The Grand Budapest Hotel, a film directed by Wes Anderson, a director who seems to polarise audiences, critics and magnets across our great land. Only the other day I asked someone what they thought of The Life Aquatic and they spat in my face. This most certainly is not true but I did read a tweet from Camilla Long from The Times in which she quipped that ‘Wes Anderson has made his film again’ which must tells us something about his idiosyncratic film-making I guess.
Anderson definitely has a distinct directing style, a style that could be irreverently described (by me) as being faster and quirkier than Zooey Deschanel roller skating downhill while playing a banjo.
The film seems to star every actor in Hollywood, with obligatory cameos from Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Harvey Kietel (with the roundest head you’ve ever seen) Boris Becker, Dolly Parton and Maureen from Driving School.
Our main character however is Gustave H, the concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel played like a reformed panto villain by a brilliant Ralph Fiennes. A stoic authority figure with a penchant for poetry and pensioners. Bumbling his way through the story as familiar faces pop in and out like a revolving door at an awards festival toilet.
The actual story itself is of little consequence as at times it doesn’t seem to have a clue itself where it’s going, and is all the more fun for it. Needless to say all the disparate solitary oddballs who populate the hotel come together on a madcap adventure, a lighthearted romp across the mountains of Zubrowka (a mythical old republic on the brink of war). In a landscape that’s lovingly hand drawn, cut out and arranged to make every shot feel like its been tailor-made just for you. Like an unexpected handmade gift from a friend.
From the opening, the timeline jumps around all over the place like Tigger on a space hopper. We start in 1985, whiz back to the 60’s then to the 30’s, like time-travelling Russian dolls, revealing stories within stories within stories. Giving the feeling that this is just one story out of hundreds, of thousands that Anderson could have revealed to us with the slightest change in direction of his camera.
It reminds me of the opening of another Wes Anderson film, The Darjeeling Limited, which kicks off with Bill Murray chasing a train and is overtaken by other actors who catch the train and become the central characters of the story, it just so happens that in this film, the story settles on this one particular pink hotel.
Anderson presents us with a visual feast of vivid colours and even more vivid characters that leap off the screen. No role is insignificant, side characters drip with detail, a clubbed foot, knuckle dusters, a really round bald head. No part of the frame is wasted. Scenes are filled with such rich detail that the energy that must have gone into creating it even left me exhausted.
Anderson’s influence is sewn into every colourful fibre of costume and every word in the script. Gustave’s dialogue for example is peppered with sudden profanity including great comedic lines like ‘I’ve never seen her like that before, she was shaking like a shitting dog.’
This combination of great dialogue, stunning visuals, swooping cameras and fast edits, add up to a master class in modern film-making. Resulting in the audience being swept away to a foreign land, lost in a story that feels like a lucid dream, never knowing what tangent it might spin off on next. As Anderson continues to prove that being quirky doesn’t have to mean being irksome.
Chris stops talking and tightens his dressing gown as he gets up to go for a much needed piss. Just as Bill Murray passes by the window.
PART 2: THE RATING
14 Mendl cakes out of 18
This is one of the best websites for a film that I’ve ever seen, cleverly evoking the mood and style of the movie:
A lesson on ‘How to be Quirky’ with Zooey Deschanel:
Strangers by The Kinks: