on 20 July 2014
Witty, funny, clever and engaging, and yet with an undercurrent of tragedy and loss that is achingly poignant in places. This film tells the story of the unlikely friendship between a young Lobby Boy and his mentor, the hotel concierge, played to perfection by Ralph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustav H. The story is told in multiple flashback from the present (?) to the 1930's, like peeling back the layers of an onion and centres on the story of his induction into the Grand Hotel Budapest as told by an aged Zero (the Lobby Boy) to an author in the late 1960's. He recounts his adventures with M. Gustav during the early 1930's, in a fictional eastern European republic, when the Grand Hotel, still clinging to a ghost of its turn-of-the Century heyday, is run by the almost bi-polar M. Gustav (poetry-reading Victorian prim one second, swearing like a trooper the next) who likes to see to his lady guests 'every' need, no matter how old they are.
Murder, mayhem, mystery and prison ensue, with a host of marvellous supporting actors, while M.Gustav, ably assisted by Zero, remains unflappable and downright funny to boot. Despite all the comedy, there is no fairy-tale ending. The spectre of 1930's dictatorships and war hovers at the edges of the story and the sadness and loss, not just of friends and loved ones, but of a whole way of life and 'how it used to be' in the words of the aged Zero, is palpable and very touching without detracting at all from the comedy that went before it.
A great film with great actors, that works on so many levels. Definitely one to buy and watch again.
We all know that some films are good, some are bad, and others you feel completely indifferent about. But at times something comes along that is just that extra bit special and makes you sit up and take notice, The Grand Budapest Hotel being one of these special films. With larger than life characters, a story that is slightly unreal and wonderfully set, this is a film to be relished rather than just watched whilst having a nibble.
Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave is in magnificent form as the concierge of the magnificent Grand Budapest Hotel. As he finds that a new lobby boy, Zero, has been employed, he takes him under his wing and teaches him the ropes. But this is 1932 in an Eastern European country, and things start to change with the world and its leaders. When Gustave is accused of murder this starts to swing into a slightly screwball tale of imprisonment, escape and proving your innocence. Both funny and thoughtful this conjures up the world at a certain time in history, namely that before and throughout two World Wars, and the coming of an even newer Communistic leadership.
Told with aplomb this is a story that will more than keep your attention, with great acting throughout, and a very entertaining storyline. Dedicated to Stefan Zweig this is a wonderful tribute in some ways, and how he described the world that he lived in with all its problems. It has to be admitted that Ralph Fiennes steals this film with the role of Gustave, a man well connected, of dubious sexuality, and also being able to act the perfect gentleman and servant.
This DVD does come with subtitles as well as a few extras. If you want to know how to make one of those little confections from Mendl’s you will find the recipe in these extras, as well as some featurettes, etc. In all this is really a wonderful film that I should think will end up on your favourites list.
For all the times I watch mediocre attempts at comedy, I am rewarded with films such as this, "The Grand Budapest Hotel", which is not only visually stunning, it is also the most amusing comedy farce!
Ah Wes Anderson, his films overflow with elaborate detail and occur in their own enchanting world. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is my new classic - it is a wedding cake of a film, it is filled with eccentrics and lunatics and oddballs. It looks delightful, it is delicious!
The film also reminded me why I once fell in love with Ralph Fiennes - he shines in the rare comic role as M. Gustave, a concierge who brilliantly survives between gentlemen and criminals, whose language is a mix of politeness and filth and high poetry and swearing. Yes, his poetry never leaves him, even when M. Gustave finds himself in the middle of murder investigation of a rich woman (the loyal guest of the hotel and his lover, one of many) who (potentially) bequeathed all her property to him. At M. Gustave's side is his loyal apprentice, Zero (and I applaud the newcomer Toni Revolori and his moustache-drawing skills!), and what M. Gustave would do without him!
"The Grand Budapest Hotel" is a winning whimsical comedy with star appearances of Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray (the moustache!), Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton etc. etc. It challenges your sense of humour - and I dare you not to love it! It's a celebration. Perhaps of a time and age long gone.
on 25 January 2015
I avoided this movie when it came out, since the last two films I've seen of director Wes Anderson, The Light Aquatic and the Darjeelingf Limnited, were utterly terrible. Only with the recent multiple Oscar nominations of this movie, I decide to give it a chance. And guess what: it is a great movie, his best since the Royal Tennenbaums. Set mostly in the 1930s in a fictional Central European state (the film was mostly shot in Southern Germany) - though with a nifty introduction from the 1960s that frames the narrative with Jude Law and F. Murray Abraham - the Grand Hotel Budapest tells the story of the said hotel - one in the classical European style - that is run by the concierge M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) helped by the bellboy Zero (Tony Revolori)
Fiennes is great as Gustave, a cultured, suave womanizer specialized in wooing elderly ladies who sees himself as a beacon of civilization in an age of increasing barbarism. When one of his "customers" (Tilda Swinton) dies and decides to give part of her inheritance to Mustafa, her two psycho sons (Adrien Brody and Willem Dafoe) will left no stone unturned in trying not to give others what they think is rightfully theirs.
This movie has an impressive all star cast. Along with those already named, we also have Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keiteñ, Saoirse Ronan, Mathieu Amalric and (in smaller roles), Bill Murray, Lea Seydoux, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzmann. And Anderson's mannerisms and eccentricities are not so off putting here (well, maybe with exceptions, like what does the mole with the size of Mexico in Saoirse Ronan means?). Inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig.
If you will.....
The Grand Budapest Hotel comes bearing a perfect, beautiful diorama that conceals a sad story--in this case, about the passing of time and the narratives we tell to create meaning out of our shapeless lives. For these pretty dioramas are attempts to create wilfully fictional worlds that address present day impasses such as; dysfunctional families, dreams not realised, loves lost or just not returned.
Fiennes as Gustave steals the movie. We tend to think of the actor as a serious thespian who brings sobriety to everything from Schindler's List to The English Patient (I deliberately left out HP and Voldemort). Yet here, rather like an onion, there are layers to his character. Gustave who has insecurity, at times a pretentious fool, attempts to bluff bravado and his penchant for dousing himself with a cologne called L'Air de Panache. However, as the outer layers are stripped away we see a persona of a man who at his core has decency and wants to do the right thing.
For me Wes Anderson delivers, rather like his Fantastic Mr. Fox 2009 stop-motion animated comedy film, which was not another of what might be called his `stock films'. The Grand Budapest Hotel a thriller of sorts with certain dark themes - and horrors of the era it's depicting of a fascist theme in the later part of the film. A film that ticks all the right boxes - and is really worth seeing, and therefore, highly recommended.
Writers and concierges are at the center of director Wes Anderson's nostalgic film, "The Grand Budapest Hotel". Most of the film is set an a large, pink facaded, luxurious hotel, the Grand Budapest, on mountain peaks in a fictitious European country, Zubrowka, during the years leading up to WW II. When the film opens, the hotel has fallen upon hard times with only lonely writers and intellectuals as patrons in a quest for solitude. One of the hotel's few patrons, a visiting novelist, strikes up a conversation with a mysterious individual who proves to be the hotel owner and a long yarn unfolds. The film features three generations of concierges, the young man on duty when the story begins, the primary character and the concierge during the time of most of the story, Monsieur Gustav H, (Ralph Fiennes), and his young refuge protégé and eventual owner of the Grand Budapest, Zero Moustapha (Tony Revolon as a boy, F. Murray Abraham as an elderly man).
The plot is a mixture of action and mayhem. Gustave H. is a suave successful concierge who manages to bed many of the elderly dowagers staying at the hotel. When one of these women dies under suspicious circumstances, she leaves Gustave a near-priceless painting while her family tries to frame Gustave for the murder. Gustave and Zero become fast friends and allies and try to protect and clear themselves. In the meanwhile, shadows of war cross Europe and the Grand Budapest Hotel.
The fast-paced plot has its light elements similar to the pastry concoctions which contribute a great deal to it. It has a distinctly nostalgic feel for a Europe which, as one character remarks, had already essentially disappeared at the time the action took place. The impending war is never far from the action in this movie, with storm troopers, death squads, and soldiers intervening and forming the course of the story at critical points. The film was shot in Germany and the staging and visual effects are lovely and the acting, particularly by the Fiennes highly in character for the time and place.
The end credits indicate that the film is based loosely on the life and work of the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig (1881 -- 1942) Zweig was a thoroughly assimilated nonreligious Jew whose writings were highly popular before and during WW II. Beginning in 1933, Zweig travelled throughout the world on an Austrian passport. He never could quite bring himself to believe that the elegant, cosmopolitan world he loved had vanished. With the outbreak of WW II, a depressed broken Zweig ultimately settled in Brazil where he and his wife committed suicide in 1942.
An article by the French writer Anka Mahlstein in the May 8, 2014, New York Review of Books, discusses the revival of interest in Stefan Zweig as shown by a new biography and by "The Grand Budapest Hotel". Mahlstein sees Gustave H. (rather that the writer who narrates the film) as the Zweig-influenced character with what she aptly describes as "a trim little paintbrush mustache, shifty eyes and a supple grace to all his movements, comfortable mastery of all languages, a certain latitude in his sexual tastes, and an overall sense of calm broken here and there by glimmers of disquiet." As did Zweig, Gustave H. in the film falls victim to the end of a refined, elegant secure and learned culture. The fun and mayhem in the film has deeper hues and a strong sense of loss.
The film is a pleasure to see. It becomes more than a work of entertainment and glitz when seen in the context of the life of Stefan Zweig.
on 25 April 2014
I've been a huge Wes Anderson fan for a while now, and his films carry with them a very unique and instantly recognisable styling that just seems to work fantastically well. The Grand Budapest is probably his best yet, with a thoroughly fun and quirky story line that is funny, delightful and sad. Some people say his styling is an acquired taste, but I believe that if you can open your mind to any kind of fantastical storytelling, then you'll truly appreciate this film.
on 11 November 2014
Gustav, the concierge at a hotel situated in the Alps, becomes the centre of suspicion when one of his institution's oldest and richest patrons turns up dead, and she leaves him her most priceless work of art, a Renaissance painting of a boy with an apple.
Furious that she left nothing of value to anyone else, the woman's greedy heir uses all manner of underhanded tactics to pin her death on Gustav, and to silence anyone who questions his objectives.
This leaves Gustav's trusted lobby boy Zero to clear Gustav's name and prove that the grand lady's killer is none other than her own son......
There's so much to say about this film that's already been said, but, I've never really been a fan of Anderson's work up until this. The Life Aquatic was okay, but I found the rest of his work very overrated and a bit of an ordeal to get through.
Saying that, after seeing this, I am going to go back and see if I missed something, because this movie is something else, the flow of the narrative is simply sublime, and with so many great performances, it would have been easy for some of the cast to get lost in the mix, but wow, everyone holds their own in this, and Fiennes, wow, he's a comedy genius.
But watching the film really does remind you of cake, especially the scenes filmed in the titular hotel, it's as if Anderson has sought inspiration from the actual cakes that Gustav brings back to the hotel.
Its a solid movie, very witty, richly narrated, and the cinematography is beautiful.
on 19 November 2014
Brilliantly imaginative and funny, this a bizarre cross between Hollywood screwball comedy and Eastern European film making that somehow works. One of Ralph Fiennes' best ever performances, ably supported by relative newcomer Tony Revlori, Adrian Brody (terrific) and a stellar list of stars in cameo performances. This is an original, hugely entertaining delight.
on 27 October 2014
This is probably Wes Anderson's masterpiece.
The film contains all the telltale signatures, a distinctive colour palette, the eccentricity of characterisation and an embarrassment of riches in terms of the cast. Where it pulls away from the rest, is the warmth you feel for the central characters.
Fiennes is unbelievably deft. What could be a camp, stereotyped character is instead a brilliant, bittersweet and immensely funny comedic performance. I wouldn't have expected to recommend that Fiennes should be doing more comedy, but he definitely should - we've all been missing a trick.
The relationship between Gustave and his lobby boy is all at once funny and very moving.
Lastly, the film is purely beautiful to look at. I've placed that last because there is so much more to it than that - but it does make the film a treat to view.
I cannot recommend it highly enough, it is simply beautiful - emotionally and visually.