“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Wes Anderson’s eighth film is just that – grand. Fuck. That sounds so cheesy and lame, but sorry, folks, it’s true. Wes Anderson doesn’t just make films; he makes masterpieces and as his career matures, so does his beautiful imagery on screen. Anderson makes his films so eye catching in his latest films that one could isolate any single frame from one of his pieces and hang it in a museum of modern art.
His movies aren’t just eye candy either; the dialogue is provocative, funny and unique. His characters are so grandiose that they are each worthy of being a Halloween costume anyone should be proud to wear. It’s impossible for Anderson to write an uninteresting character. The worlds he creates house a community of people that would all have a captivating and mesmerizing autobiography. From the protagonist all the way down to background characters with one line of dialogue, they all have an interesting story.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” mainly takes place in 1930s Europe between WWI and WWII. It follows the exploits of a larger than life hotel concierge, Gustave H, played by Ralph Fiennes (Voldermort, James Bond’s new boss). I’ve seen Fiennes in countless movies and can only remember him in one other comedic role, “In Bruges.” His character in “In Bruges” had a few funny lines, but in “Grand Budapest,” Fiennes shows off his comedic chops in spades. Every line Fiennes delivered had me on the verge of tears laughing – the rest of the audience, too. Although, to be honest, I couldn’t see them because they were behind me. I had to sit in the front row because the line for concessions was bananas (I know it’s outrageous, but I can’t properly enjoy a movie without a Cherry Coke).
Gustave H. begins mentoring a young lobby boy named Zero and they become close friends. Gustave is a charming ladies man, who prefers the company of rich older women. This gets him in hot water when he is framed for the murder of one of them, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton). Don’t worry, guys. I’ll avoid the spoilers, but will give you a taste of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” if you haven’t seen it yet (what are you waiting for?): luxurious hotels, murder, secret societies, prison breaks, chase scenes, pastry chefs, love, sex, more murder and Bill Murray. At this point, you should be making your way to the theater to buy tickets, getting some sour watermelons, planting your ass, shutting your mouth and enjoying this beautiful film.
“Grand Budapest” is a great ride with no dull moments – a comedy where you can’t see the jokes coming and a drama when you least expect it. This movie has such a large and prestigious cast it’s almost intimidating, but I’ll list some of highlights: Ralph Feinnes, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, Edward Norton and the great Bill Murray. With all these heavyweights, it almost seems moot to mention my take on their performances. They were obviously incredible. I will, however, mention the second lead, Zero, played by relative newcomer Tony Revolori. It was a baptism by fire for Revolori – one of his first movies working with one of the most visionary filmmakers alive and a cast of countless acting legends. A daunting task for any actor, but Revolori did a stand up job adding his shy comedic charm to every scene. Expect to see more of this kid.
To make a movie this visually stunning and of this scale requires a few things – a large and talented art department, a dedicated wardrobe department and a gifted animation department. All of these teams for this movie were solidly built and deserve to be recognized. So, please, when the movie is over, stay until all the credits are done. This is one of my many movie-going quirks, staying until the house lights go up, but this movie deserves a gesture of respect for the whole crew that made it so stunning.
One of the largest cogs in that wheel was the breathtaking cinematography of Robert D. Yeoman. Yeoman has been the director photography for almost every single one of Wes Anderson’s films. He is one of the main reasons all Anderson’s films have that same picturesque look. Between “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Robert Yeoman deserves at least one Oscar nomination and hopefully it will come for “Grand Budapest.” If it doesn’t, I will personally make an Oscar out of Rice Krispies treats and mail it to him. You have my word, Robert.
What truly makes all of Wes Anderson’s films so great is the meticulous attention to detail in each one. Every single inch of everything seen on screen is 100 percent on purpose and for good reason. Watching one of Anderson’s movies is like staring at a Where’s Waldo book and finding something new you didn’t see the first time through, making it more enjoyable with every viewing. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is my favorite movie of the year so far and I give it five custom cookies in the shapes of Zero’s mini mustache, Gustave’s slightly bigger mustache, Kovac’s glorious beard, Moustafa’s scraggly old man beard and Ivan’s Civil War worthy mustache. Wash those hairy looking cookies down with a trophy full of milk. Keep smiling, folks.