The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

May 15, 2014

Check in for a Cinematic Treat entitled ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

Thursday, May 15, 2014 — Films by writer/director Wes Anderson are an acquired taste. And I think I have finally developed my palate for his cinematic work.

Going all the way back to 1998, I only vaguely remember seeing Anderson’s ‘Rushmore’ but I thought fondly of the film then. I liked 2001’s ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ less. ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ (2004) was better, but I still felt I was missing something.

Then in 2009, ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ came along, and Anderson had created a new fan. 2012 brought moviegoers a new Anderson work ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ that replaced ‘Mr. Fox’ as my favorite film of this director. Anderson’s canon of quirky films have amused me, intrigued me and annoyed me for more than a decade, but I never felt that I was fully committed to a Wes Anderson film.

That all changed recently. I am happy to report that I think ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is the best film Wes Anderson has ever done. For the first time ever, I think I dove right into the film rather than wading in slowly as I had with most of his work through the years.

With ‘Budapest Hotel,’ I committed fully, my leap into his film was from the high dive and I never looked back. It was a joyous experience from start to finish. And though it is very early in the year and we have not seen many films of quality, I just feel like I have to add,’ The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is the best film of 2014 thus far.

Before I go on describing why I liked the film, allow me to offer a warning. This film, as with all of Anderson’s work, is not for everyone. I have friends who were condemning it to me before I ever saw it. Oh, how I hoped they were wrong.

And in my humble opinion, they most certainly were. But if you like more traditional cinema, checking into the ‘Budapest Hotel’ may also not suit your disposition. So, you have been warned.

As for me, here are some of the many things I liked so much about ‘Budapest Hotel.’ First and almost always foremost with any film, there is the story. This is an epic tale of love, friendship, scandal, greed, crime, life and death, among a great many other subjects. At points this story can seem a little confusing, but in the end, everything concludes with a satisfactory outcome, but before that conclusion, the complex plot is just a joy to attempt to dissect.

Beyond the story, I enjoyed the performances that brought these characters to life and endeared many of them in the hearts and minds of fans of the film. Wed Anderson does not create a singular character as the focus of his films but rather an ensemble of fascinating heroes, villains and supporting characters.

Ralph Fiennes’ performance is exceptional and should earn him Oscar’s attention once more. (He should have won for ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘The English Patient,’ but he is currently still Oscar-less.)

   Then there is the humor. I laughed out loud often and I smiled throughout.

And finally there are the “grand” visuals of this film. This is a film so lush with setting one will need to see it over and over again just to begin taking in all there is to see on screen. It is a beautiful work of art.

So if you get a chance, and you are adventurous when it comes to film, you should check into ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel;’ you will enjoy your stay.

     

Roger Thomas is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association. He reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.

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