19 minutes ago
Monday, 10 March 2014
Film: ' THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL'
No one could reasonably deny that the film is a feast for the eyes - sumptuous colours, carefully staged shots and impressively choreographed action - though most of it shot in square frame, this latter begging the question "Why so?"
It's told in flash-back by the present owner (F. Murray Abraham) of a super-palatial East European hotel, who started out as bell-boy (newcomer to feature films, Tony Revolori - rather good) to concierge Ralph Fiennes (perfect in this comedic role) in the 1930s. The list of celebrity appearances is as long as one's arm, all but one being quite easily recognisable, that one being Tilda Swinton, as a filthy-rich octogenarian, regular hotel guest in the briefest of all the cameo roles here. (I do have to confess that I did miss, until the final credits, that a certain character was Harvey Keitel.) There is a goodly number of what's becoming a 'Wes Anderson Repertory Company' here too.
Fiennes becomes, or wishes to ensure that he remains, chief beneficiary of the late aged lady's will, which involves purloining a valuable painting of hers into his possession. From there on it's a game of chase, police, prison, red herrings, subterfuge and disguises - all set against the backdrop of political change as WWII looms. At first his bell-boy is merely a menial servant to be kept 'unseen' as far as possible, but as the action develops the boy becomes his confidante and most faithful friend with a dog-like loyalty.
It's a tricky line between a film thinking that it's amusing and one that shows that it thinks it is. In my opinion this fell all too often on the wrong side of this delicate line. Of course all makers of a comedy hope that their finished product will be funny, otherwise they might just as well not have bothered. But in order to be effective it needs that expectation to be kept at arms length. Nothing kills a comedy quicker than one that acts as if it's one - and in this there's a lot of 'nudging and winking'. When I can see that there's an expectation that the audience ought to laugh my resistance to doing just that sets in - rather in the same way when I find music that tries to point one in a particular direction it makes me dig my heels in not to go there. (I ought to say that Mark Kermode, the BBC's top film critic, thought the film riotously funny, so my opinion may be in a minority - as it already seems to be, looking at the submissions so far on IMDb). However, to be fair, there were two or three moments when I did laugh, though that was certainly well below the quota for which Anderson and his team were clearly hoping.
As I said at the top, all of Anderson's films to date have by-passed my appreciation, which is odd because I'm a great lover of quirkiness, and his films can be guaranteed to display that quality in bucketfuls.
'Moonrise Kingdom' and 'The Aquatic Life of Steve Zissou' both left me largely cold. 'The Darjeeling Limited' was okay, I suppose. On the other hand, 'The Royal Tenenbaums' I really loathed with a passion. 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' was not dislikeable at all, though I also strangely felt no warmth towards it.
So, maybe worth a watch but, in my case, not one on which to have pinned my hopes on for significantly superior entertainment............................................6.
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oh god I thought this was going to be an 8....ReplyDelete
I've a feeling I might attract vehement disapproval for my opinion on this one, Sol. Reviews have been full of praise from nearly all quarters. I'm wondering if I might find myself revising what I said and upping my score. It's possible, but I'm not feeling like it yet. I'd definitely suggest that you SHOULD see it.Delete
Ray don't bother renting One Day film. Wait for it to be on the tv again. it is a raining nothing else to do film and only worthy of a 2.5ReplyDelete
Thanks for the warning, Sol. I've never yet rented a film and it would seem that this is not the one to start with anyway. I don't even fancy it for next time on TV now.Delete
This had a huge opening here on only 4 screeens (to be in wide release in a few weeks. Not much heard from critics (are they afraid?) but audience word of mouth is over the top. When I read the recent BBC piece, I thought I would become diabetic. Talk about sugar & gush!!!ReplyDelete
Yes, feelings are almost unanimously positive here so I'm very much on my own. It's certainly a 'different' film, especially in the look of it. Maybe everyone wants to give it credit for being so, but in doing that they go rather too far in praise, methinks. However, and to be honest, I feel that I want to see it again to confirm, or otherwise, my original opinion.Delete
this is a movie I want to see!ReplyDelete
I read your review with keen interest; I will still see it.
You must go, Dr Spo. I'm already seriously thinking that my opinion (written within a couple of hours of seeing it) was overly harsh. I think that there's a reasonable chance that on second viewing I might be more positive.Delete
we see it tomorrow sunday.Delete
Shall be keeping a 'weather eye' open for your verdict.Delete
Oh, I liked it!Delete
It was whimsical , quirky, and knew it was not being too serious.
I also liked the underlying theme of melancholy of missing 'the days' when people got good service and those who were in the service industry strived for 'getting it right'. The movie gelled with my recent post of wanting things 'proper' . It wasn't a great 'film' but it was lovely fun.
Not in the least surprised that you liked it, Dr Spo, and rather than disagreeing with your opinion I see this as further evidence that my verdict may well have been a misjudgment. "Whimsical" and "quirky" it certainly was. I now think that there weren't that many overt nods and winks to the camera as I suggested, but even now thinking back, I get the feeling that the entire crew, both in front of and behind the cameras, were the whole time were playing to the idea how FUNNY the film was going to be, and that irked me.Delete
True, it wasn't a 'great' film, but perhaps I should have been more open to the possibility that it was an enjoyable one.
However, I'm relieved that what I said in my blog hadn't put you off from going and that it afforded you some worthwhile pleasures. So, no guilt felt here on that score, thank heavens.
jolly good fun!Delete
I enjoyed it, which is not to say I disagree with anything you wrote about it. It reminded me very much of The Royal Tennenbaums which is not a movie I much cared for. Also, while it is clearly a comedy, I don't recall laughing much, nor do I remember the rest of the audience laughing either. This prompts me to wonder what about it I liked. When I figure that out I may blog about it myself.ReplyDelete
I will say it was a pleasure to see a movie in a big theater with a large crowd. We went to a mid-day matinee and there were only a few empty seats. As we left I saw the next two shows were both sold out. To be fair, this is a large metropolitan area and it is only showing on 2 screens in one art-house theater. I suspect it would not be selling it if it had wider distribution.
A large audience can make a huge difference - though not one so big that I can't find a seat where I can sit alone without being surrounded by strangers with their annoying snacks, drinks and mobiles.Delete
I may get a chance to see it again cheaply. (I certainly don't want to pay full price a second time). So I may have a chance to revise my judgment. Actually, the square-screen format for much of the film may make it ideal for TV viewing, so I haven't decided what to do yet. Whatever its merits or otherwise it certainly will remain a visually memorable film.