peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2014 03 20 TheGrandBudapestHotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

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In Indianapolis, at the Keystone Art Cinema in the up-market fashion strip mall. Apparently this is where Indianapolis's Apple store is, but I never saw it. There was much talking during the movie, and clapping at the end; completely packed on this, the opening night.

I'd seen the short of this Wes Anderson flick so many times over the Australian summer that I feared I'd seen all the good bits already. There's a huge cast, and it is quite fun and funny; even more broadly than his usual quirky stuff, I'd say. He stuffs the early shots with ephemera, making me think that the whole movie would be cluttered, but it opens up in the second half. As always, his sense of humour sometimes borders on the twee, but he's also a formalist — he pops the stack of stories, for instance. The sets are top-notch, and the use of expletives is superb.

Many actors are cast against type: Adrien Brody is quite evil, though Willem Dafoe is like a cartoon version of his character from Wild at Heart: he's had a long apprenticeship in malevolence. Jude Law anchors things. Ralph Fiennes inhabits M. Gustave. Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel... everyone has fun. There is some fine work on the accents (i.e. approximately no effort), especially from Ed Norton as a proto-Gestapo. This is probably my favourite effort from Tilda Swinton. The Persian cops it in the neck. Overall it's up there with Fantastic Mr Fox as the best thing he's done.

Dana Stevens pulls it apart, and fair enough too. A. O. Scott reviewed it for the New York Times.