Grand Budapest Hotel is a Quagmire of Nonsense

Fiennes GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The Grand Budpest Hotel is Wes Anderson’s most West Anderson film ever. Early into Budapest, there is a punch out involving the main characters of Gustave, Zero, and another antagonist, that seems to set the bar for a different level of story telling for Wes Anderson. Unfortunately, the story devolves at a record pace from there on out, and becomes a series of cute little vignettes that prance about here and prance about there. Ralph Fiennes effectively plays Gustave as pompous and as swishy  as you were lead to believe in the trailer. His character lacks the complete ability to root for, or, against his antics, and the movie as a whole will lead you to wonder just what everyone is doing here. Edward Norton looks great as a perturbed lawman, oh he really pulls off perturbed let me tell you, and,well, that’s about it. All the usual Wes Anderson players show up here, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, etc, except this time around, somehow, someway, their contributions equal up to being less than the sum of their parts. The flow of characterization is all too brief here, the cinematic moments are not really allowed to breath. Too many times the story just settles for goofball crap instead of an expansion of the overall story at hand. To really expand upon what a drag Budapest is, is to also touch upon Wes Anderson caliber as a filmmaker, his body of work, and what make those films what they are. Bottle Rocket- IMDB will tell you that Anderson’s 1996 feature debut, is about a trio of friends and their elaborate plan to pull off a simple robbery and go on the run. Except that the fun part is that tier plan is pretty much the exact opposite of elaborate, and along the way the get hung up on ideas and people that just plain inept. Bottle Rocket is relatable because the trio’s standards are low, and along the way they are able find both pleasure and angst in the small things. Rushmore – Anderson’s 1998 feature Rushmore, is about the extracurricular king of Rushmore preparatory school, Max Fisher, who is also terrible at the fundamentals of basic schoolwork. Max is able to interact with adults on a level that is nearly inappropriate, and leads to quite a few laughs when it reaches a point where the situations they all arrive in are completely unmanageable. Seeing the characters react so harshly when they are out of there element provides timeless laughs, and here Anderson is on point in every aspect of storytelling, from characterization, to dialogue, to shot selection, to costumes, to setting, and soundtrack. It’s basically the Pinkerton of his career. The Royal Tenenbaums- This 2001 feature by Anderson plays as sort of double concept album with some radio friendly hits. “Three grown prodigies, all with a unique genius of some kind, and their mother are staying at the family household. Their father, Royal had left them long ago, and comes back to make things right with his family.” Tenebaum is hysterical in how unrelatable and dysfunctional the adults have become. Wes pulls out all the stops here to craft a film that is as engaging as it is pretty. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou – The 2004  feature is as out there of a concept as anyone who is a fan of Anderson could possibly hope for. “When his partner is killed by the mysterious and possibly nonexistent Jaguar Shark, Steve Zissou and his Team Zissou crew set off for an expedition to hunt down the creature. Along with his estranged wife, a beautiful journalist and a co-pilot who could possibly be Zissou’s son, the crew set off for one wild expedition.” If you loved The Royal Tenebaums, the The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is as perfect of a follow up as one could ask for. The overall scope of the movie is not to be taken too seriously, and part of the fun in watching it is seeing how seriously the characters are taking themselves. When Jeff Goldblum strolls around in a bathrobe while holding an over sized shotgun, I believe that his character, Alistair Hennesey, thinks that highly of himself. Another visually beautiful film by Anderson with a great cast and concept. While the tone can seem a bit cold at times, it works for the story being told, and it also makes the CGI and props really jump out at you. The Darjeeling Limited- In this 2007 feature, three brothers, each suffering depression after the death of their father, meet up for a train trip across India. While The Darjeeling Limited is not great, it’s also not bad. It doesn’t have that excitable punch to it that other Anderson films have. Although there is a sort of odd, soothing overall tone to it, almost as if this entire thing were conducted to replicate that feeling of peak stonage, where nothing can touch you. Can’t say that this is a recomendable one, however it is a comendable effort and not without it’s charming moments. Fantastic Mr. Fox, 2009, stop motion animated. This looks like some work to sit through, let me get back to you on that one. Moonrise Kingdom. 2012. “Set on an island off the coast of New England in the 1960s, as a young boy and girl fall in love they are moved to run away together. Various factions of the town mobilize to search for them and the town is turned upside down”, turned upside down by a rag tag group of adults who are as professional as they are incompetent. The lack of situational awareness of everyone’s part drives the story and the humor. There is a decent amount of heart on display in Moonrise Kingdom. The characters, both adult and juvenile, are “so smart they’re stupid”, as the gold ol boys like to say. There are a lot of good performances, great settings, gorgeous cinematography, and, well, there is a lot of everything in Moonrise Kingdom. The film does lack a little punch in the screenplay department, and I wouldn’t necessarily argue with anyone who wants to say it’s a little too contrived. Overall though, it’s a fun and harmless one to watch, it’s not hurting anything, and if any Wes Anderson movie is going to win a bunch of awards, it ought to be this one. Now, what Budapest has going for it, is the fact that it’s very metropolitan, and the academy crowd will rub them drippings all over their gross bodies like some sort of youth elixir. It’s so sad how easily forgettable this mess is, and it’s aggravating how each scene tries so hard to remind us that this is a Wes Anderson movie. At no point did I have any faith this story took place in the real word, and what worked in previous Anderson films, is that no matter how far up their ass any one given character was, the real world would always kind of nudge here and there to create a counterbalance and help drive the story. Budapest comes off as just plain cacamamie, due to poor execution, and a poor overall concept of what the story could have been.

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