Forthcoming: The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#176 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:36 pm

Our household went to see this today -- and all enjoyed it quite a bit. Our theater had this on three screens (unprecedented, so far as I know) -- and yet there were lines waiting for each screening. We had tickets already, but didn't get there early enough to avoid having to sit in the front row (and gaze UP). Still like Moonrise Kingdom best.

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#177 Post by Shrew » Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:41 pm

I enjoyed this immensely, personally more than Moonrise Kingdom (which I still like). This is probably, on its surface, one of Anderson's funniest and most enjoyable films.

It also comments briefly, and makes substantial efforts to improve, the role of minorities in Anderson's films. One is Fiennes angry rant halfway through the film, which acknowledges some of the potential problems in a minority character shadowing and copying a white European. Another is that s fun and dashing as Fiennes's Gustave is, Zero is ultimately the hero of the film, and this is his story. There's a wonderful moment late in the film where it becomes clear that as important as Gustave was to Zero, his sentimental attachments to the place are his own, and he's not just the keeper of Gustave's story.

That said, I agree with mfunk that Anderson may be getting too good a delivering detail-heavy characterization and plotting in a concise manner. There are times when the film could have breathed more, or emotional beats could have been held longer. I think this is mostly a problem with Gustave, whose history and depths are hidden from us. In many ways, Gustave is the grown-up Max Fischer, but he's too composed to let anything like "We both have dead people in our family" or an inscribed typewriter slip through, which is sad. Like many an Anderson character, it's clear he's putting on a front, but it's not quite as clear what he's covering.

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#178 Post by FrauBlucher » Mon Mar 17, 2014 6:32 am

Jeff wrote:Anderson is still immersed in what psychologists refer to as flow, and what athletes refer to as “the zone.” As with his previous film, Moonrise Kingdom, he is in complete command of his wholly unique brand of cinematic craftsmanship. Over the course of his eight-film career he’s been repeatedly labeled precious and twee, too focused on his highly controlled set and costume design, line readings and camera moves. It was once argued by many, including myself, that Anderson would have to somehow stop making “Wes Anderson films” to grow as an artist. It turns out that the key to his greatest success was not breaking free from his particular aesthetic, but immersing himself deeper in it.
Great stuff...... I have felt the same way about Anderson's comfort zone, so to speak. Because he is such a gifted filmmaker I wanted him to challenge himself and leave that comfort zone. Maybe work with a screen writer out side his working circle, like a Paul Schrader or that type. But in fact, as Jeff said, instead of him creating outside his box, he found something wonderful and great deeper in the box (sorry for the cliche).

On a side note. Several years back when Hugo was released I got to see a screening by the DGA where Scorsese was to do a Q&A following the showing. Wes Anderson was the moderator and at that point I realized what a student of film Anderson was. It was such a treat to hear him and Scorsese talk film history.

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#179 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:40 am

M. Gustave's reaction to Zero's recounting of why he was a refugee told us (I think) a lot about his own history, even if only implicitly. That was sufficient for me. ;-}

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#180 Post by Cold Bishop » Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:45 am

I should perhaps wait for the "new movie glow" to wear off, but this is easily the most impressed I've been by a Wes Anderson film coming out. I'm hardly the first to suggest that Anderson's foray into animation - with its necessity of completely ground-up control and fabrication - has reinvigorated him and sharpened his style, but the proof is here. This film feels more animated than his animated film, Anderson working at an impressive level of both scale and detail. It's a clockmaker's genius, where the elaborateness of the clockwork is not only as important as the ornateness of the facade, but both are integrated, one and the same. Yeah, I know the analogy is cliche, but it's never been more true. Watching the film is very much like the prisoner's enjoying one of Mendel's confection: its the pleasure of reveling in the sort of old world craftsmanship the film fetishizes and which is all too rare.

But yes, this also finds Anderson expanding his range of material. It's both the most sparklingly farcical and spiritually dark film of his career. The moments of madcap ingenuity are balanced by some of the most shockingly violent moments of Anderson's career (this may be the first Anderson movie that truly earns it's R rating). His nostalgia for old world gentility is also matched by a certain tired resignation to a vulgar and chaotic world. There's an outline of despair peeking behind his patented bitersweetness. If Moonrise Kingdom felt almost like a culmination of his obsession with youth and adolescence, this movie seems to open a door to more troubled waters that I'm awfully anxious to see if he'll build on. That he does this while remaining thoroughly true to his own style is especially impressive.

The people who complain that Wes Anderson simply makes the same film over and over have never been more right and more wrong.

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#181 Post by knives » Sun Mar 23, 2014 1:08 am

SpoilerShow
Saw this yesterday and have to keep with the same glow. It didn't affect me personally as much as Moonrise Kingdom continues to, but as a movie it easily strikes me as the pinnacle of his career being such a sad confectionery. It also seems his most explicit comment on the rich and the want of the worker to rise. M. Gustav is a very melancholy character no matter what, but by the end of the film he becomes so removed (or as Zero says so identical to those he once catered for) from the energy that at least made the problems a joy that his eventual death can only be seen as a suicide. Though of course the film only makes this more explicit with Zero himself and how ascension into wealth coincides with the death of Agatha. These characters, and I suppose all Anderson characters, live by contradiction of class.
The class thing also comes through really ingeniously with the edits of the film. Anderson cuts like Ophuls tracks with a similar attention to how society mechanically works up and down. No wonder this is also Anderson's most technically realized film (thanks in part to Roman Coppola outdoing his job on Dracula) given how much it depends on movement within large expanses. In the same breath despite being his first script written 'alone' he seems to open his plot of influences (I saw more than a little Lubitsch in addition to Ophuls) in such a nakedly earnest way that it feels unusually original. Of course that might just be the influence of Zweig who also wrote the source for Letter from an Unknown Woman.

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#182 Post by Jeff » Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:56 am

Here's 12 minutes of B-Roll showing Anderson's direction and how some shots were accomplished. A couple of parts are a bit spoilerish.

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#183 Post by Dansu Dansu Dansu » Sun Mar 23, 2014 4:29 pm

I don't have a definite reason for thinking this, but I felt a strong Renoir influence as well as a bit of the Lubitsch touch (the latter perhaps due to Ralph Fiennes' charming rogue being second only to Herbert Marshall's). I'm not sure if this connection related to the framing, the Grand Illusion-influenced jailbreak (albeit peppered with hallucinogens), or the focus on class and manners, but actually, A Day in the Country came to mind most vividly, so much so that after I saw Budapest, I wanted to re-watch it more than other Anderson films. Anderson lovingly individuates his characters through dialogue, mannerisms, and appearance in Budapest, which I feel is one of Renoir's major strengths as well.

By the way, in case the favorable comparisons to unsurpassed auteurs didn't tip you off, this film left me completely astonished. So far, after my first viewing, it is my pick for his second best film, which is saying something considering nothing is going to dethrone Rushmore from its rightful place at the top.


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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#185 Post by Jeff » Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:46 pm

That's a great piece! Anderson was obviously influenced by Godard. I wonder if the planimetric style will become commonplace in the coming decades due to Anderson's increasing popularity and his unprecedented reliance on the technique. Burgeoning filmmakers are bound to be influenced by his style. I feel like it only works so well for him because it stands in such sharp relief to what we usually see. Obviously, I dig Anderson's relatively unique aesthetic, but I'd hate to see such an artificial look be taken up by every up-and-coming young filmmaker.

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#186 Post by knives » Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:00 am

I imagine, at least in the specific way he does it, it is too difficult a style to become as omnipresent as, say, the handheld style has become. Even Tony Scott's editing style didn't really become popular until digital techniques made it so easy.

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#187 Post by Roger Ryan » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:40 am

As noted by Bordwell in tracing this compositional style back to silent comedy, and specifically to Keaton, planimetric works great at getting laughs. Otherwise, the style tends to evoke alienation or oddness which would mean that films in general would need to become a lot weirder for planimetric compositions to become the norm.

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#188 Post by perkypat » Sat Mar 29, 2014 10:55 am

Cant completely share the love on this one. It seems mostly surface to me, a gorgeous surface admittedly, but surface nevertheless. Fiennes was brilliant of course, and it looks wonderful, but..... Im obviously in the minority, its just started its 4th week at the local arthouse and is packing them in. I have to say Im an Anderson agnostic. Rushmore was sublime, couldn't watch more than 20 minutes of Darjeeling. Even Moonrise Kingdomdidn't quite do it for me, after an hour I thought it was going to be a masterpiece, but then he just seemed to veer off into these elaborate comic set pieces rather than draw us some fully rounded characters. Had to get all his mates on the screen I suppose.

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#189 Post by FrauBlucher » Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:15 pm

I went to see THBH again. This time I went with a huge Wes fan. Much bigger than myself. He loved it. He said it was probably his best. Going in, he wasn't sure it would become one his favorites and it has.

As for me, I loved it just as much the second go around. I wanted to pay close attention specifically to the camera framing and music. I consider him a painterly director in the mold of Ford, Bergman, Dryer and Murmau. Take stills of his shots and they can be hung in museums. I can't think of many young American directors who I would say the same about. Maybe PT.

As for the music. Prior posts mention the fast pacing and I believe it feels that way because of the music. Which I found to be a remarkable complement to the film.

It's brilliant. Wes Anderson is one of the most unique and talented directors. And this is coming from someone who didn't take to his style right away.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#190 Post by Red Screamer » Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:56 pm

FrauBlucher wrote: As for the music. Prior posts mention the fast pacing and I believe it feels that way because of the music. Which I found to be a remarkable complement to the film.
I saw this too the second time around. The events in the film that aren't fast paced seem as if they are due to the constant chugging of the score.

I also noticed that since Fantastic Mr. Fox Anderson hasn't used the handheld "returns to reality" that he had used from Rushmore on. As effective as this method is in those movies, I find it impressive that he has found a more subtle way to depict the contrast between the world of the film and so-called reality. The Grand Budapest Hotel does this the best so far and it adds complexity to the film.
SpoilerShow
The "a box the size of a child's coffin" line is haunting the second time around, rather than the initial absurdly comical reaction I had the first time. Also, the deliberate oddness of the shot of M.Gustave stepping onto the stool provides further evidence to knives' already interesting suicide theory

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#191 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 2:58 pm

Upon two revisits, this has climbed to the status of my 2nd favorite Anderson film (to Rushmore which will doubtfully move from its top spot, as it's one of my ten favorite films of all time). Seeing it through my father's eyes, in particular, made me realize how special it is. This was his first experience with one of Anderson's live action films and he was absolutely astonished at the balance between the meticulous detail and wealth of humor at work here - and the film has hit me emotionally harder and harder each time I see it. My initial complaint about Agatha not being developed enough has a perfectly good explanation within the framework of the way the story is told, and while the amount of material can be daunting on the first viewing, the film has proven to, like Moonrise Kingdom, slow down when revisited with existing knowledge of the plot and characters.

On top of all this, I can't stop thinking about the film during the increasingly rare periods of time when I'm not actively watching it, and I that "I can't put my finger on it, but I'm obsessed with this movie" syndrome that I just got over with Inside Llewyn Davis all winter long has taken hold.

It'll be very very very hard for there to be a film that I love more this year, and for there to be many more that I love so much this decade.

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#192 Post by criterion10 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 3:39 pm

It seems as though the film season of 2014 has started off with a bang, as The Grand Budapest Hotel is a deliriously entertaining cinematic ride that is sure to make an appearance on my year-end top ten list. It is constantly riveting and entertaining, filled with a great caper, suspense story that pays wonderful homage to similar films of the 1930s and 40s.

Throughout his entire filmography, Anderson has always been noted for his attention to visual details, and it seems that with The Grand Budapest Hotel, he has reached the apex of his visual bonanza. The glorious, rich, and luscious set designs are simply a marvel to look at, all accompanied perfectly by Anderson's wonderful sense of symmetrical framing.

Though most interesting on a visual level is his use of the different aspect ratios, ranging from 2.35 to 1.85 and to 1.33. It is great to see how Anderson knows how to best manipulate and use the frame regardless of the aspect ratio he currently is shooting in. However, the shift from different aspect ratios is jarring, and I would actually make the argument that the film would have worked just as well if shot solely in 1.33, the aspect ratio which most of the film is shot in.

Anderson's use of the 1.33:1 ratio serves as being one of the many aforementioned homages to the films of the time period that the story takes place (I particularly loved how much extra headroom he allows for each composition; it is as if he is trying to emphasize the boxiness of the frame and bring each viewer’s attention to the now underused screen ratio). This sense of nostalgia is an important theme in the film, as it yields a sense of melancholy and sorrow that finds many of the characters at later stages in their lives.

The cast is excellent all around, most notably Ralph Fiennes in the lead role as M. Gustave. His performance is brilliantly subtle, as he engages in a very sort of dry humor, which I absolutely loved. Though he does also bring a great level of humanity to his role, evident in his relationship with Zero, played by Tony Revolori.

Revolori’s performance is also among the best that the film has to offer, although one area that I would critique is his character’s with relationship with Agatha, played by Saorise Ronan. There was the potential here for a meaningful relationship, similar to the one on display in Moonrise Kingdom, although it is never developed all too meaningfully.

The cast also succeeds in its variety of cameos and supporting performances, ranging from a wickedly comical Willem Defoe to a rather unusual appearance from Harvey Keitel. Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, and Edward Norton are among some of the other standouts of the impressive cast.

Only time will tell where this film ranks among Wes Anderson's other works (I remember calling Moonrise Kingdom one of his best upon first watching it, only to see it slowly fade away among the many other films that I have seen over the course of my life). However, I do not think it would be premature to call The Grand Budapest Hotel a marvelous spectacle that I am anxious to see again.

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#193 Post by jindianajonz » Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:12 pm

Speaking of aspect ratios, how did the transition from ratio to ratio occur in the film? I remember that the width of the frame changed with each ratio, so they didn't simply letterbox a 1.33 image to create the other ratios, but I can't recall if the height changed when moving from 2.35 to 1.85 to 1.33.

Either way, it seems like there will have to be some windowboxing on the blu-ray if they want to maintain the relative size of the frames- either the 1.85 will be windowboxed if 2.35 fills the width of the image and 1.33 fills the height, or the 1.33 and 1.85 will be windowboxed if they just pillarboxed a 2.35 image to create the other two ratios. The only other option, assuming the former is true, is to expand the 1.85 ratio to fill the TV screen, though this would make the other two ratios seem small by comparison.

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#194 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:17 pm

The film was projected in 1.85:1, meaning all the ratios below take place within a 1.85:1 overall projection ratio, i.e. there's pillarboxing or letterboxing when necessary. The aspect ratios are as follows (please correct me on the years if necessary):

Present day - 1.85:1
1985 - Slightly windowboxed 1.85:1
1968 - 2.35:1
1932 - 1.33:1

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#195 Post by criterion10 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:23 pm

jindianajonz wrote:either the 1.85 will be windowboxed if 2.35 fills the width of the image and 1.33 fills the height
I believe this is how my screen looked when I saw it in theaters. I suppose it also makes the most sense, considering that the 1.85 ratio is only used for a few minutes (at most).

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#196 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:29 pm

The windowboxing has nothing to do with the fact that other aspect ratios are present. The film reel (or whatever, the digital... box... size) is 1.85:1. The other ratios just take up their appropriate space within that frame, much like a letterboxed or pillarboxed movie might on you home television. The screen area doesn't actually widen or shrink. The reason why there's windowboxing of the 1.85:1 ratio is because the windowboxed 1.85:1 represents the 1985 portion of the story, while the full 1.85:1 is present day.

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#197 Post by criterion10 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:31 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:The reason why there's windowboxing of the 1.85:1 ratio is because the windowboxed 1.85:1 represents the 1985 portion of the story, while the full 1.85:1 is present day.
I need to see the film again, because for some reason, I remember the final image of the film (present day) being 1.85:1 window boxed. As always, my memory may be playing tricks on me...

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#198 Post by jindianajonz » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:06 pm

I need to see the film again because I don't even remember there being a "present day" :oops:

I thought the three time periods were the writer's "present" in 1985 that he is narrating from, the writer's story of meeting F Murray Abraham in 1968, and Abraham's story of 1932. (though in retrospect, Abraham looks more than 36 years older than his 1932 counterpart ) What was the fourth time period?

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#199 Post by knives » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:08 pm

The girl with the book by the statue is present day.

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Re: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

#200 Post by jindianajonz » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:09 pm

knives wrote:The girl with the book by the statue is present day.
D'oh, of course...

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