Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Grand Budapest Hotel

M & I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel after it came out - I thought it was perfectly marvelous and would like to watch it again and again. I thought practically every scene was a visual treat and I loved loved loved watching Ralph Fiennes in his role as Monsieur Gustave. I haven't enjoyed Fiennes so much since The English Patient, which I have seen precisely 274 times. I particularly liked the scenes that took place in small settings, like the elevator or the train car or a jail cell (spoiler?). Those reminded me of sets from The Darjeeling Limited, one of my favorite Wes Anderson movies.

Exterior shots of the hotel were very charming - like this one of the hotel sitting at the top of this craggy mountain.  The movie also brings the opportunity to use, in common parlance, the word "funicular", which one otherwise has rare occasion to do.  I had similar feelings about the movie Noah, which brought about a wave (GET IT?) of reviewers utilizing the wonderful word "antediluvian."  

So, I read that Anderson "more or less" plagiarized Austrian writer Stefan Zweig.  I'd never heard of Zweig - apparently he's quite popular in Europe - so I checked out a couple of books from the library. I checked them out with great happiness because the books were small and charming and I thought I was on the verge of a great discovery.  Zweig is a bit of a tragic character - he managed to get out of Austria in 1934 but near the end of WWII he and his wife committed double-suicide in Brazil.  Anyway, I start reading what I think it going to be a charming set of short stories, but, the three that I read ended in suicide and were depressing as hell, as you might imagine.  

He does do this thing which is sort of old-fashioned in literature now which is to tell the story through a third party, like, I met this person on a boat and they told me this story about this other guy they knew that went like this... I could probably write more intelligently about this if I had gotten a worthless literature degree instead of a worthless art history degree. In any event, Anderson certainly captures that quality in the movie by framing it in several layers.  It gives it a very fairy tale quality.

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