With Fernando travelling Down Under, we start by trying on some deeply regrettable Australian accents before settling into a discussion on Dawn Of Planet Of The Apes, Under The Skin and some of the best and worst films we have seen thus far in 2014.
The Grand Budapest Hotel was, for me, a deeply unsettling cinematic experience. Not because of anything that happens in this largely tame and unchallenging comedy caper but rather, because for the first time ever, I found myself enjoying a Wes Anderson film.
Anderson is many people’s favourite director, known for films like Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom. But, for me Anderson’s films are serial contenders for worst film of the year. His films are not poorly made – on the contrary they are often sternly crafted. However, they are almost relentlessly pedantic, pretentious and kitsch.
However, all the weaknesses I’ve seen in previous Anderson films seem to combine wonderfully to make the fanciful tale of The Grand Budapest Hotel a thoroughly entertaining experience. Ralph Fiennes is wonderful as M. Gustave, an old-world gentlemen of sorts and both the younger and older Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori and F. Murray Abraham) are wonderful supports to the story-telling. And, the extensive cast, which includes Mathieu Amalric, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Léa Seydoux, Jude Law, Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson is not wasted.
Unlike The Darjeeling Limited, where a a veneer of realism hide the extent to which the India portrayed in the film really only exists in the imaginations of a certain kind of entitled, wealthy “Western” traveller,” The Grand Budapest Hotel signals from the onset, that this is a mythical Europe, a fantastical parody of early modernity.
And yet, this setting seems to allow Anderson greater freedom to extract winning performances from his actors and also go deeper into telling us something about the human condition, about nostalgia and the power of story than the rest of his cinematic work combined.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is the most surprisingly entertaining film of the year (so far) and (I can’t believe I’m writing this) a Wes Anderson film I heartily recommend to all cinema goers.