Thursday, April 10, 2014

Grand Budapest Hotel (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“Grand Budapest Hotel”
Welcomes Your Visit

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Have you ever been to Budapest? I haven’t either … but Wes Anderson’s new movie offers a parallel universe you can visit for the price of a movie ticket at the Tropic Cinema.

Like “Moonrise Kingdom,” this is a highly stylized world where we meet the marionettes in Anderson’s latest well-staged puppet play. This time he calls it “The Grand Budapest Hotel” -- not to be confused with “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Grand Hotel,” or even “Hotel California.”

Our movie Trip Advisor takes us to a down-on-its-luck hotel located in the Republic of Zubrowka, a tiny European nation that is on the brink of war. Here we encounter the story of Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), the Grand Budapest Hotel’s concierge, a suave man who gives “exceptional service” to the elderly ladies who stay there.

One of them is Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), a paramour who croaks after spending the night with Gustave. Turns out, she’s bequeathed him a valuable painting known as “Boy With Apple.” This enrages her greedy son, Dmitri Desgoffe-und-Taxis (Adrien Brody), who frames Gustave for his mother’s death.

A lobby boy (that is, a bellhop) named Zero (Tony Revolori) helps the amorous concierge escape from prison, but a fearsome assassin (Willem Dafoe) is on their trail. They trek to a monastery in search of a man who can provide Gustave with an alibi for the night of the supposed murder. From there they return to the Grand Budapest to recover the painting from its hiding spot, only to discover the identity of the hotel’s mysterious owner.

It’s a grand tale, staged for us by Wes Anderson’s repertoire of favorite players: Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Wilkinson, and Bob Balaban.

As a filmmaker Wes Anderson is settling into a highly personalized style. Like all his films, you will either love it or hate it. Me, I’d stay at Anderson’s hotel any time I get an invitation.

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