I’ve been spoilt for choice in what to write about this week. I’ve looked at a couple of my mother’s books from her collection of Penguin Classics, I watched A Fistful of Dollars for the first time, catching up on my lack of Westerns, I saw the first episode of the new Doctor Who, with Peter Capaldi picking up the gauntlet from Matt Smith slowly, but strongly, I watched The Muppets: Most Wanted, and tried to hide the fact that behind my dissatisfied face that I secretly enjoyed it, much to my dismay and I also watched The Book Thief… I haven’t written a negative review in a while and it would of been good practise to tear the film to pieces.
My plan for this week was to do an experimental post about The Color Purple: Book vs. Film. Unfortunately, I am writing this post on a winding country lane in a black Land Rover, my dog’s tongue reaching behind me towards my face as I listen to muffled Daft Punk from my brother’s headphones. He should really turn it down, but more importantly, I don’t have time to write such a long review in this sluggish black box.
I have made the choice of The Grand Budapest Hotel to star in this week’s Pick. I bought it for my mum’s birthday, along with some sort of lotion kit. As being the opposite sex, I can only describe it as “stuff that makes you smell nice”. Digression aside, let’s take a room in The Grand Budapest Hotel.
The film is based on the writings of Stefan Zweig, and bases itself on a girl in the present day, reading the story of Author in 1985, who went on a trip in 1968, who is listening to the old owner of the hotel telling him a story from 1932 in the Grand Budapest Hotel… you might have to grit your teeth and bear the first few minutes.
The old man, Zero, was a lobby boy at the Grand Budapest, who tells the surprisingly exciting story of how he gets wound up in a murder that leads to him being chased by a crazed killer, stealing a priceless painting for 1.5% of the profit and breaking his concierge out of jail.
The main thing to say about this film is the style. It is unique, quirky and precise. Blending small pieces of animation and using sharply coloured scenes, costume and props, it creates an oddly surreal world, as if I’ve just walked into a Terry Prachett book.
Everything is placed perfectly. You can look at one of the scenes, and see everything is placed exactly where it needs to be. I could best describe it as a theatre, with everything onstage being placed by the crew to the letter. This compliments the quick and witty dialogue that also allows each scene to neatly and effortlessly slide from one part to the next. Literally, the drop of a piece of paper seems so excellently timed and precise as to fall and land exactly where the director wants it. It truly is different, imaginative and magical.
As a note, the style reminded me a little of the music video for ‘Little Talks’ by Of Monsters and Men, which is used more for special effects, like sledging down a snowy mountain.
I was pleasantly surprised with the plot. Judging by the cover of the DVD, with the name of the actor/actress and name of character respectively (and now I think about it, the cover helped with the whole theatre idea, the cover being like the programme) I thought it would just be all of them stuffed in the hotel and it would be another standard, star-studded, character-based movie.
With a bit of a confusing start, the story progresses with young Zero, played by Tony Revolori, joining the Grand Budapest Hotel under the watchful eye of Monsieur Gustave, Ralph Fiennes. After one of Gustaves’ many old partners, Tilda Swinton as Madame D., dies after leaving the hotel, he and Zero goes to her wake and will reading. After enraging her family, he is framed for the murder, and the story progresses in numbered parts as Zero tries to clear Gustaves’ name of the murder.
The story was an exciting one, and wasn’t refined to the hotel, which I liked. It is cleverly written as to add more characters into the story, who are all involved in the same storyline.
The characters in interest were amazing. I particularly liked Gustave, who’s mannered speech invokes witty jibes, teaches Zero the ways of running a hotel and involves a significant amount of random poetry that he himself writes. This soon rubs off onto Zero and his fiancé, Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), which leads to more clever exchanges between characters.
However magical and fun the film may seem, there are some gritty truths in the film. World War Two is starting up, Zero’s backstory is surprisingly dark and saddening and the passage of time is made quite clear at the beginning and end of the film, and how it affects us all.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a diamond in the rough. The writing is cleverly impish and the cinematography is one-of-a-kind. Characters are not nessasarily deep, but are interesting and fun to watch. Not much else is needed to be said. The film tries something different and passes with flying colours. Full marks are given, end of.
This might be a shorter review, but I am away in Pembroke for the next five days. I’l try and get something up a little more chunky next week. See you all then!