The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – Wes Anderson

The final title in The Directory, marking the end of my time with DK Canada’s exceptional The Movie Book is this fun, quirky film from writer/director Wes Anderson and starring Ralph Fiennes.

Anderson packs the film with his favourite actors as he has done throughout his films. Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan, Lea Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Jude Law and F. Murray Abraham all have wonderful roles in this film as the story follows Gustave (Fiennes) the legendary concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel in the early half of the 20th century,on the cusp of World War II, and the adventure he finds himself on with the Lobby Boy, Zero (Tony Revolori).

Sparkling dialogue, hilarious moments, funny sets, model work, and lots of eccentric bits  (and ratio changes) are all anchored by a charming performance by Fiennes makes this one of my favourite Anderson films.

A murder, a priceless painting, etiquette, manners, prison escapes,changes in a will, delightful use of vulgarities, all combine to hilariously play out in this delightful confection. Editing, framing, pacing all play vital roles in this tale, the dialogue is rapid-fire, and the visuals are pitch perfect.

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There’s a sense of whimsy to Anderson’s sense of narrative, like a storybook come to life, which is aided by the use of narration, set design and on screen text. It all creates a world that exists only within the confines of the screening, and then returned to the shelf from which the story was drawn.

In all honesty, I’ve delighted in all of Anderson’s films while recognising that they are an acquired taste. He has a stock of actors that he likes to work with, and each of them has their own eccentricities which only serve to layer out the strange, yet familiar world Anderson guides us through.

There’s nothing I don’t like in this film, everything is perfect, and Fiennes is completely at home in the world and the character. In fact, he looks as if he’s having a truly marvellous time.

Dafoe and Brody are wonderfully villainous. That being said, not a single cast member’s screen time is wasted. They all have their moments, sparkling dialogue, and share some truly inspired chemistry with their co-stars.

And I delight every time Anderson uses Bill Murray (seven to date), even if he only appears for a few moments. The Grand Budapest, indeed, one could argue all of Anderson’s films are treasures, with the beauty of them being that they can be enjoyed over and over, and with the level of detail on the screen, new things can be discovered with each new viewing.

That closes out DK Books’ The Movie Book for me. It’s a great addition to the growing cinephile library shelf that I have going. Pick one up yourself and find a new to you classic, or old favourite to watch tonight.

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