You don't arrive at the Grand Budapest Hotel without your share of Wes Anderson baggage. Odds are, if you've booked a visit to this film, you've enjoyed your past trips to the Wes Indies (I promise I'll stop this extended metaphor soon), delighting especially in Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and his most recent charmer Moonrise Kingdom. On the other hand, you could be the adventurous sort — a curious diplomat who never really got Anderson's uric-toned deadpan drudgings but can't resist browsing through the brochures of his latest European getaway. First off, neither community should worry about a bias in this review — I'm a Life Aquatic devotee, equally alienating to both sides. Second, neither community should be deterred by Andersonian expectations, be they sky high or subterranean, in planned Budapest excursions. No matter who you are, this movie will charm your dandy pants off and then some.
While GBH hangs tight to the filmmaker's recognizable style, the movie is a departure for Anderson in a number of ways. The first being plot: there is one. A doozy, too. We're accustomed to spending our Wes flicks peering into the stagnant souls of pensive man-children — or children-men (Moonrise) or fox-kits (guess) — whose journeys are confined primarily to the internal. But not long into Grand Budapest, we're on a bona fide adventure with one of the director's most attractive heroes to date: the didactic Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes mastering sympathetic comedy better than anyone could have imagined he might), who invests his heart and soul into the titular hotel, an oasis of nobility in a decaying 1930s Europe. Gustave is plucked from his sadomasochistic nirvana overseeing every cog and sprocket in the mountaintop institution and thrust into a madcap caper — reminiscent of, and not accidentally, the Hollywood comedies of the era — involving murder, framing, art theft, jailbreak, love, sex, envy, secret societies, high speed chases... believe me, I haven't given half of it away. Along the way, we rope in a courageous baker (Saoirse Ronan), a dutiful attorney (Jeff Goldblum), a hotheaded socialite (Adrien Brody) and his psychopathic henchman (Willem Dafoe), and no shortage of Anderson regulars. The director proves just as adept at the large scale as he is at the small, delivering would-be cartoon high jinks with the same tangible life that you'd find in a Billy Wilder romp or one of the better Hope/Crosby Road to movies.
Anchoring the monkey business down to a recognizable planet Earth (without sacrificing an ounce of comedy) is the throughline of Gustave's budding friendship with his lobby boy, Zero (newcomer Tony Revolori, whose performance is an unprecedented and thrilling mixture of Wes Anderson stoicism and tempered humility), the only living being who appreciates the significance of the Grand Budapest as much as Gustave does. In joining these two oddballs on their quest beyond the parameters of FDA-approved doses of zany, we appreciate it, too: the significance of holding fast to something you believe in, understand, trust, and love in a world that makes less and less sense everyday. Anderson's World War II might not be as ostensibly hard-hitting as that to which modern cinema is accustomed, but there's a chilling, somber horror story lurking beneath the surface of Grand Budapest. Behind every side-splitting laugh, cookie cutter backdrop, and otherworldly antic, there is a pulsating dread that makes it all mean something. As vivid as the worlds of Rushmore, Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Moonrise might well have been, none have had this much weight and soul.
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So it's astonishing that we're able to zip to and fro' every crevice of this haunting, misty Central Europe at top speeds, grins never waning as our hero Gustave delivers supernaturally articulate diatribes capped with physically startling profanity. So much of it is that delightfully odd, agonizingly devoted character, his unlikely camaraderie with the unflappably earnest young Zero, and his adherence to the magic that inhabits the Grand Budapest Hotel. There are few places like it on Earth, as we learn. There aren't many movies like it here either.
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British rock singer Morrissey is advertising two special guests for upcoming U.S. concerts - posters uploaded to his official fansite suggest Welsh crooner Sir Tom Jones will join him in Los Angeles in May (14) and British pop legend Sir Cliff Richard will be his special guest at a New York date in June (14). There has yet to be an official announcement confirming the gigs.
Welsh crooner Sir Tom Jones was warned by Elvis Presley not to cover Frank Sinatra's songs. The Delilah hitmaker was friends with both singers back in his music heyday, and he covered a number of songs previously made famous by Sinatra, including My Way and Fly Me To The Moon, with the blessing of the Rat Pack star.
However, Presley was less enthusiastic about the Welshman's takes on the classic tracks and warned Jones to stay away from the iconic singer's music.
Jones tells British radio station Magic 105.4, ''I knew Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley very well. I did an album of Frank Sinatra type things and Elvis listened and said, 'Tom I heard that thing' and I said... 'Yeah and?' Elvis said, 'We leave that to Frank Sinatra, we don't go there'.''
However, Jones insists Sinatra enjoyed his crooner style and was concerned when he started releasing more rock-orientated music.
He continues, "When I do something a little more rocky, Frank would say: 'Tom, when I go and they (management) ask me who could replace me, I say you! So don't go making records like that!'.''
Pop star Kylie Minogue turned down an original offer to sit on the panel of Britain's The Voice after suffering sleepless nights. The Spinning Around superstar felt pressured to take the top TV job when the U.K. version of the show first aired on the BBC in 2012, and she admits she was wracked with worry as she tried to make a decision.
She tells Britain's The Sun, "I lost sleep back then. I really felt a lot of pressure and I didn't know what the right decision was. My record company were really keen but I didn't buckle.
"I feel like it was the right decision now because this feels great, it feels like it's the right time."
The opportunity came around again after Jessie J gave up her seat on the series, and Minogue was finally persuaded to make her talent show debut after fellow mentor will.i.am crashed a meeting with TV executives.
She adds, "I was considering it and I didn't know what the answer was. Then I had a meeting in L.A. and will.i.am bombed the meeting. I just had one question to Will - how was the experience? He said he loved it so I thought, 'OK, that's cool'."
Minogue will sit alongside will.i.am, Welsh crooner Tom Jones and the Kaiser Chiefs' Ricky Wilson when the show's third run begins on 11 January (14).
Britain's police watchdog has launched an official investigation into allegations cops in Wales ignored warnings from Ian Watkins' ex-girlfriend about his desire to abuse children. The Lostprophets frontman appeared in court in Cardiff, Wales on Tuesday (26Nov13) for the first day of his trial and pleaded guilty to a number of sickening child sex charges including attempting to rape a baby.
Watkins' former girlfriend has now spoken out in the aftermath of the Welsh singer's shocking admissions, claiming she notified South Wales Police of his perverted sexual appetites back in 2008.
Former call girl Joanne Majic had an on/off relationship with Watkins from 2006, and claims she went straight to the authorities when he confided in her about his desire to have sex with children.
Majic, who was due to be a major witness at Watkins' trial, tells Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper, "Everything changed for us when he confided in me that he wanted to abuse children in 2008. I went straight to South Wales Police then and made a complaint but they ignored me and said I needed evidence. I warned them this man was a danger to young kids but I think they thought I was just a trouble maker.
"I couldn't believe how indifferent the police were, it was like they were taking his side and dismissing me as some stalker. I told Ian I had gone to the police and we argued but he was so cocky, he did not think the police would touch him and he was right."
Officials at Britain's Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) launched a probe following Watkins' arrest in December, 2012, with IPCC Commissioner for Wales Tom Davies saying in a statement, "Our investigation will determine whether or not South Wales Police failed to take appropriate and timely action in relation to information they were in receipt of in advance of Mr Watkins subsequent arrest."
Watkins is due to be sentenced next month (Dec13).
Welsh rockers Stereophonics stunned fans in Manchester, England this week (beg11Nov13) when they brought Sir Tom Jones on to the stage for an impromptu duet. The band is currently touring the U.K. and they played at the Manchester Arena on Thursday night (13Nov13), thrilling gig-goers by announcing they had a special guest half-way through the show.
Jones then walked out on stage and burst into his hit duet with the group, Mama Told Me Not To Come.
The Delilah legend teamed up with group for the collaboration in 1999 for his best-selling Reloaded album.
Welsh actor Rhys Ifans is set to go solo in a one-man play about the 'Occupy' protests in London in 2011. The Notting Hill star will perform in Protest Song, a piece written by Tim Price which focuses on the anti-corporate greed campaigns which took over the area surrounding London's iconic St. Paul's Cathedral for several months.
Ifans will play a homeless man who awakes to find himself surrounded by demonstrators. The play will run from 16 December (13) to 11 January (14).
Radiohead's Thom Yorke, Massive Attack and Rage Against The Machine star Tom Morello were among the stars who were outspoken in their support for the rallies, which took place in major cities around the world.
After Dark Films
It seems a bit odd to take on a movie review of Courtney Solomon's Getaway, as only in the loosest terms is Getaway actually a movie. We begin without questions — other than a vague and frustrating "What the hell is going on?" — and end without answers, watching Ethan Hawke drive his car into things (and people) for the hour and a half in between. We learn very little along the way, probed to engage in the mystery of the journey. But we don't, because there's no reason to.
There's not a single reason to wonder about any of the things that happen to Hawke's former racecar driver/reformed criminal — forced to carry out a series of felonious commands by a mysterious stranger who is holding his wife hostage — because there doesn't seem to be a single ounce of thought poured into him beyond what he see. We learn, via exposition delivered by him to gun-toting computer whiz Selena Gomez, that he "did some bad things" before meeting the love of his life and deciding to put that all behind him. Then, we stop learning. We stop thinking. We start crashing into police cars and Christmas trees and power plants.
Why is Selena Gomez along for the ride? Well, the beginnings of her involvement are defensible: Hawke is carrying out his slew of vehicular crimes in a stolen car. It's her car. And she's on a rampage to get it back. But unaware of what she's getting herself into, Gomez confronts an idling Hawke with a gun, is yanked into the automobile, and forced to sit shotgun while the rest of the driver's "assignments" are carried out. But her willingness to stick by Hawke after hearing his story is ludicrous. Their immediate bickering falls closer to catty sexual tension than it does to genuine derision and fear (you know, the sort of feelings you'd have for someone who held you up or forced you into accessorizing a buffet of life-threatening crimes).
After Dark Films
The "gradual" reversal of their relationship is treated like something we should root for. But with so little meat packed into either character, the interwoven scenes of Hawke and Gomez warming up to each other and becoming a team in the quest to save the former's wife serve more than anything else as a breather from all the grotesque, impatient, deliberately unappealing scenes of city wreckage.
And as far as consolidating the mystery, the film isn't interested in that either, as evidenced by its final moments. Instead of pressing focus on the answers to whatever questions we may have, the movie's ultimate reveal is so weak, unsubstantial, and entirely disconnected to the story entirely, that it seems almost offensive to whatever semblance of a film might exist here to go out on this note. Offensive to the idea of film and story in general, as a matter of fact. But Getaway isn't concerned with these notions. Not with story, character, logic, or humanity. It just wants to show us a bunch of car crashes and explosions. So you'd think it might have at least made those look a little better.
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Veteran crooner Sir Tom Jones is the latest musician under pressure to scrap a show in Israel. The Welsh icon is set to perform in Tel Aviv in October (13), but members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) have called for Jones to pull the plug on his gig.
They have posted an online petition where more than 1,000 campaigners have urged the singer to cancel the show.
A PSC spokesperson says, "Tom's show will breach the Palestinian call to boycott Israel until it complies with international law and ends its human rights abuses of the Palestinian people."
The petition comes as rocker Roger Waters vowed to boycott Israel, and Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Santana and The Pixies have also scrapped shows there in recent years.
Earlier this year (13) Alicia Keys refused to bow to pressure and went ahead with her gig in Tel Aviv despite Waters' pleas.
British actor Tom Chambers was turned down for a coveted role in hit period drama Downton Abbey because producers decided he was not posh enough for the job. The 36 year old, who hails from a village in the Midlands region of England, auditioned for the part of Lady Mary Crawley's new love interest, and admits he was devastated to lose out on on the role.
He tells the Birmingham Mail, "I was told I didn't have enough blue blood in me to join the series. I was extremely eager to get the role, so it was disappointing, but you have to become very thick-skinned about the things that don't come your way."
In the upcoming fourth season of the hit show, Welsh actor Tom Cullen will play Lord Anthony Gillingham, who courts Lady Mary after her husband's death, while Julian Ovenden will play another suitor named Charles Blake.
The series will also feature new castmembers including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Nigel Harman, Joanna David and Dame Harriet Walter.