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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The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
90210 actress Jennie Garth has fuelled rumors that Robert Pattinson is dating Kristen Stewart -- her husband Peter Facinelli told her the Brit actor is romancing one of his Twilight co-stars.
Stewart and Pattinson have been dogged by reports that they are dating ever since they first appeared onscreen together in last year's vampire love story.
The romance rumors went into overdrive when they started shooting the sequel New Moon in Canada earlier this year, but the pair has always denied they're anything but close friends and co-stars.
Pattinson has also previously been linked to another co-star, Nikki Reed.
And Garth, whose husband Facinelli plays a father figure to Pattinson's character Edward Cullen in the films, admits the actor is indeed romancing one of his co-stars -- but refuses to reveal which one.
She tells the New York Daily News, "I can't say (who it is), because that would be breaking my promise (to husband Facinelli), but he (Pattinson) is dating one of them."
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Top Story: The Donald Fires Kwame, Hires Bill
Bill Rancic, a Chicago-based cigar company entrepreneur, prevailed in the cutthroat game of corporate politics played in NBC's hit reality series to be named real estate mogul Donald Trump's first Apprentice. In the two-hour finale of the show Rancic barely beat out Wall Street investment manager Kwame Jackson, securing a $250,000-a-year job supervising construction of a new Trump skyscraper in Chicago and a new Chrysler Crossfire. Reuters reports Rancic told reporters after the show that he thought his agility and adaptability had helped him win, along with a preference for micromanaging, which Trump advocated in his latest book. Jackson, however, freely admitted many times during the finale that he preferred not to be a micromanager. "Today is a great day for entrepreneurs around the country," Rancic gushed. "And it's probably the biggest day of my life." On the other hand, calling himself "an unadulterated capitalist," Jackson promised, "you'll see me cutting deals all across the board," starting with his new TV, video game and live event production company.
Schwarzenegger Appoints Friends to Film Board
In an effort to bolster the film business in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named former Twins co-star Danny DeVito and actor/director Clint Eastwood to the California Film Commission, a 26-member group that will encourage filmmakers to make films in the Golden State and will work to reduce taxes and other liabilities that make Hollywood less attractive to filmmakers, Reuters reports. "The mission is very important to keep production here," Schwarzenegger said at a press conference Thursday, referring to the flight of Hollywood productions to other countries such as Canada and the Czech Republic, many of which offer incentives to film there. "We want to make sure that Hollywood becomes the booming town it once was." Others on the board include actor/director Bill Duke and producers Lili Zanuck and Tom Werner.
HIV Scare Shuts Down Porn Industry
California's multibillion-dollar adult porn industry ground to a virtual halt on Thursday after a popular actor, Darren James, tested positive for the HIV virus, Reuters reports. James tested positive for HIV on Wednesday in a screening conducted routinely on the industry's 1,200 regular actors by the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare (AIM) Foundation, the foundation's Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell told Reuters. They must show negative tests to keep working in the industry, Mitchell said, adding that only about 17 percent of performers use condoms. Mitchell said James might have contracted the virus about four weeks ago while filming in Brazil on a "non-condom" set. Industry advocates immediately called for a 60-day suspension on filming so that others James may have infected could be tested.
Cobain Biopic Planned
The WB Network is developing an original movie about late rock icon Kurt Cobain, the frontman for the band Nirvana who shot himself in 1994. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the network has obtained the rights to Charles Cross' 2001 book Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain, could be aired as early as next season. The day Kurt Cobain died was the day the music died for a generation," Tana Nugent Jamieson, senior VP of the WB's new longform original programming unit, told the Reporter. "His story is perfect for our audience." No casting or director is attached.
American Idol Be Damned!
After the surprising success of Idol reject William Hung, the WB is also launching a new reality series called The WB's Superstar USA, in which the contestants are unaware of the true nature of the show--that the judges are looking for "singers" who do not really sing that well, Reuters reports. The show, which the network calls "an off-key version of the red hot performance reality genre," will air over seven episodes beginning May 17.
All-Gay Cabler Launches
Here! TV, a supplier of gay and lesbian-oriented content to satellite customers via pay-per-view, is eyeing an Oct. 1 launch for a round-the-clock programming service that will feature classic and original films and TV shows, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Some of Here!'s original content includes series Dante's Cove, a gay and lesbian Gothic horror thriller and Weapons of Mass Destruction, a spy thriller.
Role Call: Malkovich Hitches Ride to Galaxy
John Malkovich has signed to do the feature film adaptation of the classic Douglas Adams novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The story follows an undercover alien, Ford Prefect, who sets off on an intergalactic journey with his best friend and the film's protagonist, earthling Arthur Dent. The duo hitch a ride through space--with the two-headed ex-hippie Zaphod; his girlfriend, the beautiful scientist Trillion; and a robot--to discover the meaning of life. Galaxy begins shooting this month in London, with Garth Jennings at the helm and stars Mos Def, Martin Freeman, Zooey Deschanel and Sam Rockwell. Malkovich will play religious cult leader Humma Kavula.
Mel Gibson, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey are among some of the stars who will read the Declaration of Independence at July Fourth TV gala to be produced by Norman Lear, The Associated Press reports. The reading will be broadcast live on ABC from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and will include a Garth Brooks concert and fireworks. Lear and a partner paid a record $8.14 million last year for a 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence.