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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Tonight's episode had guest Shark Steve Tisch sitting in Robert Herjavec's seat. Tisch is co-owner of the New York Giants, whose stadium happens to be the host site for the Super Bowl coming up on Sunday. Could his appearance have been timed to this? Nahhhhh. Much as I like Herjavec, it's always nice to see some fresh blood among the Sharks.
The first presentation started off really weirdly with Chris Pouy, one of the entrepreneurs, wearing a cow outfit. The other one, Tiffany Panhilason, wore an elegant orange dress, so there was some kind of visual disparity at first. Just look at the picture above. Yeah. Points for some originality, but the Sharks were rolling their eyes pretty early on before Pouhy switched into a dress jacket and shirt. They were pitching Cow Wow Cereal Milk. Yes. they actually saved the remnants of the milk at the bottom of cereal bowl. Besides the sugar amount and the fact that the market was already so saturated (pun intended), the Sharks weren't wowed at the $250,000 and 10% equity they were asking for. For me, their packaging reminded me too much of those muscle drinks you see at gyms. No Shark bit and they were reduced to making cow puns in the hall afterwards. "We'll keep on moo-ving." Right. That made me want to reach for an alcoholic beverage. I'm udderly serious. No! Don't click away! I won't do that again.
This was another two-person pitch. They were Joan Pacetti and Julia Schmid, two sisters from Normal, Illinois. There should be a horror movie set in a town like that ... well, because weird things happening in a place called Normal. C'mon. That should write itself. I want royalties if it does happen. They were pitching Cookie Dough Cafe, which was what it sounds like: raw cookie dough, but safe to eat since it has no eggs in it. Mark Cuban, Daymond John and Kevin O'Leary were offput by the low number of sales, with O'Leary saying quite a few unkind things. However, Lori Greiner and Tisch saw the potential, and after a bit of haggling and the sisters being lucky that the two Sharks weren't mad that they didn't immediately jump at the offer, they paired up for a deal for $100,000 for 30%.
The update was for Pro-NRG, which was protein infused water. John had invested in it. They had over $1.5 million in sales since then and Brandon Jacobs, the recently-retired running back for the Giants, was still the spokesman
The third person was Terry Jones, the CEO of Nexersys. The product was a workout machine where people punched various pads while looking at at a video simulation of a boxer. The thing that sank this pitch very quickly was the fact that he had a lot of investors and a lot of debt, which was a bad combination. The Sharks kept asking tougher and tougher questions, with Jones looking more and more like a hapless lightweight boxer being ferociously hit by a young Mike Tyson, an example that John alluded to during the presentation. He was soon KO'd with no deal and the Sharks thinking that he was going to wind up being an employee of his own company with the debt load. The pitch did last longer than some of Tyson's early fights, though.
The fourth pitch was for Cycloramic and it was by far the coolest thing I've seen in a long time. What it was was an app that harnessed the vibrate function on a smartphone and allowed it to turn on its own on a flat surface and take a panoramic picture. It was one of those things that had to be seen to understand how amazing that was. The entrepreneur, Bruno Francois was swarmed by Sharks in one of the few good examples of a feeding frenzy. Eventually Greiner and Cuban paired together - with Greiner even switching partners in mid-stream. She had originally paired with Tisch and then jumped on Cuban's offering for $500,000 and 15% equity, which Francois accepted, but not before Greiner jumped up in the middle of other Sharks trying to get other offers in and nearly bellowing, "STOP!" to get them to quit trying to ruin her deal, which she had nearly closed. Tisch was befuddled at her change of heart with the partnership but there's the whole saying about women and changing their minds. Cuban and Greiner were the best two to do it: they know technology and they know how to get things out fast. I was happy to see Francois choose them.
"It's a hobby that should be taken behind the barn and shot." -- O'Leary did NOT like the Cookie Dough Cafe at all.
"If you do this deal, I'm going to add egg to yours." -- O'Leary did NOT want John to do a deal with the Cookie Dough Cafe people.
"Kevin hears the word 'dough' and he gets confused." -- Cuban riffing on O'Leary's love of money.
"I'm going to give you some rolling paper so you can smoke this stuff." -- O'Leary to the Cookie Dough Cafe women after they hemmed and hawed on Greiner and Tisch's initial offer.
"She'd kick my ass." -- Cuban remarking on the model who was hitting the Nexersys pads.
"I just wanted to knock his ass out." -- Cuban on using the Nexersys system to punch an avatar of O'Leary, whom the Mavericks owner is fond of taking shots at.
"His mouthpiece is in the third row, Lori." -- John alluding to how badly Jones was going to get hit when his debt came due.
"Welcome to the Shark Tank rook!" -- Cuban after Greiner switched partners to join him and abandoning a partnership with Tisch in the last segment .Of course, billionaires can needle each other like that.
Robbie Rogers made U.S. sporting history on Sunday night (26May13) when he became the first openly gay man to participate in a professional league game. The soccer star came on as a substitute for the Los Angeles Galaxy in the team's 4-0 victory over Washington's Seattle Sounders.
Rogers, 26, stepped away from Major League Soccer after coming out in February (13), but returned after encouragement from his agent and high-ranking U.S. soccer officials, including Seattle's coach Sigi Schmid.
The Galaxy star, who played the final 13 minutes of Sunday's game, has revealed he also found encouragement in speaking with gay teenagers about their experiences.
Team coach Bruce Arena told reporters after the game that he's glad the star is back on the field, adding, "In a lot of ways, the easy part is over. Now the difficult part remains, getting him positioned to play, and that’s going to take some time."
Times have been tough for Aidan, the vampire played by Sam Witwer who rooms with a ghost and a werewolf on Syfy's version of the U.K. hit Being Human. He's been drained of blood and buried underground, and the entire vampire way of life is threatened by the flu epidemic that's swept the planet: AKA, no fresh blood. To complicate matters, his roommate Sally (Meaghan Rath) is no longer a ghost, thus making what seemed to be an impossible romance very possible after all. And this is only four episodes into Season 3! We caught up with Witwer about what the character's been going through and what's ahead. The amazing thing is, despite all that's happened, Witwer doesn't even think Aidan's storyline truly kicks into high gear until next week.
Hollywood.com: Aidan's been through a lot in these recent episodes. He's been buried alive, drained of blood, and now the flu epidemic has resulted in a kind of vampire armageddon, since they can't get fresh blood. What's Aidan's state of mind right now?
SW: Oh, he’s completely unhinged. He doesn’t know what to think, doesn’t know where to go. One of the things that was so interesting was that we had Henry (Kyle Schmid) and Aidan reunited, except that the roles were reversed. It used to be that Aidan was the calm one with all the answers and Henry was the one flipping out saying, “What about this? What about that?” Now it’s the opposite. Aidan is so out of his element that he's panicking, looking for any kind of answer, and Henry is like, “Well, I have the answer. You just might not like it.” That’s a lot of fun. But this guy? He doesn’t know what the hell’s going on, and really he’s not going to start getting on track in terms of putting himself back together for awhile. That underground thing really messed Aidan up.
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HW: And yet Aidan never really shows just how messed up he is...
SW: One of the most fun things about playing him, and it’s something that we discovered this year in a big way, is that he’s a character with a lot of subtext. And if you don’t have that subtext, the character doesn’t work. Josh (Sam Huntington), Sally, Nora (Kristen Hager), they all tell you what’s going on with them. Aidan? Anything he tells you is a lie. He’ll never tell you what’s actually going on with him. He’ll say, “Yeah, I’m fine.” Well, no, he’s not. Not even a little bit. And so the fun of it has been seeking out those moments of subtext where you see what’s actually going on with him, where you see him expressing himself honestly, rather than trying to cover up what’s happening.
HW: How is he dealing with Sally no longer being a ghost?
SW: That's an interesting question, because you have two people who absolutely love each other very much and yet never ever considered that there was any possibility of romance between each other. But now, circumstances have changed. For one, she’s a person now. You can touch her. She’s real. But two, she’s been through so much since we first met her, so she’s a much more mature character. She’s a bit more world-weary, much like Aidan. So it’s almost like they’re being reintroduced to each other, and there are some confusing moments where they go, “Wait a second? Is this a possibility? Weird.” I’m not saying that it becomes a big thing, but, hey, maybe it will.
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HW: Aidan's always wanted to be rid of the vampire world, and now he's basically gotten his wish. Is this a "Be careful what you wish for" kind of scenario?
SW: Henry and Aidan are trying to figure out how to navigate this new world, and without Henry trapping people and draining them of blood. Basically the apocalypse has happened for vampires. They can’t find clean blood anywhere because of the flu pandemic so all the vampires are either dead or dying. The thing is, the world has moved on and hasn’t even noticed this has happened to the vampires. So Aidan’s walking on crowded streets...but also feeling entirely isolated. Aidan’s always said, “I’d love to be in a world, in which I wouldn’t have to deal with vampires.” But now he’s in that world, and he finds that it’s tremendously isolating, and there were people among that society that in fact he did like and would have wanted to spend more time with. Definitely a “be careful what you wish for” kind of scenario.
HW: Otherwise it seems like Aidan's story is a slow-burn this season.
SW: Going forward, he’s going to try to assert his moral authority on Henry, and it may very well backfire, which could send Aidan to a destructive place. Who knows? Aidan’s story is interesting, because we have a lot of things to get out of the way. In terms of where the season goes, Aidan’s story is just getting warmed up. I’d say it only gets pretty eventful around episodes 5 or 6. Aidea’s a slow simmer this season. But by the end his story is a freight train with a lot of momentum behind it, and I’m very happy with how it progresses.
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HW: There was a lot of setup in the first few episodes, but now Season 3 seems to be settling into a groove. Do you think the fans will like when it's all said and done?
SW: This season is the show that I saw in my head when I first read the script. It’s absolutely our character season. I’ve read some reviews where people are concerned that a lot of plot points are being introduced and don’t know how they’ll be developed, and it’s so nice to just sit back and be like, “Don’t worry about it.” This is all set-up, but eventually we settle into character moment after character moment, dealing with the things that we’ve set up. It’s not what I’d call a plot-heavy season, except that when the plot does take a twist or turn, it’s really momentous. This season is definitely more about existing as these people in their world, living in their shoes, seeing how they interact with each other and develop their relationships. That’s the show I wanted to do. A show that’s about these people, who they want, how they feel about each other. And then suddenly the crap hits the fan, something insane happens and you get right back to the people. Anna Fricke has really delivered the character season.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Syfy]
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David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]