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 Sherlock Holmes star sued for breach of privacy and confidence against Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World, which closed last July (11) after 168 years amid the fallout from the hacking scandal.
Law, who alleged his cell phone voicemail messages had been repeatedly listened to between 2003 and 2006, has now accepted $208,000 (£130,000) in damages, and his ex-wife Sadie Frost receives $80,000 (£50,000), London's High Court heard on Thursday (19Jan12).
In a statement, Law says, "Over a number of years, the News of the World conducted an illegal campaign of hacking and surveillance against me. In 2011, I decided to bring legal proceedings against them to try to find out the truth.
"Today, in court, it has been announced that those proceedings have been completely successful... For me this case was never about money. It was about standing up for myself and finding out what had happened."
British singer Cheryl Cole's former husband, soccer star Ashley Cole, Noel Gallagher's ex-wife Meg Matthews, and Australian pop star Dannii Minogue have all also reached a settlement with the paper's publisher News International.
Dawson gets arrested near GOP protests
Actress Rosario Dawson (25th Hour, The Rundown) was arrested near the route of anti-Republican protests in New York after she refused to get off the road, authorities told The Associated Press. In New York filming the indie film This Revolution, the actress and the film's director, Stephen Marshall, were both arrested after they were spotted in a road with about 30 people gathered around them, wearing handkerchiefs as masks with only their eyes showing. A police officer told Dawson and the other person that they had to leave the roadway, the complaint said, but they reportedly refused, AP reports. Marshall reportedly tried to show police his city film permit but was arrested anyway. Each was charged with two counts of disorderly conduct and one charge of obstructing governmental administration. They were released without bail and told to return to court Nov. 9.
Jackson tops CMS nominations
The Country Music Association announced their nominations for the 38th annual CMA Awards, with Alan Jackson garnered seven, including entertainer of the year and male vocalist, AP reports. Toby Keith followed with six nominations including album of the year for Shock'N Y'all. The other best album nominees are Brad Paisley for Mud on the Tires, Brooks & Dunn for Red Dirt Road, Kenny Chesney for When the Sun Goes Down and newcomer Gretchen Wilson for Here for the Party. CBS will broadcast the CMA awards show, hosted by Brooks & Dunn, live from Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House on Nov. 9.
Avril Lavigne stalker charged
James Speedy, 30, was charged with stalking Canadian singer Avril Lavigne after making repeated attempts to contact her and traveling to her parents' home in Ontario, local authorities told Reuters, but has said through a lawyer that while he was a big fan of the 19-year-old rock singer, he did not stalk her. Speedy was arrested in April just before Lavigne was scheduled to give a free concert at a Seattle area shopping mall, and told police he had sent e-mails and gifts to Lavigne, her family and managers. He was released on bail at the time and was formally charged late on Friday, Lynnwood police said. Speedy traveled to Napanee, Ontario, last year, where he was arrested and told to leave Canada and not return within a year, according to Canadian news reports.
Dave Matthews Band cooperates in sewage investigation
Apparently the Dave Matthews Band wants to help. Following a lawsuit filed by the state of Illinois who contends the band's tour bus emptied its septic tank while crossing a grated bridge over the Chicago River, dousing a boatload of tourist underneath the bridge, the Dave Matthews Band says it is cooperating with authorities to determine what happened, AP reports. The band issued a statement on its Web site saying members have offered to provide DNA evidence to help authorities determine the source of the sewage. In its statement, the band also said that if its bus is found to be responsible for the incident, the band will "work quickly to make amends, with the people on the boat and with Chicago." "We care deeply about what happened to the people on the boat that day, which was terrible, and the damage that occurred to Chicago's environment," the letter states. "We are not attempting to avoid any responsibility we may have for the incident."
NBC's Olympic ratings rocket
A total of 203 million viewers watched at least some of NBC Universal's 17-day coverage of the Summer Olympics, making it the most-watched non-U.S. Summer Olympics in history, The Hollywood Reporter reports. According to Nielsen Media Research, viewership for the games surpassed the 2000 games in Sydney (185 million), the 1992 games in Barcelona (192 million) and 1988 games in Seoul (194 million). NBC Universal telecast 1,200 hours of Olympics programming across its networks Bravo and USA Network, which along with CNBC and MSNBC, brought in 69 million viewers. NBC, meanwhile, won every half-hour in primetime for each of the 17 days. An average 19.6 million viewers watched Sunday night's closing ceremony in Athens.
Kelsey Grammer and wife welcome second child
Kelsey Grammer and wife Camille Donatacci welcomed a new addition to their family Saturday. The baby boy, named Jude Gordon, was born in Sacramento, California via a surrogate mother, the actor's spokesman said Monday. Grammer, 49, and Donatacci, 36, have a daughter, Mason Olivia, who was born to a surrogate mother in 2001. Grammer, who is best known for playing the pompous but likable psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane on NBC's hit sitcoms Cheers (1984-1993) and Frasier (1993-2004), also has a 20-year-old daughter with his first wife, Doreen Alderman, and a 12-year-old daughter with ex-girlfriend Barrie Buckner.
Major Dad actor hospitalized
Gerald McRaney, who played the no-nonsense military man on the long-running sitcom Major Dad, underwent surgery Monday to remove a cancerous growth from his lung, the AP reports. His Los Angeles publicist said Mc Raney, a 56-year-old longtime smoker, had the surgery at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "I'm sure that he will plan to quit," spokesman Henri Bollinger said. The growth was detected during a physical examination McRaney underwent before minor knee surgery two weeks ago. McRaney will remain in the hospital for several days before returning to work on the new TV series Commando Nanny, set to air this fall on the WB network.