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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Sunday night marked the 2013 Academy Awards, when the best and the brightest in Hollywood gathered to celebrate the best and the brightest filmmaking of the year. And the ceremony came complete with a few surprises. Not only did Life of Pi walk away with the most wins of the evening — four Oscars — but the film's Ang Lee eked out David O. Russell and Steven Spielberg for Best Director. But there were some expected finishes as well: Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress, Daniel Day-Lewis took Best Actor, and Adele even scored Best Original Song for "Skyfall."
But who else picked up awards? Check out the full list of winners below!
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The 2013 Academy Award Winners:
Best Picture:Beasts Of The Southern WildSilver Lingings PlaybookZero Dark ThirtyLincolnLes MiserablesLife Of PiDjango UnchainedWinner: ArgoAmour
Best Actor:Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis, LincolnDenzel Washington, FlightHugh Jackman, Les MiserablesBradley Cooper, Silver Linings PlaybookJoaquin Phoenix, The Master
Best Actress:Naomi Watts, The ImpossibleJessica Chastain, Zero Dark ThirtyWinner: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings PlaybookEmmanuelle Riva, AmourQuvenzhane Wallis, Beasts Of The Southern Wild
The 2013 Academy Award Winners:Best Director:David O. Russell, Silver Linings PlaybookWinner: Ang Lee, Life Of PiSteven Spielberg, LincolnMichael Haneke, AmourBenh Zeitlin,Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Best Writing, Original Screenplay:Flight, Written by John GatinsZero Dark Thirty, Written by Mark BoalWinner: Django Unchained, Written by Quentin TarantinoAmour, Written by Michael HanekeMoonrise Kingdom, Written by West Anderson and Roman Coppola
Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay:Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Screenplay by Lucy Alibar and Benh ZeitlinWinner: Argo, Written by Chris TerrioLincoln, Written by Tony KushnerSilver Linings Playbook, Written by David O. RussellLife Of Pi, Written by David Magee
Best Original Song:"Before My Time," Chasing Ice, Music and Lyric from J. Ralph"Pi Lullaby," Life Of Pi, Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri"Suddenly," Les Miserables, Music by Claude-Michel Schonberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boubill"Everybody Needs a Best Friend," Ted, Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlaneWinner: "Skyfall," Skyfall, Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
Best Original Score:Anna Karenina, Dario MarianelliArgo, Alexandre DesplatWinner: Life Of Pi, Mychael DannaLincoln, John WilliamsSkyfall, Thomas Newman
Best Production Design:Anna Karenina, Sarah Greenwood (Production Design); Katie Spencer (Set Decoration)The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Dan Hennah (Production Design); Ra Vincent and Simon Bright (Set Decoration)Les Miserables, Eve Stewart (Production Design); Anna Lynch-Robinson (Set Design)Life Of Pi, David Gropman (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration)Winner: Lincoln, Rick Carter (Production Design); Jim Erickson (Set Decoration)
Best Achievement in Film Editing:Winner: Argo, William GoldenbergLife Of Pi, Tim SquyresLincoln, Michael KahnSilver Linings Playbook, Jay Cassidy and Crispin StruthersZero Dark Thirty, Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg
Best Supporting Actress:Sally Field, LincolnWinner: Anne Hathaway, Les MiserablesJacki Weaver, Silver Linings PlaybookHelen Hunt, The SessionsAmy Adams, The Master
Best Achievement in Sound Editing:Argo, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der RynDjango Unchained, Wylie StatemanLife Of Pi, Eugene Gearty and Philip StocktonWinner: Skyfall, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker LandersWinner: Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing:Argo, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, and Jose Antonio GarciaWinner: Les Miserables, Andy Nelson, Mark Peterson, and Simon HayesLife Of Pi, Rob Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew KuninLincoln, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, and Ronald JudkinsSkyfall, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell, and Stuart Wilson
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Best Foreign Language Film of the Year:Winner: Amour, AustriaNo, ChileWar Witch, CanadaA Royal Affair, DenmarkKon-Tiki, Norway
Best Documentary Feature:5 Broken CamerasThe GatekeepersHow To Survive A PlagueThe Invisible WarWinner: Searching For Sugar Man
Best Documentary Short:Winner: Inocente, Sean Fine and Andrea Nix FineKings Point, Sari Gilman and Jedd WiderMondays At Racine, Cynthia Wade and Robin HonanOpen Heart, Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd SternRedemption, Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill
Best Live Action Short Film:Asad, Bryan Buckley and Mino JarjouraBuzkashi Boys, Sam French and Ariel NasrWinner: Curfew, Shawn ChristensenDeath Of A Shadow (Dood Van Een Schadow), Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De WaeleHenry, Yan England
Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling:Hitchcock, Howard Berger, Peter Montagna, and Martin SamuelThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater, and Tami LaneWinner: Les Miserables, Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell
Best Achievement in Costume Design:Winner: Anna Karenina, Jacqueline DurranLes Miserables, Paco DelgadoLincoln, Joanna JohnstonMirror Mirror, Eiko IshiokaSnow White And The Huntsman, Colleen Atwood
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Best Achievement in Visual Effects:The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, and R. Christopher WhiteWinner: Life Of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. ElliottMarvel's The Avengers, Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan SudickPrometheus, Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin HillSnow White And The Huntsman, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson
Best Achievement in Cinematography:Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarveyDjango Unchained, Robert RichardsonWinner: Life Of Pi, Claudio MirandaLincoln, Janusz KaminskiSkyfall, Roger Deakins
Best Animated Feature:FrankenweenieThe Pirates! Band Of MisfitsWreck It RalphParaNormanWinner: Brave
Best Animated Short Film:Adam And Dog, Minkyu LeeFresh Guacamole, PESHead Over Heels, Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O'ReillyMaggie Simpson In "The Longest Daycare," David SilvermanWinner: Paperman, John Kahrs
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Best Supporting Actor:Winner: Christoph Waltz, Django UnchainedPhilip Seymour Hoffman, The MasterRobert De Niro, Silver Linings PlaybookAlan Arkin, ArgoTommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
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[Photo Credit: Joe Klamar/Getty Images]
Oscars 2013 Special Coverage
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The Tourist is about as difficult to get through as spotting the vowels in the name of its director. Florian Henckel von Donnersmark was last seen receiving a Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2007 for The Lives of Others which was about a couple living in East Berlin who were being monitored by the police of the German Democratic Republic. Its positive reception made way for the assumption that Donnersmark would continue to populate the USA with films of seemingly otherworldly and underrepresented themes. But his current project is saddening in its superficiality and total implausibility.
The film’s only real upside is its stars: two of our most prized Americans. Johnny Depp plays Frank Tupelo a math teacher from Wisconsin who travels to Europe after his wife leaves him presumably because of his weakness and simplicity. While en route to Venice he meets Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie) who situates herself in his company after she receives a letter from her criminal lover Alexander Pearce (who stole some billions from a very wealthy Russian and the British government) with instructions to find someone on a train who looks like him and make the police believe that he is the real Alexander Pearce to throw the authorities and the Russians off his track. Elise picks Frank and after they are photographed kissing each other on the balcony of Elise’s hotel everyone begins to believe Frank is the real Pearce and so begins the chase.
While Donnersmark could not have picked two better looking people to film roaming around Venice his lack of faith in the audience is obvious. Every aspect of the characters is hammed up again and again as if Donnersmark felt burdened with the task of making us see his vision. Doubtful that we’re capable of getting to where he wants us he has crafted a movie completely devoid of subtlety. Elise’s strength and superiority over Frank are portrayed by close-ups and repeated instances of men burping up their lungs upon seeing her (as if her beauty is in any way subjective?). And in case we forgot that Frank is the victim in this story -- even though he’s been tricked chased and shot at - Donnersmark still felt the need to pin him with a lame electronic cigarette to puff on. Frank and Elise somehow manage to lack mystery even though we get very few factual details about each of them.
Nothing extraordinary comes to us in the way of the film’s structural elements either. There is very little of the action that The Tourist’s marketing led us to believe and the dialog is often painful. The plot itself is almost shockingly unbelievable especially when we’re asked to believe that Elise falls in love with Frank after a combination of kissing him once and her disclosed habit of swooning over men she only spent an hour with (yes that was on her CV).
The Tourist is rather empty and cosmetic. It’s worth seeing if you’re a superfan of Jolie or Depp but don’t expect to walk out of the theater with anything more than the stub you came in with.