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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Hit British crime drama Broadchurch looks set to dominate the U.K.'s Royal Television Society Programme Awards after receiving four top nominations. The murder-mystery series, about a child's death in a small coastal town, is nominated in the Drama Serial category alongside zombie show In The Flesh and Elisabeth Moss' Top Of The Lake.
Broadchurch's female leads Olivia Colman and Jodie Whittaker will go up against each other for the Actor - Female award along with My Mad Fat Diary star Sharon Rooney, and the show's creator Chris Chibnall is up for a writing prize.
In the Actor - Male category, Idris Elba is nominated for his turn as a troubled cop in Luther alongside Stephen Dillane (The Tunnel) and Lennie James (Run).
Burton and Taylor, starring Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West as Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, has received a nod in the Single Drama line-up, competing with Our Girl and The Challenger.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on 18 March (14).
"I had less anxiety waiting for the results of a home pregnancy test. And that's the truth, that's not just a cheap joke. That's the truth." Irish actor Colin Farrell was a nervous mess when he met the late Dame Elizabeth Taylor for the first time. The pair became unlikely friends in 2009, two years before her death.
Jack Nicholson, Eva Mendes and Anjelica Huston were among the stars who turned out to mark the 82nd birthday of late screen legend Dame Elizabeth Taylor on Thursday (27Feb14). A dinner, organised in collaboration with the star's AIDs foundation, was held at the Violet Grey's Melrose Place store in Los Angeles, which was named after Taylor's distinctive eyes.
Nicholson sat with Mendes at the event, while other guests included Pharrell Williams, supermodel Chanel Iman, Alice Eve and Paramount Pictures boss Brad Grey.
Renowned chef Pascal Tingaud was jetted in from France to oversee the menu.
Taylor, born on 27 February 1932, passed away in 2011 aged 79 after a lengthy battle with ill health.
"Has everyone wished Josh Groban a happy birthday? It's also the birthday of one of my favorite actresses @DameElizabeth". Star Trek icon William Shatner marks pal Groban's 33rd birthday on Thursday (27Feb14), the same day the late Elizabeth Taylor would have turned 82.
A collection of iconic paparazzi pictures from the last 50 years, including snaps of Britney Spears, Sir Mick Jagger and Kate Moss, have gone on display in Paris, France. The images are part of a new exhibition titled Paparazzi! Photographers, stars and artists which launched at the Centre Pompidou-Metz, a branch of the world-renowned Centre Pompidou in Paris, in Metz, France.
Snaps on display include iconic paparazzi pictures of Spears, Jagger and Moss, as well Dame Elizabeth Taylor and public figures such as politicians and world leaders.
The exhibition runs from 26 February (14) until 9 June (14).
Photographs of, and artwork inspired by, the late Dame Elizabeth Taylor are set to go under the hammer for charity. The items, including a 1997 black-and-white portrait of the acting icon taken by fashion photographer Herb Ritts, will be auctioned off during a special Los Angeles event hosted by her close friend, Colin Farrell, on 27 February (14), on what would have been Taylor's 82nd birthday. Proceeds will benefit The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to help fight the spread of HIV and AIDS.
Late movie legend Richard Burton vowed to stay sober while making classic movie Under Milk Wood by limiting his drinking to only one bottle of vodka a day. The Welsh actor, who was a hardened drinker, appeared in the 1972 film opposite his on/off wife, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, and Peter O'Toole, and the film's director has opened up about the making of the movie in a book called Down Under Milk Wood.
In the tome, Sinclair reveals the difficulties he faced as he attempted to gather three of Hollywood's biggest names together, describing it as like "fixing a weekend between Howard Hughes, Queen Elizabeth II and Puck".
The moviemaker also claims Burton promised to cut down his booze intake while making the movie, adding, "'I am not drinking on your film,' he told me. 'That means only one bottle of vodka a day. I'm sober on two, but when I'm drinking it is three or more.'"
In the book, Sinclair also details Taylor's outrageous demands, including three special French nightgowns which swallowed up 50 per cent of the project's costume budget and her refusal to travel to the Welsh town of Fishguard for filming on location. Her scenes were shot separately at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England.
Sinclair also claims Taylor refused to perform on one of her scheduled filming days, so O'Toole took her out to lunch, plied her with alcohol and then held her up as she drunkenly read her lines in front of the camera.
Actor/director Rob Reiner will be the 2014 recipient of the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Chaplin Award. The When Harry Met Sally director will be the guest of honour at the 41st gala in New York in April (14). Previous recipients include Alfred Hitchcock, Laurence Olivier, Elizabeth Taylor, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. Last year (13), Barbra Streisand was honoured.
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
Endless Love has awakened something in me. Not a long dormant passion for an introverted high school classmate, or a sudden desire to break into the zoo after dark. A question about movies — more accurately, about movie criticism. The same question you would ask yourself if you fell drowsy in the middle of Citizen Kane, or welled up during the emotional climax of Just Friends. The question I ask myself now, as I recount the 103 straight minutes of asphyxiating laughter that I endured during a screening of Shana Feste’s would-be romantic drama: What makes a good movie?
We assign deference to some films, disgust to others — a lucky few of us make a living this way. But what, precisely, are we reviewing? A film’s mission or its execution? The product onscreen or the experience of watching it? All factors come into play when considering whether or not a movie “works.” But on rare occasions you’ll get a film that offers no common ground in its meeting of these standards. You’ll get Endless Love, which strives for dramatic sincerity, winds up with underwritten idiocy, and provokes in its viewers an unrestrained, absurdist revelry — the kind of joy you’d otherwise be forced to seek in a third viewing of The Lego Movie. Laughter at the ill-conceived antics and befuddling dialectical patterns of our central teen couple — a Mars native Gabrielle Wilde and her gaping mouthed beau Alex Pettyfer. Elated bemusement at the younger generation’s propensity for chaotic disrobing and didactically organized dance parties. Unprecedented ecstasy at the Mafia movie intimidation tactics of an overprotective dad (Bruce Greenwood) and the brain-dead disregard of a supportive one (Robert Patrick). As a comedy, Endless Love is unstoppable.
I can only hypothesize that it was not Feste’s intention to roll us in the aisles. I have no cold proof that her resolution in paving every nook in her Georgia-set remake with another farcical stone — Wilde’s instantaneous evolution from wordless ingénue to sexually aggressive spirit walker, Patrick’s loving caution-to-the-wind attitude regarding any situation that has to do with a girl, Rhys Wakefield’s “black sheep” character forming an odd amalgamation of Pauly Shore and Charlie St. Cloud — was not one of Wolf of Wall Street-like satire, or reappropriation in the vein of Spring Breakers. Here are two movies that earned scorn from viewers who read them literally, and in turn vehement defense from those who peered through the exaltation of cocaine and firearms into the filmmakers’ ironic intentions.
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To the latter community, one to which I subscribe, I ask: if we’re readily willing to dive deeper for Martin Scorsese and Harmony Korine, shouldn’t we grant Feste this benefit? If we’d defend the authenticity of the splendor we recognized in their movies, why am I inclined to write off the very same when present in this year’s Valentine’s Day cannonball? Why do I eagerly laud the merit in Leonardo DiCaprio directing Quaalude-charged tribal chants and relinquishing subhuman treatment upon anyone short a Y-chromosome, while instinctively shafting the invaluable merriment in Pettyfer’s goofily deliberate declaration that he likes to read into the category of happy accident?
But an even more precise question (one I was challenged to entertain by a friend and film critic far wiser than I am), and this time to the former community: does it matter? Did it matter to all those offended by gunplay and intrusive nudity that Korine set out to demonize youth culture and its omnipresent hedonism? Did considering his intentions make the endgame any less a visceral nightmare? If not, does it matter if Feste poured her soul into the machination of a timeless love story, only to produce a riotous cinematic episode that treads genre parody as expertly as anything from the golden age of the Zucker brothers? Does it matter that she didn’t intend for Wilde and Pettyfer’s sex scene to come off as super-hoke, for every mention of cancer to feel like soap opera send-up, or for Robert Patrick’s vindication of his son’s passion for menagerie trespassing to elicit the biggest laugh of a movie yet in 2014?
So long as I consider the power of cinema, I’ll never be sure if it matters. I’ll never be sure of the answers to any of these questions. But no matter where I find myself standing on this issue down the line, I had far too much fun at Endless Love — and entertained far too many questions on the nature of cinema and the way we react to it — to call it a movie that people shouldn’t see.
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