THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014)

 

Budapest

 ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS

  • Best Picture – Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson
  • Best Cinematography – Robert Yeoman
  • Best Costume Design – Milena Canonero
  • Best Director – Wes Anderson
  • Best Film Editing – Barney Pilling
  • Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
  • Best Original Score – Alexandre Desplat
  • Best Production Design – Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration)
  • Best Original Screenplay – Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness

Elizabeth

I think the very first thing that struck me about The Grand Budapest Hotel was its scale. I definitely associate Wes Anderson with meticulous set pieces and beautiful locations, but this was to a level that I thought was impressive for even him. The film takes place in the fictional country of Republic of Zubrowka, which gives Anderson the ability to create an entire fake world based in our real world. It reminded me of The Royal Tenenbaums in that way; even though that took place in New York, it feels like a New York that isn’t real. But every shot of The Grand Budapest Hotel is packed, and in the best way possible. Packed with people, packed with set pieces – this comes through even in shots that are pretty sparse. Instead of feeling claustrophobic, it made it feel real, like this world was old and lived-in. Another great part of having a fake country is that this giant cast is full of natural accents; American, English, Irish, etc etc. But this country has no accent, so it’s not wrong to have everyone in their natural voice. Again, it just makes it feel more natural.

Wes Anderson’s ability to handle a massive cast has never been more clear than with The Grand Budapest Hotel. While he’s just as able to work with a more paired-down cast (Bottle Rocket, The Darjeeling Limited), I think his ability to handle this size cast is one of his most impressive talents. This cast ranges from Anderson regulars with small parts (Schwartzman, Wilson, Murray), new-to-Anderson actors (Keitel, Ronan, Fiennes), and with a straight-up new actor as the film’s driving force (Revolori). Even with that kind of mix, no one feels out of place or obvious. Everyone manages to blend in together somehow to form this weird world that doesn’t always feel all that weird.

But really, like with all of Wes Anderson’s movies, my absolute favorite part is the story and the characters within it. The story is wrapped up in a perfect package without feeling contrite; instead it just feels like Anderson is really good at framing his stories. And like the cast, the story is large: multiple romances, multiple villains, multiple narrators, an art heist, war, pastries . . . every element of the story is cared for by Anderson. You’re never lost, you’re never wondering why something is the way it is, you just follow along. It manages to feel completely original and like an old storybook all at once.

I loved Moonrise Kingdom, but I loved The Grand Budapest Hotel even more. Even though it’s his latest and just came out a year ago, I feel like it’s already the most classic Wes Anderson film that he’s made.

Christopher

Since the Oscars are just around the corner and the list was released last Thursday, Elizabeth and I are finally ready to get into trying to watch everything on the list! Hopefully we’ll get even further this year. It seems like a lot people are upset with some of the nominations, and I’m sure with good reason, but as we start watching everything in each category I think I’ll have a better understanding of what deserves to be on the list and what didn’t. The first movie we’re starting with is The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Ever since I stumbled across Bottle Rocket on Comedy Central back in middle school or whenever, I’ve been pretty into Wes Anderson and his films. I really enjoyed his last movie, Moonrise Kingdom, but I was a little nervous about seeing The Grand Budapest Hotel. I think the number of scenes that were shown in the trailer made me nervous that the film was going to be very difficult to follow and was going to take place in multiple locations just to make it look pretty. However, I did not find this to be the case at all while watching the film.

Although some of the set-up might have been confusing for some, I found the storytelling upon storytelling to work in the film’s favor. It did an excellent job of feeling like it was taking you through time and mediums. The girl in the beginning is reading a book, we get to see the writer talking to a camera about when he was inspired to write the book, we see the author meet the protagonist, who in turns tells the story that inspired the writer to write the book that the girl is reading on a bench. See…it sounds like it would be confusing but it creates a sense of importance. That the events that take place around The Grand Budapest Hotel are so important that their stories last through time. This movie did a fantastic job of creating layers.

In that same sense I feel like this felt like Wes Anderson’s biggest movie. It felt like he spent a ton on money but in reality he only spent around 26 million. Just a drop in the hat to someone like James Cameron who spends a shitload but skips the whole having a good story thing. I loved how there were so many extras in this film. So many scenes felt like an I Spy page.

I would totally recommend this movie to anyone. I think it has many appealing elements that would draw in a wide variety of individuals. I’m not sure if this will be my favorite Oscar movie, but I know with just this and Captain America: The Winter Soldier as the only two we’ve seen, it’s at the top of my list right now.

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STRIPES (1981)

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Elizabeth

Stripes was playing at a local theater in honor of Bill Murray’s birthday, so it seemed pretty necessary to go, especially since I had never seen the movie before. I really didn’t know what to expect; all I knew was it was a movie in which Bill Murray joined the army.

I think what I enjoyed the most about Stripes was the fact that it’s view of the army wasn’t the stereotypical movie view: it’s not like they made it seem like being in the army was easy, but it also wasn’t a Full Metal Jacket-esque hell hole, either. They made it almost seem like summer camp. Maybe people in the army wouldn’t feel great about that, but I thought it was pretty funny. But the starts of the movie, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, really carry it. They’re funny and sweet and have a funny and good relationship. I loved Harold Ramis’ character in particular, maybe because I feel like I would have similar views to everything as he. Naturally, Stripes isn’t exactly a feminist movie, but you have to choose your battles with that. It came out in 1981, so for me it gets a pass for a lot of the bullshit. But at least they showed a female character in the army who was actually good at her job, despite being a female, plus she was played by Sean Young, which helps with the you-can-be-feminine-and-be-in-the-armed-services idea.

Stripes is really just good, young Bill Murray action, and definitely fun to watch.

Christopher

I think this was the third time I have watched this movie in my life but it was enjoyable to see it on the big screen for the first time. We were able to get tickets to a new theater in Round Rock that for $5 a ticket we got to see the movie, got a piece of cake, and a pint glass with a picture of Bill Murray and a memorable quote form the film. Well worth it and the theater was great, except the employees were a little too friendly for me.

I think Stripes is a good funny movie to enjoy. I know people really do love it but I don’t think it ever really struck me as a favorite in any way. I think my favorite experience seeing it was this last time. Maybe since I was older more of the jokes made sense to me? I’m not sure but I’m glad I saw it again cause I have a better memory of it now. That’s not saying that all my other experiences with it were bad, I really would just forget almost everything about the movie. As funny and straight-forward as the plot was, none of it really stuck with me.

The best part of the movie to me is easily Bill Murray and John Candy but I don’t think I ever realized how funny Harold Ramis is!

TOOTSIE (1982)

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Christopher

We watched this movie because Elizabeth loves it but also because it’s on the National Film Registry. I wasn’t really expecting to like this movie but it’s actually pretty funny and one thing I did not know is that Bill Murray is in it!

This biggest thing I have against this movie is that Dustin Hoffman really doesn’t look like a lady when he’s dressed up as Dorothy, he looks like Dustin Hoffman in drag. But I guess that’s kind of part of the story, no matter what you look like you should be given a chance. Dustin Hoffman is fantastic is in it, Bill Murray is fantastic, and the jokes are constant and effective.

I’m not sure if I will watch this again anytime soon but it’s easily something I would recommend to people.

Elizabeth

I’m really not sure what it is about men dressing up as women that I find so funny. I know that probably sounds offensive, like I laugh at crossdressers. But I really just mean men dressing up as women for comedic purposes. It kills me. Does it come from lots of secretly watching The Kids in the Hall when I was little? Or is it just something I naturally find funny? I don’t really know, but I do know that Tootsie is amazing already, made even more amazing by how funny I find Dustin Hoffman dressed as a woman.

There’s about a million things to love about Tootsie. One of them is how great Dorothy Michaels is, Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman)’s female alias. She sort of reminds me of Clair Huxtable, in that she’s always standing up for herself and women and telling men what’s up. The way Michael is affected by what he’s seen and done as a woman is also really interesting; he understands some of the difficulties of being a woman (like being hit on and wearing stockings) but not really enough to betray his male tendencies (like leading women on and having a one night stand with a long-time friend).

Tootsie also really makes me love Dustin Hoffman, even though I loved him already. When I think about how Dustin Hoffman is also Raymond from Rain Man and Captain Hook from Hook, and then Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels from Tootsie, it’s clear how incredible his range is. I think a lot of actors get their inspiration from makeup and costumes when they play such a different character, as they should, but Dustin Hoffman always seems able to take it to the next level.

Also, this probably is weird, especially considering the fashion of 1982, but I loved how comfortable Julie (Jessica Lange) always looked. When she wasn’t in her nurse costume for the soap opera she’s on, she was always wearing sweatshirts or loose blouses or dresses or something and she just looked so comfortable. Not only do I think it made her character seem softer and approachable, but it was just nice to look at.