Saturday, March 22, 2014

Wes does Grand Budapest, a movie, a madness, a mess? yes and well worth it...

So the film drought has ended and we've emerged, blinking and shaking into the watery spring sunshine, we've stretched, yawned, scratched ourselves and shuffled off to the cinema.

I'm sure you're agog to hear what lured us from our movie hibernation.

Now then O best beloveds, there are movies we (Mrs Stuffy and I) view because we've read a great review, there are some movies that friends are keen to see so we go along from a sense of kinship and fellow-feeling. There are movies that one or other of us are obligated to attend simply for the sake of continuity (why else would one keep indulging the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise?) and there are a few actors and directors who rarely let us down, (there are no bad films with Ed Harris in for example) And there are films that fall into the "we haven't been to the movies in ages and that's the least bad choice" box.

So, guess which category The Grand Budapest Hotel fell into?

Well you're wrong, we like Wes Anderson, we don't necessary understand him, but we like what he does when he's near a camera, I love the stop-motion weirdness of Fantastic Mr Fox, the seemingly un-related and irrelevant bits, I have no idea what was going on in The Darjeeling but it made me care, even if I didn't understand it. We really liked Moonrise Kingdom, the serious kids, the childlike adults, the extraordinary beauty of the filming, the stillness, the frenzy, the retro colours, costumes and scenery, the inexplicable sudden appearance of a narrator, the self-indulgence of the director and (as in all his films) the cast list of assorted stellar mainstream acting talent mixed with the young, fresh, naif, newbies.

I was going to mention that this is an odd offering but it's evident that's to be expected. This film defies pigeonholing, it's a recounting, in flashback, of the extraordinary life of a concierge in an unreal Europe, on the verge of an unreal world war, with unreal totalitarianism raising its ugly head, I'm not sure what, if any, political points are being made.
It's a tale worth telling for whatever reason. It's the visualisation I really love in his films, the way Anderson mixes live-action, broad surreal shots and panoramas with so much detail, so much happening in them, the occasional model, not trying to convince that it's real, it's patently a model but it's charming nonetheless. This movie made me smile throughout and occasionally chuckle, it demanded constant attention, many, small subtle things happen, there's no telling what is or is not significant. 
The appearance of a big-name movie star may be hugely significant or a throw-away cameo. There's no telling what might be a red herring and I've come to expect no clear outcome, resolution or meaningful message. It seems to me that Wes Anderson makes very attractive, clever films to amuse and surprise and that's just what they do. Is this a self-indulgent movie? Probably but it's also an indulgent film and I really did enjoy being indulged.

Did you miss the Haikus?

Pastel retro tale
Anderson does not fail to
muse, bemuse, amuse

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