I’ve been suffering from an extreme bout of laziness. One of the side-effects is the severe neglect of this blog. I have at least three half written discussions of the latest films I’ve seen, all awaiting completion, not to mention notes for posts about new clips and images for upcoming awards-bait. I’ll get to them all, hopefully before they become irrelevant. What has finally jerked me out of my doldrums? Oh, just this first trailer for Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. The official trailer has just dropped, and if I was eagerly awaiting Anderson’s first film since 2012’s Moonrise Kingdom (one of my favorites of that year) before, I am now ridiculously excited!
What’s the big deal”, you ask? For one thing, I have an affinity for Anderson’s films that, much like my love of the Coen Brothers, borders on the obsessive. It has his name on it, I will see it. Period, no questions asked. I’ve been hooked since 1996’s Bottle Rocket on Anderson’s warm, witty and often, wacky, tales of functionally dysfunctional families. (The only one I haven’t been able to give my whole heart to is The Royal Tennebaums. Against the director’s usual day-glow color palette, it just feels “drab” to me. Maybe it’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s hair. I don’t know.)
I love the troupe of players he’s assembled, some whom have been with him from the beginning, like Owen Wilson#$^+~, Bill Murray@$*+^~ and Jason Schwartzman@$*^~, others he’s added along the way, like Anjelica Huston$+^, Adrien Brody^ and Edward Norton*, but once they’re in, they’re in. I don’t know whether or not it’s true or not, but I get the feeling that his “players” are always offered roles first and depending on their schedules, it’s only after they’ve passed that anyone else gets a shot at joining “the company”. The stunningly good cast of The Grand Budapest Hotel includes Ralph Fiennes (who replaced Johnny Depp), Wilson, Murray (their 7th collaboration), Schwartzman, Norton, Brody, Tilda Swinton* (who replaced Angela Lansbury. Wait…what?), Jude Law, Harvey Keitel*, Willem Dafoe+~, Jeff Goldblum+, Saoirse Ronan, Léa Seydoux, Mathieu Amalric^, F Murray Abraham, Bob Balaban* and Tom Wilkinson. I think we’re allowed to expect great things from a cast like that (and conversely, disappointed if we don’t get it).
Another thing I really like about Anderson is that as a writer and director he’s obviously a movie fan. The argument could be made that one would have to be a fan to work in the medium, but I’m not so sure that’s true. It’s certainly not always as evident as it is in the work of someone like Martin Scorsese or Quentin Tarantino. Anderson’s sensibilities tend toward the romantic (at the very least a lot less gritty, bloody and violent than QT), but like QT, a lot of his work pays homage to the “Golden Age” of Hollywood”, some of which are apparent from this first trailer. Anderson has said that The Grand Budapest Hotel was directly influenced by the work of Ernst Lubitsch (Shop Around the Corner), Edmund Goulding (Grand Hotel), and Billy Wilder (To Be or Not to Be). Those first two referenced films were both set in Budapest as well.
The official synopsis:
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.
Now take a look at this:
That just makes me giddy!
I’m thrilled that, not only does Ralph Fiennes obviously have the lead, but he gets to be funny! I haven’t seen him in anything even close to a comedy since In Bruges and before that…I don’t think there is anything before that. (The Avengers** does not count – at all.)
It’s not immediately obvious, but Jude Law has reportedly let slip that the film takes place in two different eras: the 1930s and the 1960s. The apprentice “lobby boy”, Zero, is played by Tony Revolori (or Anthony Quinonez as he has been billed in everything he’s done to this point). The kid’s a relative unknown but it would appear he’s the co-lead.
Written and directed by Anderson, the film’s music was composed by the brilliant, Academy Award winning Alexandre Desplat, who was responsible for the memorable score for Moonrise Kingdom, as well as The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Costumes were designed by Milena Canonero (The Darjeeling Limited, The Life Aquatic…), Production Design by Adam Stockhausen (Moonrise Kingdom, The Darjeeling Limited) and cinematography is by Robert D. Yeoman, who has filmed every Anderson movie since Bottle Rocket.
I can not wait to see this! But, unfortunately, wait I must, since Fox Searchlight won’t let us check in to The Grand Budapest Hotel until March 7, 2014. Until then, you can stay up-to-date at the official site.
+The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
^The Darjeeling Limited
~The Fantastic Mr. Fox (voices)
** The 1998 version with Uma Thurman – I know you’d forgotten about it…or were trying to.