Check Into the Trailer For Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel, movie, Poster

via imdb

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.


*Moonrise Kingdom

$Royal Tennenbaums


+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.

Danny Ocean’s Grandfather Fights the Nazis

Matt Damon, George Clooney, movie, The Monuments Men

courtesy 20th Century Fox via USA Today

Way back in January 2012, Oscar nominee George Clooney, then enjoying the hoopla surrounding his performance in The Descendants, announced that his next film behind the camera would be based on the true story of a group of “soldiers” (really architects, art historians, museum curators, etc.) tasked with protecting priceless art treasures from the ravages of war and from Hitler’s grand plan to wipe out the culture of the Jewish people.  (“This sounds promising!”)

As soon as the project announcement was made, casting rumors began to circulate. Daniel Craig and Bill Murray were the first names to surface. (Craig didn’t stay, but Murray can be seen in the trailer). Cate Blanchett, with whom Clooney worked on The Good German, came next .  After that, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban and Hugh Bonneville all added their names to the dotted line. The last “get” was Matt Damon, who replaced Craig.  I’m sure that took some real heavy duty arm-twisting on Clooney’s part.

Based on the book “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History” by Robert Edsel, the screenplay is by Clooney and his producing partner Grant Heslov.  The cinematography is by Phedon Papamichael who shot The Descendents and The Ides of March. The score is by gifted and prolific Oscar winner Alexandre Desplat, but Clooney’s imprimatur alone put high expectations on this movie before a single frame was lensed.

Filming began on March 6, 2013.

On March 11, I saw the first mention of the film in the same sentence as “Oscar contenders for 2014”.

In April, Sony showed some early footage at CinemaCon in Las Vegas.

Here we are in August and by now nearly everyone capable of making an awards contenders list for the upcoming season has The Monuments Men firmly entrenched in nearly every possible category including actor, director, and screenplay.  This is gonna be big! HUGE!  (Despite the fact that it’s not traveling to Venice or Toronto – or even, as of this writing, New York – for a festival).

So now we have the first trailer. I’m not quite sure what to make of it. What’s the tone Clooney’s going for? Where’s the gravitas?  I wasn’t looking for another Schindler’s List, but I wasn’t  expecting Ocean’s Eleven Takes on the Nazis. Have a look:

Is it me?The delivery of the dialogue implies one thing, the song playing under the trailer implies another (more in keeping with the subject matter).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I won’t see it, because I will. There’s too much here that promises to be a good time at the movies. Clooney being Clooney is very entertaining. When he teams up with his friends, like Matt Damon, they have great fun and it translates to the screen.  This is a very impressive cast and the opportunity to see them work together, again is too good to miss.  I guess I was just expecting “more”. More what exactly I can’t quite say yet. And why isn’t simply a “good time at the movies” enough anymore?

Then again, this is only the first trailer. Perhaps my questions will be answered before the very awards season conscious December US release date.

In a race against time, a crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renowned works of art stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.

The Monuments Men costars a lot of fine European character actors like Diarmaid Murtagh (Vikings, Starz Camelot) and opens on December 18 in the US but not until January for the rest of the world, including the UK on the 9th.

Just my humble opinions. Feel free to put me in my place in the comments. In the meantime, check out the images courtesy USA Today:

My Daily Moment of Zen! Now with More Gloating!

Okay, I’m suffering from my annual post Oscar Night let down, BUT the fact that I "outguessed" a lot of the so-called professionals has eased the pain a bit.

I improved my average from the BAFTAS from 65% to 67%, which means I got 16 of 24 categories right. I didn’t even hazard a guess for the three "shorts" categories, so if I delete them, my average improves further to greater than 76% (16 of 21)  – Sorry my OCD is showing.  I realize this matters to no one else but me, but one takes one’s little victories where one may.

So, I’ve decided it would be easier to discuss where I went wrong (even though I’m very happy to say that I got Tom Hooper right!)

I was absolutely gutted, but not altogether surprised, that John Powell and How to Train Your Dragon did not win for Best Original Score. I was thrilled that it was nominated, and it was, of course, my favorite score, as I’ve loudly proclaimed from this blog and elsewhere for nearly a year now. I’ve also made clear that I could have lived with Alexandre Desplat’s score for The King’s Speech beating HTTYD. I cannot, however, understand the love for the music from The Social Network. I should have seen its Golden Globe win as a portent of things to come, but I naively believed that quality would win over the Academy’s newfound desire to be perceived as "hip".  Perhaps there is a contingent of completist Nine Inch Nails fans that will download Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ neo-emo soundtrack, but I don’t believe they’ll still be listening to it a month from now, let alone long enough for it to deserve to go into the annals of AMPAS.  It remains to be seen whether or not either Reznor or Ross continues to supply the world with beautiful movie music. I think it is a given that Powell, Desplat, Zimmer and even Rahman will do so.

I was a little surprised, although I can’t say I was disappointed, that David Seidler’s original screenplay for The King’s Speech won out over Christopher Nolan’s for Inception. Seidler had the momentum going into last night’s ceremony and there is no doubt that it was a great piece of writing, but I really did think that the Academy would give it to Nolan because 1. His script was original in every sense of the word and 2. to atone for his egregious snub in the Director’s category.  No one thought Inception, despite its merits, would win Best Picture.  Despite the fact that the film won other, richly deserved awards, The Best Original Screenplay category would have been a great way to recognize Nolan. 

For Best Costume Design, I went with The King’s Speech, but was not shocked nor particularly disappointed that the Academy went for all-out fantasy and Alice in Wonderland took the award. That film was all about the visuals, particularly the costumes, which were spectacular, even if the rest of the film was not. It made sense.

I flat out guessed on my pick for Best Foreign Language Film. I went with Biutiful because both the director, Alejandro Gonzales-Inarritu and its star, Javier Bardem, are known to the Academy and its voters. Bardem was even nominated for Best Actor for this film.  Again, I should have paid more attention to the bellwethers of the Hollywood Foreign Press and expected Denmark’s win for In a Better World.

I really thought it was "too soon" for Inside Job to win for Best Documentary Feature.  I was wrong. Its win will ensure that more people see it, which is not a bad thing, although I would have liked for Restrepo to have gotten that kick.

So, those are the five that I got wrong.  My other misses, as I said, were for the three "shorts" – Documentary,  Animated and Live Action- which I didn’t even guess at. (Although if I had, I would have gotten Animated wrong because I’d have gone with Day & Night, but I’d have gotten Live-Action right because I’d have picked God of Love -honest!)

So it’s all over for another 10 months when the madness begins anew. It was a good night for Harvey and The Weinstein Company, and I fully expect to see him back in his seat at the Kodak this time next year in support of another ‘little-film-that-could’…

As always, thanks for reading. Oh and I’ve got TREATS!!

And the bromance continues…

*clicky clicky*


edit: (and I stated this elsewhere but felt the need to amend this post) Adding to my surprise (and disappointment) that Gerard Butler wasn’t at the Academy Awards, was my disappointment in the lack of support for How to Train Your Dragon. Is it every day he’s involved with an Academy Award nominated film of any kind?? I realize it was just about a foregone conclusion that Toy Story 3 would win the category, but I don’t think that excuses the complete lack of a showing for HTTYD, (by anyone involved – they ARE doing a sequel- would it have been that difficult for say G and Craig Ferguson, possibly even Jay Baruchel, to show their faces?) especially when it swept the Annies and John Powell’s score had just been named Score of the Year. The appearance of hope would have been nice. The 9 other films nominated for Best Picture, who had to have been at least 75% sure that The King’s Speech would win, still had strong turnouts.

Rant over.



From their website:

"The International Film Music Critics Association announces the winners of its seventh annual awards for excellence in musical scoring in 2010 with John Powell’s score for the animated film HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON topping the list, winning both Film Score of the Year and Best Score for an Animated Film. Alexandre Desplat receives three awards: Best Score for a Drama Film (THE KING’S SPEECH), Best Score for an Action/Adventure/Thriller Film (THE GHOST WRITER) and Composer of the Year."

 I’m doing the demented poodle dance right now!

I couldn’t be happier or more excited that Powell and HTTYD have been recognized in this way. I love the fact that this organization differentiates between types of scores. I am a little confused, however, how they can decide that HTTYD has the Best Score of the Year and yet Alexandre Desplat is the Composer of the Year.

The seeming disparity actually it reminds me of the Oscar races for Best Director and Best Picture. Many pundits and critics are still predicting David Fincher will take Best Director for The Social Network while also guessing The King’s Speech will win Best Picture. I guess that means that scores can compose themselves just like films can direct themselves.

So what does this win mean for John Powell and HTTYD‘s chances on Sunday night?

Desplat’s last win in which he went head to head with Powell was at the BAFTAs. Not at all surprising given the rout that the ‘veddy British’ The King’s Speech perpetrated on its competitors. The question remains how will either one of them do Sunday night against Golden Globe winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network. I realize there are two other films also nominated and Hans Zimmer can never be counted out, particularly when support for Inception seems to be gaining ground. A.R. Rahmin, who won in 2009 for both score and song for Slumdog Millionaire should probably just be happy to be nominated.

IF Powell has to lose, I’d much rather it be to Desplat, who has been nominated four times for some truly beautiful music, including the score for The Queen, but has never won, than to Reznor and Ross for a score that I don’t think anyone will be listening to nor even remember next year. 

That being said, I really really really want Powell to win.

As always, thanks for reading. Since I can’t give you pics of music…