17 March 2014

I Approve Of This Union

Here's a quick test to work out how you'll feel about The Grand Budapest Hotel... Did you like the last film you saw by director Wes Anderson? If ‘no’ then I wouldn't expect you to like this one either. I mean, I don't like trifles and so when I'm presented with a new one it's not that I won't like it but rather I suppose that the odds just aren't in my favour. You can change all the little details such as the type of jelly and all that shit but at the end of the day you’re still only left with a trifle. If however you went for the correct answer of yes then congratulations because you are in for a hell of a treat. This film is the magnus opus of Anderson's puddings made by a chef at the top of his game and with such a confidence in his own recipe that it's the purest and most expertly crafted trifle that you'll have ever tasted. If you like trifles then you will seriously love this film. Wait… what? Oh- I'm talking bollocks. Just, err... Well, to put it bluntly, The Grand Budapest Hotel is fucking phenomenal!

The film starts with a young girl opening a book near a monument dedicated to its author. The film starts with that author talking about his life. The film starts in the 1960's with the author as a younger man in a hotel and chatting to its current owner. The film starts with that owner as a younger man in the 1930's when he began his tutorage as a lobby boy under the current concierge, Mr. Gustave. The film starts... the film starts with a lot of fucking openings. The stuff in the 30's seems to take the bulk of it though with Gustave running The Grand Budapest Hotel with the precise efficiency of an obsessive watchmaker suffering from a bad case of the autism. He attends to all his clients’ needs ensuring that everybody has a pleasant stay and that all of his staff are at the absolute top of their game. Also because he's a true British gent, Gustave takes special care of some of his older female visitors by paying them a little extra attention and then occasionally fucking them stupid. Sadly, the sudden murder of his one favourite dodderer disrupts everything when it's revealed that she'd left him some significant inheritance in gratitude for fiddling with her leathery old lady wallet. As the main suspect, Gustave and his lobby boy then go on the run in a land that's so stylised it's like boiling Wes Anderson's brain on a rusty spoon and then injecting it straight into your fucking eyes. This is some good shit...

With pleasure, M. With pleasure.
I'm a huge fan of the James Bond franchise to the point that I once had a dream where, by sheer coincidence, I happened to meet both Sean Connery and Roger Moore at the exact same time. I know full well that this incident took place entirely in my own head but I still think it's a good contender for the best day of my life. What a fucking depressing fact... anyway, considering how many of those films there are, how important they've been and how blatant their formula is, I think there's a genuine argument that the Bond franchise should be classed as its own sub-genre. At this point and having now seen The Grand Budapest Hotel, I almost think the same could be said of Anderson's films too, to a degree. Any single frame of any one of his movies is so impenetrably his own that it's as if all he's done is stick a torch against one of his ears and then project the beam out through the other and onto a screen. Whether this latest film is his best I suppose is up for debate but at the very least it's certainly the most Wes Anderson film he's ever made. Kubrickesque camera movements, use of stop-motion, yellow titles, characters dressed up like himself, precisely symmetrical framing and quirkiness coming out of its arse are all more than present. If this was a Bond film it would definitely be his Goldfinger in which all the elements of his previous films have come together with such a confidence that the final product is a brick shit-house of his own unique style.

However, like marmite, rap music and un-consented titty fondles, Wes Anderson does seem to be a little divisive. Whereas some people go into a full-on jizz-fit over his shit, others seem to struggle to feel the hype and I therefore presume also find his style too distancing to get into. As I'm guessing has been made clear at this point I'm very much on team jizz-fit for his work and so I struggle to understand how people can't like him. I understand that they think he has style over substance but that's not too say he doesn't also have a lot of substance. People also claim that his characters aren't so much characters as they are simply walking quirks but my response to that is simply that it's just bollocks. I admit that perhaps this might be slightly true of some of his side characters with Willem Dafoe's psycho here being a good example of that I suppose. Although even to defend that, he's no less a character than a million others like him in other films... Perhaps the grizzled biker in the Coen Brothers Raising Arizona might be another one and that has been scientifically proven to be a masterpiece. Well, not by any actual scientists but certainly in my own head it has. I think the silent nutter is just a trope that gets dished out now and again and so what? At least in the case of both the Coen's and Anderson, I'd suggest their use of it is done somewhat ironically. Take almost any main character in any one of Anderson's films and I'll bet you that they're more well-drawn than almost any you'll find anywhere else. Richie Tenenbaum, Steve Zissou, Max Fischer and now Gustave H. I don't know what the rest of the year has in store for us but presuming Russia doesn't nuke us off the planet then I guarantee that Ralph Fiennes’ performance will become one of the more memorable of 2014.

Beyond his style, the written characters, the crazy amount of amazing actors, the story, and the soundtrack however, there are two other reasons that I love Anderson's films. Firstly they're just hilarious and secondly they're also heartbreakingly sad... again this latest one is no exception. Depending who you are, the odds are you'll think of Fiennes as the noseless bastard who tried to kill a magical child or even the fat slice of fuck who succeeded in killing a hell of a lot of Jews. The closest he's come to doing comedy that I know of is In Bruges and even in that the humour comes from how fucking demented he is. Here however there's a side to Fiennes that has remained untapped as it turns out he's as natural at performing comedy as he was being a hate-filled Nazi cunt. What a range! This might be the most Wes Anderson film that Anderson has ever created but I don't think it's my favourite with The Life Aquatic possibly retaining the top spot for me. Having said that, I think Gustave may be my new favourite character from all of his films which is quite the statement considering that's contending with at least seven lots of Bill Murray. There's just something about Gustave with his complete Britishness, his politeness, his sweary rants, his appreciation of life's niceties and then these random fucking existential outbursts that I loved. This questioning of life also comes back to the sadness however as, like all the others, this is a film that's drowning in melancholy. Everybody knows that nothing lasts forever and it's obvious that all of these people are coming to the end of their relevance. In many ways, this really is The Wild Bunch of nostalgic old hotel employees.  

This film has everything from huge laughs to effective prison survival methods!
So yes, as usual, Anderson's style is more eye catching than a giant ballsack made of rainbows but so what? In our boring world of the bland, why is such an obvious sense of identity such a bad thing? Visually, I can't really distinguish between a Michael Bay movie and a Roland Emmerich one and yet despite also being shittier than a fat man’s undercrackers, they make a fuck load of cash. I can't tell from looking whether a film is by either of those two men although if it turns out to be Michael Bay then I can generally guess from the crippling pangs in my soul. Anyway, to go on a slight tangent, I once spent a long time chasing after some girl who was clearly a bitch and I knew it. To find out why I wasn't listening to my brain I did a little post-porn internet research and found a psychological thing called The Halo Effect. To sum it up, it's basically a disease of the mind that allows you to like people you think are fit despite the fucking grief and kicks to the heart they might cause. The girl kind of took the piss with me but I couldn't just walk away because I'm a nice guy and she had nice tits. It happens. I mention this because, to a degree, I think this Halo effect has sort of consumed me for Wes Anderson's films too... except he's done nothing wrong for me to need to ignore, I guess. I love his stuff so much that I struggle to see how somebody can't like them at all. It's not that I don't agree with them, it's that I literally can't work out what's not to enjoy. If you're one of those people then please send in your issues on a postcard to help me understand... Or better yet, there's always the comments section below. Otherwise we should all just assume I'm right and accept that like everything else he's made, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a fucking masterpiece.


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