Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Movie Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel:

My favorite thing about Wes Anderson movies is that he keeps the camera very steady. I'm so tired of seeing movies with shaky-cam and fast editing that I now actually judge films on whether or not they can keep the camera still.

The BF and I went to see "The Grand Budapest Hotel" recently, which thrilled me almost immediately because there was a funicular railway in the beginning. I ADORE funicular railways! My mum and I went on one in Prague that we still remember fondly.

This one! A funicular railway is all slanty.

We got there just as one train was leaving, so we had to kill time in this enormous wine bar where we were the only customers. The proprietor told us how he would climb onto the roof to throw all the empty wine bottles down the chimney. Why? So they'd make an attractive pile in the bar's unused fireplace, of course.

Surprisingly difficult to find a picture of a pile of wine bottles in a fireplace. He was a true pioneer of design.
After drinking, we got on the funicular railway and rode it to the top of a hill, where we found an art gallery in a beautiful house overlooking the Vlatava River. We have obviously just missed a party, because there were empty cups and chip bowls full of crumbs everywhere. The only person there was the artist, this tall, skinny man with thick black-rimmed glasses and a big gray beard down to his belt. He invited us to look around his art gallery/house, which, upon inspection, was chock full of misty, psychedelic paintings of elves and fairies. Mum whispered, "He must've gotten laid a lot in the seventies."

We think a lot about that artist, my mother and me. He lived through the Communist regime and the Velvet Revolution. He came out of the war and the horror and the occupation with his pretty little house on the hill where all his friends come to view his pretty paintings of mythical beings. He's living the dream after living the nightmare. It's a beautiful thing.

I think this is the theme Wes Anderson is exploring in "Grand Budapest." On the one hand, it's about the rise of fascism in Eastern Europe, but on the other hand, what it's REALLY about is the pretty little hotel on the hill where all the main characters' friends come to visit, and yes, there's even some pretty paintings involved.

I'm not a die-hard Anderson fan--I didn't like "The Life Aquatic," and living in the midst of hipster Brooklyn has unfortunately soured the twee delights of "The Royal Tenenbaums" for me. But "Grand Budapest" resonates. There's something profoundly dignified, profoundly humane, in the thought of people maintaining small circles of beauty and peace in the face of wretchedness and horror.

I want to see more movies about that.