Synopsis: Italy, September 1955. A Formula One driver crashes his car during a race, leaving him stuck in a small village but good surprises will come his way.
This was written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola and while this is presented by Prada, it’s not an advertisement. Castello Cavalcante is just a short film, starring Jason Schwartzman, with all of the visual flourishes you might expect from Anderson.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” is the movie that Wes Anderson has been hinting at and promising for 15 years. It has wit and yet doesn’t short-circuit emotion, style that’s more than a gesture or attitude, and good scenes that don’t only stand alone but that build and become part of a substantial whole. It is every bit what people think of when they think of a Wes Anderson movie, only this time the gap between the talent and the achievement is gone.
It’s set primarily in the early 1930s, in a fictional central European city, with shades of Budapest, Prague and Vienna – but not the real Budapest, Prague and Vienna, but rather those cities as imagined and dreamed across a distance of time and space. The hotel of the title is like a hotel in a Greta Garbo movie, except rendered in candy colors, harking back to a time when people really believed that splendor and refinement were states of the soul, not mere acts of display. Continue reading
Film review by Philip French
Saturday 26, May 2012
Wes Anderson’s films – seven of them since his debut with Bottle Rocket in 1996 – constitute a consistent oeuvre. They’re comedies tinged with a certain tragic sense of life. Various actors recur, most notably Jason Schwartzman as a geeky young man, Luke Wilson as a quirky thirtysomething and Bill Murray as a middle-aged curmudgeon. The films pursue groups of eccentric figures who make up families of a kind generally characterised as “dysfunctional”, invariably attracting references to Tolstoy’s dubious claim that happy families are all alike and unhappy families are unhappy in their different ways. They’re also exquisitely composed and lit and accompanied by an interesting, often surprising choice of music.
Initially I had reservations over Anderson’s whimsicality and wilful cultivation of the irrational. I was eventually won over by his last feature but one, the beautiful The Darjeeling Limited, in which three American brothers are brought together on a train journey across India a year after their father’s death. Continue reading
Anderson wrote The Darjeeling Limited with Schwartzman and Roman Coppola. They’re gifted, clever men, but none of them have much perspective on their characters’ overentitlement. What they know, of course, is what it’s like to grow up with insanely narcissistic parents who leave them both spoiled and bereft—globe-trotting basket cases. (The brothers’ vulnerability is underscored by Wilson’s recent suicide attempt—his bandages seem chillingly prophetic.) Trudging through rural India after their train has abandoned them, the Whitmans happen on three boys who tumble into rapids. Is their fragility supposed to mirror the Whitmans’? Is their tightly knit, patriarchal community supposed to offer a contrast? I’m not sure what Anderson is going for, but the interlude feels exploitive. The final sequence saves the film. The journey turns out to have an end—a convent in the foothills of the Himalayas, where the Whitman boys’ mother (Anjelica Huston) has fled to become a nun. Huston gives one of her irrationally great performances—the mother’s fear of her sons’ demands is between the lines, not in them, and you don’t put it all together until she has left the scene. Visually, Anderson tries something new: He zooms in and out of his frames; he violates his own immaculate canvases. India turns out to be the perfect Wes Anderson movie set. You almost believe that the color has a spiritual component, that it’s a way of clinging to hope in the face of an indifferent universe. — David Edelstein Continue reading
Director Wes Anderson and his longtime friend and writing partner Owen Wilson follow up Bottle Rocket (1996) and Rushmore (1998) with this similarly offbeat comedy about a dysfunctional family reunion. Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) was a successful attorney who had three children with his wife Etheline (Anjelica Huston), an archaeologist. Each of the Tenenbaum kids was a precocious genius: Chas (Ben Stiller) made a killing as a child investor. Richie (Luke Wilson) was a junior tennis champ and three-time U.S. Nationals winner. The adopted Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) was a playwright who won a 50,000-dollar Braverman Grant in the ninth grade. When Royal abruptly left his family, however, it was the beginning of two decades of betrayal and failure that would scar the Tenenbaums for life. Their past resentments are bitterly held against Royal when he suddenly reappears, claiming to have six weeks to live and a desire to reconnect with his family. Typically, Royal’s story is a sham, but his presence and sincere desire for absolution soon have a profound effect on the Tenenbaums, who are each dealing with thwarted desires and relationships. Among them are Richie’s lifelong love for Margot, who’s unhappily married to Raleigh St.Clair (Bill Murray) and Etheline’s eccentric engagement to Henry Sherman (Danny Glover), who wishes to marry her. The Royal Tenenbaums also co-stars Owen Wilson and features narration provided by Alec Baldwin. — Karl Williams (allmovie.com) Continue reading
A short epilogue of one heartbreaking history of love and the prologue of the travel told in “The Darjeeling Limited”, starring Natalie Portman and Jason Schwartzman.
“Upon his release from a mental hospital following a breakdown, the directionless Anthony joins his friend Dignan (who seems far less sane than Anthony.) Dignan has hatched a hair brained scheme for an as-yet unspecified crime spree that somehow involves his former boss, the (supposedly) legendary Mr. Henry. With the help of their pathetic neighbor and pal Bob, Anthony and Dignan pull a job and hit the road, where Anthony finds love with motel maid Inez. When our boys finally hook up with Mr. Henry, the ensuing escapade turns out to be far from what anyone expected.” Continue reading