The Grand Budapest Hotel: a girl reads a book’s prologue, which the author personally sets up; his younger self meeting a hotel owner, who tells him how he came to own a hotel, after he helped a concierge that was once framed for murder. Only that last part is necessary, but hey, this is a Wes Anderson film so suck up the whimsical details you boringly normal douchebag! The ensemble cast is phenomenal – if a little male-centric – to the point where it becomes distracting, but to be fair, the less time you spend thinking about the story the better. Fiennes makes this way funnier than it should have been with his dashing, sweary, and thoroughly entertaining concierge role – an outstanding a piece of comedy-driven anti-casting, in fact, most actors appear to enjoy playing their exaggerated slapstick characters – and on the whole, they’re all fun to watch. There are plenty of great cinematic techniques resurrected here; with models, scale, depth and focus all being used to powerful effect. The cinematography is also meticulous – composition, shapes, balance, symmetry… it’s the epitome of mise-en-scène (any screenshot could be a painting) making Anderson one of the few directors around that give Park Chan–Wook a run for his money. Substance-wise however is where the film falls over, as it feels very light – the story is all shine and no significance beyond the homage to old-timey farces. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a very unique movie, and Anderson’s most entertaining & accessible film to date. Like one of Mendl’s pastries it’s beautiful and admirable, but very light and fluffy.
Wrecked: A man wakens up in a mangled car at the bottom of a cliff, with no memory of what happened and a shattered leg, he has to survive and figure it out. Sounds interesting, but it boils down to Adrien Brody being stuck in a car for 30 minutes then crawling around in the woods for a further 50 minutes. It’s a poorly told story, with nothing significant revealed until the last two minutes, which is pointless as you never connect with the main guy. Brody’s good, but doesn’t have to do much more than grunting, crawling and crying. Would have been a walkout after 60 minutes if it had a longer run time – it’s a shorty. Wrecked is a nice concept, but with crap execution – feels like a rushed, poorly planned project that was shot in a couple of days.
Giallo: when a string of beautiful foreign women are abducted, brutalised and dumped in the streets of Torino an air hostess and jaded detective join up to catch the killer. Everything about this reeks of a cheap 1980s horror; the foreign setting, production values, film quality, characters, hairstyles, music, storytelling, and the ridiculous villain… Other than a few modern-ish torture scenes, this could easily be mistaken for an old, cheap film. There’s an eccentric pan-European cast, with some terrible acting and broken-English phonetic dialogue delivery, headed up by Brody, as a hammy New Yorker who looks like he’s forgotten everything he learnt about convincing acting. What’s most disappointing is that Dario Argento, someone who was once a master of the horror genre, is still pumping out films that show zero progression from his 1970s/1980s titles – if anything, they were far superior. It’s under 90 minutes long, yet contains so many unnecessary filler shots. Basically, this is no better or different to any of the thousands of low-budget shitty horrors you’d find on satellite TV (although some score higher!). At its best, this is a semi-competent euro-slasher. At its worst, it’s like a spoof genre picture where a pursuing policeman falls over after running into a mop. I’ve seen it all before, far better.
Midnight In Paris [Unavoidable Spoilers]: Woody Allen brings us more misunderstood middle-class artisan-intellectuals with relationship trouble. The idea of the central MacGuffin of this film (travelling back in time and meeting historical figures) didn’t bother me much; but as someone who’s not very literary literate it all got a bit wanky pouring familiar name after familiar name on to the screen as if the audience would lap up the theatricality of it all. The only character I liked from the entire cast was Adrien ”Rhinoceros!!” Brody, everyone else just played pretty grotesque caricatures. Owen Wilson’s does his schlubby moping vagina act again, would love to see him try something different. As with any Allen film, there’s some nice tourism-friendly photography and vision from behind the camera, and a token trampy ragtime soundtrack to tart up the audio. For me, it’s just another stock Allen film – watchable and mildly entertaining – unless you majored in English, then it will undoubtedly be your film of the year.