The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel ★★★★★

I’ve been trying to put my finger on what makes this film so unusual, but I haven’t had much success. Is it the sheer number of cuts? I would guess that the single longest uninterrupted piece of film is only about forty-five seconds (part of Gustave and Zero’s reunion scene after the prison break), with the average being maybe only ten, but perhaps that’s not noteworthy these days? Maybe what it really is is the insane density of imagery — not just the number of cuts but also the fact that the film speeds across an entire fictional country like a tutor’s pointer flicking across a map. Hotels, prisons, castles, mountains, monasteries, museums, trains, trams, gondolas, kitchens, garrets, rooftops, alleys, baths, one persistent barley field and a romantic carousel just for fun. More than that, each new locale clonks you on the head with its singularity and comic perfection. Of course there is a gigantic painting of a boar in Schloss Lutz. Of course the steel gate of the prison is forty feet high — and it makes me laugh every goddamn time.

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