The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel ★★★★★

Sometimes when I love a film, I start thinking about themes and end up writing 6-10 paragraphs about it. This time, I'm just going to make a few quick points for the sake of brevity, and hopefully it won't grow out of control. First of all, just go watch it. All things considered, this is probably the best shot movie I've ever seen. Ever... and I've seen thousands of films (2,857 graded since Jan 2015 alone, and I was born in 1985). All of Anderson's films look immaculate, symmetrical, color-matched and organized down to the last detail, but this one feels next level, even for him. This didn't win the Oscar for best cinematography or best direction, but what else is new? I guess yay for not screwing up the production design and score awards, Academy?

I've seen a small handful of Anderson films, and I think this one feels closest in tone and genre to Moonrise Kingdom, which was my favorite Anderson film before this one just took the Mendl's cake. You have the same sense of adventure, storytelling, and charming but offbeat humor. You have some of the young love element in a side plot, as well, just played out at young adult ages.

This film is technically perfect, picturesque and aesthetically enjoyable almost to a fault, as I found myself so enamored with the imagery and design that I actually zoned out of dialogue and had to rewind a couple spots to make sure I was retaining all of my character and plot information. I can't be the only one that this happens to, right? If I have one criticism of Wes Anderson movies, it's that their pacing, visual dominance and quirky nature sometimes sacrifice true emotional connection and tenderness. I think that's still the case to a slight degree here, but we do get some very likable and fun characters. Frankly, all films don't need to be incredibly deep or weighty to be important and worth watching. This visual and character driven adventure is a good example. Fiennes, in particular, just lights up the screen every time he appears. The other younger lead, Tony Revolori, also really held his own, perfectly grasping Anderson's charming style. It's always great to see Saoirse Ronan; she's just so natural and lovable in everything. The pacing is strong, and the film does not overstay its welcome at just 1 hour and 39 minutes long. It's just always a pleasant experience with Mr. Anderson. This slots right into my top 3 for 2014 and my top 50 overall.

This is the type of film that reminds you why cinema can be viewed as an art form, and it manages to do it without being condescending or high-minded.

(EDIT: Forgot to mention something really cool. This film uses three different aspect ratios (Academy ratio, widescreen "letterboxd", and full widescreen cinema). The narration or events being shown, whether in the 30's, 60's, or present, match up to when those formats were debuted/popular.)

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