7 items from 2014
Welcome, beloved guests. The time has come to check-in to The Grand Budapest Hotel. Upon arrival, be sure to take in the beautiful world surrounding you, as created by director and co-writer Wes Anderson, as well as the wonderful hotel aesthetic, brought to you by production designer Adam Stockhausen. This week, Wamg and a few members of the press sat down (in a roundtable discussion) with Anderson and Stockhausen to talk about Anderson’s all new caper The Grand Budapest Hotel. Check it out below!
The Grand Budapest Hotel recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars; and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting; a raging battle for an enormous family fortune; a desperate chase on motorcycles, trains, sleds, and skis; and the sweetest »
- Melissa Howland
Finding Nemo encompasses a tremendous amount of positive imagery that makes up Disney and Pixar’s populous appeal. From learning how to trust family and friends, to overcoming biggest fears and obstacles, Finding Nemo understands how to tap into the audience’s heartstrings and neatly ties in a meaningful message for the viewer to take home. Yet with every good side, there is a dark presence that even Disney can’t back away from. Like many Disney films, from Bambi to Frozen, Finding Nemo deals with a story whose basis stems from a broken household struggling with a great deal of separation. Why does Disney cling onto threads of such despair and heartache? Perhaps it’s a factor many can relate to. Or perhaps it’s a working formula that sweetens the arc of a happy ending. Either way, separation is a tapped fountain of which Hollywood has dipped into time after time again. »
- Christopher Clemente
Is the airplane becoming the modern equivalent of the snowed-in country house? Apparently so, as Liam Neeson manages a fuselage full of trouble in this enjoyable silly thriller
Liam Neeson is the grizzled ex-cop turned air marshal on an ordinary flight from New York to London, secretly packing a badge, a gun and a whole mess of personal demons that might yet be exorcised by an act of redemptive heroism. Out of the blue, in mid-flight, he gets a chilling anonymous message on his special air‑marshal instant-message device. Every 20 minutes, a passenger on his plane is going to be killed, unless $150m is paid into a certain numbered account. Liam's bloodshot eyes flicker tensely around the plane – which one of this cross-section of humanity is sending the messages? »
- Peter Bradshaw
Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent is exactly the kind of film that benefits from a Criterion Collection release. I don't consider this to be one of Hitch's "best", but at the same time it's got the elements that make his films fascinating, and, most importantly, entertaining. And Criterion always does a great job bringing a focus to some of Hitchcock's less discussed gems. Add to that, Foreign Correspondent carries an additional weight as a result of its place in history as a propaganda film, emphasized most in Joel McCrea's speech at the end of the film amid the bombing of London, warning those back in the U.S. just what exactly Germany was up to. The scene was added after filming had already wrapped, just over a month before the film would actually hit theaters. Following Rebecca, Foreign Correspondent was Hitchcock's second American feature. Both would be nominated for »
- Brad Brevet
Cinema history has a few great double-up years: 12-month periods in which a classic filmmaker had not one but two great films. Mel Brooks may be the most notorious, releasing two of the best comedies of all time in 1974 (“Blazing Saddles” & “Young Frankenstein”) and Steven Spielberg has arguably done it a few times, inarguably in 1993 (“Jurassic Park” & “Schindler’s List”) and he would double-up again in 2002 (“Minority Report” & “Catch Me If You Can”) and 2011 (“Tintin” & “War Horse”).
One of the most-often forgotten double-up years was Alfred Hitchcock’s first year as an American filmmaker — 1940, which saw the premiere of “Rebecca” in April and “Foreign Correspondent” in August. The former has been a Criterion inductee for years and the latter joins the most important club in Blu-ray/DVD history this week in a finely-transferred and wonderfully accompanied release.
“Rebecca” has the higher historical pedigree, largely because it’s less dry »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
Happy birthday to the glamorous Kim Novak, who is 81 today. It’s impossible to think of Novak without remembering her shock blonde super-coif in Vertigo (not to mention the way she werrrrrked Edith Head‘s form-sucking pencil skirts), and thus, it’s impossible to think of Novak without remembering the great female roles in Hitchcock movies. Here are my picks for the 10 best.
This is sort of a gonzo first pick, but give it up: The Lady Vanishes rules and Dame May Whitty, with all her grandmotherly charms, is just a subversive ol’ hoot as the bad-ass spy who sets up the intrigue of the story. This is the kind of role Margaret Rutherford would win an Oscar for. You underestimate the depth of how much she kicks ass.
Is it wild? Oh, yes. Is it sometimes a little embarrassing? »
- Louis Virtel
One of the more frequent accusations leveled at Wes Anderson — that he’s a filmmaker who favors style over substance — will ring even hollower than usual after “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” a captivating 1930s-set caper whose innumerable surface pleasures might just seduce you into overlooking its sly intelligence and depth of feeling. As intricately layered as a Dobos torte and nearly as rich, this twisty tale of murder, theft, conspiracy and unlikely friendship finds its maker in an unusually ambitious and expansive mood — still arranging his characters in detail-perfect dioramas, to be sure, but with a bracing awareness of the fascism, war and decay about to encroach upon their lovingly hand-crafted world. The result is no musty nostalgia trip but rather a vibrant and imaginative evocation of a bygone era, with a brilliant lead performance from Ralph Fiennes that lends Anderson’s latest exercise in artifice a genuine soul.
From a creative standpoint, »
- Justin Chang
7 items from 2014
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