4 items from 2014
I went to a recent screening of “Letter From an Unknown Woman” at Moma with a friend and fellow Max Ophuls devotee. As always, I was delighted and swept away by Ophuls’ complex love stories and equally complex camera moves. After the film, we discussed what we believed to be a fear, among many (not all) contemporary American directors, of moving the camera in favor of conventional coverage of a scene (Wide shot, Medium shot, Close Up, Close Up and figuring out the pacing in the edit). Of the film elements filed under cinematography, I believe camera movement is the strongest indicator of my director’s voice. Certainly lighting plays an important factor in »
- Cybel Martin
How do you get to the Grand Budapest Hotel? To be sure you will not find it on Trip Advisor, or on any maps of the region. Ditto the kingdom of Zubrowka, within whose borders it purportedly lies. But if you first travel to that beleaguered republic of Tomainia, where the dictator Adenoid Hynkel is on the rise to power, then cross over to nearby Bandrika, where visiting ladies are wont to vanish, and finally detour through Marshovia, whose king is known for his attraction to merry widows, you’ll be near enough to smell the artisanal confections of Mendel’s, official supplier of baked goods to the Grand Budapest and all of its denizens.
Of course, the true provenance of this extraordinary establishment is the expansive imagination of Wes Anderson, above flanked by “Grand Budapest Hotel” cast members Tony Revolori and Bill Murray, who has set his eighth feature »
- Scott Foundas
Whatever the patchiness of the rest of its lineup, the Berlin film festival tends to start off with a bang, and this year is no exception: the world premiere of the new film from Wes Anderson, that master of archly sculpted dialogue and meticulous, retrofitted design. The arrival of The Grand Budapest Hotel is particularly appropriate, for this is the moment in the Anderson oeuvre when he turns to consider all things Mitteleuropäische – refracted, as a closing credit tells us, through the work of the prolific Austrian writer Stefan Zweig.
Zweig specialised in novellas – Letter from an Unknown Woman, Fear, The Royal Game – normally designed to illuminate some plangent melodrama in interwar Vienna. Without being a direct adaptation of anything specific, The Grand Budapest Hotel distils many of the story's elements. »
- Andrew Pulver
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
4 items from 2014
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