The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel ★★★★½

"You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that's what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant...oh, fuck it."

Colorful, bizarre and deliciously twisted, Wes Anderson's 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' is an amazing adventure of nostalgia, reputation and duty, as the lead concierge of the world famous Grand Budapest works with his loyal lobby boy to clear his name of murder and get what's rightfully his, all while dodging assassins, investigators, policemen, and lawyers. The film jumps back and forth a few times between 1932 and 1985, offering up its own unique styling during both eras. It's a really wild experience, as dark and ominous as it is hysterical and light - several of Fiennes' lines and the nonsensical shootout are standout moments of hilarity.

Some of the more inherent beauty of the film, beyond Anderson's expected and amazing cinematography and symmetrical shots, is in the set design, some of the best throughout his filmography, and the rich, vibrant costumes. It's almost like opening a book - which, to be fair, you can say about a lot of Anderson's works - but it really is fantastically picturesque and occasionally exotic - the purples and pinks are stark, the snowy tundra is cold and heavy feeling, and the blending of real world locations and moments with miniatures, paintings and stop-motion is a really wonderful and effective tool, masterfully so.

And as always, Anderson manages to stack the cast with magnificent talent, from Ralph Fiennes as the lead concierge, Monsieur Gustave H., arguably one of the greatest roles of his career, as stoic and sarcastic as it is knowledgable and urbane, to the heartfelt, intrigued performances of Jude Law and F. Murray Abraham. Adrien Brody and Willem Dafoe, two of my favorite actors, are also incredible here, as the selfish son of the murder victim at the heart of the story and the cold-blooded hitman in his employ, respectively. As a director, Wes always delivers in this department.

In the end, my nostalgia for Anderson's earlier films moves this one into third place in my ranking, but it's one of those lists that's sort of irrelevant given the fact that I'm a huge, huge fan of his work across the board, so it's all amazing, this one especially. It's spirited and animated while also working as his darkest film yet, with flashes of surprising violence and casual murder that are expertly sprinkled with humor and dumbfounded reactions. It's certainly one of his biggest highlights of them all, in a sea of favorites.

Wes Anderson Ranking:

1. The Royal Tenenbaums
2. Rushmore
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Bottle Rocket
5. Fantastic Mr. Fox
6. The Darjeeling Limited
7. Moonrise Kingdom
8. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

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