The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel ★★★★½

This is Wes Anderson's historical thriller. It's both his zaniest film and, in small moments, one of his most tender and realistic.

I love Anderson's insane attention to detail, on par with other maniacs like Kubrick, the way you know every little tic and background detail is part of the plan. I love his sense of humor for the most part. I really don't have anything new to say about him for this movie. It's just really good.

What I will say is that I love the overly elaborate nested framing device, in which each layer / era uses a different film stock and aspect ratio. The meat of the story is set in the 1930s and uses a 1.37 "tv style" framing, with vibrant, unreal pink hues. The story is being related to a writer in the late 1960s in glowing panorama widesceen. The writer, as an older man, is talking to us via the camera in a smaller letterboxed frame. Finally, at the very beginning and end of The Grand Budapest Hotel, a young girl visits the grave of this apparently beloved writer as snow softly falls around her. It seems like a lot, but the obvious framing works to create an instant visual cohesion, and the film, for the most part, progresses to the deepest layer and slowly backs out - no shuffling.

This contrivance probably seems like the most West Anderson thing ever on paper, especially to a detractor, but it feels like the only natural way to tell this story - and it's done with such technical mastery and charm that it melts into the experience immediately.

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