Wow, so I thought this movie was great, I really enjoyed it. One of Anderson’s best so far. If you haven’t seen it, definitely go, it’s worth it.
It’s about a hotel concierge back in the 1930’s during WWII, he owns a hotel in Eastern Europe that has definitely seen better days.
He’s also somewhat of a player with the older women, until one of them dies, or is murdered, and the family places the blame on him once they see that her will leaves him everything.
I don’t want to spoil too much else, but I really enjoyed the story. It’s definitely unique, totally Anderson’s style.
If you’re a Wes Anderson fan then you’ll definitely appreciate his filming style. Lots of wide, static establishing shots, sometimes with little action, which adds to the quirkiness.
Most of the close ups in the film are of the character’s reactions, not the action itself.
Like Anderson’s other films, this one has a color scheme as well, and if you can’t already tell, it’s shades of pink and blue. The hotel itself is pink, inside and out, and the concierge and his lobby boy both dress in blue.
Also, it’s in a snowy region in the winter so it gives the outside shots a sort of blue tint. I love how Anderson has different color schemes for all of his movies, think about it;
The Royal Tenenbaums was pink and red with brown
The Life Aquatic was teal and yellow
The Darjeeling Limited was blue and yellow with green
Fantastic Mr. Fox was brown and yellow
and Moonrise Kingdom was blue and yellow also
I really just love how different Wes Anderson’s style is from everything else. I remember scenes from Life Aquatic where the rule of thirds was totally ignored, the character was on the wrong side of the shot, at least according to traditional cinematography rules and film school. But he blatantly ignores them and does his own thing, but you know what, it works, and it somehow looks good. When I try it it feels awkward, but when he does it, it’s motivated by the scene and the mood, making you feel crowded by the character or making you feel like you’re having your personal space violated, which is exactly what’s happening in the scene. So I guess despite what I was taught in film school, you really can break the rules and make it work, but only after you understand the rules and know why you’re breaking them.
One scene I was also thinking about in The Grand Budapest Hotel was when the concierge and the lobby boy sneak through a door and walk down a hallway. The reason it caught my attention was because the whole scene was a wide shot, which is not the usual way to film a scene like that. In my mind I was thinking of all the ways I would have shot it myself, according to what I know and learned in film school.
I’d have a shot of them on the other side of the door, reaching for the doorknob, then maybe I’d have a closeup of the hand turning the knob, then I’d cut to the front side of the door opening in a medium shot, then they’d walk through on a wide shot and I’d cut to a different angle to see them walk away. But no, in this movie it’s all in one take, and all from the same static wide shot. It seems crazy to me, but it works. And you know what, in any other type of movie, or from any other director, that shot probably wouldn’t work, it would have seemed boring or amateur, but for Wes Anderson, it works. The shot adds to the deadpan humor of the movie, and people have come to expect that type of shot from him.
I’ve come to notice that all of his movies seem to have at least one shot of quick action, like someone hitting someone or throwing something. Every time, but it’s noticeable in his movies because of the contrast from the rest of the movie. In this movie it was in the beginning when a character is narrating the story, I think it was supposed to look like he was on TV, but he stops midway into a sentence and starts saying “Hey, no! No! Don’t do that! Stop it!” and then the camera zooms out and you see a kid standing there was a pellet gun or a rubber band gun or something, and he shoots the guy a few times and runs away, and the guy tries to get up to chase him but then sits down again and continues with his story, but then the kid comes back in and stands next to him. It seems random but it catches you off guard so early in the movie and you can’t help but crack up.
This movie seemed a bit more violent than his previous actually. I’m thinking of three scenes in particular, and if you’ve seen the movie than you can probably guess what I’m referring to. There’s one with Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe that is surprisingly violent, I won’t go into details because it gives too much away. There’s another one with a woman’s severed head, I’ll leave that one nameless so you won’t see it coming. And then there’s a bloody fight scene with Harvey Keitel and some prison guards. So that was a little bit different from his previous works, this one seemed to have a darker theme, probably because it was more like a murder mystery, almost like a game of Clue, hmmmmm, very similar now that I think of it! Maybe they were playing a game of clue or something when they wrote the script, haha.
But anywho, I’d definitely consider this one of my favorites now, up there with Life Aquatic and The Royal Tenenbaums. I’d give this a 5/5 rating!