Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Wes Anderson weekend

Pathe Bioscoop Buitenhof: Friday 14th March - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Filmhuis Den Haag: Saturday 15th March - Moonrise Kingdom

This weekend I was transported to the world of Wes Anderson. The experience feels more like having been inside his head reading his thoughts or more worrying having participated in a therapy session for Mr Anderson's deep seated psychological hang ups.
So many of Anderson's themes are very personal: family instability, parental infidelity dead animals, young love, the importance of colour to create emotion, direct dialogue delivered in a deadpan style straight to camera, his musical heritage and of course.... Bill Murray.
Murray is of course only one of the family, Ed Norton, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel and Jason Schwartzman are also essential to an Anderson film. Their participation the greater as seem willing to take small cameo roles in each offering.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a tale told by an aging writer about his adventures at the hotel of the title.
When we first enter the establishment it is down on its luck and far from the height of fashion. We meet he owner of the hotel Mr Moustafa, who our guide takes a meal with. we find out how the hotel became Mr Moustafa's property as he came under the influence of the hotel's legendary concierge from early in the 20th Century, the charismatic but horrendous Mr Gustave H (played with panache by Ralph Fiennes). The story is fantastical and very Wes Anderson with a mix of animation and oddly artificial live action we are carried along as the narrative plays out.... watch out for Willem Dafoe playing a malevolent presence through the piece.

The ensemble just works as they seem to have a sixth sense on the requirement of their acting when working with Anderson.
IMDb gives a 8.4  and Rotten Tomatoes 91% from the critics and 92% from the audience.....I have to say that I don't believe the story works so well I would suggest that 8.6 out of 10 would be a fairer score... I may have to watch the film a second or third time, which would not be a unpleasant experience.

I spotted the showing of Moonrise Kingdom almost by accident as I looked through the film listings for Saturday.
We are back on familiar Anderson territory and angst. As the two young outsiders experience first passionate love. Against the backdrop of  rural New England we follow Khaki Scout and orphan Sam Shakusky as he encounters and falls for the enigmatic Suzi Bishop.
All is played with the support of music from Benjamin Britten - Noye's Fludde ( Anderson and his brother performed in the piece when they were around 10 years old) and the Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra.
Our tale is narrated by Bob Balaban and contains other Anderson stalwarts - Keitel, Swinton, Norton, Swartzman and of course the ever eccentric Mr Murray playing Suzi's father.

The cast is supported by Bruce Willis and Frances McDormand, however it is the juvenile leads Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward and their peers who carry the film.
IMDb gives the film 7.4 while Rotten Tomatoes is more generous in awarding 94% from the critics and 86% from film-goers. I felt that Moonrise Kingdom works better as a story than does The Grand Budapest Hotel and have no problem in awarding it a creditable 9 out of 10.
Wes Anderson's reputation and integrity are preserved by both films which are true to his movie credentials......Anderson is back on form with The Grand Budapest Hotel following  Fantastic Mr Fox which I found to be not quite up to the usual standard

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