Friday, March 21, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

2014, US, directed by Wes Anderson

Though it's conceived partly in homage to the 1930s films set in fictional Mitteleuropa, Anderson's film can't help but be conscious of what came afterwards, which makes the essential levity of the project at times a little incongruous, as if he's wilfully ignoring more or less everything outside the frame. Of course, that's entirely true at one level: his project is more a dissection of a certain kind of character given to storytelling -- at about four different levels in the film -- rather than an articulation of political reality (or indeed any reality at all). And yet it's that refusal to be bent to the strictures of the world as we know it that is key to the film's effect and charm: the deliberately distorted perspective of many of the framings, the special effects work that draws attention to its own artifice, the mannered speech, all of them among the thousands of details that contribute to the creation of a fully-imagined and self-contained world (when you see a sign on a bus door with a word split in two, you suspect that was a decision explicitly approved by the director, if not indeed an idea generated by him).

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States