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WES ANDERSON DIRECTS THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

year: 2014 rating: **1/2
Prepare to delve into yet another intentionally bizarre Wes Anderson rabbit hole, guided by no less than three narrators providing flashback upon flashback... And then, somewhere in there, an actual story begins…

Skipping to what’s really important is Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave, concierge of the neglected European GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL during the 1930’s. He sleeps with spinsters and runs the place with an iron fist – more polished silver than heavy chrome. His young mentoring bus boy, Zero, the one narrating in the form of an aged F. Murray Abraham, sticks to his boss like gum while the duo, like the story, jumps all over the place…

Although a real plot is chiseled down from a horde of bantering dialogue when an extremely rich woman dies, bringing Gusave to an estate where he could inherit, to the chagrin of her nefarious son, a pricey painting. The first half ends with Gusave and Zero stealing the painting, and the intrigue builds nicely. Then something happens… Or perhaps, you can say, too much happens far too soon…

When Gusave is sent to prison, director Anderson abandons his quirky character-driven romp and throws several genre-devices into the pot, including a heavily planned old school prison escape and a ruthless hit man: The latter in the form of motorcycle riding Willem Dafoe, a cross between Steve McQueen and Al Pacino's muggy bodyguard in the second GODFATHER: Dafoe's mobile loon kills anyone connected to Gustave, including pets.

There are darkly humorous moments here and here, and always something to gander at, especially the picturesque locations resembling popups from an antique children's book… But with so much running around the central plot is all but forgotten, and Fiennes gets lost in a mix of wasted detours and distracting star cameos (including Bill Murray, who could have been played by anyone)…

And last but not least, in the true leading role, young actor Tony Revolori displays the perfect amount of spacey deadpan that befits hipster-friendly arthouse fare, but alas, he’s not that interesting or, in a movie full of mischievous devils, someone worth rooting for.
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