• Check into the Grand Budapest Hotel


    My first Wes Anderson film was The Royal Tennen–baums back in 2001.

    From there, it’s been a lovely ride watching his succeeding work—The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom.

    All of them have been wonderfully satisfying (I admit I still have to see his pre-Tennenbaums gems, Rushmore and Bottle Rocket). I smile after the credits roll and I have this post Wes Anderson film afterglow.

    His films have a capacity for being sweet, odd, very intelligent and funny—but perhaps The Grand Budapest Hotel reigns the most charming one of all.

    It chronicles episodes in the life of one extraordinary concierge, M. Gustave H. played to delightful old school perfection by Ralph Fiennes. While there are jumps from 1985 to 1968—most of the action takes place in the fictional alpine state of Zubrowka during the early thirties and the forties.

    The adventures include Gustave’s acquisition of a highly treasured painting and a battle for the family fortune of one of his “clients,” Madame Celine Villenueve Desgoffe-und-Taxis aka Madame D. (Tilda Swinton plus about 50 years.) By Gustave’s side through it all is his faithful lobby boy, Zero (Tony Revolori) who learns “there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity.”

    Expect the best of what you’ve known to expect from a Wes Anderson film. If you are new to his work, prepare to be swept off your feet. Also in the cast are: F. Murray Abraham, Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Saoirse Ronan with Anderson regulars Adrien Brody, Ed Norton, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson and Bill Murray.

    Splendid cinematography and art direction—you’ll leave wanting to go back or like me, wanting to revisit Wes Anderson’s other films.

    * * *

    Johnny Depp’s Transcendence got a rather abysmal 19 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I went to see it any way. I have loved Johnny Depp for decades and have been following his career since 1986. He’s cheered me up so many times when I’ve felt down. He’s almost like an old friend who may have been making some questionable choices lately.

    Verdict: It was not as bad        as Rotten Tomatoes made it out to be. It did have some promise but it may have tread on some absurd horror movie territory. It did try to make us think  about our relationship with technology.

    Also stars Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany and Rebecca Hall. Depp’s next turn is as the Wolf  in Disney’s film version of Into the Woods.

    The Grand Budapest  Hotel opened on April 19 and is screened exclusively at Ayala Cinemas.


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