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The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
While the film playfully suggests there's a novel relating this tall, Peter OToole-meets-Baron von Münchhausen-like tale in print - there isn't - Wes Anderson did mention in recent interviews that the screenplay he developed from his and Hugo Guinness' story was inspired by the writings of prolific international bestselling Austrian-born author, biographer and playwright Stefan Zweig (1881-1942). Actually, Anderson admits he unabashedly swiped from Zweig's work, namely his 1939 novel, Beware of Pity, as well as The Post Office Girl, posthumously published in German in 1982 and then English in 2008. However, several page-to-screen adaptations of Zweig's books have sprung up over the decades, notably Hollywood's Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), starring Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan, and the 4-time Oscar-nominated Marie Antoinette (1938), starring Norma Shearer and Tyrone Power. In early 2014, The Grand Budapest Hotel won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival - the first of many honours this memorably fun feature will likely, deservedly receive.
Holy cripes, this flick is an incredibly entertaining big screen romp. Armed with an hilariously quirky script and wonderfully rich performances, The Grand Budapest Hotel takes movie goers on an extravagant, frenetically punctuated adventure throughout. Fiennes is phenomenal here, seamlessly personifying the inflated attitudes and scandalous eccentricities of Monsieur Gustave, this bygone Alpine spa retreat's go-to front desk manager who caters to a clientele of fading contrarian bourgeoisie and, uh, services a roster of aristocratic widows. An ever-ready romantic stanza and a breath of L'air de panache musk are the lingering accents of Gustave's quite specifically affected costume de rigueur: a carmine velvet bow tie perched atop his starched white wing-collared dress shirt, dashing tailored gainsboro evening waistcoat and pressed livery trousers, all impeccably presented under a fitted, gold buttoned double-breasted French violet tailcoat with wide peaked red trim lapels adorned with silver plated Society of the Crossed Keys pendants.
It's funny that I'm defaulting
to French words to illustrate this posh Eastern European scoundrel,
but the fancy stuff in this movie has French names. L'air de
panache cologne. Courtesane au Chocolat pastries. Even the hotel's
menu is in French, even though the newspapers, the signage, the
money and pretty well everything else that's written in this
fictitious, Saxony-like country is written in English. Zut alors!
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