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Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: The absolutely delightful ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ feels both old & new from Wes Anderson

The Grand Budapest Hotel is quite similar to all of writer-director Wes Anderson’s previous films (a good thing), and yet at the same time, very different from them as well (also a good thing). The film is, of course, still crammed with that trademark Wes Anderson look and feel, but there is something different about the movie as a whole.

The Wes Anderson Lists

We here at North/South Film hold Wes Anderson in the highest esteem. We've talked about our Mt. Rushmore of working directors, Wes, along with Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson make up our movie mountain.

Both Dan and I look forward to each new film of his with great anticipation - his latest, The Grand Budapest Hotel (his eighth feature film), is no exception. Read my review of the film here.

Grand Budapest opened in New York and Los Angeles to the expected positive reviews. It has expanded to other cities, including my hometown, New Orleans. Sadly, Dan and his brethren in Vermont will have to wait until April.

Dan and I have long debated the merits of each of his film with one another, so now it is time we share our thoughts and personal favorites lists with our readers. After much thought and argument, we present:

The Wes Anderson Lists

Chris's List

5 – The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

I really struggled here. Realistically, I could have easily put Moonrise Kingdom or even his latest, The Grand Budapest Hotel, at #5 instead of Life Aquatic (I am, admittedly, not a huge fan of his first film, Bottle Rocket, but I do like it as well). But today, Zissou and his team get the nod to start things off (ask me tomorrow, and I’ll say different). As with all Wes Anderson films (but this one especially), it is the details that makes this film so fun and special. And in my opinion, Bill Murray's best performance in a Wes Anderson film. 

4 – Fantastic Mr. Fox

One of my favorite animated movies of all-time. Such a sweet and funny film, expertly crafted and so precise. With such rapid-fire wit and detail, Fox must be watched repeatedly to truly appreciate and catch all the jokes. Great voicework and music (of course) throughout as well. Though not necessarily a true “kid’s movie,” I cannot wait to show this film to my future kids (and please let them like it, because I don’t want to hate my own child). 

3 – Rushmore

Though actually his second film, most point to this as the world’s true introduction to the whimsical world of Wes Anderson. Great turns from Jason Schwartzman and the incomparable Bill Murray. Also, it contains probably my favorite exchange from any Wes Anderson movie:


2 – The Royal Tenenbaums

The most recognized, beloved, and celebrated film of Anderson’s oeuvre. Such a great ensemble cast and filled with impeccable music, costumes, mise-en-scène, and dialogue. Working with his best screenplay to date, the characters are rich and multi-dimensional. Owen Wilson (who also co-wrote the film with Anderson) plays Eli Cash, my (and probably Dan’s) favorite Wes Anderson character.


1 – Hotel Chevalier

This short film, a prologue to Anderson’s fifth feature film – The Darjeeling Limited, is by far, my favorite thing Anderson has ever done. I love everything about it – the story, the characters, the dialogue, the music – everything audiences have come to expect from the filmmaker. At only 13 minutes, it is brief, but so perfectly executed in nearly every way. The film it accompanies - The Darjeeling Limited - is good also, but towards the bottom of mt favorites list (though I did watch it the other and actually considered it for the #5 slot. Like I said before, ask me another and any of those other films could have started of this list for me).

Watch Hotel Chevalier in its entirety here:

Dan's List

5. Rushmore

This is the film that got me started on Wes Anderson. It was a snowy day in Burlington, Vermont and my brother and I decided to brave the cold and head to the movies. He wanted to see PATCH ADAMS, but I had remembered seeing a trailer for a movie about a goofy high school kid that also had Bill Murray in it. We went, he hated it, I loved it and the rest is history. Even at thirteen, I knew genius when I saw it.

4. Fantastic Mr. Fox

It is an absolute tragedy that this movie made only $21 million at the box office. FANTASTIC MR. FOX easily ranks among the best kid-adult crossover films in history. This film is an adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, yet somehow it feels completely original to Wes Anderson, especially the use of stop-motion. My kingdom for a replica Whackbat Trophy!

3. Moonrise Kingdom

Wes had me at "What kind of bird are you?". It's the opening line of the first trailer and I knew instantly this film was going to rate among his best. Everything with the Khaki Scouts is brilliant and Suzy may be the coolest girl of all-time. It was my favorite film of 2012 and if Wes ever decided to do a sequel, this would be the one I would want to see most.

2. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

Whenever I talk about LIFE AQUATIC I like to recall this statement from my best friend after we saw it opening night: "It was like I was watching the best movie I'd ever seen. Then they went to the island, and then, that was the best movie I've ever seen." I go through many emotions when watching this film and I always cry at the submarine scene, even after fifty plus viewings. That's the power of a great film.

1. The Royal Tenenbaums

After seeing RUSHMORE, I was eagerly anticipating this release. My father and I went to the theater on opening day, first showing, and afterwards he asked me what I thought, sixteen year old me responded, "It's the best movie I've ever seen." My Dad thought about it for a second and said, "You know what? It was really amazing." I'll never forget that conversation and I'll be forever indebted to Wes Anderson for the hundreds and possibly thousands of hours of entertainment he has given me over the years. Thank you, Mr. Anderson, truly one of our favorites and one the best to ever do it.

Those are the lists!

Check Out Our Other Best Of Lists:
Christian BaleMatt DamonJohnny DeppJamie Foxx
Ron HowardTony ScottMichael Bay – Stanley Kubrick
Badass LadiesMovie LawyersMovie BarsConcert Movies
Baseball MoviesFilms From 2000-Now – Movie/Video Game Combos.

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