Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Oops, I meant to publish this last Sunday, so that's the context it should be in.

Woke up this morning, checked my feeds and saw that The Grand Budapest Hotel had just broken $100 million.  It reminded me that it was still in theaters.  Since I've been in Kansas City for the week, and I've got a free day today, I realized I could finally see it.  I texted a friend of mine, and within two hours we were in a theater watching it.

I have some strange dysfunction where the first time I see a movie, read a book, whatever, it largely doesn't stick with me.  In one ear and out the other.  Some things stick, but basically I'm left with a distinct impression of how the work struck me.  What's interesting is I'm usually hyper attentive during my media consumption, but perhaps that's the problem, trying to pay attention to everything at once.   Re-reading (watching, etc) a work is usually an interesting combination of realizing something I'd missed the first time and also remembering other things a few seconds or minutes before they take place.  So I can't really talk much about this movie I just finished watching less than two hours ago.  Strange, huh?

What I do remember is that TGBH is great, I liked it a lot.  It had many of the normal trappings of a Wes Anderson movie, things that a decade ago really turned me off, but it seems to me that he's streamlined his style over the years and I've also (hopefully) become less of a judgemental dick, so I think we've met somewhere in the middle.

I want to see it again.  It kind of pains me that I'm leaving to go back to the middle of nowhere tomorrow morning, and I'm coming down with a cold so I don't really feel like going back out and seeing it again tonight.  By the time I'm back in Kansas City (around the first of May) it will probably be gone from theaters.

It is one of those movies that features a character I desperately want to be. Of course I mean the character of M. Gustave, played by Ralph Fiennes, who is downright inspirational.  He is polite, charming, yet exacting.  He gets angry only when given good reason and if he feels he went too far he immediately apologizes.  I'm trying to decide how well he fits the Cabellian definition of gallantry:
I have read that the secret of gallantry is to accept the pleasures of life leisurely, and its inconveniences with a shrug; as well as that, among other requisites, the gallant person will always consider the world with a smile of toleration, and his own doings with a smile of honest amusement, and Heaven with a smile which is not distrustful — being thoroughly persuaded that God is kindlier than the genteel would regard as rational.
In the film a comment is made to the effect that Gustave was born after the period in which he seems to belong, but he had the ability to project the illusion that the world still matched his style.  I'm not sure that his dated politeness and work ethic quite matches his unabashed sexual openness as far as time periods go, but of course I was raised in America, where everything from art to history is deemed inappropriate until all the sex has been removed (yet all the violence left intact), so my views on world and European history could be incredibly off base.

I do have one issue with the film, and this is a spoiler, so SPOILER ALERT for the following paragraph:
Zero is nearly beaten (or even killed) due to not having the proper papers when traveling near the beginning of the film.  He had been busy since, helping his friend, doing some other traveling on the down low, but there is a passage of time after all this action, and he does befriend people of means.  Near the end of the film he is traveling once again through legitimate channels, and once again the incident is repeated---after all this time, he still hasn't acquired the proper papers, even after nearly being attacked in addition to being directly told by a friendly agent that he wasn't traveling with the right papers earlier on.  If you've seen the movie then you know what this means, and it seems to me to have been too important of a thing for either Zero or M. Gustave (being his meticulous self) to have overlooked before Zero ever set foot on a train again.  Furthermore, I think it could have made sense for Zero to have had his papers in order the second time and still have been threatened, being the wrong color at the wrong time.
Anyway, I liked it, and I hope to see it again soon.

Til then,


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