There may be better films this year, but it’s hard to imagine that one will come out that provides such utter, simple pleasure as The Grand Budapest Hotel. It’s a hot chocolate in a hot bath, a cocktail in a quiet bar with good company. Every aspect of the film, from visuals to performances to the soundtrack, is fine tuned to be a joy to take in. It creates a whole Alpine world you just want to sink into and spend time in, a world that could never exist.
This is what I go to see Wes Anderson films for. There are doubtless directors who make greater films, more serious films, deeper and more nuanced films. But Anderson delivers a whole experience in his films, highly stylised worlds full of charming, eccentric characters that are just, just close enough to some exotic part of reality that your brain is tricked into thinking you might be able to visit them.
Which is not to say The Grand Budapest Hotel is a purely aesthetic appearance, a charming series of flippant comic turns in a visually stunning world set to nice music. It’s 1930s setting is not chosen for pure retro, and an underlying sense of characters orphaned and traumatised by one world war surviving as the next one looms, a resilience that lies between the desire to preserve the hotel of the title as an oasis against barbarism to come. In it’s light, heavily fictionalised way it manages to evoke something of the real past in a way that a more straightforward, historically accurate film might not.
I love Wes Anderson’s movies, and I love the way that his attention to detail expands out of the films, and into the merchandise. I picked up the Fantastic Mr Fox soundtrack CD today, and the cover is straightforward enough:
Open it up though, and the CD itself is imprinted with one of Mr Fox’s newspaper columns:
Take the CD out, and underneath you get this, which is a laugh out loud reminder of one of the film’s running gags.
Beautifully done. Anderson and co are very, very precise in the music for these films (the sleeve notes discuss the genres they went through before they hit the mix of songs for the film), and the packaging echoes that same care and love.
PS: Oh yeah, and here’s a review of the film.