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The Grand Budapest Hotel is worth checking into

The Grand Budapest Hotel is vintage Wes Anderson, which ought to please his admirers while (once again) puzzling his detractors. Yet in a world of mainstream moviemaking, Anderson’s distinctive and quirky voice is a welcome, winning alternative.

The film, which is bears the quirky, droll and colorful Anderson trademarks, is set in a 20 th century Europe of the filmmaker’s own invention, although inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig. The Europe of The Grand Budapest Hotel bears certain parallels to the real Europe in the years before World War II, although distilled through Anderson’s sharply satirical point-of-view. Much of the story is told in flashbacks, and sometimes flashbacks-within-flashbacks, but Anderson deftly navigates a conceivably unwieldy structure in effortless fashion.

Much of the action takes place in and around the titular tourist trap, where M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) is the concierge and Zero (newcomer Tony Revolori) a neophyte lobby boy. At the heart of the film is the relationship between the two characters. Fiennes has rarely had an opportunity to play comedy on the screen, and proves a first-rate farceur, and his affec tionate chemistry with Revolori a sustained delight.

The plot, serpentine almost to the point of absurdity (intentionally so), is almost indescribable – but that’s not a drawback, as Anderson fills it with humorous asides, wry dialogue and visual splendor, with noteworthy (and award-worthy) contributions by cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman and production designer Adam Stockhausen. Even if the viewer gets lost in its eccentricities, the film looks incredible.

The film’s many, memorably odd characters are brought to life by a star-studded cast of talented actors, including many Anderson alumni: Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Saoirse Ronan, Tom Wilkinson, F. Murray Abraham, Lea Seydoux, Mathieu Amalric, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, Fisher Stevens and Tilda Swinton. Some appear in only the briefest of roles, yet all are perfectly in tune with Anderson’s sensibilities. (Look fast and you might glimpse George Clooney in there, too.) !

LOG ONTO YesWeekly.com — click on the “Flicks” section. Then go to “What’s Showing”

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