Director: Wes Anderson
Year Released: 2014
The 'owner' (F. Murray Abraham) of the Grand Budapest Hotel - located in the fictitious Republic of Zubrowka - recounts the story of how he first got his job as Lobby Boy at the establishment, serving under the colorful Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and getting mixed up in an affair in which Gustave 'inherits' a priceless painting ("Boy with Apple!") from a deceased heiress (Tilda Swinton). This WWII allegory by Anderson - who liberally borrows from such film classics as Grand Hotel and A Man Escaped, the works of Stefan Zweig and even W. Somerset Maugham - is a spirited, colorful romp that breathlessly interweaves the lives of countless distinctive characters: Anderson's dry (and sometimes very dark) humor (and marvelous sight gags) didn't quite connect with the audience I saw this with, but you can tell every little detail (and whip pan and prop) was carefully crafted by the methodical director. The ending is more sober than expected, but he's showing the fall-out from the downfall of fascism, as the once-luxurious hotel, under Communism, becomes a cold, drab set out of Cristian Mungiu movie. The cast is uniformly excellent, but Fiennes is the true standout, balancing a perfume-drenched, impeccably dressed professional on the surface but an eager-to-please GILF-hunter behind closed doors.