Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

March 18, 2014

CALLERI: 'Grand Budapest Hotel' and Catherine Deneuve are looking to entertain you

Niagara Gazette — A candy-colored fable and a motion picture legend are on the boards at movie theaters this weekend.

The films are writer-director Wes Anderson’s endearing “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” about the goings-on at a gleaming pink pleasure palace, and Emmanuelle Bercot’s enchanting “On My Way,” which stars France’s legendary Catherine Deneuve as a woman of a certain age coping with upsetting events in her life.

Almost everyone has a list of their top three features by Anderson, a filmmaker who takes exacting fantasy to new heights of enjoyability. I am a fan of his, and I especially relish the delights of “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “The Darjeeling Limited,” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

Watching “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is like watching a perpetual cuckoo clock. Anderson presents a zany story that never stops moving. It unreels in layers, like the delicious cake that everyone in the picture savors.

A writer (Tom Wilkinson) is telling a well-remembered story. His younger self (Jude Law) is seen listening to the owner (F. Murray Abraham) of the Grand Budapest Hotel, which isn’t really in Budapest, but is located in a comic opera kind of country called Zubrowka that exists in the 1930s between the great wars.

Abraham’s character tells Law’s character about his younger self and the glory days of great hotels, when he was a Lobby Boy at the Grand Budapest. While a Lobby Boy (played by Tony Revolori), he came under the guidance of M. Gustave, the greatest concierge in all of European hoteldom. He’s a precise and professional gentleman of the highest standards. Anyone’s wish is his command, sex included. Ralph Fiennes is brilliant as Gustave, who inherits a painting a family doesn’t think he deserves.

While working for M. Gustave, our eager Lobby Boy is thrown into a madcap caper involving the valuable painting, a wizened old lady (Tilda Swinton), a wry lawyer (Jeff Goldblum), a tattooed prison inmate (Harvey Keitel), a hired killer (Willem Dafoe), a pretty young woman with a birthmark shaped like Mexico on her face (Saoirse Ronan), and a society of well-practiced men whose job is to serve as a concierge for life. Bill Murray shows up here. Also on tap are Lea Seydoux, Edward Norton, and Bob Balaban.

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