I'm one of those. My current affairs is film. I get to the cinema on time to catch the trailers, though I've watched them online already. Film4 is my favourite channel. I'm not in good enough shape to be a film buff though, maybe a film “should go for a run sometime”. Unfortunately, this has inoculated me to popular movies. Popular doesn't mean bad by any means, but when something aims for the widest audience it lacks focus, falling into the trap of being derivative and cliché. There are exceptions however and one of these is Wes Anderson. I love every film Anderson has made, so on pure numbers he’s my favourite director too.
Anderson’s work is instantly recognisable; a predominantly yellow colour palette, silly dysfunctional characters and simple yet effective camera movements. Quirkiness is omnipresent yet it never feels on the nose. Idiosyncrasies in tow, Anderson has found great success. The Grand Budapest Hotel made over $170,000,000. Not quite Star Wars money, but large considering the comparative marketing spend. In fact, the film is a great example of why the industry’s obsession with the opening weekend is misplaced. The film’s limited US release took in just under a million. While these numbers don’t really mean much to film fans it’s the kind of thing that gets the execs going, and as ever Anderson is paving the way for indie movies to get wider recognition.
The Grand Budapest Hotel catches Anderson at his quirkiest. The entire film feels like a room box. Anderson is known for his use of miniatures, yet every scene is as if inside a dollhouse. This doesn’t make for claustrophobia however, it’s cosy and inhabited wholly by Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori as the madcap concierge and junior bellboy. Each shot has the composition of photography, framed just so, with everything in its rightful place. The camera movements are limited with minimal tracking and panning. The setting and characters on display do all the flourishing. Up until it’s release I’d considered Wes an indie darling, suddenly his name was everywhere. Word of mouth has become increasingly powerful in the world of 4G and retweets and a recommendation from the right influencer can save few quid on marketing. Clearly all the right people liked The Grand Budapest Hotel.
For many, The Grand Budapest Hotel provided their first foray into Anderson’s world. And with all eight of his feature films similar in tone, there is a good chance viewers could go on to appreciate other works.
There are few directors who employ every filmic tool in the shed; costume, set design and location in unison. Anderson brings out comedic genius in everyone he works with, which is a short list. Ralph Fiennes being Anderson’s newest addition. Whilst familiar to viewers, Fiennes seems like a brand new discovery – allowed to flourish in a more comedic role.
Anderson flirts with animation in The Grand Budapest Hotel adding to the fully animated Fantastic Mr Fox feature. Animation is a fitting medium for Anderson’s style of direction. The precision he employs in scene creation lends itself heavily to stop motion. Having full control over your characters allows the final film to correlate with the original vision.
This all encompassing film making style is a formula that was bound for success. It’s impossible to not enjoy at least one of the many elements Anderson presents the viewer with. Snappy dialogue, well crafted story and characters, beautiful cinematography and set design. The Grand Budapest Hotel itself is a buffet for film fans and an appetiser for the budding amateur. These aren’t art films with heavy ideas and nonlinear plots, nor are they forgettable and brainless CGI fests. They’re Wes Anderson movies, you should check them out.