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Lorenzo’s Time (ABS-CBN) September 26, 2012

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Lorenzo’s Time (ABS-CBN) September 26, 2012
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by : FlipBooth on Sep 26, 2012
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Lorenzo’s Time (ABS-CBN) September 26, 2012
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Lorenzo’s Time (ABS-CBN) September 26, 2012

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Movie review: ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’: A beautifully shot love letter to storytelling

Those familiar with Wes Anderson are familiar with his distinct visual aesthetic—the striking color palettes, the formalistically disciplined framing, and this clear sense of it being a crafted piece of art. Anderson’s works don’t ever attempt at realism, but rather they tell these fantastic stories (whether with or without elements of fantasy and the absurd) that despite these obviously unreal elements communicate so much about the characters' humanity and struggles.

That being said, certain viewers might find this Anderson aesthetic to be overwrought, pretentious, and maybe even intolerable. If you don’t like the way that Anderson makes movies, then "The Grand Budapest Hotel" will probably make you hate him even more. But if you enjoy Anderson’s films, then you will absolutely love this film. If you’re unfamiliar with the filmmaker’s previous work, then I wholeheartedly implore anyone who is a fan of movies that have just the right mix of quirkiness and heart to watch this movie. It’s got a limited local release (only screening in Ayala cinemas), and that’s all the more reason to head out and watch this in the theater.
 Stories within stories: Ralph Fiennes (center) and newcomer Tony Revolori (right) star in Wes Anderson's 'The Grand Budapest Hotel.' Photos from the movie's official Facebook page.
If you are going to watch "The Grand Budapest Hotel", and I do believe you should, then you should see it on the big screen. This film is absolutely beautiful. Every technical element in the film is so accomplished, whether it be the assured camera work, the gorgeous cinematography, or the endlessly admirable art direction and production design. All of these things come together to create what is essentially a work of high-concept fantasy. At its heart though, this film is a love letter to how creating a story can change the world that we live in, bring color to it. We see this in quite literal, as well as in many metaphorical terms, throughout this film.

I’ve been dancing around the “what’s it about” because that would be difficult to pin down. We get a story within a story within a story, and sometimes little side trips as we explore these things. And where in other films voice-overs might be used as lazy expository tools, here we get the interplay between the stories being told onscreen, the retellings via voiceover, and what we can feel has been left out. It’s this wonderful play of all these different elements that can be used to tell a story in the film medium.

We mainly get the story of Zero, a junior bellhop at the Grand Budapest Hotel, but more importantly we get the world around him, one fraught with danger and tragedy, war and love, and all the things that make stories grand and great. There’s a murder mystery, there are shoot-outs, chases, prison breaks, and basically the film takes the kitchen sink approach with all these plot devices, conflicts, and developments. And yet, because of the film’s style and tone, we accept all these things as part of the story. More importantly, we get a sense that the film is moving towards a sense of grandiose storytelling, telling the kinds of stories that aren’t told much anymore.
 Every technical element in the film is so accomplished, from the camera work to the cinematography to the art direction and production design.
There are hints of nostalgia throughout, the sense that things have been lost, and can never be retrieved. And yet in telling these stories it seems that the film itself is an attempt to recapture a certain magic that the filmmaker feels is gone. The film can be perceived as an ars poetica, a statement of creative intent not only for this specific work, but for the whole of Anderson’s film catalog.

Anderson pulls in many of his regular players, such as Jason Schwartzman, Billy Murray, and Adrien Brody. We get a list of stars and amazing supporting players that itself would draw any movie buff in. As we go through many settings and situations, we are treated to great small performances and memorable cameos. But the movie is anchored on the relationship between Zero and the charismatic Gustave H, the hotel’s charismatic concierge. Tony Revolori plays Zero and his portrayal is affecting in its subtlety. He seems to be there to only react to Gustave, played brilliantly by Ralph Fiennes. But the interplay between the two grounds the movie’s wackiness and absurdity in what feels to be a genuine and true friendship. As a result, no matter how crazy things get, we are provided this emotional anchor on which to filter all things.

"The Grand Budapest Hotel" is a love letter to storytelling, to living lives worthy of story, and of spinning story out of life and tragedy. It is one of the most beautiful films to come out this year, and for the visuals alone this is a movie that you should go out and see. There are some great sequences here, those that play on genre, on tropes, and revitalize them and make them fun and fresh and exciting. I’ve said a lot already, but I’ve had to stop myself from talking about all the great things in this movie so as not to spoil it. — BM, GMA News

"The Grand Budapest Hotel" is currently screening in Ayala cinemas.

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