Wes Anderson has his share of groupies and his somewhat smaller share of skeptics who find him a tad precious. As someone who leans toward the precious view, but is open to his grace notes, I found The Grand Budapest Hotel mostly delightful.
It's a madcap comedy, but with hints of tragedy lurking outside the usual Anderson dollhouse frames. The central character is Gustave H., played by Ralph Fiennes. He's the concierge of a kitschy, opulent, high-class European hotel between World Wars I and II.
When we taped this show on Tuesday, we had all had quite a lot of the Oscars, to be honest. And we secretly suspect that with the all-out pile-on that continues for months before the ceremony, you might not require an all-out assault on the whole thing. So this week, you'll hear a quick wrap-up of how we felt about the hosting, some of the speeches, some of the great moments of Adele Nazeem-ing it up, and then we'll bid the entire thing farewell until next year. Next year, Oscars.
Being haunted seems like it might be an occupational hazard for Helen Oyeyemi. Her books are re-worked fairy tales, the gruesome kind, with beheadings and wicked stepmothers and ghosts and death, death, and more death (though, once dead, her characters don't always stay that way).
Goodnight stars. Good night air. Good night noises, everywhere.
A woman named Margaret Wise Brown wrote those words. And you probably recognize them. You've probably read them out loud many times. It's from her book, "Goodnight Moon." Margaret Wise Brown died in 1952. But much of what she wrote was never published, including her songs and poems.
A world-renowned pianist known for cracking under the pressure of performance sits down to play a concerto before a packed hall. Then he sees the message scrawled in red on his sheet music: "Play one wrong note and you die." The movie almost writes itself.
Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes, with Saoirse Ronan and Tony Revolori) is a hotel concierge in an Eastern Europe falling under Hitler's shadow — a man pining for the Old World sensibility that's fading all around him.
Chances are you've already made up your mind about Wes Anderson. Either you're willing to go with the meticulous symmetry of his dollhouse compositions, the precious tchotchke-filled design sensibility and the stilted formality of his dialogue, or you check out of his storybook worlds in the first five minutes. On the evidence of his eighth feature, The Grand Budapest Hotel, it's clear no one is more aware of his idiosyncracies than Anderson himself — and he's not apologizing.