austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

We haven't had that spirit here since 1969

And on this Saturday we finally got around to The Grand Budapest Hotel, which I'd wanted to see largely because of just how beautiful it looked ready to be, and bunny_hugger wanted to see in part to see if we might be reaching Peak Wes Anderson.

And it is gorgeous, just, impeccably beautiful to watch. I was in love from seeing how the hotel itself was presented first in a perfectly 1968 fashion and then in a gorgeously 1932 fashion, and the rest of the graphic design lived up to that standard. I strongly suspect they could've just done a hundred minutes of looking at places and I'd have been captivated.

But there was a story, too, less of a comedy or farce than I expected and withs several pretty sharp emotional punches that hit harder for being wrapped up in a storyline that moved almost like a fairy tale might. It was rather jolting, really: about 95 percent of the film is that of a smutty P G Wodehouse tale --- a stolen painting, hidden documents, wrongly jailed lovers that sort of thing, although with sex jokes and the occasional cuss word. When there's a moment of actual, serious pain --- physical or emotional --- it hits much harder than it would if the movie weren't so lighthearted.

The movie has got three frames applied to the central story --- a present-day one, a 1980s bit from an author, the 1968 bit where the author meets one of the participants, and the 1932 bit of the main action --- and maybe that's part of how it gets away, structurally, with the main action being so loopy. It strikes me that the most stabbing moments are actually delivered in the 1968 frame, one level less removed from the audience.

The credits say the movie's inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig, a popular author from the first half of the 20th century, and apparently it's not based on any particular work. It's really just ... inspired by his writing. Or Wes Anderson was having a little giggle with the credits.

Trivia: NBC's first television studio was Radio City's Studio 3H, a two-storey room about 20 by 40 feet, built in 1933 for radio but two years later remodelled for television. Source: Please Stand By: A Prehistory Of Television, Michel Ritchie.

Currently Reading: The General : David Sarnoff and the Rise of the Communications Industry, Kenneth Bilby.


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