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Out in Theaters: ‘ISLE OF DOGS’ 

Maestro of whimsy Wes Anderson returns to stop-motion animation nearly a decade after Fantastic Mr. Fox to tell a story of political corruption and grassroots rebellion starring a bunch of scruffy mutts and overzealous kiddos in the absolutely delightful Isle of Dogs. Draped in quirky Andersonisms, understated humor, and brassy real-world parallels, the auteur’s ninth film is an irreverent celebration of outsiders that’s steeped in Japanese culture and plopped within a dog-eat-dog political treatise on inclusion and the dangers of nationalism.  Read More

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Director Face/Off: Wes Anderson Vs. Richard Linklater (Part Five – Their Other Stuff)

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Wes Anderson
and Richard Linklater –prominent writer/directors, Texas natives (both have roots in Houston) and coincidentally my two favorite humans. Their latest films were nominated for Best Motion Picture this year and, delving further, their careers have evolved at very similar rates, humbly paving the quaint dirt road that was the indie film scene in the ‘90s with
Slacker and Bottle Rocket. Onward, they transitioned to tastemakers, acquiring cult followings with Dazed and Confused and The Royal Tenenbaums. With each film Anderson and Linklater make, their toolbox gets a little bigger without compromising their eclectic and pridefully offbeat styles, one vastly different from the other, yet hauntingly similar. Which leads to the question, who does it better?

In past Face/Offs, we’ve pitted directors Anderson and Linklater against each other, comparing their very best films, their tried-and-true indie gems. This week we’re taking a slight departure from the directors’ most known work, to their little known work, or at least less known. In this final installment to pit Anderson against Linklater, we ask “Who does other stuff better?” Read More

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Director Face/Off: Anderson vs. Linklater (Round One – Reusing Actors)

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Wes Anderson
and Richard Linklater –prominent writer/directors, Texas natives (both have roots in Houston) and coincidentally my two favorite humans. Their latest films were nominated for Best Motion Picture this year and, delving further, their careers have evolved at very similar rates, humbly paving the quaint dirt road that was the indie film scene in the ‘90s with Slacker and Bottle Rocket. Onward, they transitioned to tastemakers, acquiring cult followings with Dazed and Confused and The Royal Tenenbaums. With each film Anderson and Linklater make, their toolbox gets a little bigger without compromising their eclectic and pridefully offbeat styles, one vastly different from the other, yet hauntingly similar. Which leads to the question, who does it better?

Read More

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Out in Theaters: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Directed by Wes Anderson
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Jude Law, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, Lea Seydoux, Owen Wilson, Bob Balaban, Mathieu Amalric, Tom Wilkinson
Comedy, Drama  
100 Mins
R

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Fiennes, Brody, Dafoe, Goldblum, Murray, Law, Swinton, Ronan, Norton, Keitel, Schwartzman, Seydoux, Wilson, Balaban, Amalric, Wilkinson. Wes Anderson‘s latest may have more big names working for it than ever before but their characters are more paper thin than they’ve been, more fizzle than tonic, more Frankenstein’s creations than humans. His company of regulars – joined by a vast scattering of newbies – are relegated to playing furniure-chomping bit roles, filling the shoes of cartoonish sketches, slinking in long shadows of characters. From Willem Dafoe‘s brutish, brass-knuckled Jopling to a caked-up and aged Tilda Swinton, gone are the brooding and calculated, flawed and angsty but always relatable characters of Wes yore. In their place, a series of dusty cardboard cutouts; fun but irrevocably inhuman.

Here in 2014, Anderson’s ability to attract such a gathering of marquee names to his eccentric scripts has never been as potent. He’s a talent magnet and his tractor beam is set to high. It’s just too bad that this gathering of the juggalos is as caricaturesque as they are (arguable even more than the animated Fantastic Mr. Fox). But what can you expect when your face is painted up and you’re dressed like a Slovenian underground fashion show. Upon dissecting what he’s got to offer, the seemingly indelible Wes Anderson appeal is as clear as day.

In the jungle of Hollywood, roles are mostly relegated one of two ways: the tentpole blockbusters, where characters are written like ham steaks – vessels for plot diversions, jukeboxes for one-liners, sarcophagi for the next action scene – and the smaller budgeted “independent” movie, wherein the tone is usually somber, the scenery is left unchewed, and emotional preparation ought to be through the roof. Anderson’s films flirt a very thin middle ground, a Bermuda triangle between indie cred and mainstream. To his credit, it looks like a blast.

Inside his pictures, Anderson’s stars are afforded a chance to play dress up in the midst of gorgeous sets at exciting locales. What’s not to love? Plus, this particular project had an added advantage: European travel. For these thespians, being a part of Anderson’s playground is like being a kid again. However, their childishness is more apparent here than in any of Anderson’s finest work (save for maybe Moonrise Kingdom). But through the haze of these colorful yet superficial oddities shines Ralph FiennesMonsieur Gustave, a beacon of complexity in an otherwise skin-deep cast of characters.

Gustave is a relic of the past. He’s an icon of chivalry, a servant dedicated to his craft, a well-groomed pet for his adoring clientele. He sluts it up for the elderly ladies who pass through his hotel (but he enjoys it too, so he tells us), making him a bit of a tourist attraction in himself. A hot springs for wilting feminine physiques, Gustave becomes the recipient of a pricy artifact (an ironic art piece called “Boy with Apple” – the customary brand of wry Anderson platitudes) when one of his doting golden-agers (Swinton) bites the dust. With her family trying to discredit him and blame the murder his way, Gustave must go on the run.

The cat and mouse, European romp to follow is as much an episode of Tom and Jerry as it is The Great Escape. Fiennes’ soulful gravitas brings immeasurable life to what is otherwise a series of cartoonish escape plots and hijinks. Anderson’s offerings are easy to consume and his persnickety eye for detail and Fiennes’ brilliant performance brings life by the pound to the otherwise far-fetched proceedings.

In this recent turn in his career, Wes Anderson has almost becoming a mockery of Wes Anderson. Though I thoroughly enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel it lacks the rounded emotional honesty of his pre-Fox efforts. He’s lost the intellectual intensity he had going in Rushmore, The Royal Tenanbaums and (I know I’m in the minority here) Darjeeling Limited, largely replaced by quirk by the bucket and enough billable names to make your head spin.  Nevertheless, Fiennes is magical; a perfect vessel for Andersonisms, the savior of the show.

B+

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Check out the New Wes Anderson Short, Available Here

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Even though it’ll still be a few months before Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel debuts, you can still satiate your Anderson cravings with the latest short which sees the exuberant director teaming up with fashion giant Prada titled Castello Cavalcanti. A very rat-faced Jason Schwartzman steps in as a Formula One driver who drives his car into a Jesus statue and ends up in an out-of-body experience in which he wines and dines with his ancestors. Heady and ethereal as that may seem, it’s all filmed in the same color-coordinated precision of a Anderson flick, aided here by cinematography from Darius Khondji (Midnight in Paris).

If you missed the trailer for The Grand Budapest Hotel, give it a look here and then check out this latest short that no doubt will be packaged with the film. Whether or not it’ll show in front of the film in theaters is uncertain but it will certainly be included in the inevitable Blu Ray package.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is directed by Wes Anderson and stars Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Saoirse Ronan, Mathieu Amalric, Lea Seydoux, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Wilkinson, and Tony Revolori. It will hit theaters March 7, 2014.

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Madcap Trailer for THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL From Wes Anderson

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The trailer for The Grand Budapest Hotel explores the madcap joy of Wes Anderson‘s film and is sure to delight his legions of fans. The story is centered on Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), a upclass hotel manager and his protege Zero Moustafa, the new lobby boy. When a guest is murdered, the police suspect Gustave and he and Zero hit the ground running.

Set to hit theaters on March 7th, 2014, the film sees the return of Anderson’s typical troope: Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman. If you missed the first poster, have a look at it here. Otherwise, take a look at the trailer and see where you think this will fall on the Anderson spectrum.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is directed by Wes Anderson and stars Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Saoirse Ronan, Mathieu Amalric, Lea Seydoux, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Wilkinson, and Tony Revolori. It will hit theaters March 7, 2014.

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First Poster for Wes Anderson's THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

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As an obsessive Wes Anderson fan, I relish in any piece of his inspired artwork, so while most posters don’t really get me excited, this one for The Grand Budapest Hotel does for all of its Wes Anderson-esque goodness. While I rather enjoyed his last film, Moonrise Kingdom, it was hardly one of my favorite of his and I’m excited to see Anderson return to the adult world. As always, he’s got a cast and crew to be oogled with season Anderson loyalites Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton and Adrien Brody will join Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Saoirse Ronan, Mathieu Amalric, Lea Seydoux, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Wilkinson, and newcomer Tony Revolori.

Although little is known about the film, the plot description per IMDB details:

“A famous hotel’s legendary concierge strikes up a friendship with a young employee who becomes his trusted protégé.”

For me, Anderson’s best films come from with exploring themes of wounded humanity. Films like Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Darjeeling Limited are as deeply tragic as they are comedic and I’m hoping for something of the same from his latest without quite as much snarky childhood wist as his last two, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom.

With this first poster debut, we can hopefully expect a full synposis or trailer in the near future.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is directed by Wes Anderson and stars Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Saoirse Ronan, Mathieu Amalric, Lea Seydoux, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Wilkinson, and Tony Revolori. It will hit theaters sometime in 2014.

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