If you missed it yesterday, I took it upon myself to geek out on the trailer for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson’s latest film (sad release date: March 17). I intended to do a “Top 10” thing, but when I reached number 10, I was only halfway through. So now we finish the job!
Here’s that trailer again:
We left off just after a crazy-looking, brass-knuckles-wearing Willem Dafoe punched the lobby boy…
One of Anderson’s many trademarks is an eagle-eye shot (probably not the technical term) of a book, letter or some other written object. See, for example, The Royal Tenenbaums storybook framework, or Dignan’s obsessive notes from Bottle Rocket, or the notes from Jane to Ned in Life Aquatic or even the death notice from the short Hotel Chevalier. I believe I’ve made my point. While we’re here, another Anderson trademark is the underwater shot, but we don’t see that in this trailer. Something to look forward to, if you’re into that kind of thing. Which I am.
Saoirse’s protest is so good here, because she obviously knows more about the criminal side of things than she’s letting on, judging by how quickly she tries to disassociate herself from the lingo. She may pretend she doesn’t want to get involved, but like young Suzy from Moonrise Kingdom, deep down she’s up for the adventure. This actually marks a late departure for Anderson from his earlier leading female characters, who were often brooding, stationary and dealing with some emotional trauma, like Rosemary Cross, Margot Tenenbaum and Jane Winslett-Richardson.
This might be my favorite object gag in Wes Anderson history. Not only for the sapphic content of the painting, but the fact that it has the entirely wrong dimensions, leaving evidence of where “Boy With Apple” used to hang. It’s a hilarious take on the old art heist trope of leaving a replacement painting to fool the owners. If this does make the top of my list, it probably takes over from the bike on the tree in Moonrise Kingdom, or Royal’s javelina, or the falling tree from Rushmore. (One of the countless annoying things about Garden State is that Zach Braff tried to borrow this technique with his diploma shot, and got it all wrong by opting for pure slapstick.)
I think Ed Norton has officially been accepted into the Wes Anderson clique. Anderson has a way of seeing certain characteristics in actors—Bill Murray is gruff and melancholy, Owen Wilson is desperate and unhinged—and Norton has clearly been earmarked as an obsessively detailed leader. He looks to be playing roughly a similar role as his scoutmaster turn in Moonrise Kingdom, albeit perhaps a bit more sinister. We’ll get to see him snapping off orders and looking efficient, and I’m all for that.
There’s no mistaking the “ZZ” bunting as a historical approximation for the Nazi imagery that covered Europe, particularly the very similar “SS” banners of the Nazi secret police. It’s actually not typical of Anderson to delve into history, even obliquely, except to borrow its aesthetic, but this does continue the theme of innocent people escaping an oppressive system from Moonrise Kingdom. But again, more sinister. I’m curious to see if there’s any parallel besides the banners themselves. I would be surprised.
Always so great. And meaningful; here we see Brody’s character in front of a stack of papers, flanked by nuns on one side and his thug on the other. So much character depth in just one shot! Anderson has done this with many characters (here’s Chas and Margot Tenenbaum), but my favorite variation on the technique came in Rushmore, when we learned about all of Max’s clubs with the help of Anderson’s preferred Futura font.
“Sorry, I’m so good at recruiting amazing actors that I can’t really fit them all into the trailer. Or the film. Everyone loves me.” —Wes Fucking Anderson
If you’re keeping track at home, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Wilkinson, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson are also in this film, and are used even less in the trailer. I can’t wait for Sir Ian McKellen to appear as “Old Man on Stoop No. 7.”
Did you know that Bill Murray is in a lot of Wes Anderson movies? He only missed Bottle Rocket, the first. Even in The Darjeeling Limited, when there was no big part for him, they had him on set for a couple days to try (and fail) to catch a train.
I’m not sure exactly what’s happening in the film yet, but it seems very much like Ralph Fiennes and his lobby boy have stolen a valuable painting, and perhaps worse, so the misdirection here by Fiennes is particularly funny. Anderson’s oeuvre, if I may use such a word, is filled with scalawag males who will lie for self-preservation at any cost. The most notable, of course, is Royal’s fake stomach cancer.
Wes Anderson is so, so good at sports. Let me count the ways: Herman Blume’s rejection. Richie’s tennis meltdown. Wackbat. I’m so glad we’re getting into the athletic side of things here, even if it’s a chase and not a real competition.
Bonus! I take back what I said yesterday about Ralph Fiennes’ sprint away from the authorities being the funniest moment of the trailer. This, I think, takes the cake. The lobby boy reveals a pretty terrifying part of his own history (“I was arrested and tortured by the rebel militia after the desert uprising”), and Fiennes barely takes notice except to emphasize the point: “Zip it!” Yet somehow, there’s still a sense of fondness and love there. How DO you do it, Wes Anderson?