The Grand Budapest Hotel - 20th Century Fox - Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD
Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum. Full cast + crew
Anyone who doesn't love Wes Anderson movies will easily dismiss The Grand Budapest Hotel as being the most Wes Anderson-y movie yet. It's got all of his signature style - the saturated colors, the elaborate sets, the symmetry, idiosyncratic characters in every role, and so on - dialed to 11. But what makes Anderson's latest film his best isn't what's on the screen, it's what it all means.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is about people refusing to give up their sense of civility and identity in the world just because they may be antiquated notions. It's a movie where Anderson is fighting to justify his own existence as a filmmaker, though it never touches on any of this in a winky, meta way. It's just an inspired, hilarious movie about fighting for what you believe in.
Other Notable New Releases
It's not only easy, but absolutely understandable to expect a movie that was clearly green-lit just to sell toys would be a dumb, pointless movie, but The Lego Movie manages to be so much more than that. The writer-directors of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs have turned this feature-length ad into a movie about how important it is to actually fight the corporatization of things, and to have an imagination when everyone else around you is just following instructions. As far as kids' movies go, it's pretty subversive.
It's interesting that Ernest & Celestine hits store shelves on the same day as The Lego Movie, because the two represent completely different ends of the artistic spectrum (this is a beautiful, warm, 2D, restrained animation that looks like a moving storybook) but still shares Lego's rebel-against-the-system mantra. It's a truly lovely film, though kids will probably need to be a bit older to appreciate it since its story and characters (it's about a mouse and a bear forming a friendship that no one approves of) are a bit more dense.
If you missed the Elizabeth Banks rom-com Walk of Shame on VOD earlier this year, now is your chance to check it out on Blu. It certainly looks funny enough, but the studio kind of just snuck it out into the world with almost no fanfare, which isn't a great sign of confidence.
This week's best documentary offerings are The Final Member, a highly entertaining film about an Icelandic penis museum with a collection that includes a sample from every known mammal except one: the human. The film follows the museum curator's quest to get the crown jewel of his collection, and the two men who have actually volunteered to supply it. Also out this week is I Know That Voice, a documentary about voice actors. If the topic interests you, make sure you check out the brilliant In a World... afterward.
Every couple of years a movie comes along that reminds everyone that Nicolas Cage is actually a great actor who should be taken seriously. Joe is the latest entry to join the likes of Leaving Las Vegas, Adaptation and Bad Lieutenant as irrefutable proof that Cage is a national treasure (sorry, couldn't resist). It's also a return to the heavier side of filmmaking that David Gordon Green gravitated away from for awhile with his studio projects, and features another star-making performance from young actor Tye Sheridan (Mud).
We've got a batch of genre films for horror and sci-fi fans to check out. I've already raved about how I wish 13 Sins had been seen by more people, so I'll skip the big pitch here and just say I hope you give it a shot. Also particularly worthy of a watch this week is Almost Human about an abducted friend who returns to his home town a bit... different. It's a grungy, low-budget horror movie that's occasionally rough around the technical edges, but has the kind of unpretentious sincerity that's so hard to find in indie horror these days.
Yes, Joy Ride 3: Roadkill answers the age-old question: siomeone made a Joy Ride 2? If I ever saw that one, I have completely forgotten what it was about, but if you like higher end straight-to-video horror and have any nostalgia for the J.J. Abrams-written Joy Ride starring Paul Walker, then you may get a kick out of this gruesome flick that finds crazed trucker Rusty Nail picking off a team of race-car drivers that get in his way.
And lastly we've got The Machine, a pretty cool sci-fi movie out of England about a secret, underground labratory that's working on creating some world-changing artificial intelligence. The scientists' tests go beautifully, until the Ministry of Defense takes note of their progress and mandates that they change the new artificial life's purpose in life. This is the kind of scrappy, small scale sci-fi movie with big-scale ambitions that sci-fi fans eat up. And to get you in the mood, here's an exclusive clip from the movie:
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