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The Grand Budapest Hotel * Wes Anderson (2014)

This highly acclaimed film was not too high on my wishlist, but my girlfriend already saw it and thought that I should too. It is a nice film indeed.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” has a bit of the atmosphere of “Amélie“; slightly absurdistically surrealistic, both romantic and somewhat tragic and with colourfull stages and weird characters and situations.

A writer goes to the gone-glory Grand Budapest Hotel where he meets the owner. This owner tells him the story of how he came to possess the hotel. A weird story about the “legendary concierge” Gustave H. unfolds. This extremely distiguished gentleman seems to be the main reason for the rich and famous to come to the hotel. When a customer of his dies and leaves Gustave a priceless painting, the family of the deceased opens all cabinets to prevent the concierge from obtaining the most valuable item of the legacy. Gustave and his favourite bellboy try to clear Gustave’s name.

The film contains a range of famous actors in unlikely roles which certainly adds to the amusement of the film. For the rest, it is a film for people like light, but ‘high brow’ comedy and the slightly surrealistic films like those of Jeanne-Pierre Jeunet or Paul Thomas Andersson.

The Ice Harvest * Harold Ramis (2005)

The title of this film has not become entirely clear to me, but “The Ice Harvest” is a crime comedy, a bit in the screwballish Coen style. The film starts with a big robbery that laywer Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) and Vic Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thornton) have commited. The rest of the film mostly follows Charlie. The deal was that both would spend Christmas evening as normal as possible and skip their dull town with the money the day after. Of course things do not go as planned, the two get chased by a hitman and an amusing film unfolds with Christmas receptions, drunkarts, family intrueges, stipclubs and a few bloody encounters and shootouts. The dialogues are quite funny here and there as well.

Not a high-flyer, but not a bad film either.

The Tourist * Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (2010)

So how exactly did this film come on my wishlist? Because of Johnny Depp? Perhaps I saw Depp’s name and that of Angelina Jolie? Well, the latter is a reason to watch “The Tourist”; Jolie looks stunning. For the rest this is just an easy Hollywood film.

However “The Tourist” is presented as an action film, the atmosphere reminds me more of a screwball comedy. Not that it is that ‘screwball’, but the characters are pretty caricatural and so is the story.

Light entertainment. Nothing to put very high up on your wishlist.

Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid * Carl Reiner (1982)

  • comedy

A ‘vintage’ film (32 years old) that was a ‘vintage’ film in its time, since it goes another three decades back being a parody on the 1950’ies film noir films.

Steve Martin is great as private detective Rigby Reardon who get hired by the beautiful and mysterious “dame” Juliet Forrest to investigate her father’s death. Of course Reardon runs into a big conspiracy reaching high up in the food-chain. There are no surprises in the story, nor are there meant to be.

The film is full of dry humour, about as dry as the “Police Squad!” series of the same year (however Nielsen was even dryer). Well placed jokes paroding (some pretty weird too), but not making fun of. Of course Rigby is his own voice over.

Everything as expected and certainly a fun watch if you are looking for something light.

Dark Shadows * Tim Burton (2012)

Apparently I have not (had not?) seen each and every Burton/Depp cooperation. Not a bad surprise though.

“Dark Shadows” is a typical Burton/Depp. Depp is a vampire who returns to the world of the living after a few centuries, more particularly his family. This results in the known Adams Family like dark humour with laughs about modernity and old-fashioned language.

Nothing you have never seen before, but if you like Burton/Depp, an amusing film to watch.

l’Écume Des Jours * Michel Gondry (2013)

Adrey Tautou against plays in a lightfooted, absurdistic comedy. ‘The froth of the days’ (international title “Mood Indigo”) is even weirder than the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Well, maybe not weirder than each and every Jeunet, but certainly a lot less black. Another title of Gondry is “Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind“, also a weird film, but in a very different way.

“l’Écume Des Jours” starts with a series of completely weird scenes, strange findings and plays of script-writing; absurdistic and funny. We follow a wealthy young man, Collin, who has a wonderfull house where he dines with his friend Chick, aided by his cook Nicholas. There is no beginning to tell you the odd serial of events, but you sure have to have a heart for the completely strange. Collin wants to fall in love and finds the excellent candidate Chloé, played by Audrey Tautou. The two have a weird and wonderfull time until Chloé gets a strange decease. Trying to help his friend and his wife, Collin works himself into bankruptcy. The film looses its light touch.

Just like the only other film of Gondry that I saw so far, this is again an original piece of script-writing and a film that dangles between feel-good comedy and drama. A very nice film.

Wristcutters: A Love Story * Goran Dukic (2006)

This absurd comedy could have been made in Scandinavia, but the director is Kroatian and most actors American.
Zia makes an end to his life, only to find out that the afterlife is an exact copy of life on earth; just as boring and depressing. He meets the weird, Russian folkrock singer Eugene and the two set out to explore the new land. Soon they run into the beautiful Mikal and the film turns into a roadmovie with some pretty weird elements. Since every knows they are dead, the humour is rather black and slightly absurdistic. As the title suggest, there is also room for romance.
A nice strange little comedy.

American Splendor * Shari Springer Berman (2003)

Harvey Pekar is a clerk who at an advanced age finds out that he can write comics. He had been collecting them all his life and he cannot draw anything himself, but he writes the comic and has somebody else draw it out. His comics are about his own life, boring and problemetic as he is. The comic becomes successfull and Pekar well-known, but the fame does not come with money and Pekar grows allergic to media. In the film different things start to run through eachother. We see Pekar played by Paul Giamatti, but he is also in the film himself. Actually, as he started to make comics about himself, they were turned into a play and later a book that was reworked to the film that we watch and all this is in Berman’s film. The film parts are often ‘comic like’ with though-clouds and commentary. The film has that comical-dramatic feel that we see more in films of the same time. It is original in its makeup and enjoyable to see.

Hitchcock * Sacha Gervasi (2012)

We find the famous film director Alfred Hitchcock with a writer’s block. His producers want him to keep making the films that raise money, but Hitchcock himself is looking for something new. Then he runs into a book based on the life and deeds of Ed Gein and he decides that this is going to be his next film. The book is pretty gruesome and everybody, including his producers, think Hitchcock’s idea is a bad one. Financing the project himself and supported by his wife, Hitchcock is going to make the first ‘high-brow’ horror film.
The cover, and especially Athony Hopkins’ expression, clearly tells the tone for this film: somewhat lightly absurdistic comical. The film does indeed contain a couple of well-placed jokes, but also some rather dull ones. What the film does better, is telling the story of the making of “Psycho” and giving the viewer insight in the person of Hitchcock and the relation with his wife.
All in all not a boring, but not a wholly interesting film.

Le Magasin Des Suicides * Patrice Leconte (2012)

“The Suicide Shop” is an animation playing in some depressive metropolitan where the suicide rate is so high that when someone ends his life, he gets a ticket from the police. One family has discovered the market and opened up a shop with countless of ways to end lives. The shop runs very well until a son is born to them who actually has a cheerfull character. He is ready to shake things up.
I suppose you will understand that this is a rather black comedy. The simple drawings are wonderfull and well worked-out. There are musical parts in the film, but it is mostly the way things look and the humour that makes “Le Magasin Des Suicides” a nice, alternative thing to see some time.