Tag Archives: Tom Wilkinson

The Grand Budapest Hotel

28 Mar

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Synopsis: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent. (c) Fox Searchlight

 

CAST

Ralph Fiennes (M. Gustave), Tony Revolori (Zero), F. Murray Abraham (Mr. Moustafa), Mathieu Amalric (Serge X.), Adrien Brody (Dmitri), Willem Dafoe (Jopling), Jeff Goldblum (Deputy Kovacs), Harvey Keitel (Ludwig), Jude Law (Young Writer), Bill Murray (M. Ivan), Edward Norton (Henckels), Saoirse Ronan (Agatha), Jason Schwartzman (M. Jean), Léa Seydoux (Clotilde), Tilda Swinton (Madame D.), Tom Wilkinson (Author), Bob Balaban (M. Martin) and Owen Wilson (M. Chuck).

 

 

Review: Directed by Wes Anderson , this is a hilarious, complex and quirky exercise into the creative mind of the director. Anderson’s eye for the absurd and small moments, fills the screen, and captivates. The story takes place in a pre-Nazi European country around 1932. Anderson uses the film aspect ratio of the time period, no widescreen here, as both a tip of the hat to the time and a way of making the unfolding events a more intimate visual experience.

Gustave H. (Fiennes) is the legendary concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel. He is a survivor and lives in a world of his own design. He sleeps with rich widows who inhabit the hotel, it is alluded to that he is bi-sexual and he certainly brings order to the chaotic world he has created. Zero Moustafa, (Revolori) a new foreign lobby boy, becomes Gustave H.’s trusted friend and protégé.

Madame D., (Swinton) is a rich dowager who leaves her lover Gustave H. a priceless renaissance painting. When he hears of her death he arrives at her home for the reading of the will. The family members are evil, greedy and would kill each other to attain her wealth. Gustave with the aid Zero steals the painting and a hilarious and complex series of events ensues. Was the Dowager murdered for her money? Will Gustave rot in jail for taking the painting. Will Zero, who is in love with a pastry chef , Agatha, (Ronan) ever find happiness? Etc etc.

The ensemble cast has been seen in other Anderson films, they include the always brilliant, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, most recently seen in the film, Monuments Men, F. Murray Abraham as Mr. Mustafa, the teller of the tale, Jude Law, (a young writer), Tom Wilkonson, (author of the book about the hotel), Jeff Goldblum (Deputy Kovacs) , the executor of Madame D.’s estate, Willem Defoe (Joplin) the family hit man, Harvey Keitel (Ludwig) a hardened criminal Gustave meets in jail, and Bob Balaban (M. Martin) a fellow concierge and friend of Gustave.

The story, albeit complex, is moving , clever and filled with visual delights. The film is loaded with unique Anderson visual moments, my favorite being, Keitel and company digging out of the jail with mini pickaxes and hammers provided by Agatha inside pastry she sent from her employer, Mendel’s Pastries. Anderson plants his camera dead center in all these moments, this way the frame is centered as little cameo moments play out, interspersed at various moments throughout. I certainly look forward to Anderson’s future mini epics of quirkiness. The Grand Budapest Hotel is well worth the trip.

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The Lone Ranger

7 Jul

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Cast

Johnny Depp-Tonto

Armie Hammer-John Reid, a k a the Lone Ranger

Tom Wilkinson-Latham Cole

William Fichtner-Butch Cavendish

Barry Pepper-Capt. Fuller

James Badge Dale-Dan Reid

Ruth Wilson-Rebecca Reid

Helena Bonham Carter-Red Harrington

Saginaw Grant-Chief Big Bear

Review: Being a confirmed baby boomer I remember the legend of The Lone Ranger and Tonto, with a mighty hi-ho silver away and the William Tell overture bringing nostalgic memories of television shows past. Before the The Lone Ranger was part of the television landscape his stories came on the heels of the great depression, and at the time was a popular adventure radio broadcast. The series in both cases were rife with cowboy and Indian stereotypes, despicable villains and reflected a time that many people today would consider politically incorrect. The question then remains how do you bring the archaic to modern audiences in a way that can be appreciated by today’s young demographic and please those of us who grew up with the legend? Perhaps the answer comes in the form of one Johnny Depp, in his role of Tonto, an aging Indian, with a dead crow on his head, telling a child at a western carnival side show the true origin of The Lone Ranger. The carnival is in San Francisco in the year 1933, not coincidently I presume, the year the radio show was first broadcast.

As the boy wonders into the tent to see western history come alive, he wanders passed the stuffed bears and animals and comes to a statue of a native American, the plaque on the front of the window reads The Noble Savage in his native habitat. Underneath the wrinkly prosthetics is Johnny Depp as Tonto, not unlike Dustin Hoffman’s old man in the film, Little Big Man. The boy hangs on Tonto’s every word as the story begins in flashback.

The story centers around the building of the Trans-Continental railway through the old west. There are corrupt officials, Tom Wilkinson as Latham Cole, bad guys such as the Butch Cavendish gang, warring Indian tribes, Cavalry officers, explosions, love interest, Ruth Wilson as Rebecca Reid, golden hearted prostitutes on the side of good, Helen Bohnham Carter as Red Harrington, Tonto as a crazy Indian excommunicated from his tribe who becomes a crazy mentor to John Reid a.k.a. he Lone Ranger.

Gore Verbinski directed from a script by, Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. The film mixes witty verbiage, cliché’ bashing, the William Tell Overture beautifully interpolated into the score at appropriate times, spot gags and plenty of eye candy. The film pays homage to such directors as John Ford in its use of Monument Valley for location shooting, Buster Keaton’s the General and of course to the mythos behind The Ranger’s physics defying horse Silver.

The film comes across as extremely entertaining but is in truth a mixed bag. With all the attempt to give the past versions of the myth a modern twist neither is really served. There were times that the film’s homage worked so well you can’t help but smile and say yes, but alas those moments are brief and the amount of well edited bloodshed mixed with witty banter distracts rather than invites.

In the end the film is a worthy attempt, and with all the Pirates Of the Caribbean movie sequels it is nice to watch Depp having the time of his life playing yet another eccentric outcast. So if the old question was “Who was that masked man?” the new question as written into the script is, “What’s with the mask?”

FYI: There is a scene of a child being hit across the face, it is well edited but still may be intense for younger children, be warned

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

11 May

Synopsis: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (also known as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful) is a 2012 British film directed by John Madden and written by Ol Parker. Based on the 2004 novel, These Foolish Things, by Deborah Morgacch. The ensemble cast includes Britain’s elite and arguably their best character actors, Dame Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, Dame Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Penelope Wilton, as a group of British retirees “outsourcing” their retirementin the Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful, in India. Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) rounds out the cast as Sonny the young owner of the hotel.

Review: This is film less about the destination and more about the journey and catharsis of a group of seven retired British nationals whose life circumstances have brought them to Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful in a small city in India. Each with their own tale of woe and search for a greater future in their twilight years.

The movie begins with an prologue that describes each character’s present situation and what leads them to the hotel.

Dame Judi Dench plays Evelyn a recently widowed housewife who is forced by her family to sell her flat to pay off her dead husband’s debts.  Despite their son’s protestations, she decides to make her home in India, in Sonny’s home for the “elderly and beautiful”. She keeps a blog to inform her family of all that she does and all whom she encounters. It is through the blog that on a daily basis the story unfolds.She is marvelous in the role and plays it with class, determination and wit.

Tom Wilkinson (Benjamin Franklin in HBO’s John Adams Series) plays Graham, he is an British high court judge who for the past few years keeps saying he will retire any day now., finally at a retirement party for a colleague he decides today is the day. He goes to India where he gre up for the first 18 years of his life only to go back 40 years later to reconcile his past.

Dame Maggie Smith portrays Muriel an ex-housekeeper with a head for figures, is deemed surplus to requirements by her lifelong employers after she unwittingly trains her own replacement. She finds herself without a family of her own, having devoted her life to the care of another family. Living in a flat alone she is bitter and racist, and, when her doctor tells her that the only alternative to a six-month wait for a hip replacement is to be “outsourced” to India where the operation can be scheduled without delay, she is sent to Sonny’s hotel.

Bill Nighy plays Douglas the Husband of Patricia Wilson’s Jean. This is a married couple who gave all their savings to their daughter who has stated a new internet based company. Needless to say this has made the hotel the only place they can afford to retire to. Douglas is up for the adventure and his wife is desperately unhappy from day one. The strain on their marriage is too much for Jean to take and the couples differences bring their marriage to the brink.

Ronald Pickup plays Norman an aged Lothario, constantly on the look-out for a new woman and unable to face up to his own age and consequent undesirability for young women. He seeks a new start with new possibilities in India.

Celia Imrie plays Madge, she has had several unsuccessful marriages and, like Norman, wants fun, adventure and a new man. Tired of her daughter’s attempts to keep her at home as the family babysitter she flees the house and leaves for India.

The screenplay is witty and the humor is at times so true it touches you from the inside and at times moves you to tears. This is a fine film with a human soul that tugs at your heartstrings as it points out the irony of aging in a young world and coping with the sometimes bittersweet realities of life. This films caters to the much neglected demographic of aging baby-boomers and judging from the size of the audience I was in I would say that the future looks successful for this group of seven.

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