Tag Archives: F. Murray Abraham

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) Review

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language, sexual references & nudity
Cast:
Ralph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustave H.
Tony Revolori as Zero Moustafa
F. Murray Abraham as Mr. Moustafa
Adrien Brody as Dmitri
Willem Dafoe as J. G. Jopling
Saoirse Ronan as Agatha
Tilda Swinton as Madame D.
Edward Norton as Albert Henckels
Mathieu Amalric as Serge X
Jeff Goldblum as Kovacs
Harvey Keitel as Ludwig
Tom Wilkinson as Author
Jude Law as the Young Writer
Bill Murray as M. Ivan
Jason Schwartzman as M. Jean
Léa Seydoux as Clotilde
Owen Wilson as M. Chuck
Director: Wes Anderson

Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), a concierge, is wrongly framed for murder at the Grand Budapest Hotel. In the process of proving his innocence, he befriends a lobby boy (Tony Revolori).

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I remember The Grand Budapest Hotel as being one of the earlier movies I saw from Wes Anderson, and it was the first movie from him I watched in the cinema. I had previously seen Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom and while I liked them when I saw them for the first time, I wasn’t really into his work that much. I remember the experience in the cinema back in 2014 watching it because I found myself surprised at just how much I loved it. A rewatch upon watching all of Wes’s movies only confirms to me that it is his best, an unbelievably delightful and charming movie that entertains from beginning to end.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel’s screenplay is again written by Wes Anderson, and I have to say that it has to be one of his most polished and complete works, if not his most. This movie is one of the select number of films which I can say I found genuinely enthralling. Wes Anderson’s strongest movies with the likes of The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore had me interested generally throughout. However, The Grand Budapest Hotel had me invested from beginning to end and was endlessly entertaining. The movie feels completely original, and the story is heartfelt and endearing, features quirky and entertaining characters, and some unique and hilarious comedy. The dialogue was great, quick witted and memorable, and it’s perfectly paced across its 100 minute runtime. The plot itself is intricate but never confusing, and is also the largest scale movie from Wes Anderson. The Grand Budapest Hotel really gives you a sense of adventure and escapism, while also having melancholic and darker qualities and themes that you don’t expect at first.

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Wes Anderson is known for his massive and talented ensemble cast, but this may well be his biggest cast to date, and that’s saying a lot. Ralph Fiennes as Gustave H. gives not only one of his best performances of his career, but one of the best performances from a Wes Anderson movie. He’s charismatic, his line delivery is absolutely perfect, he really does handle the dry humour perfectly and fully portrays his well written and memorable character. Tony Revolori is also one of the leads and shouldn’t be overlooked, he’s really great too and shares great on screen chemistry with Fiennes. There was quite a supporting cast including Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Harvey Keitel, Tom Wilkinson, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Mathieu Amalric, Lea Seydoux and Owen Wilson. Everyone is great in their parts and make themselves stand out in their respective scenes, even if they are in just 1 or 2 scenes.

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Wes Anderson’s direction is phenomenal, even when compared to all his past work. His style is instantly recognisable once the movie begins. The cinematography is beautiful and vibrant. It is said with some movies that every shot could be framed as a painting, The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of those movies. The changing of the aspect ratios was also effective, moving to 4:3 for most of the film. The production design and costume design were outstanding too. The score by Alexandre Desplat is unique and amazing, and it really fits perfectly with the rest of the movie.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel is an enthralling and delightful adventure, perfectly written and directed by Wes Anderson, and features an outstanding ensemble of great performances. It’s like he took everything great from his past movies and put it all in here with this one. Having gone through his entire filmography, I can say with confidence that this may well be his magnum opus. It is also firmly one of my favourite movies, especially from the 2010s. It’s an essential watch for sure, and also a great place to start with Wes Anderson if you haven’t seen any of his movies before.

Mimic: Director’s Cut (1997) Review

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Mimic

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Mira Sorvino as Dr. Susan Tyler
Jeremy Northam as Dr. Peter Mann
Josh Brolin as Josh Maslow
Charles S. Dutton as Officer Leonard Norton
Giancarlo Giannini as Manny Gavoila
F. Murray Abraham as Dr. Gates
Director: Guillermo del Toro

A disease carried by common cockroaches is killing Manhattan children. In an effort to stop the epidemic, an entomologist, Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino), creates a mutant breed of insect that secrets a fluid to kill the roaches. This mutant breed was engineered to die after one generation, but three years later Susan finds out that the species has survived and evolved into a large, gruesome monster that can mimic human form.

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I was watching Mimic to complete Guillermo Del Toro’s filmography, which from what I had heard prior to seeing it, it’s been generally known as his worst movie, mostly because of studio interference from the Weinsteins. With that said, I heard that the director’s cut was a pretty good movie, and having seen it now, I agree with this (at least with that version). It is definitely a step below most of Del Toro’s other movies, but as a 90s B movie monster flick, with his direction, and some of the acting, it was quite a lot of fun.

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I watched the director’s cut of Mimic, and if you are going to watch this movie, this is the version that you should watch. The script isn’t anything special, it’s not exactly unpredictable, and is pretty by the numbers and typical of a monster horror movie with giant bugs. At its core, Mimic feels like a studio film, more so than a Guillermo Del Toro film (despite it being a horror movie with creatures and monsters). However, the movie moves at a fast enough pace, and works at its length of over an hour and 45 minutes long. It was entertaining and thrilling for its runtime, and I enjoyed watching it quite a bit.

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The cast do work reasonably well in their roles, even if those characters aren’t particularly well written or developed. Mira Sorvino is in the lead role and she’s pretty great on her part. Other actors in the movie including Jeremy Northam, Charles S. Dutton, Giancarlo Giannini, F. Murray Abraham and even a younger Josh Brolin in one of his earlier film appearances also give some good performances.

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This being his second feature film (after Cronos), Guillermo Del Toro does pretty well for his first English language movie. Again, this is in the director’s cut and no doubt it is much different in the theatrical cut. In the version I saw however, it was directed quite well, and in fact that added a lot to the film. I love the dark and grimy look that it has throughout, it’s got such an effective and creepy atmosphere, and the production designs and locations are great for the film. The biggest problem with the direction is that there are some pretty cheap and basic jumpscares, and I’m willing to bet that a large amount of the forced scares were because of the Weinsteins. The bug creatures are pretty effective and threatening, mainly with their designs and how they act. With this movie being over 2 decades old, some of the effects don’t really hold up so well, but for a movie from the late 90s, it is serviceable for its time.

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Mimic is an entertaining creature feature, that’s not particularly original or great, and it had its issues, but it was actually pretty decent, and was particularly elevated by the direction by Guillermo Del Toro. This is by far Del Toro’s worst movie, but that says quite a lot for the quality of his filmography, given that I thought that the director’s cut was pretty good. It’s definitely worth checking out.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) Review

Time: 104 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Jay Baruchel as Hiccup
Cate Blanchett as Valka
Craig Ferguson as Gobber the Belch
America Ferrera as Astrid
Jonah Hill as Snotlout Jorgenson
Kit Harington as Eret
Justin Rupple and Kristen Wiig as Tuffnut and Ruffnut Thorston
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fishlegs Ingerman
F. Murray Abraham as Grimmel
Gerard Butler as Stoick the Vast (in flashbacks)
Director: Dean DeBlois

When Toothless gets drawn away by the sudden and inexplicable appearance of female Lightfury and a new threat finds their way into Hiccup’s crowded dragon utopia, both human and dragon alike are prompted to begin a search for the mythical ancestral home of dragons: a hidden world thought to exist only in myth. A tale of friendship, fate, and ultimately letting go.

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I really like the How to Train Your Dragon movies. The first movie, while not accurate to the books, was pretty good, very well animated and had a good story. I also remember How to Train Your Dragon 2 being my favourite animated movie of 2014, surprisingly really great and way deeper than I thought it would be. So naturally I was interested in the third movie, which would end up being the first 2019 movie I’ve seen so far. While it’s not as good as the second movie, The Hidden World is a satisfying end to the trilogy.

Something about the second movie that surprised to me was that it was darker and took on more serious themes. The Hidden World on the other hand is a much more lighthearted movie. With that, it’s good but doesn’t quite achieve the same levels of complexity as the second movie. There isn’t much character development beyond Hiccup’s arc, really there’s nothing special to say about the characters outside of Hiccup. Plotwise, it is the weakest of the 3 and is more simple in comparison. While the second movie stuck with me more, the third movie still worked for what it is. It does go for more cutesy moments, especially with the moments with Toothless and Light Fury (the female white Night Fury that Toothless forms a romance with), but is genuinely sweet and heartfelt throughout. Many moments are probably appealing to kids but it doesn’t feel forced at all. Really I liked this movie throughout. The Hidden World also ends the series on a good note, it doesn’t seem like they’ll be doing any more movies after this and I don’t think it should, it’s the perfect ending for all these stories.

The surviving characters from the second movie all return and while not all of them worked greatly, they all still had their part in the story, even if Hiccup is really the only character who gets a ton of development. The returning voice cast with Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Kit Harington, Justin Rupple, Kristen Wiig and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are all good once again. The villain of the movie (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) is a pretty standard villain honestly and could be substituted by any regular villain but he’s alright enough at being a threat to the main characters.

The level of the animation is the most consistent part with all 3 movies. The Hidden World is just as well animated as the other two, if not more. It, just like the previous two, is directed by Dean DeBlois. It’s a very colourful and visually stunning movie, and it particularly shines when it involves the dragons flying. Everything from the characters, dragons, backgrounds and everything else were animated perfectly.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is not at the level of the second movie, but its good. It’s entertaining, light hearted and fun throughout. If you liked the previous How to Train Your Dragon movies, you’ll definitely like this movie, and was a solid conclusion to a really good animation trilogy.

Isle of Dogs (2018) Review

Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence and Coarse Language
Cast:
Bryan Cranston as Chief
Koyu Rankin as Atari Kobayashi
Edward Norton as Rex
Bob Balaban as King
Bill Murray as Boss
Jeff Goldblum as Duke
Kunichi Nomura as Mayor Kobayashi
Akira Takayama as Major Domo
Greta Gerwig as Tracy Walker
Frances McDormand as Interpreter Nelson
Akira Ito as Professor Watanabe
Scarlett Johansson as Nutmeg
Harvey Keitel as Gondo
F. Murray Abraham as Jupiter
Yoko Ono as Assistant Scientist Yoko Ono
Tilda Swinton as Oracle
Ken Watanabe as Head Surgeon
Mari Natsuki as Auntie
Fisher Stevens as Scrap
Nijiro Murakami as Editor Hiroshi
Liev Schreiber as Spots
Courtney B. Vance as the narrator
Yojiro Noda as News Anchor
Frank Wood as Simul-Translate Machine
Director: Wes Anderson

When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, 12-year-old Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.

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I was looking forward to Isle of Dogs, it was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. For whatever reason, I’ve been having to wait for this film to release here when it was already released a couple months prior everywhere else, however it’s finally here. I’ve seen a few films from Wes Anderson (Grand Budapest Hotel, Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom) and I liked what I’ve seen from him. With this being the second time he stop motion animated a movie (with the first being Fantastic Mr Fox), I was confident that this would be a solid movie, and that it was. It was pretty much what I expected and maybe a little bit more.

Isle of Dogs is an hour and 40 minutes long and from start to finish I was entertained. You can tell that it is definitely a Wes Anderson story. It has a very unique and original story with quirky characters, deadpan humour which is really funny and unique and is just entertaining overall. I didn’t really have too many faults with it, though there might’ve been a slight overuse of flashbacks, which does halt the story at times. Also some places and characters that the film at times cuts to (AKA characters that aren’t the main characters) really weren’t as interesting as the main storyline/characters. Isle of Dogs is kind of a kids movie, though it does go a little unexpectedly dark at times, so if you have some kids thinking that they’re going in expecting a cute film about a bunch of talking dogs, let’s just say that it won’t be what they are expecting. Aside from some minor faults, Isle of Dogs has a pretty solid story.

There is a lot of voice actors involved (Wes Anderson always seems to have a large and talented cast in his films). Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Liev Schreiber and much more consist of the voice cast, and they all did good jobs as their characters, with Cranston being a particular standout.

As I said, this is the second time that Wes Anderson has directed a stop motion animated movie and once again he did a great job. Fantastic Mr Fox was good, but his handling of stop motion animation was even better here with Isle of Dogs, it is a great looking film. Also on top of the movie feeling like a Wes Anderson written movie, it also feels like a Wes Anderson directed movie. Everything from the framing, camera position, editing, everything here really feels like his film. Now if you’re not familiar with Wes Anderson’s style in his films, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s really difficult to describe because you can’t compare his movies to anyone else’s. If you haven’t seen any of his movies before, I do recommend giving this a go. If you can’t get into Wes Anderson’s other movies because of his style, chances are Isle of Dogs won’t win you over. There was an interesting decision made, all the dialogue from the dogs are in English, however most of the dialogue by the humans are in Japanese, and a significant amount of it isn’t translated into English. It works most of the time to show the language barrier, but I only say that it works most of the time because often times someone else has to translate what they are saying in English because some of the dialogue contains plot details that we the audience need to know. The film tries to have a mix of untranslated dialogue that we don’t hear (and yet convey the message visually so we still understand what’s going on) while having English exposition explaining everything to us and it didn’t quite work as well as I think it was intended to. I think it would’ve been better sticking with one way, whether that be all human dialogue in Japanese, Japanese dialogue with subtitles or all the dialogue in English, because it felt jarring when they kept changing their method of human dialogue. It’s not a major flaw with the movie, just something that stands out that is worth addressing.

On the whole, Isle of Dogs really worked well. It was entertaining, I could get invested in the story and I just enjoyed watching it from start to finish. If you’re a Wes Anderson fan, I think you’ll definitely dig this. If you haven’t seen any of his movies before, I’d say that Isle of Dogs is a good place to start with his movies. His films may not appeal to everyone but I recommend giving it a go at the very least.