Tag Archives: Mathieu Amalric

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.

Quantum of Solace (2008) Review

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Olga Kurylenko as Camille Montes
Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene
Judi Dench as M
Gemma Arterton as Strawberry Fields
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Director: Marc Forster

Following the death of Vesper Lynd, James Bond (Daniel Craig) makes his next mission personal. The hunt for those who blackmailed his lover leads him to ruthless businessman Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a key player in the organization which coerced Vesper. Bond learns that Greene is plotting to gain total control of a vital natural resource, and he must navigate a minefield of danger and treachery to foil the plan.

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I had been meaning to re-watch Quantum of Solace for some time, with Daniel Craig’s last James Bond movie coming out next year (or at least it was before it was delayed). Some people really hated the movie, and I didn’t really know why. Many years ago I did watch Quantum of Solace but I don’t remember much of the movie, so I decided to rewatch it to see how I would find it. While I don’t think it’s terrible, I can see why a lot of people don’t really like it. Quantum of Solace has some high points but his significantly held back by an average script and action scenes with bad editing.

One of the biggest flaws with Quantum of Solace is the script by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, which really isn’t good. From what I can tell, director Mark Forster wanted to make the political circumstances in the story to be more realistic. That is why the film focussed on the global issue of the environment. While that concept might work for a political thriller, I’m not quite sure if it would quite work for Bond, and I’m someone who’s in favour for the Bond franchise to do new things in order to keep things fresh. I will give credit to them however for trying something new instead of having another Generic Evil Mastermind tries to take over world and instead trying to further set it into reality. It might’ve actually worked but taking a huge risk like this with a character and franchise like James Bond, it needs to be done in the right way to make it work, but the way it’s done here just falls flat. Odd direction of story aside, the main reason that the script has so many problems was the writer’s strike. Apparently at the time, they had a bare bones of a script and they couldn’t hire writers to finish it because of the writer’s strike, so Daniel Craig and Marc Forster had to work on it and do rewrites themselves during filming. Even Craig said that the film shouldn’t have started filming until the script was completed. Knowing all that after watching Quantum of Solace, everything makes sense now. As previously mentioned, the story is not that interesting, you don’t really care much about the characters or the story. The characters are particularly underdeveloped, the initial ideas of the characters were a good starting point but not good characters in the final product. It’s also not entirely easy to follow either, Bond films are almost always easy to follow but I got lost many times. In the end I just gave up on trying to figure out what entirely is going on. The film does bring up and ties up the Vesper and boyfriend storyline from Casino Royale (until Spectre brought it back up yet again) but it really didn’t feel necessary bringing that plotline back in the first place. The first movie seemingly tied up the plotline but most of all, that plotline is only slightly relevant to the plot in Quantum of Solace, like the main plot wasn’t going to bring up Vesper and all that as much originally but they added it in later on (with all the rewrites that’s entirely possible). This movie is actually short for a Daniel Craig Bond film, at about an hour 40 minutes long but it feels about 2 hours long. The length isn’t really an issue though, the writing itself was more the issue.

The best part about the movie is Daniel Craig, who once again gives it his all as James Bond, whether that be with the action scenes or the acting. With that said, there are some aspects of Bond here which feel lacking as a character (writing related). That can be said for pretty much all the characters. Olga Kuryenlko plays the “Bond Girl” in the movie and was decent enough in her role. She has a plotline about getting revenge on another character (which clearly parallels what’s happening with Bond after the events of Casino Royale) that works fine enough but wasn’t anything great. The villain Dominic Greene played by Mathieu Amalric is rather weak and not that good. Well, nothing about him is bad per se. It’s just that he’s not menacing, he’s not interesting, he’s not threatening, but most of all he’s forgettable. Even if he was annoying at least he would’ve been somewhat memorable, but you don’t really have any emotional feeling towards him at all. His plot and him as a character isn’t terrible but it feels like he’s a character from a different film that somehow ended up in a Bond film. Amalric does at least try his best with his role and out of all the main Daniel Craig Bond villains, he’s the only one so far who does physically take him on. Aside from that, there’s not much about Greene that works as a villain in a James Bond film. I think if he at least had a henchman who was an actual threat to Bond, that would’ve made up for it. With all that being said, rewatching the movie recently however, he does actually feel like a real character and while he wasn’t the best villain for Bond to be paired with, he was alright, albeit underwhelming. Amalric also does put everything he can into his role. Maybe it’s just rewatching Spectre that makes me appreciate Greene a lot more. Returning actors Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini and Jeffrey Wright are pretty good in their returning roles, though Wright as Felix Leiter does seem out of place as he doesn’t really do much (apparently early in the script he was meant to have a much bigger role but the re-writes cut down his role immensely). Other actors like Gemma Arteton and David Harbour are fine in their roles but they don’t really get to do much.

Marc Forster is a solid director, giving us movies like Monster’s Ball and The Kite Runner, and with Quantum of Solace… the outcome was quite mixed. A lot of the movie is well filmed, it looks good, the locations are great and the setups to the action sequences look good. Interesting side note is that it really ups the violence, making it one of the most violent movies in the franchise (it’s between this and Licence to Kill). With all that potential, it would’ve been even better if we could’ve actually properly seen these action sequences. However, the hyperactive editing absolutely ruins these scenes, making some sequences that would otherwise be great, at times unwatchable. The only action scene not affected by this is a plane action sequence, which had the perfect editing for that scene and wasn’t jarring in the slightest. With a lot of the action scenes however, I couldn’t watch it for too long because sometimes it literally hurt to try to watch it. You just couldn’t tell what was happening a lot of the time. While the writer’s strike definitely affected the movie negatively, I’m not sure what happened with the editing. The editing for the rest of the movie was fine.

Quantum of Solace is a very mixed bag. On one hand, the setups to the action scenes are good, some of the story had some potential, some scenes are good and Daniel Craig is still great as James Bond. On the other hand, the action scenes don’t pay off because of the bad editing and the script is lacklustre and doesn’t feel complete. They really shouldn’t have gone ahead with filming until they absolutely nailed down the script beforehand. It’s disappointing that this movie didn’t turn out as well as it should’ve, it’s just not that memorable unfortunately. Still, I don’t think it’s bad but it’s not really a movie I will be revisiting (or remembering for that matter) any time soon.