Le Week-End (2013) ✭✭
Don't be fooled by the smiling faces in the poster, and don’t rush out to the theater to see this feel-bad comedy. Wait for home video or better yet, skip it all together. Jim Broadband and Lindsay Duncan star as a couple who make a brief trip to Paris to celebrate their 30th anniversary. The film is marketed as a warm, romantic sort of comedy, but in actuality it’s 93 minutes of Broadbent and Duncan engaging in all-out emotional warfare, with every slight, insult and disappointment of their decades together aired out amid the iconic scenery of Paris. Jeff Goldblum has a small part as an old colleague of Broadbent’s and the habitual scenery chewer surprisingly comes off as a pleasant respite from the couple’s constant bitching. The film attempts to end on an upnote with an homage to a famous Godard film, but it’s way too little, too late. By then viewers will have decided that this miserable couple should have divorced long ago.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) ✭✭✭✭
The Grand Budapest Hotel made me do something I hadn’t done at the cinema in a long time: laugh. I mean really laugh. Not just chortle at something stupid or snicker at detached hipster irony, but laugh out loud at stuff that was actually funny. The movie feels like a 1930s screwball comedy; appropriate since the majority of the film is set in that decade. The plot is essentially one long chase/caper scenario centering on Ralph Fiennes, as a dissolute maître d' attempting to claim a massive inheritance while fleeing the stroppy, monocle-clad remnants of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A host of famous faces join in the fun, among them Jeff Goldblum (again), Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Adrian Brody, Tilda Swinton and the list goes on. Lea Seydoux has a small role as a chambermaid and my wife was surprised that she somehow kept her clothes on. I’ve never been a big fan of director Wes Anderson, but here he hits all the right notes. Enjoy your stay and please come back soon.