Posts Tagged ‘Wes Anderson’

Oddballs find love in Paris: The quirky charms of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ‘Amélie’

September 24, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 24, 2014

Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a French moviemaker with whose first English-language feature film was 1997’s lamentable Alien Resurrection, the fourth and presumably final entry in the pioneering science fiction and horror crossover series. Jeunet’s 2001 follow-up, Amélie, was about as different a movie from Resurrection as could possibly be imagined.

The eponymous protagonist of Amélie, a French-language comedy set in contemporary Paris, is a pretty young waitress enamored of whimsy and mischief. An only child, she grew up with an emotionally distant father and a highly neurotic mother (now deceased). The Poulains home-schooled Amélie because her father, a physician, mistakenly believed that she had a weak heart and was unable to bear the stress of having rough-and-tumble playmates. As an adult, she tends to keep to herself.

On the night of Princess Diana’s death, the adult Amélie (Audrey Tatou) accidentally discovers a cache of childhood mementos that was hidden in her apartment decades previously. When she returns the box to its owner, he is greatly moved, and Poulain resolves to do good deeds for those around her.

To that end, Poulain sets up a co-worker with a customer at her cafe, sends her father’s garden gnome on a world-wide journey, shares amusing video clips with her shut-in neighbor, and plays tricks to punish the local grocer for his habit of verbally abusing his slow-witted assistant.

Poulain also hesitantly flirts with Nino Quincompoix (Mathieu Kassovitz), a handsome, whimsical young man whom she sees rooting around the floors and garbage bins of automated photo booths throughout the city. She’s encouraged in this dalliance by her neighbor, Raymond Dufayel (Serge Merlin), the elderly shut-in, whose hobby is painting reproductions of Renoir masterpieces.

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Framing, and re-framing, Gustave: Anderson toys with narrative as he depicts whimsical adventures in ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’

April 22, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 22, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel, the new film directed and co-written by Wes Anderson, chronicles the madcap adventures of one Monsieur Gustave H., an extraordinary concierge. Zero, Gustave’s employee, protégé and friend, serves as sidekick to the concierge as well as one of the main narrators of the story.

The protagonist is a man with a bon mot and a plan for virtually any and every situation, no matter how extraordinary. A commanding figure at the eponymous luxury resort, which is situated in a fictitious eastern European nation, Gustave is the type of charming extrovert who never met a stranger; indeed, he addresses men whom he met moments before as “darling.”

Gustave has a particular knack for wining, dining and — not to put too fine a point on it — romancing dowagers. Most of the movie concerns the aftermath of the (rather suspicious) death of Madame D. and her attempts to bequeath a Renaissance portrait named “Boy with Apple” to Gustave.

Madame D.’s tempestuous son, Dmitri (Adrien Brody), wants control of all of his late mother’s estate, including the portrait; to that end, he and his vicious lackey, Jopling (Willem Dafore), ruthlessly harass Deputy Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum), the lawyer serving as executor of the will. Dmitri and Jopling also frame Gustave for murder, thereby requiring the concierge and his devoted “lobby boy,” Zero, to mastermind a prison escape.

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