Directed byYorgos Lanthimos

Written by: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou

Stars: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Barden

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If you are considering seeing The Lobster, you may want to keep this short anecdote in mind:

On my way out of the theater, I overheard a woman behind me say to her friend, “I am so sorry for bringing you to see that.” Half the audience would have probably grumbled in agreement while the other half would have simply laughed (which I did). Morale of the story is that I loved The Lobster. But I wouldn’t blame you if you hated it.

Some films are meant to make us laugh, some to make us cringe, and others to make us unbearably uncomfortable. Yorgos Lanthimos’ first English-language film falls somewhere in between black comedy, drama, sci-fi thriller and romance. The Lobster is quick-witted and unexpectedly funny, but I wouldn’t classify it first and foremost as comedy. Rather, humor acts as glue to keep the whole thing together (and, admittedly, to keep the audience in their seats).

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Within the confines of The Hotel, guests have 45 days to find their “match” or will be consequentially turned into an animal of their choice. These animals are then sent to The Woods, an area also inhabited by Loners, or those who have escaped the hotel and live illegally without partners. Ironically, the very place that houses humans is the least humane; guests must follow strict protocol or face the consequences (David’s friend was caught masturbating and must stick his hand in a toaster).

The Woods, rampant with social outcasts and misanthropes, is far from a lush Utopia. Human relation to nature in The Lobster is quite removed; the Loners, with their stolen technology and weather-ready apparel, seem displaced in the wilderness. Interestingly, many animals in the Wood are entirely out of place: we even see a peacock roaming about in the background in one scene.

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This purposeful displacement seems to be a theme throughout the film. First, the main character David’s search for eternal love takes place in a highly controlled, potentially dangerous environment (i.e. the hotel). The juxtaposition of something as wild and pure as love against a manipulated backdrop is startling. And then there is the fact that David himself is out of place. Even after he flees The Hotel, David struggles to find belonging amongst The Loners. It is not until he meets the Short-Sighted Woman (played by Rachel Weisz) that he finds his home.

Similarly, misplacement, irony and absurdity power the film’s dark humor. Bizarre, disturbing lines are delivered deadpan; characters nonchalantly continue conversations in the midst of bloodshed. Yet there is an oddly playful element to The Lobster. I think the Short Sighted Girl’s voice-over throughout the film keeps it from dipping too far into the dark. The narration is purposefully redundant and honestly a bit annoying at times. It’s almost as if the writer couldn’t decide between making a bedtime story or a twisted drama.

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All in all, there is nothing clear-cut or logical about The Lobster. Maybe that’s what makes it so great, because there is nothing clear-cut or logical about its subject matter: love. So it should come as no surprise if The Lobster leaves you feeling a little out of sorts. Actually, that might not necessarily be a bad thing.

 

SDC

 

 

Directed by: Ana Lily Amirpour

Written by: Ana Lily Amirpour

Stars: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marhsall Manesh

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In “Bad City,” no one is safe.

The film opens on a young man, standing far left, next to what appears to be a dumpster. He wears a white t-shirt and jeans, like James Dean. He disappears into the structure and returns with a cat in hand. The man then walks away from the camera, looking back only once. We watch as he trails down a long, straight road.

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Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night unfolds slowly; following the trail of this establishing shot, the film reveals details only when appropriate while leaving no stone unturned. The narrative comes to us in pieces through detailed shots and rather sparse dialog.

With that in mind, there are a few individual scenes worth delving into.

The first close up of the film is of a woman’s face, fully made-up. She bats her eyelashes at the young man walking by, releases a coy smile and follows him hungrily with her eyes. We watch her watching him, a reversed gaze that continues once the Girl is introduced. (Although truth be told I wish the Girl would command more of the camera. We see the first half of the film mainly from Arash’s perspective.)

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In one scene, the Girl—really, the Vampire—dances alone in her barren room to American-sounding music, surrounded by posters of Madonna and other Western icons. We compare this image to that of the drug dealer in his lavish home, as he listens to electronic music, snorts coke and counts money. He lifts weights while making eye contact with the vampire.

She doesn’t speak, yet her mouth is responsible for her victims’ deaths, like a siren without a song. Actually, the first time we hear the vampire speak, she is addressing a young boy. She asks him, repeatedly, “Are you a good boy?” Perhaps she sees a spark of innocence in him, a chance for this child to grow up a decent man, unlike the criminals and junkies whom she targets.

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For the first half of the film, the camera pays strong attention to characters’ mouths. We see objects entering mouths: cigarettes, fingers, candy, pills and we watch them disappear into dirty abysses. The extreme close-ups move from mouths to eyes during the second half of the film as tones shift from sensual to reflective. Hossein becomes fixated on the cat’s eyes and even the headlights on Arash’s car look like eyes opening.

Since AGWHAAN is, after all, a monster movie shot in black and white, there is no doubt that the film reflects aspects of drama/thrillers from the 1950s. Aras, the James Dean look-alike, drives a vintage car, his prized possession. In a scene where Arash proclaims his love for the Vampire, the two stand by a freight train, a factory in the background. The mise-en-scene makes me think of On the Waterfront, with Arash in place of a madly-in-love Marlon Brando. The film’s slower pace, sound effects and drama are reminiscent of old Hollywood, though its script is not heavy on dialog, unlike 40s and 50s melodrama or sci-fi thrillers.

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In fact, on a completely different level, AGWHAAN reminds me of Jonathan Glazer’s 2014 sci-fi thriller, Under the Skin. But instead of Scarlett Johansson playing extraterrestrial “femme fatale” we have actor Sheila Vand as a blood-sucking antihero.

Of course, we cannot read either of these films without addressing their feminist elements. In Under the Skin, Johansson’s character reverses the male gaze by targeting and stalking men as she cruises around urban Scotland. The vampire in AGWHAAN plays a similar role, observing crooks on the streets of “Bad City.”

Then there is the supernatural aspect of both female protagonists. Obviously neither character is human, so the narratives work on a suspension of disbelief. Arguably, this suspension of disbelief creates more “wiggle room” for the development of the feminine narratives. In other words, a nonhuman female character (i.e. the vampire) may be more likely to pass as a killer or to possess authority than a human female (i.e. the Prostitute, who is under the control of her pimp). And, of course, her primary weapon is still her physical appearance. There seems to be a struggle in feminist cinema to create female antiheroes that do not play into the femme fatale stereotype. (Although Marvel’s TV series “Jessica Jones” comes close.)

That being said, it is undeniably empowering to watch a woman defend herself—and other women— against oppression and assault, whether or not she is “technically” human. Either way, she’s badass and genuinely scary.

At its darkest points, AGWHAAN is like Requiem For a Dream meets Blue Velvet. We are taken into drug dens and private bedrooms, through a dilapidated cityscape and a well-to-do neighborhood. We see people through a fish-eye lens, shaky cam shots and at least one notable POV shot (where a young boy pulls on his mother’s arm). The director of photography, Lyle Vincent, plays with both wide and telephoto lenses in a style that is both experimental and classical. The result is a film that feels like something I shouldn’t be watching and yet I can’t take my eyes off of it.

 

— SDC

 

 

Directed by: Robert Eggers

Written by: Robert Eggers

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie

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I have been slightly obsessed with films distributed by A24 lately, and when I first caught wind of The Witch about four or so months ago, I was thrilled. Truthfully, I am not one for horror films, but something about this one grabbed my attention.

The film is set in colonial New England, where a family of seven is banished from their plantation due to an apparent religious dispute. Led by a fundamentalist Puritan father, they must learn to fend for themselves on the edge of a vast and foreboding forest.

We watch as a family descends into madness, apparently at the hand of the devil. The eldest daughter (Thomasin) is accused of being a witch; the mother (Katherine) loses her mind; the father (William) loses both his authority and sense of morality. William stresses to his children that every human being has been born into sin and must repent to avoid the fiery depths of hell.

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But soon after moving to their secluded farm by the woods, the family begins to succumb to the supernatural. Before too long, the wilderness becomes hell on Earth. Sure the symbolism is laid on pretty thick, but omens like the goat and rabbit give the story a biblical feel that compliment the film nicely.

I had assumed The Witch would fall along the same lines as Dogtooth and Martha Marcy May Marlene, films that feature isolated families under the control of a father figure, the hyper-masculine antagonist. But I was very mistaken. In fact, it is the feminine that rules within The Witch. Thomasin and Katherine claim autonomy from William relatively early on. Both she and her mother criticize William and threaten his place as head of household. Katherine does not approve of William’s decision to move their family to the woods and makes it clear that she wishes to return home. Thomasin, in a fit of rage, points out her father’s failure to provide a harvest and accuses him of sin.

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Thomasin’s and Katherine’s characters are not the only feminine forces within the film. The surrounding wilderness, the land itself, is feminine by nature. We know from the beginning that there is “evil in the wood,” or an element of the supernatural. William assures his son, Caleb: “We will conquer this wilderness. We will not be consumed by it.” In other words, man will conquer the wild, the free (and arguably, the female).

Of course, William fails to tame the spirits of the wood. But is he demise caused by the Devil? or is the family’s destruction self-inflicted? Depending if your perspective is spiritual, historical or psychological (or a combination of the three) your answers may be entirely different.

The cinematography creates intimacy in an expansive environment; the camera lures us into the with Twin Peaks-ish shots, zooming in on looming trees. Tight, purposeful shots frame the family. But there are plenty of beautiful wide shots of the wilderness as well, allowing our eyes to explore the landscape. A24 definitely knows how to support gifted cinematographers like Jarin Blaschke (The Witch, I Believe in Unicorns) and Daniel Landin (Under the Skin) as well as Robbie Ryan (Ginger & Rosa, Fish Tank).

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All in all, The Witch is more folklore than horror, like a fairytale thriller. Some scenes are deliciously gory, but the majority of the film is still and dramatic. If you went into the theater expecting to be terrified, you probably walked into the wrong movie. The dialog (and dialect) is authentic—almost to the point of needing subtitles— but in case you missed anything, The Witch is worth a second watch. While this film will most likely not keep you up at night, it will certainly stick with you, and it will keep you asking questions.

 

 

Director: Sally Potter

Writer: Sally Potter

Stars: Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Christina Hendricks, Alessandro Nivola

Ginger & Rosa takes place in 1962 London, when the Cold War held the world at a standstill. But the mood of the film is not as gloomy as the plotline and color palette would suggest. Actually, the film is more dull than gloomy.

ginger.pngginger-and-rosa-20.pngG&R feels like an exposé or a series of photographs, something that should be seen in print rather than a full-length film. That being said, the consistency of the color scheme is impeccable: cool tones of blue, brown and forest green wash over every frame. The fashion and furniture blend in with their surrounding landscape. G&R has the aesthetic of Inside Llewyn Davis without the wit. But then again, the film is a melodrama and is definitely not directed by the Coen Bros.

G&R is written and directed by Sally Potter, an acclaimed English filmmaker and former choreographer who is known largely for her adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. Potter’s script is incredibly minimalistic and mostly consists of brief, pointed interactions between characters. The writing is technical and articulate. I enjoyed its quiet simplicity at first, though my appreciation eventually turned to frustration. Ginger is the main character yet she drives almost none of the narrative. In fact for the majority of the film, it feels like we hardly know her at all. The script tries to tell us who she is via the opinions of supporting characters. We are meant to believe that Ginger is a “radical” (this description is used several times by her parents and family friends) yet even her protests feel passive. Ginger is also a self-proclaimed poet, and many scenes feature the young author drafting poetry. Next to Rosa, the expression-less, rather apathetic best friend, we would hope that Ginger would stand out. But if not for Elle Fanning’s poignant performance, her character would have fallen flat.

G&R is in large part a coming-of-age drama, so themes of mortality and the teenage notion of forever are inherently embedded in its script. Ginger seems to understand all too well the fallacy of forever; she is wiser and more mature than Rosa, who seeks “everlasting love.” Ginger is the only character who is seriously concerned with potential oblivion and is sensitive to the instability of her immediate and global surroundings. Ginger’s father is emotionally unavailable and essentially abandons her, falling Lolita-style for her best friend. This betrayal is not unknown territory: American Beauty addresses the attraction between a young woman’s father and her best friend, but it is based more in fantasy than reality. American Beauty works because the characters are motivated by lust and imagination, whereas in G&R, the relationship between an older man and a young woman simply happens. The main conflict thus feels forced and unrealistic.

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Unfortunately, the film focuses largely on girls’ interactions with men rather than their own friendship. While attention from men is part of many (straight) women’s teenage-hood and is one trope of the coming-of-age story, these repeated flirtations distract from the story rather than add to it. The girls get picked up by men at pubs and accept rides from strangers, actions that speak more to played-out, gendered roles than wild and reckless fun. I think the trailer’s promises of lighthearted adventure fall short here.

A little over an hour into the film, a shift occurs that saves the story. The slow burning pieces of narrative boil together to reach a climax—when Ginger breaks down and the father’s secret is finally revealed. Finally I see the director’s intention: G&R is about a family in crisis. The Cold War backdrop acts as a nice analogy for the instability of Ginger’s world. But ultimately she must face her emotions on the conflict at hand: the betrayal by her best friend and by her father. The threat of the bomb now feels less real than the family’s ultimate implosion.

If nothing else, Ginger & Rosa is an undeniably pretty film. I’m not suggesting you skip the first hour of the movie, although you may want to watch it on mute. (Save for the wonderful soundtrack, of course.)

Director: Sean Baker

Writers: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch

Stars: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karen Karagulian

 

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Rarely in cinema are we lucky enough to experience a film that so fully embodies the present moment without the rose-tinted glam of Hollywood. Sean Baker’s fifth feature length film, Tangerine, is so grounded in the strange and bewildering world of today (granted, the film’s world is rather small) that it almost feels like watching a live-stream report or even a high-brow reality TV program. And I mean this in the most complementary sense.

The plot of Tangerine is essentially this: on the same day that trans sex worker, Sin-Dee, is released from a brief stint in jail, she discovers that her boyfriend/pimp has been cheating on her. The rest of the film follows Sin-Dee and her best friend, Alexandra, as they attempt to track down her pimp and his mistress. But Tangerine is not a simple revenge story. It is part vignette and part traditional narrative. The story follows multiple story-lines: Sin-Dee’s, Alexandra’s, and an Armenian cab driver named Razmik.

From the very first scene, Baker nods toward a multitude of filmmakers, from Jim Jarmusch and Richard Linklater to Quentin Tarantino. The film opens with an overhead shot of a café table (feat. two pairs of hands and a donut) reminding us of Coffee and Cigarettes. The main characters’ vulgar language, the casual anecdotes, the LA backdrop, the violent manhunt all bring to mind Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. Meanwhile, the multiple storylines, the time constraint (specifically, a narrative that occurs over a single day) and the colloquial dialog are reminiscent of Linklater’s Slacker and even Dazed and Confused. There is arguably even a Lynchian aspect to the film: in one scene, Alexandra performs cabaret in front of a red curtain, perhaps a Blue Velvet reference.

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The script is littered with pop culture references and is set to blaring electronic music as well as classical scores. It is the ultimate mix of realist imagery in a surrealist context. The time is now, but now seems unreal: in one scene, two obliterated men puke all over Raznik’s taxi while one of them yells for him to take them to a holiday after-party. Tangerine moves rapidly, but hangs when a pause is appropriate. At times, the characters themselves are too quick for the camera to keep up, but the more pensive, stagnant shots capture key moments in the film. In one scene, a long take of Sin-Dee at the bus stop is followed by a tracking shot of her briskly returning to her mission. This is just one example of the film’s dramatic mood swings: from over-caffeinated to introspective and vice versa.

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I could analyze the film from a sociocultural or LGBT perspective, but the truth is, Tangerine does not present with a political agenda. To me it is a film about payback, entangled with themes of friendship and love. The distinction here is that Tangerine is not about what it means to be a sex worker or a member of the trans community. Nor is the film about what it means to live in poverty in present day LA. Instead, Tangerine features marginalized members of society in a small scope, providing a new, open space for a tried and true narrative. This does not mean that the plight of being queer/trans/impoverished is ignored, however. The reality of Alexandra and Sin-Dee’s ostracization comes out in subtle moments: in one scene, a policewoman tells Alexandra that it’s Christmas Eve and she should go back to her family. Alexandra replies, “What family?” As Tangerine progresses, we come to see that Sin-Dee may be the only true family that Alexandra has.

One of Baker and his co-writer’s successes with Tangerine is their ability to portray strongly feminist themes throughout the film. As previously mentioned, Sin-Dee and Alexandra are more than best friends; they are family to each other. Sin-Dee drags her hostage (another sex worker, Dinah) to Alexandra’s singing gig, determined not to miss it. Alexandra cleans up Sin-Dee after an anonymous punk throws piss at her. There are oddly touching moments between Sin-Dee and Dinah: the two share a peace pipe in the club bathroom and Sin-Dee silently does Dinah’s make-up. This sisterly solidarity builds up walls between female and male characters and is reminiscent of feminist separatism.

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However, we remain sympathetic toward the so-called male “antagonists,” Chester the pimp and Raznik the cab driver. The two possess redeeming qualities and are effectively humanized. Chester may be truly in love with Sin-Dee (he had proposed) and is so downright stupid that you can’t help but feel badly for him. Raznik has an unrequited crush on Sin-Dee and follows her around like a lost puppy. Tangerine is full of shocks, but perhaps the most shocking of all is how heartfelt the film is at its core. The script and cinematography are both explosive and exploitative, but there is much warmth to be found within the scenes.

Tangerine was shot on an iPhone, offering a lesson on a new genre of voyeurism, one that could only exist in this technological age. There is a dualistic intimacy and distance to the camera. Shaky, rushed shots bring an acute awareness to the camera work, keeping us from focusing directly on the characters. In these shots, the filming feels immediate, urgent. Of course, this camera work is entirely purposeful and directed. Yet the same camera tricks us into believing we see the unfiltered truth behind the characters. Baker’s use of the iPhone breaks down walls that have so long been cemented into place by traditional Hollywood cinematography.

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Tangerine is an honest look at what it means to be a part of today’s world. There are brilliantly captured images of desperation and greed, all side effects of the dysphonic, displaced world in which we currently live. There are booming sounds and hyper dialog, without the special effects.

At the end of a long day, Sin-Dee and Alexandra sit side-by-side, tired but content. As we watch the two of them at the close of the film, we experience the same weary satisfaction.

 

 

Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Writer: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore

For me, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut came as a smashing surprise. Sure, it’s about porn, but there’s more to it than just sex. It’s about modern day love and attraction. It’s about addiction. It’s about growing up and becoming a man, whatever that means.

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Let me start off by saying that I don’t know why it has taken me so long to watch this movie. After recently seeing Under the Skin (review to come soon), it seemed like an interesting follow-up. It just so happens that the voluptuous and dominating Scarlett Johansson stars in both films. But more importantly, both films feature females as a luring device for men. That is not to say that a surreal, sci-fi mind-bender like Under the Skin bears any resemblance to the amped-up in-your-face realism of Don Jon.

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The film is advertised in trailers as a pure entertainment piece. It promises porn, masculinity, and Jersey Shore accents. But from the film’s opening, which features stills and clips of over-sexualized women from various media sources, we know that Gordon-Levitt has a different agenda. The young director hooks his audience with graphic images, allowing us to see through Don Jon’s eyes, and keeps our attention as he reveals his satirical purpose.

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Don Jon, the main character, is a slick player who treats women like inanimate objects and seems to live off testosterone alone. He lives his life in a series of rituals: everything from attending church to seeing friends and family is calculated. He owns his own life, until Barbara Sugarman (played by Scarlett Johansson) enters the picture. Temptation and sex appeal take control, and Jon finds himself doing anything that Barbara desires just to get into bed with her. Of course, it turns out that Barbara is using Jon as much as he is using her. This is not a one-sided love story. In fact, it’s not much of a love story at all.

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Image “There’s only a few things I really care about in life. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn.”

The screenplay and camera work are kept relatively simple, which is expected for a film like this. Any sexist or crude remarks I can chalk up to extremist characters and the film’s satirical nature. The narration is straight and to-the-point. Many of the shots are filmed in flat light, with grey tones, consistent with the film’s mood. However, many of these components change when Esther (played by Julianne Moore) enters Jon’s life.

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Moore’s performance is wonderful, as always, but it feels as though her character’s entrance into the storyline is too little too late. Gordon-Levitt rushes the title character’s transformation, and the result is somewhat phony and confusing. By the end of the film, it’s obvious that the actor-director has bitten off more than he can chew; his thematic ambitions outweigh the limitations of his primitive script.

ImageAs a rookie in the film production business, Gordon-Levitt deserves a free pass. After all, he created a film that was refreshingly open, raw and admittedly very engaging. He makes you listen, a feat that would earn any established director bragging rights. But unlike his arrogant main character, Joseph Gordon-Levitt would humbly accept the praise.

 

Director: Wes Anderson

Writer: Wes Anderson

Stars: Ralf Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric

Wes Anderson’s latest film is out, and I, like many other fans, rejoiced in its arrival. And I continued in this rejoicing until I left the theater. Only now, after the irresistible glow of the Wes Anderson World has worn off, do I begin to have some doubts. (But we’ll save those for later.)

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The Grand Budapest Hotel tells the story of Monsieur Gustave H, a charismatic concierge played by Ralph Fiennes (whose delivery resembles a younger Steve Martin in his role). Joined by his trusty lobby boy, Zero, M. Gustave embarks on a series of adventures set in and around a European hotel of the same title. But the film’s “story” is more like a fairy tale, tied together by enchanting visuals and numerous flashbacks.

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We open in the present day: a girl holds a book entitled The Grand Budapest Hotel, while visiting the burial site of its author. We are then taken to the late ’60s, where Young Writer (Jude Law) interviews the aforementioned Author. Now, we wait for the “real” story to begin, until finally, the curtain opens to reveal the Grand Hotel.

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In true Wes Anderson fashion, the attention to detail is exquisite. It is the 1930s, a time of political and economic turmoil, but we are in a flourishing palace. Everything is doll-house decadent. Lush red carpets line the floors and elderly women in fur coats drink champagne. It’s how I would imagine The Overlook Hotel in The Shining during peak season of the Roaring 20s. Every frame itself is grand; wide angle shots of the hotel lobby and surrounding mountainous landscapes take in even the tiniest of details. The stimulus is practically overwhelming. But, it quickly becomes clear that everything is not peaches and cream. The land is ruled by a fascist regime, identified by their insignia, “ZZ,”  whose presence clouds over the hotel’s idyllic rays of sunshine. Yet, even the darkness comes with a sense of charm.

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All of the components of the “typical” Wes Anderson film are in place here. There is the intellectual man on a mission, or in this case, two men: M. Gustave is evocative of Rushmore‘s Max Fischer or even Mr.Fox, and Zero of Moonrise Kingdom‘s Sam. There is the calm, cool and collected love interest, Agatha, like Moonrise Kingdom’s Suzy (surprise) or The Royal Tenenbaums‘ Margot. There is wit, awkwardness and insouciance. There are chapters and title cards.

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These chapters lend themselves to a story, more or less. The central conflict: Gustave H. steals a priceless painting that belonged to his deceased lover, and must now face the police– as well as an intimidating private investigator– all while upholding his own style and personal integrity. Oh, and the nation is at war.

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The plot, however, seems to be simply a vehicle for the director’s imagination, an exercise in artistic license. How else could there be both an alpine ski chase and a furious shoot-out in a span of several minutes? (Not to mention the absurd number of cameos.) Unfortunately, the cohesiveness of the script took a bit of a hit from all of the bells and whistles of the film. Truth be told, the humor ran a bit dry– most of the punchlines are featured in the trailer– and this came as a disappointment. The Grand Budapest is, after all, Anderson’s first solo screenplay, and yes, it shows. There seemed to be something missing; the director’s quick cleverness is muddled by his through-the-roof aesthetic ambitions. It brings to mind The Life Aquatic, but with a more solid entertainment factor.

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Regardless, The Grand Budapest Hotel marks a turning point in Anderson’s career. Following in the footsteps of directors like Woody Allen and even Tarantino, Wes Anderson’s films are almost instantly recognizable. He has truly created a genre of his own. Much like Woody Allen’s films, there seems to be an autobiographical tone present in the script. M. Gustave recites verses of romantic poetry and is scrutinized for his odd behavior and apparently flamboyant facade. He is daring and ambitious. He dismisses critics. Of course, all of this could be coincidental.

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Either way, The Grand Budapest Hotel tells us one thing for sure: the director has put his foot down. And he’s not budging, whether we like it or not.