Two by two … what did I just do to myself? Noah AND The Grand Budapest Hotel

Description: Film poster; Source: Wikipedia [linked]; Portion used: Film poster only; Low resolution? Sufficient resolution for illustration, but considerably lower resolution than original. Other information: Intellectual property by film studio. Non-free media use rationales: Non-free media use rationale - Article/review; Purpose of use: Used for purposes of critical commentary and illustration in an educational article about the film. The poster is used as the primary means of visual identification of this article topic. Replaceable? Protected by copyright, therefore a free use alternative won't exist.

[Image Source: Wikipedia]

I think I may have just given myself a year’s worth of nightmares as a result of this double feature I just endured: Darren Aronofksy’s Noah and Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.

(Seriously, for once in the short history of this wee ol’ blog I toyed with the idea of just going to bed right now as opposed to trying to digest what I just saw … yet, here I type …)

I actually enjoyed (sort of … I think) Noah, which basically turns the outline of the Old Testament tale of a prophet who builds a big boat to save his quirky family and a sampling of every animal on the planet into a Lord of the Rings super-size fantasy epic.

God love Russell Crowe (literally) who is the only reason to see Noah. He gives this epic gravitas and heft, and, coupled with Aronofsky’s sly allusions to ecology, animal rights, and humanitarianism, he reminded me that the Bible is an allegory, not to be taken in slavish literalism, but as poetic metaphor for how we need to treat our planet and each other with respect and kindness. Just sayin’.

There is a shipload (literally) of unconvincing CGI effects, some painful emoting from Harry Potter‘s Hermione (Emma Watson), some bad eyebrow furrowing from Crowe’s perpetual “movie wife” Jennifer Connelly, and a number of multi-limbed rock creatures doubling as fallen angels (but looking more like cast-offs from the last Transformers flick).

What does work are Aronofsky’s explorations of man’s chronic insensitivity to the environment and all its denizens, Aronofsky’s metaphorical musings on humanity’s arrogance to believe “God” has somehow given us “dominion” over all living creatures, and Crowe’s heartfelt perplexity over a world (and a deity) that seems rife with cruel hypocrisy.

Description: Film poster; Source: Wikipedia [linked]; Portion used: Film poster only; Low resolution? Sufficient resolution for illustration, but considerably lower resolution than original. Other information: Intellectual property by film studio. Non-free media use rationales: Non-free media use rationale - Article/review; Purpose of use: Used for purposes of critical commentary and illustration in an educational article about the film. The poster is used as the primary means of visual identification of this article topic. Replaceable? Protected by copyright, therefore a free use alternative won't exist.

[Image Source: Wikipedia]

On the other hand, Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel just gave me a colossal headache. Between the Sunday funnies-style cinematography and the twee, “aren’t-we-precious” Keystone Cops antics, I quickly reached an apex of just not giving a fig as to what was  transpiring onscreen. The slight narrative relates that a concierge (Ralph Fiennes, surprisingly funny) has inherited a highly appraised painting from one of the hotel’s guests (and a former concubine of Fiennes).

Said painting becomes a source of various hijinks as assorted characters (including a so-so Adrien Brody and a slightly better Ed Norton) try to reclaim the work of art in question.

Perhaps I was just worn down by all the sturm und drang of Noah, but I felt like jumping out of my skin while sitting through The Grand Budapest Hotel. Every aspect was so tortured, darling, overdone, cute that I could barely stand another scene. I felt positively itchy watching it.

I may add to this blog entry in the light of day tomorrow, but right now I’m just tired. Good night, all. (It’s rather sad that I could find more to say about Muppets Most Wanted than a Biblical epic and a highly anticipated art film.)

Coda … there’s got to be a morning after ….

So, this is what I was struggling to say last night, and just now it hit me like a bolt of lightning (not the supernatural but the human kind).

I have long struggled with both Anderson and Aronofsky as filmmakers, though I was never quite sure why. I loathed Black Swan, found The Fountain interminable, and thought The Royal Tenenbaums was the fever dream of my cloying “magnet” middle school classmates.

Both directors are blessed with distinctive voices; however, they are so wrapped up in the style of their films (cinematography, costumes, music, arch acting/writing) that we as audience members struggle to invest in the people, whether in the characters or in the filmmakers themselves. Further, both directors seem to be challenging their viewers to try to enjoy what they’re watching; it’s like Anderson and Aronofsky are standing on the cinematic playground screaming “Neener neener neener! I dare you to like this … or to even suss out what the heck is going on!”

That art of alienation is all well and good, but, when it is wrapped in what appear to be big-budgeted attempts at popular entertainment, it comes across sophomoric and kinda mean.

___________________

Reel Roy Reviews is now a book! Please check out this coverage from BroadwayWorld of upcoming book launch events. In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the book currently is being carried by Bookbound, Common Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan; by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan; and by Memory Lane Gift Shop in Columbia City, Indiana. Bookbound and Memory Lane both also have copies of Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series.

 

29 thoughts on “Two by two … what did I just do to myself? Noah AND The Grand Budapest Hotel

  1. oh, bingo…you KNOW how invested I had been in this goofy-ass movie! RUSS did rise above it all…I am a believer in that fellow. but the potter kid needed to be removed for starters. and if it was lord of the ring-ish no wonder I was all at sea…pardon the pun! and that book I unwrapped is all comic strips and none of the creatures resembles my russ? but I still love the book…and was not at all surprised really with cartoon characters as I had just endured the same at the theater. so, Budapest is a bust also? geesh….and digital animals

    • Yeah, I should have opened that book. That would’ve told me all I needed to know about Noah. And I did not like Budapest either. You guys should probably see it, though, as you might enjoy it. I think it was just the absolute wrong combination of movies for me to see you last night. It felt like drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth

      >

  2. I may have just committed an ungrammatical subject/verb agreement above…but noah himself uttered a grammar slip…I was that bored that I noticed a grammar slip…and unconvinced…but I did approve of the premise which got all botched up by the time the saga ended…or BEGAN? sure…right….

  3. i’m excited and going to see budhapest tomorrow, and after reading your review, i am keeping my fingers in my ears, going ‘la,la,la….’ until i get there. i hope you were just overwhelmed from all of the drama and trauma of noah and his bunch, to enjoy the hotel. thankfully susie and i were able to help you see your way to appreciating american hustle. i’m hopeful we’ll have to work our same magic with your on this one.

      • Beth I’m sure if anyone can help him with know whether he really liked Hotel movie would be you and Susie after sitting through Noah and all the stuff on the screen and then watch the second movie all was still thinking about Noah and what went on after the first 45 minutes that he couldn’t give The Budapest Hotel a chance. Good luck to both you and Susie you probably going to need it. LOL

  4. Roy you being curmudgeon I wouldn’t go that far. I wanted to see Noah but after that review I’m being torn on whether to see it or not..I would do almost anything for Russ but I won’t sit through a bad movie not even for him. LOL Now the Budapest Hotel is a different story altogether because I wasn’t thinking about seeing that movie at all.

  5. I was rooting for mr. noah to get his way…but if he had I wouldn’t have gotten to see papa knows best/russ/noah in this goofy movie unless animals invented cinema as part of paradise and I was a giraffe with 3-D glasses (see it to understand the message I am hinting at)…but what a pussy-wussy ending…he should have persisted and knocked his faux daughter-in-law and her twins off the pier in one fell swoop. also, this movie could have been titled BLUE DENIM…did you notice all of the denim and the awesome footwear, i.e. suede knee-high fashionista boots? but a myth is a myth for a reason…anything goes! that was my CODA…and I learned a new word…”suss”!

    • i love you comments susie and agree that sometimes the comment sections are as great to read as anything else. and i am hopeful that you will use the word ‘suss’ today in casual conversation.

  6. thanks, beth…you made my day! I feel I ought to apologize for my disrespect toward the “genesis” of an odd daughter-in-law-ish character flouncing about the ark, but as a bold plot device she instead provided a considerably “watered-down” denouement…thus I perhaps became too harsh in SUSSING the wuss that russ transitioned into (how’s that for internal rhyme which I accidentally engage in sometime?) his determination had impressed me SO…but the women ganged up on him and he had nowhere to GO (and that must be why he drank much too much maple syrup and flopped down upon his tummy when he realized his plans were thwarted by a brand new “mummy”?) and to all, a good night…or forty good nights? (when you see the movie, you ‘ll know whereof I speak…I think?)

  7. Pingback: Roy Sexton (Reel Roy Reviews) Two by two … what did I just do to myself? Noah AND The Grand Budapest Hotel

  8. Pingback: Guitar heroes and heartaches: Howie Day at Ann Arbor’s The Ark « Reel Roy Reviews

  9. Pingback: Point/counterpoint – Ann Arbor’s Rebecca Biber offers guest critique of The Grand Budapest Hotel « Reel Roy Reviews

  10. Pingback: If Ernest Borgnine had been dropped in a vat of angry electric eels: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 « Reel Roy Reviews

  11. Pingback: Roy Sexton (Reel Roy Reviews) The Amazing Spider-Man 2

  12. Pingback: “The error in man is thinking nature is in our control and not the other way around.” Godzilla (2014) « Reel Roy Reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s