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Posts Tagged ‘Ralph Fiennes’

Ralph Fiennes in Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Ralph Fiennes in Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

“THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL”  My rating: B (Opens wide on March 21)

100 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is a whopper of a shaggy dog story – or more accurately, it’s a series of shaggy dog stories that fit neatly inside one another like one of those painted Russian dolls.

The film’s yarn-within-a-yarn structure and a delightfully nutty perf from leading man Ralph Fiennes are the main attractions here. I had hoped that “Grand Budapest…” would scale the same emotional heights as Anderson’s last effort, the captivating “Moonrise Kingdom.”

It doesn’t. But there’s still plenty to relish here.

Describing the film requires a flow chart. But here goes:

In the present in a former Eastern Bloc country, a young woman visits the grave of a dead author and begins reading his book The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Suddenly we’re face to face with the writer (Tom Wilkinson), who is sitting at the desk in his study. After a few introductory comments and a brusque cuffing of a small boy who is proving a distraction, the author begins telling us the plot of his novel.

Now we’re in the 1990s in the formerly sumptuous but now dog-eared Grand Budapest hotel in the Eastern European alps. Staying there is a Young Writer (Jude Law) who befriends the mysterious Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham). An aged empresario who owns several of Europe’s most luxurious hotels, Moustafa keeps the Grand Budapest running for nostalgic reasons.

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Gerard Butler, Ralph Fiennes in "Coriolanus"

“CORIOLANUS” My rating: B- (Opening Jan. 20)

122 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The rarely-performed plays of Shakespeare pose a problem for film adaptations. Lacking the familiar plots and Bartlett’s-heavy dialogue of a “Macbeth” or “Hamlet,” these minor works force filmmakers to come up with a creative presentational style if they’re to hook a modern audience.

With that in mind, director/star Ralph Fiennes makes of Shakespeare’s Roman play “Coriolanus” a modern-dress political fable about patriotism, loyalty and class warfare.

It’s quite well acted and if the text itself isn’t terribly compelling, the movie’s semi-documentary visual style and the political parallels Fiennes draws between ancient Rome and our own time engage both the eye and the intellect.

The plot centers on the Roman general Caius Martius (Fiennes), who has defeated the rebel forces of Aufidius (Gerard Butler). For his great victory the Senate renames him Coriolanus and names him Consul of Rome. But before getting the job the newly-named Coriolanus must gain the approval of the citizenry.  And that’s no small task, since he’s an aloof patrician who views everyday Romans as worthless rabble. Early in the film we see him turning back starving rioters who have attacked a government warehouse demanding to be fed.

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