In Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson Defends Wes Anderson
This post contains spoilers about The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Wes Anderson is often criticized for pulling from the same monogrammed Louis Vuitton bag of tricks: He creates fastidiously arranged dollhouse worlds populated by the same ensemble of actors who deliver droll dialog in films suffused with nostalgia. For Anderson’s detractors, an aesthetic that felt so richly original in Rushmore—Anderson’s second feature, but the first to feel truly Andersonian—has in the ensuing years come to seem like a schtick, and a limitation. These critics want Anderson to engage with new themes on a bigger stage, but like Richie Tenenbaum, the director remains stubbornly zipped away in his childhood tent, pining for the past.
Those who have tired of Anderson’s approach will likely find little to love about The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is set in Anderson’s most magnificent dollhouse yet—the titular hotel—and is arguably his most nostalgic film to date as well. It’s misty-eyed not merely for lost boyhood, as has often been the case in his work, but for an entire Old World way of life, an era of handmade macaron towers, restorative mineral baths, and highly personalized concierge service. It’s easy to dismiss the film as an elegantly calligraphed love letter to more civilized times.
It’s undoubtedly that, but it’s also more than that—it’s a self-portrait of sorts, a glimpse of the man in corduroy behind the camera.
Is Pharrell’s “Happy” Too Happy for You? Then Maybe You’ll Enjoy This.
But the Gregory Brothers just want to bring everyone down. The guys behind many past viral hits have turned the song’s delightful chords into a broodingly paced, minor-keyed bit of musical mopery. The accompanying video is a funny, melancholy counterpoint to Williams’ chipper exuberance.
What True Detective Shares With Cary Fukunaga’s First Film
Television, it’s often said, is a writer’s medium. Audiences have gotten used to crediting creators and showrunners like David Simon, Matthew Weiner, and Jenji Kohan as the creative visionaries behind their shows, while directors are still more often thought of as hired guns, brought in for an episode or two, their contributions relatively short-lived.
True Detective, though perhaps primarily the creation of its writer—novelist Nic Pizzolatto—is an exception: Every episode of its soon-to-be-completed first season is directed by Cary Fukunaga. The 36-year-old filmmaker deserves credit for the show’s distinctive visual style, coaxing some incredible performances out of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, and a few feats of virtuoso filmmaking as well—notably a riveting six-minute scene, filmed in one uninterrupted take, that follows McConaughey’s character through a pitched gun battle in a suburban housing project.
Those who have seen Fukunaga’s first film, the highly acclaimed Sin Nombre, are not surprised by the director’s bravura work on the HBO series.
You’re Doing It Wrong: Plantains
When I was a kid, my only exposure to plantains came when my dad thinly sliced and fried up a batch of green ones to make homemade plantain chips. They were rough-hewn: mostly crisp but still a little chewy, with oil-slicked exteriors that were like a magnet for salt.
These days, plantain chips—the mass-produced, evenly sliced, thoroughly crunchy ones—are everywhere. You can buy them at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, even Walmart. You can find them arranged between bags of Lay’s and Dorito’s in the vending machine in my office. They are the Lorde of snacks: They originated in the Southern Hemisphere, and now they are everywhere. All in all, the ubiquity of plantain chips is a coup for Musa × paradisiaca, the species to which many plantains and bananas belong. (Contrary to the emphatic belief of many plantain advocates, the distinction between bananas and plantains is mostly cultural, not genetic: Plantains are eaten cooked, bananas are eaten raw.) Starchy as potato chips, plantain chips are a pleasant introduction to plantains’ subtle but distinctively savory flavor.
But plantains can be so much more than crispy, salty snack food.
Rust Cohle’s Pinterest Page
What does Rust Cohle do when he’s not contemplating the ontological fallacy that is the afterlife, or staring into his soul via a tiny mirror? He pins on Pinterest, the site for the iconographer in all of us. Rust, of course, does not mindlessly graze on muffin crafts and cat posters. This is ritual. Fantasy enactment. Fetishization. A paraphilic love map, if you will. It’s the gathering and visual presentation of material and symbolic obsessions. In other words, it’s what Pinterest has been about all along.
Big Boi Raps About Westeros
"Targaryen, the rightful blood line/ So don't you worry about the Red Wedding that made it crunch time."
So raps Big Boi on "Mother of Dragons," his latest track. It is packed with nerdy Game of Thrones references, because it was written for HBO's Catch the Throne mixtape, which the network hopes will reach "multicultural audiences," according to Lucinda Martinez, HBO's senior vice president for multicultural marketing.
The Aspect Ratios of The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Grand Budapest Hotel, the new Wes Anderson movie, is presented in not one but three aspect ratios. That term, aspect ratio, refers to the proportion of a movie’s width to its height—so, e.g., one of the most common formats for major theatrical releases in the U.S. is 1.85:1, with the projected image almost twice as wide as it is tall. (The bestselling HD TVs have a similar ratio, 1.78:1.) Anderson uses that familiar format only briefly in Grand Budapest, though, for scenes at the beginning and end of the movie.
The Annie Remake Looks Even More Saccharine Than the Original
In the run-up to the 2013 Oscars, there was a lot of debate about whether Quvenzhané Wallis’ moving performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild was the work of a precocious talent—she was 5 when cast in the role—or the result of clever direction and editing. She has since appeared in a short film and had a small part in 12 Years a Slave, but her next movie, an updated adaptation of the Depression-era musical Annie, will be her first big chance to strengthen her reputation as a child who can really act.
Our First Look at Andre 3000 as Jimi Hendrix
It was worrisome at first to learn that the upcoming Jimi Hendrix biopic starring Andre Benjamin would not feature any of the late artists’ original music due to his estate’s disapproval of the film. But now we have a first look at the charismatic Outkast member embodying the rock and roller in All is By My Side, and it’s actually quite promising. In the very brief clip featuring Imogen Poots as Linda Keith (the British model famous for helping to launch Hendrix’s career), Benjamin definitely has the vocal intonations down pat.
Someone Just Solved True Detective, and I Can’t Believe No One Thought of This Before
Warning: Don’t watch this video if you’re worried about spoiling the identity of the Yellow King.
Everyone who’s watched True Detective has heard of “the detective’s curse.” As Marty explains it, “The solution was right under my nose, but I was paying attention to the wrong clues.” When it comes to the identity of the Yellow King, this new video from Big Meeting (via Grantland) offers the most compelling evidence yet.