Quick Review : Force Majeure (2014)

Rotten Tomato Score – 93%
IMDB Score – 7.5

Directed By – Ruben Östlund
Starring – Johannes Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Kristofer Hivju, Fanni Metelius, Vincent Wettergren, and Clara Wettergren

A family on a ski holiday in the French Alps find themselves staring down an avalanche during lunch one day; in the aftermath, their dynamic has been shaken to its core, with a question mark hanging over their patriarch in particular.

What would you do in a situation where your life could be in immediate danger? It’s the classic fight or flight scenario that really can’t be answered until the time has come. Tomas and his family found the answer to that question after their vacation lunch is interrupted by a controlled avalanche, or so it seems controlled. What follows is a unique, entertaining, cringe worthy film that deals with the aftermath of such an event. I didn’t expect it to be so funny.

I like to think that I would be the kind of man that stares danger in the face and puts up a fight. Fact is, I have no idea if that’s true or not. I’ve been in some situations where I was able to handle myself. I was in a car accident, helped rescue a hurt ATV rider calling for help in the woods, and two friends pass out on me, one from heat stroke and one from exhaustion. All these however were instances where I wasn’t involved or wasn’t involved minimally. The car accident was a low speed rear ending. My life has never truly been in danger. The lives of my friends and family have never been in danger. I’m waiting for the day that I’m walking down the street with somebody I care about and get approached by a man with a knife. Would I run? Would I shield my loved one? I’d like to think the latter, but can I be sure? The reaction is pure instinct and that’s where this film stores all of it’s interest. It provokes these thoughts in the viewing while simultaneously conjuring thoughts about the characters in the film. It was very entertaining.

The film should have been included in this years Oscar ceremony, but what are you going to do? There were so many scenes where family members and friends are trying to get a hold on what happened and how they feel about it. Those instances show the true person behind all the presentation we show other people. It was fun getting to see how this is handled, by both the people affected by the decision, and the person who made it.

Did I mention Tormund Giantsbane is in this? His beard is still amazing. Don’t know what I mean? That’s too bad, I’m not telling.

The film is also shot very well with many standing shots of the Alps with the action happening around the frame, like a moving picture. There was so much white filling every space that it really made you appreciate the darkness and the shadows, much like how we explore the parts of ourselves that aren’t bright and in your face.

It’s a great film.

4/5




Film Review : The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

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IMDB Score – 8.4
Rotten Tomato Score – 91%
Currently #159 on IMDB’s Top 250

Directed By – Wes Anderson
Starring – Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrian Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Léa Seydoux, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilso, and Tony Revolori

The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.

There is only one word I can think of to describe Wes Anderson’s latest film. That word is “delightful”.

There has not, to this day, been a Wes Anderson film I did not love. Every single one of them is special in my eyes. Had I known absolutely nothing about this film, I still would have had no doubt in my mind that it was directed by Wes Anderson. He has a style all his own and that has been copied by almost nobody. There’s something about that kind of niche that I just find enchanting. Enchanting could also describe this film, which stars more of my favorite people then I think any other film I’ve seen. I mean, look at that list of people who contribute to this film. It’s an indie film fan’s dream come true. I’m going to spoil something a little bit. Some of those names have such little screen time that I’d be surprised if they spent a full day on set, but the whole picture is empty without them. Everything about the film enchanted me. There are rarely times where I have a smile on my face throughout an entire film, and Wes Anderson has done this to me multiple times, this just being the latest.

In one of his more complex stories he has brought to the screen, the film takes place, during many time periods, in and around The Grand Budapest Hotel, located in a fictitious Polish town during times of war. During these time periods we are introduced to two characters whose friendship is the reason this story is being told. M. Gustave, played as perfect as anybody could play any character by Ralph Fiennes, and his protege lobby boy Zero, played at an old age by F. Murray Abraham and at a young one by a breakout actor named Tony Revolori, are the centerpieces of an intricate yet vastly profound story. M. Gustave has just inherited a small fortune from one of his hotel guests whom he has developed a relationship with and the immediate family of said guest is trying to get rid of him for their own greedy ways. Like always, I don’t want to give away much of the plot but that is pretty much the gist of the film and you’re going to have to find out the rest for yourself.

When “Moonrise Kingdom” came out last year, I thought to myself that one one Wes Anderson was going to cease being able to bring us fantastic cinema. I guess this is just some innate idea that at some point people start to decline but Anderson is proving that wrong by giving us some of his best work as his career continues to move forward. There is n doubt in my mind that he’s going to be making incredible movies until he dies of old age. This latest one is something special, but certainly has some of his traditional trademark qualities. One of the things I love about his work is how symmetrical every one of his shots are. There is a fluid way he moves the camera into the perfect position where we have an actor centered in front of the screen with nearly identical lines surrounding him. Perhaps it’s my OCD leaking through my eyes. I just can’t gt enough of it. He also utilizes the shots from a distance that he has been using since Fantastic Mr. Fox. We see some characters off scurrying along the base of the shot while behind them is a huge scene of mountains or buildings, obviously made of cardboard and paper, but nevertheless whimsical and charming. The wit in this film is also rampant. There were countless times I literally burst out laughing, mostly from either Ralph Fiennes or Adrian Brody saying something insane. The film, which is rated R, uses the perfect time and place to insert either bad language, or in some cases hilarious and crude nudity. It was a riot, and while I didn’t see the movie with a lot of people, the humor was felt all around. Everybody was laughing. It’s a hilarious film.

With such a talented cast, you can’t let everybody have a huge amount of screen time. There just isn’t enough time in the world. Everybody was pretty perfect though. Tilda Swinton was literally unrecognizable as an 84 year old woman. Willem Dafoe was a cold, evil man that almost seemed to turn into a vampire at one point in the film. Jeff Goldblum handled most of the legal dialogue with a diction that only the voice of Jeff Goldblum could make funny. Edward Norton gave the best laughs with the least amount said. His first appearance in the film had my dying and he hadn’t even said a word yet. Harvey Keitel as a bald, muscle flexing prisoner with prison tattoos and Adrien Brody with his short bursts of hilarious anger could not have been better used. I just loved every single aspect of this film. Every single character has their own quirks and humor no matter how long they were on screen.

Overall, I can’t say enough good things. Ralph Fiennes stoles every single scene he was in and he was in a damn lot of them. That’s how good he was. When “Moonrise Kingdom” came out, I knew that it was going to be in my top five of the year regardless of what else got released because of how unique and funny it was and I honestly enjoyed this a lot more. I’ll try to get out to see another viewing, maybe with some friends, but this is most certainly going to be one of my favorites of the year and is already inching it’s way up the ladder of favorite Wes Anderson films the more I think about it. I seriously can not wait to see it again and look forward to everything Wes Anderson will give me in the future.

5/5