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‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ Soundtrack Relies On Original Music (Song Premiere)

Wes Anderson invented a country for his new movie, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,”so it seems fitting that the writer and director wanted the soundtrack to rely heavily on original music. The 32-piece soundtrack album includes the composition “Canto at Gabelmeister’s Peak,” which premieres today on Speakeasy.

While previous Anderson films have featured original music, they have also included songs by the Rolling StonesJohn Lennon, the Kinks and, memorably in “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou,” Portuguese-language covers of David Bowie tunes. This time, Anderson was intent on creating a sort of cultural backstory for the Republic of Zubrowka, the fictional setting for the film, music supervisor Randall Poster said. The two researched early 20th-century classical composers and regional folk variations before choosing a three-stringed Russian instrument called the balalaika to establish the musical voice of the film.

“I think it speaks to evolving culture, it speaks to folklore, it speaks to this sort of mythical foreign identity that we were trying to channel,” said Poster, who co-produced the soundtrack album. “And there’s just sort of the magic of it. It’s a great sound and underused and works really nicely as a counterpart to some of the more sophisticated classical pieces.”

French film composer Alexandre Desplat wrote the original music for the soundtrack, which includes performances by the Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra, along with Russian folk songs and a Vivaldi piece. Desplat also worked on Anderson’s movies “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.” The latter movie, Poster said, is a point of reference for the scenes that accompany “Canto at Gabelmeister’s Peak.”

“It’s a moment where you will be rewarded with all of our work on ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox,’” Poster said. “There’s a real special treat that comes in the latter part of the movie and really is one of the most exciting action sequences that comes together at the end of the film.”

The soundtrack is due March 4 on ABKCO Records, and the film opens March 7. What do you think of “Canto at Gabelmeister’s Peak?” Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Europe’s Painful Past Colors a Film Festival

“Nymphomaniac” is the new film by Lars von Trier (in glasses), with Uma Thurman, far left, Christian Slater and Stellan Skarsgard.

BERLIN — From Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” a tender, urbane caper set in a lost world of interwar Europe, to George Clooney’s “The Monuments Men,” in which the Allies try to save priceless art from the Nazis, Europe’s past — real, imagined, unresolved — is very present at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.

Now in its 64th edition, the festival, known as the Berlinale, opened here on Thursday with the well-received premiere of Mr. Anderson’s latest. It stars Ralph Fiennes channeling Noël Coward, if Coward were a concierge, and is the first film in which Mr. Anderson has set one of his painstakingly selected fictional tableaus against the backdrop of history.

As he raced up the back stairs to escape the after-party, held in a nightclub with a large disco ball under the festival’s main auditorium, Mr. Anderson said that he had been inspired to create the film eight years ago, after reading works by the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig (1881-1942), whose novels and memoirs capture a vanished Europe. The film is set in a fictional Eastern European country called Zubrowka.

“I wanted to do something Zweig,” Mr. Anderson said. Two years ago, he added, he decided to combine his Zweig idea with a separate concept about a stolen painting. Collaborating with the New York-based artist and writer Hugo Guinness, “we wrote it pretty quickly after that,” he added.

Back downstairs at the party, waiters brought around trays of pastel pastries inspired by the film’s plot, and musicians played balalaikas. James Schamus, the screenwriter and independent film producer who is chairman of the festival’s international jury this year, chatted with Tilda Swinton. In Mr. Anderson’s movie, she plays an octogenarian heiress who looks as if she stepped out of a Klimt painting.

Mr. Schamus said that what set Berlin apart from Cannes, another major European film festival, is that the public was invited, and that moviegoers often waited outside in the cold to buy tickets. Last year, the Berlinale, held at sites throughout this city, sold a record 300,000 tickets.

During the lengthy opening ceremony on Thursday, which was broadcast on national television, Mr. Schamus deftly said that America had learned a lot from Germany over the years, also by listening in on its phone calls — a reference to widespread outrage here over information made public by Edward J. Snowden revealing that the National Security Agency had tapped the phone of the German chancellor Angela Merkel.

In a sign of how intense the issue has become, a January interview with Mr. Snowden by a German journalist and filmmaker will be screened on Monday as part of the festival.

Historic tensions between the United States and Germany were also the theme on Saturday, with the European premiere of “The Monuments Men,” directed by and starring Mr. Clooney. The United States ambassador to Germany, John B. Emerson, attended, as did Monika Grütters, the German minister whose portfolio includes culture, and other German officials.

Both “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Monuments Men” were partly shot at Studio Babelsberg, the largest film production center in Germany, and the high-profile diplomatic presence also indicates how Germany hopes to attract more foreign film productions. The festival started in 1951 on the initiative of the American military administration in Germany. It is financed largely by the German government and includes an extensive film market and coproduction market.

At a news conference on Saturday, Mr. Clooney waded into the thorny issue of art repatriation. Asked his advice for Greece, whose Classical antiquities have been on display in the British Museum, the Louvre and other European collections for centuries, Mr. Clooney said he thought that Greece “had a pretty good case” for getting its art back.

On Tuesday, another World War II-era film, “Diplomacy,” by the German director Volker Schlöndorff, will debut here. Set in 1944, it explores how the Swedish consul general in Paris, Raoul Nordling, helped persuade the Nazi military governor of Paris, Dietrich von Choltitz, not to obey Hitler’s orders to destroy the historic city should it fall into enemy hands.

Mr. Schlöndorff said that today was a perfect time for Europe to re-examine the power of diplomacy.

“At a moment when Europe is questioning a lot of anti-Europe sentiment and demagogy, just imagine if we Germans had blown up Paris and destroyed it in the same way as Warsaw, if there ever would have been the possibility of a reconciliation within Europe,” he said. “Certainly not with a French-German tandem,” he added as he greeted well wishers after a screening of his 1969 made-for-television film “Baal,” starring a young Rainer Werner Fassbinder and based on a play by Bertolt Brecht, whose estate had forbade its broadcast until now.

Mr. Schlöndorff said “Diplomacy,” which is not in competition, was dedicated to his friend, the American diplomat Richard C. Holbrooke, who died in 2010, and who had regaled him with stories about his negotiations with the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic to end the war in Bosnia. “Every means, including lies, is permitted,” Mr. Schlöndorff said. “The means of diplomacy are no cleaner than those of war, they’re just a little less deadly.”

Several of the films at this year’s festival also touched on themes of gay rights. “Love Is Strange,” directed by Ira Sachs, stars John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a gay couple who marry in New York. At a news conference, Mr. Lithgow said that the film was not propaganda, but that he hoped it would send a message from Berlin to Russia, where repression of gay rights has been an issue underlying the Winter Olympics.

To promote his latest film, “Nymphomaniac,” a sexually explicit two-part drama starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard and Shia LaBeouf that is showing out of competition here, the Danish director Lars von Trier posed for photos on Sunday in a T-shirt with the logo of the Cannes Film Festival, from which he was banned after making Hitler jokes there in 2011. He did not stay to talk to the news media here, and Mr. LaBeouf walked out of the news conference after enigmatically saying, “When the sea gulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.”

Grand Budapest Hotel — Luxurious Travel In Time Experience

Wes Anderson’s all-star film The Grand Budapest Hotel picked up an impressive number of trophies at the Oscars, BAFTAs and Golden Globes this year, but what hotel inspired this movie? The film recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the two World Wars.

If you check out the history of Corinthia Hotel Budapest, formerly the Grand Hotel Royal, you can’t fail to spot the common points between our former mantle and the movie’s Grand Budapest Hotel.

Experience the life of the 1930s elite, as depicted in this fabulous movie, with our amazing package – which includes airport transfers with a limousine, guided historical hotel tour, a special treate in your room and of course, the opportunity to watch this world famous movie between the walls of our dazzling Hotel.

The 10 best movies of 2014

Let’s start with a simple fact. I haven’t seen nearly everything released in 2014. The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis counts the number of films that received at least a cursory release in the US this year at nearly 1,000, a number that not even the most dedicated of film critics could hope to attain.

But scratch seeing everything. I haven’t even seen most interesting things. There are films from some of my favorite directors, like Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, that I haven’t caught up with, as well as gigantic entertainments I just haven’t fit into my schedule, like Big Hero 6. What I’m saying is take all of this with a grain of salt. It will almost certainly look very different a year from now. Or even a week from now.

What these are, then, are 10 films I would unreservedly recommend from the year 2014. It wasn’t as good of a year as 2013 or 2012, but I still found myself with around 30 movies jostling for a position here. And that’s not bad at all.

Here are 10 of the best films I saw in 2014, presented alphabetically.

The Babadook (dir. Jennifer Kent): Many of the best horror films work because the terrors of the film are somehow even worse if the supernatural isn’t involved. There are few better examples of that than The Babadook, an Australian ghost story that doubles as a haunting tale of mental illness. Essie Davis plays a single mother, struggling to hold on to what little of her sanity she has left amid a long series of sleepless nights and days plagued by her terror of a son. And that’s all before the bogeyman of the title starts knocking around. Some have ripped this film for not being “scary” enough, but the big jolts aren’t the point. This is a movie about the creeping sense that you, yourself, are the worst monster of all.

Boyhood (dir. Richard Linklater): This lovely little coming-of-age tale might have become the victim of overhype. When it was simply an underdog indie movie with a great gimmick at its center, it was irresistible. Now that it’s become an awards winning juggernaut, there’s some understandable fatigue around it. But the best way to approach the film is as if you know nothing about it. Yes, it was filmed over 12 years, as the two children at its center grew up. And yes, every one of those 12 years is on screen. But to watch this movie progress is still a magic trick if you can find a way to enter it as purely as possible. There’s never been anything like it, and it’s the sort of thing only a great movie can pull off. (Read my review here and five things the film gets right about Texas here.)

Godzilla (dir. Gareth Edwards): Wait. Please stop laughing. I mean this sincerely. Yes, the human characters are underdeveloped. But that’s also sort of the point. Gareth Edwards’s spin on Godzilla emphasizes just how powerless human beings ultimately are in the face of nature, and it slowly cedes all control of its narrative over to the big guy in the title, battling against giant spider creatures for supremacy over San Francisco. This was a summer of beautifully directed blockbusters, but none were so beautiful as this one, filled with evocative images that suggested perfectly what it would be like to be in a major city in the midst of a giant monster attack.

Gone Girl (dir. David Fincher): I’ve written more about this than any other film released in 2014, and with good reason. This was the movie to discuss and argue about and pillory and defend this fall. Whether you loved or hated its whacked out, gonzo excesses, you had to sort of admire how it could get just about everybody who saw it to take an extremist position on either side of those debates. Above all, though, this film succeeded because it only seemed to be a tale about a woman whose husband may or may not have killed her. From that pulpy beginning, the movie became a treatise on modern marriage and an ultra-bizarre feminist manifesto. It was a delight. (Read my review here and a later, spoiler-filled piece on the film’s feminism here.)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (dir. Wes Anderson): Wes Anderson, whose intricate contraptions of films hide bittersweet centers, created perhaps his most intricate contraption yet in this spring release that went on to be his most successful film at the box office. At times, the film’s central setting (a lovely European hotel between the World Wars) seems a wind-up toy, which Anderson can unfold to reveal all manner of tiny dolls moving through its confines. But in the film’s final passages, it reveals itself to be something much sadder, much more monumental. It’s a story about the fundamental inability of anything to last forever. And, yes, we all know that’s true, but Anderson seems to feel it more acutely than most and translates that to the audience.

Nightcrawler (dir. Dan Gilroy): A gloriously nasty bit of business, Nightcrawler is a dark satire of the journalism business that feels like it crawled out of the primordial ooze of 1992 and deposited itself in our modern movie theaters. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal in the performance of the year (literally), the story follows a young opportunist who finds himself chasing footage of crimes, crashes, and disasters, the better to sell to local news stations. After all, “if it bleeds, it leads.” But Nightcrawler is about so much more than that. It’s about how amorality can sometimes be a boon if you’re willing to follow it into the dark. It’s about twisted romance. And it’s about Los Angeles as a glittering jewel of destruction, waiting to corrupt souls.

The Overnighters (dir. Jesse Moss): A documentary packed as full of twists as any narrative feature, The Overnighters is a searing, moving portrayal of the limits of kindness and charity. North Dakota Lutheran pastor Jay Reinke opens his church to the many men drawn to his state by the oil boom who are unable to find work and just need somewhere to sleep. This simple action ends up reverberating throughout his community, as more and more people take issue with the kinds of people Reinke is extending his charity toward. Should there be limits to this kind of Christian compassion, particularly when it’s put to the test in the real world? The Overnighters is both brilliant storytelling and brilliant journalism, but it’s also a kind of modern moral fable that just happens to be real. (Read my review here.)

Selma (dir. Ava DuVernay): This is not typically the sort of movie I enjoy. Big historical docudramas that attempt to capture important moments in time too often fall flat under the weight of their own hubris. Not so with Selma, making it seem all the more miraculous that this is the first major motion picture about Martin Luther King, Jr., to be made at this scale. Yet Ava DuVernay’s deeply moving film takes King out of the history books and resurrects him for an era when the intolerance he battled against seems to have revealed newer, nastier faces. The conclusion of Selma is as cathartic as anything you’ll see in a movie theater this year, but it doesn’t suggest, for one second, that the work King began is over. (Read my review here and interviews with DuVernay and the film’s star David Oyelowo here.)

Under the Skin (dir. Jonathan Glazer): A spectacularly weird and even alienating film, Under the Skin forces the contemplation of what it means to be human by making its protagonist someone who is decidedly … not. As The Woman (the only name she is given), Scarlett Johansson is riveting, portraying some sort of alien interloper on the planet Earth who seduces men, takes them back to her place, then consumes them in a manner utterly unlike any you’ve ever seen in a movie. (To say more would be to spoil it.) This is not a film for everybody. There’s no conventional plot to speak of, and the ending is hard to take for how rapidly it tries to shift audience’s allegiances. But this is a movie that’s all about the experience and the visuals and the weird, eerie ride. And on those levels, it over-delivers.

We Are the Best! (dir. Lukas Moodysson): A blast of joyous, punk rock anarchy, this Swedish film is one of the best crowd-pleasers of the year, following three young girls who start a punk band in ’80s Stockholm. It goes about as well as you’d expect, but the fun of this movie is in following the characters as they discover just how wonderful it feels to express themselves. There aren’t a lot of examples of pure, unfettered joy on this list, but there’s lots of it in We Are the Best!, and even if it’s at the end by the accident of alphabetization, it feels like it’s the perfect capper to a year that could be a little dour.

The Best Films of 2014

Grand Budapest Hotel

Halfway through 2014, our top three critics found themselves in a rare moment of agreement: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was one of the year’s best films so far. Several months later, Wes Anderson’s delightful comic caper still ranks high on two lists, while rating an honorable mention on a third — a sign, perhaps, of the impossibility of total unanimity in a year of such rich and diverse cinematic pleasures. (Other movies that scored top-10 mentions from at least two of our critics: “Foxcatcher,” “Winter Sleep,” “Gone Girl,” “Interstellar” and “Selma.”)

Here are our critics’ choices for the year’s finest achievements in film:

Justin Chang’s top 10 films of 2014 | Read more
1. Boyhood
2. Under the Skin
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Winter Sleep
5. Foxcatcher
6. Bird People
7. Gone Girl
8. Selma
9. Mr. Turner
10. Interstellar

Peter Debruge’s top 10 films of 2014 | Read more
1. Calvary
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
3. Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
4. Love Is Strange
5. Le Week-end
6. While We’re Young
7. Li’l Quinquin
8. Force majeure
9. War of Lies
10. Class Enemy

Scott Foundas’ top 10 films of 2014 | Read more
1. Goodbye to Language
2. Citizenfour
3. Winter Sleep
4. Inherent Vice
5. Foxcatcher
6. The Immigrant
7. Gone Girl
8. Interstellar
9. Selma
10. American Sniper

‘Budapest Hotel’ Checks In Late to Awards Race

Grand Budapest hotel

On Nov. 19, voting began for SAG nominations. On Dec. 1, art directors and producers kick off the guild voting, while the New York Film Critics Circle are first out of the gate by announcing their winners.

 

As we get down to the wire, Hollywood calendars are jam-packed with awards events. And at each gathering, voters trade notes about titles they’ve seen recently and the handful of films they need to see. The conversation is always dominated by the latest contenders — and yet this year, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” keeps coming up.

The Wes Anderson film premiered at Berlin almost a year ago and bowed domestically in March, which in an awards-season-timetable is the equivalent of 200 years ago. It has long been on VOD and video, so as a flock of terrific films open to fanfare and media attention, “Budapest” may seem like old news. Au contraire, mes amis.

Six months ago, people were singing its praises, but feared it might be too fun for awards consideration. But as new films step into the spotlight, people retain their affection for “Budapest.”

In terms of artisan voting, it seems like a shoo-in for attention in multiple categories including costume design. As for SAG, the best-actor race is overcrowded, but Ralph Fiennes passes two of the crucial tests for kudos consideration: It’s like nothing you’ve seen him do before, and you cannot imagine anyone else play the role. And the ensemble is first-rate (Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, et al.)

Could it be an Oscar contender for best picture, writer and director? Those goals may seem overly ambitious, but a few years ago, many had similar skepticism about “Midnight in Paris” and it scored Oscar noms in all those categories and more.

“Budapest” is definitely fun, but it’s not lightweight. Underneath its vivid colors, middle-European wit and Lubitsch-like touches, Anderson raises serious ideas, ranging from political oppression to the importance of good manners. It’s a portrait of changing times, which is why it resonates.

Whenever voters mention the film, they lean in, with a little smile, and talk as if they are the only human in the world who is aware of this film. Apparently it’s the kind of movie that people react to on a personal level. And with Oscar, you don’t need every voter to love it — you just need a rabid group of supporters. And “Budapest” has that in spades, which bodes well for the film as voting begins.

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