In the course of the last week or so Caroline and I have watched three movies that I wanted to bring to your attention in this post if you might be looking for a good movie.
Wes Anderson's newest movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel is really fun! Like all Anderson movies it's on the opposite end of the visual spectrum from Michael Bay. Instead of titillating your senses to such a degree that your mind cannot function (think Transformers) Anderson's Mise-en-scene attempts to draw the thoughts of the viewer into the plot. I'm no movie expert but I can tell you that Anderson does not like to waste shots in his movies and The Grand Budapest Hotel is no different.
The Grand Budapest hotel is all about faded glory, chasing, and running. The viewer seems to always be chasing characters who are either chasing after something or running from something in the context of fading glory of Eastern Europe in the early 20th century. Tragic, funny & satisfying The Grand Budapest Hotel is an enjoyable movie that will, like most Anderson films, give the viewer some things to think about!
Any movie about World War II and the Holocaust is going to be moving and The Book Thief is no exception! Canadian born actress Sophie Nélisse does a fantastic job and had both Caroline and myself wondering if she was actually German! The themes of friendship, allegiance, and the power of words run throughout this movie! The third person omniscient character "Death" as narrator of the film and children serving as the main characters provide nuance to the tragedy that would otherwise be overwhelming.
Liesle's (Nélisse) character offers a picture of principled fortitude and fearlessness in the face of great evil that warms the heart. Further, her love for others shows just how costly opening one's self to love can be while at the same time showing that a life without love is empty. These ideas are brought together well as Death recalls his encounter with Liesle at the end!
The Kings of Summer was really a joy. The only drawback I have with this movie is the amount of language used throughout. However, once you get used to it and can drown it out the movie is quite superb (think Silver Linings Playbook). With that being said, the language is not forced or out of place.
In essence this movie is a Bildungsroman story (coming of age story/boy to man story). The reason it is so good is because it reveals just how difficult it is to make the transition to manhood in our modern Western culture. Joe (Played by Nick Robinson) is a wonderful example of a high school boy who is struggling with coming to age. His father Frank (Nick Offerman) is a widower and has lost touch with his son in his depression (masked in anger/sarcasm). The viewer is presented with the three different options adolescent males are given to pursue manhood in their formative years. 1) Chauvinistic jock (ex. Paul), 2) Introverted nerd (ex. Biaggio), or 3) Pubescent coaster (ex. Joe & Patrick).
The Kings of Summer shows how clearly young men need a right of passage into manhood and will go looking for their own when the culture offers non for them. The themes of loyalty, friendship, love and self-reliance are in full display throughout the movie. Biaggio serves as wonderful comic relief throughout the movie and on a whole it is very funny!
I'd recommend all three of these movies to most people. The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Kings of Summer are both rated R for good reasons so be ready for mature content (lots of language in TKoS and mature themes in TGBH). The Book Thief I would recommend to anyone!