Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “Logan,” the latest (and greatest) Wolverine flick, the time travel teen angst movie “Before I Fall,” the animated “Ballerina,” the quirky “Table 19” with Anna Kendrick and the controversial Christian movie “The Shack.”
“People do weird things at weddings,” says Huck (Thomas Cocquerel), a handsome stranger who takes Eloise (Anna Kendrick) for a spin on the dance floor in the almost-rom-com “Table 19.” Maybe that’s true, but in the case of this movie, they do quirky and sometimes unpredictable things, but weird? Not quite.
On the day of her childhood friend’s wedding Eloise (Kendrick) repeats the mantra, “Today will not suck.” She may be close to the bride but is attending the wedding begrudgingly. Her ex-boyfriend Teddy (Wyatt Russell), a flame-haired dim wit who dumped her by text with the words “good luck in your future endeavours,” is the best man and she still hate-loves him.
She arrives to find herself seated at Table 19, a collection of misfits she says, “should have known to send regrets but not before sending an expensive gift.” There’s Jo Flanagan (June Squibb), a pot smoker who was once the bride’s nanny, the Kepps (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow), distant friends of the family of the groom, ex-con Walter Thimple (Stephen Merchant) and Rezno Eckberg (“Grand Budapest Hotel’s” Tony Revolori), a young man who introduces himself with, “I have achieved puberty and I’m in the band.”
Because they are the outcasts, invited out of politeness and seated far from the action, they spend the day together. Secrets are revealed and the complex nature of relationships is explored. Will Eloise be able to speak to Teddy? Will the Kepps’ marriage survive the weekend? Will Renzo ever get a date? What will become of Jo and Walter?
“Table 19” is a rom com, but not a traditional one. It’s a super-reverso-rom-com that begins after the couple already has a history and broken up. It’s no secret that the heart of the movie will be their relationship so your enjoyment of the movie will be related to how much you care about this quirky collection of folks.
Kendrick is an agreeable presence, bringing equal parts edge and vulnerability to Eloise. Robinson and Kudrow banter like an old married couple and Squibb radiates warmth while Revolori and Merchant dial up their eccentricities. It’s an interesting group who by times are quite funny but most often feels like a collection of characters rather than real people. They shuffle from one set-up to another—Whoops! They knocked over the wedding cake!—lurching through the wedding on the way to the end credits and some sort of relationship resolution.
“Table 19” will raise a laugh or two or three, but the artificial nature of the situation isn’t weird enough to truly embrace the quirkiness of the characters or interesting enough to engage the audience.
Over the course of eight films Wes Anderson has developed a style that is absolutely singular. He spins worlds out of the smallest details with an idiosyncratic style that some call twee and overly theatrical, but whatever you call it, one thing is clear: No one makes movies like Wes Anderson.
In his latest project, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” he has once again created a movie that future film scholars will coin terms like Wesesque or Andersonian to describe.
Told in flashback, the movie is like a nesting doll, a story within a story, with in a story. Beginning in present day Tom Wilkinson plays The Author, an older man reflecting on one of his greatest books, the story of M. Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), the legendary concierge at the Grand Budapest
Cut to the late 1960s. The Grand Budapest is no longer so grand, the home to a handful of tenants left over from the place’s glory days. One visitor is the Author, now a young writer played by Jude Law. One day in the steam bath he meets the hotel’s enigmatic owner Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham). Moustafa agrees to tell the writer the story of the hotel and the legendary Gustave H over dinner.
Flashback to 1932, the heyday of the glamorous hotel. Gustave H rules the place with an iron hand when he isn’t sleeping with the older female guests. A flamboyant gigolo he has a special connection with Madame D (Tilda Swinton), an insecure but impossibly wealthy woman who has fallen for his unctuous charms.
When she is found dead at her home, Gustave H and his most trusted employee, Lobby Boy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori), visit to pay respects. At the reading of the will Gustave H is endowed with a priceless painting much to the displeasure of the deceased woman’s family. Angered, her son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) frames Gustave H for murder.
Amid a whirlwind of hired henchmen (Willem Dafoe), helpful concierges (Bill Murray and Bob Balaban), talented chocolatier (Saoirse Ronan), tattooed criminals (Harvey Keitel) and mounting war on the continent, Gustave H is captured and jailed. With the help of his trusted Lobby Boy, must escape and clear his name.
In keeping with Anderson’s style, the story of Gustave H and the hotel is rich with nuance and detail but never feels overwhelming or tiresome. It’s a wittily whimsical story that feels transported in from a bygone era. It’s funny and elegant, feeling like a throwback to the Ealing Comedies complete with social commentary, farce and laugh-out-loud situational comedy.
At its twee little heart is Ralph Fiennes in a strangely mannered performance that not only provides many of the film’s best moments—his Benny Hill style escape from the police is hysterical—but also it’s heart.
Like the movie itself, the performance is original, unexpected and oddly affecting.
With “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Wes Anderson has found a balance between his highly stylized artistic vision, story and heart.