I must admit Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (2014) I was sold by the first few seconds of the trailer. The very concept of the film was something I had to investigate. Appealing to the power that film can over your reality…if you let it. Something you usually grow out of when you can reality apart from fiction and fantasy. That’s not the case for loner Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) who by day works in an office, keeps to herself and hates her boss for taking an interest in her life. Basically a social outcast who has no real connections in life, wanting to be by herself, her own sense of right and wrong, surviving only enough in reality to get by.
Her only real connection to anything from the outside world is a little known cult film in Japan from America, – Fargo (1996). You can’t quite tell from the scratched up video copy she has discovered, that she has been watching to death for details. Taking the prologue to heart, something that even people today believe the spin-off‘s based on events, the people and incidents have been changed out of respect. Or something like that. This prologue is her way into another world that only she has knowledge off. Latching onto one sequence where Steve Buscemi‘s character (Carl Showalter) is burying a briefcase of money in the snow. A scene that is only a small part of a much bigger film that has more going on.
Watching and re-watching that scene in meticulous detail, its more pathological than methodical at times, as the images take on new meaning in her life that’s consumed. For my own work I use visual research from the films I work with, wanting to get details, to get it right. Kumiko takes this to another level. The dedication is too much, too much to bear at times in this black comedy that sees her leave her job, and her life in Japan for what is a risky and ultimately fruitless venture.
Visually its a splendid film that keeps you engaged, from the bright colour’s to the details of Tokyo’s surroundings. Before the otherworldly contrast of Minnesota where Kumiko embarks on her treasure hunt. I’m reminded of the formal quality of Wes Anderson’s work, always holding back, keeping everything boxed in the frame in terms of cinematography thanks to Sean Porter Along with The Octopus Project‘s soundtrack that creates an otherworldly quality to the film.
In terms of the film I’m reminded more of Strozek (1977) when a trio of German’s want to escape their own reality of a harsh life in Germany for small town America that starts to sour quickly for Der Bruno Stroszek himself (Bruno S.) he wants to return to what he knows and understand. The quest for a better life is not for him. For Kumiko its something that she can’t give up on it. Whoever she meets, whatever she learns she has this tunnel vision of reaching Fargo at all costs. Encountering people who offer hospitality and warmth towards her. It all seems to fall on death ears. Yet this doesn’t seem to alienate them, they see a lonely tourist wanting to get somewhere, It’s only when she meets a police officer (David Zellner) that she has a glimmer of reality shone her way.
Now to call this a classic as I have read is premature, it’s definitely got the ability to be a cult film. The idea behind it is so niche, does knowledge of the previous film add to your enjoyment, what about the opposite, a lack of knowledge may take-away so much too. What you have to do is put yourself in Kumiko’s position, an outsider finding a purpose, something that draws her out of herself. Or further inward as she’s driven to this fictional goal, a location that might not even be where the film leads her to believe. It’s definitely an idea explored, there is more room for growth, how more people could follow this cult film and its power over the individual or group. Nonetheless its a beautifully shot film that looks with tenderness at an outsider getting transported to a far off world to follow her dreams, and that if anything is what cinema is about.
After seeing a good portion of Wes Anderson‘s work in the last few weeks I was excited to finally catch The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), with just the trailer to keep the anticipation cranked up. Knowing the basic plot I was ready to enter into the Anderson’s world once more.
Visually this film is the most dense for detail, nothing is left to go amiss here. It’s the chosen world of a fictional pre-war Europe that has brought out the keen eye in the production department. Far more so than before in any of Anderson’s film’s, as if he has been building up to this somehow. In this world of artifice, far stronger than the lighter Moonrise Kingdom (2012).
With a new face in the lead for the director, turning to Ralph Fiennes who I have never seen do anything funny, is b***** brilliant, with so much to say as the concierge M. Gustave at the hotel. A man so confident in himself, his sexuality he just does as he pleases, with dignity and poise. Not many actors could pull off this role. Accompanied by newcomer Tony Revolori as bell-boy in training Zero who we meet again in the form of charismatic F. Murray Abraham (we just don’t know it yet.
The plot is a mad-cap caper that just keeps revealing with characters who all have their quirks. Looking at‘s Jopling who eats up the scenery as he causes havoc, even from the first scene he appears, we know troubles afoot, just where and when. It’s incredible fun to watch as they we see the greatest concierge fall from grace, having to prove his innocence, whilst keep his dignity. There’s a lot at stake for a lot of people.
The cast is packed full of everyone you can even think off, even some you have forgotten about coming back for just a scene or two. Reminding me of the big-budget classics that had everyone but the kitchen sink, this time on a smaller budget that creates a vast world that has no sign of ending. The impact of war looms, even bearing it’s face in a different guise, nothing is left to chance here.
It’s as if Anderson is entering a new era of work, richer worlds for the audience to enjoy. The tone of the film is far looser than Moonrise with more to play for too. Even playing with the ratio of the film fro reference classic Hollywood films that depicted these grand far-off places that swept audiences away. I want to see where he goes next. He says he doesn’t know, personally I think he’s being coy.
- Designing for The Grand Budapest Hotel (www.creativereview.co.uk)
- Under the spell of ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ director Wes Anderson (www.indystar.com)
- The Miniature Model Behind ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (archinect.com)
I’ve seen two Wes Anderson films in the last day, and so far Moonrise Kingdom (2012) is my favourite of the two (having watched The Darjeeling Limited (2009)). Being more used to the stylised world that Anderson creates when placed in a small world such as the fictional New England Island where two young lovers runaway to be together. Whereas the earlier film is more open to a country that three brothers travel across on a train.
Moving away from my preferences of the two film to the innocent plot that sees two very aware pre-teen outcasts Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) who find each other in the strangest way, yet feels very instinctive, leading to what feels like a small Island community dropping everything to find a boy-scout and reclusive girl who have taken off for a life alone together. It’s really sweet when you think about it. Both self-aware of their own lives and short-comings, just embracing the awkwardnesses that make them unique whilst everyone else goes mad looking for them.
First on the lookout is Scout-Master Ward (Edward Norton) a part time maths teacher who leads his boys on the search, who really don’t care about the orphan outcast. Before the a lonely Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) of the police gets a search underway. Whilst at the other end of the island a peculiar girl with an attachment for binoculars looks on for a signal to make a run for it.
You could say that Wes Anderson’s world is santised and controlled, I would say nostalgic and romantic, longing a world that combines the particular past and ideal future, that looks like comic books in terms of the camera movements, reading from one panel to the next as the action unfolds. Which would not be complete without another turn from Bill Murray as Mr Bishop, Suzy’s father who takes the situation in his stride. Playing opposite newcomer Frances McDormand to this world adapting to this world as the mother Mrs Bishop who has to see what is important in her life.
The search is over faster than I thought it would be, still it’s a short film, making way for more antics to happen, the relationship between the young couple is strong, leading them to join up again into a more daring mission to be together, something Suzy’s parents don’t want. But we do. They seem so adult whilst at the same time naive to the world they are about to enter into, just as they have discovered these new emotions.
The action is child lead in this comedy has everything I love about Anderson who lifts from his own experiences to give us a heartfelt romance, without all the mush, it’s sweet but innocent and funny at the same time. Whilst the order is maintained by the adults, and even future predicted by them. It makes me more than ever want to see The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).
- 14 Moonrise Kingdom Details you might have missed (seriousfilm.blogspot.co.uk)
- Moonrise Kingdom (2012) Review (jdwiden.wordpress.com)
- New Film: Moonrise Kingdom (2012) (tativille.blogspot.co.uk)
- Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson (2012) (10-pointreview.blogspot.co.uk)
- REVIEW: WES ANDERSON’S “MOONRISE KINGDOM” (2012) (ruelleelectrique.wordpress.com)