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JDIFF 2014 Reviews #1 – The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Book Thief, Mystery Road

Our first batch of reviews from the 2014 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival comes from our regular contributor Mick McGovern, f0llow him @amawaster, visit his site and read his Netflix recommendations for here.

Follow all our JDIFF 2014 coverage here

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Ralph Fiennes, Léa Seydoux
Country of Origin: US
Duration: 100 minutes
Year: 2013

Let’s be clear and upfront, I am a disciple of Anderson – Rushmore is pretty much my favourite film ever. However I have noticed that over his last few films my need to re-watch them and immerse myself in them all over again has been steadily decreasing, thankfully I’m sure I’ll be revisiting The Grand Budapest Hotel over and over again.

The story of the renowned concierge Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) who romances the elder rich ladies who frequent the hotel, one of whom dies and leaves him a famous painting in her will. However her family is outraged and promise to do everything in their power to stop him getting it, forcing him to steal the painting. Even though the story is told from the point of view of Zero, his faithful lobby boy, Fiennes is pretty much the life and soul of the movie and he packs in more laughs and slapstick than you ever thought he was capable of.

Among the stellar supporting cast, Willem Dafoe looks to be having the most fun and again seems to relish in being allowed to be more comical than anyone else allows him to be. As with most Anderson films it looks and sounds as beautiful as you could possibly hope for but I’m not sure how accessible or enticing Hotel will be to viewers who find Anderson’s quirks impermeable, and let’s face it he’s pretty much thrown them all in this one, but then again their loss if they don’t.

Film Review The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Director: Brian Percival
Cast: Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson
Country of Origin: US
Duration: 125 minutes
Year: 2013

A World War II drama about a girl (Sophie Nélisse, who some may recognise from the fantastic Monsieur Lazahr) who is taken in by a well meaning German couple, played by Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson, who teach her how to read and she then learns to find solace in reading books. Their lives become complicated as the war goes on however, not least by the arrival of Max, a young Jewish man who seeks out their help and protection.

For a movie that has Death as a narrator there is very little that ever feels ominous or any real dramatic tension to be found but the moments of levity and humour are reasonably effectively played out. Everyone in the cast does a decent enough job, particularly Rush, but overall it plays like any Sunday drama you’d find on TV, which isn’t what I was hoping for but others may enjoy it.


Mystery Road

Director: Ivan Sen
Cast: Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Ryan Kwanten
Country of Origin: Australia
Duration: 121 minutes
Year: 2013

An Australian drama that deals with an Aboriginal cop (Aaron Pedersen) investigating the murder of a young Aboriginal girl dumped out underneath a highway. It’s basically a western film noir that uses its setting well but is played out with a remarkably slow and deliberate pace that some may find frustrating.

The film works best when its dealing with the harsh reality of being an Aboriginal cop, which means no one is really going to help him in his investigation, but in saying that it does have some laugh out moments which I certainly wasn’t expecting going in.

The film packs an impressive cast for anyone familiar with Australian television and film, Hugo Weaving, Ryan Kwanten, Bruce Spence and briefly Jack Thompson and Roy Billing to name but a few, but however its just a bit of a shame some of them weren’t given a little bit more to do.

Follow all our JDIFF 2014 coverage here

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Amawaster writes our monthly "I Streamed a Stream" Netflix column and blogs at Don't be creeped out by by how freakishly similar his film tastes are to the two founders...