For Your Consideration: March 7, 2014

If you’re like us, come the weekend you end up spending more time going through Netflix’s recommendations than watching anything at all. We here at The Best Films of Our Lives understand your plight, and are here to help! In our new weekly feature, For Your Consideration, we will recommend three movies to help you cut down on browsing time, maximize viewing time, and spice up your week. To keep it relevant, we’ll choose them based on a relevant theme of the week, from political events to cultural milestones to new releases at the megaplex.

For our first week, instead of picking movies set in Ukraine or featuring a quasi-dictator who wrestles tigers and conquers nations, we chose a different route to Eastern Europe. In honor of the release of Wes Anderson’s latest cinematic caper we’ve chosen three films that take place in, you guessed it, a hotel.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Now playing in limited release.

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Almaric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Lea Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson, Tony Revolori

For a quirky indie director of stylized comedies, Wes Anderson is a remarkably polarizing figure. But Whether you love the touching humanity in his exaggerated characters or hate his overly precious visual style, he’s unapologetically been churning out films that are nothing less than his for two decades now, and influencing a generation of filmmakers in the process. That’s an overly grand way of introducing his latest film, which generally looks like little more than a charming romp with all of your favorite Anderson regulars – Murray, Goldblum, Dafoe, Brody, Wilson, Swinton, etc. But this time he’s added two major new faces: Ralph Fiennes, as the debonair concierge of a fictional East European resort, and Tony Revolori as his young protege. Reviews for that duo, and the film itself, were terrific out of the Berlin film festival in January – if you’re all-in on Anderson, this will surely be a must-see.

Ethan

“A Room With A View” (1985)

Cast: Helena Bonham-Carter, Maggie Smith, Julian Sands, Daniel Day-Lewis

Available on Netflix instant streaming and on YouTube

“Don’t you agree that on one’s first visit to Florence, one must have a room with a view?” Beginning and ending in a Florentine pensione, “A Room With A View” follows Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham-Carter), a respectable young Englishwoman on a grand tour of Italy with her prim, manipulative chaperone (a delightfully horrible Maggie Smith). En route, she meets George Emerson, a strange, idealistic young man who not only offers her a room with a view at the pensione, but a view out of the room of her life. Awash in the golden light draping its romantic Italian vistas, this period piece about a young woman’s self-awakening is not only beautiful but thoughtful, a love story, a critique of the British class system, and an acting master class, wrapped in one.

Elaine

Lost in Translation (2003)

Cast: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johannson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris

Available on Netflix instant streaming.

Anderson had another, less direct, hand in crafting another seminal movie Marriott. After writing the lead role of her second feature with Bill Murray in mind, Sofia Coppola asked Anderson, a close friend, to help her enlist the reluctant comedy legend to the part. After five months of hounding, Coppola and Anderson won him over, and the result was “Lost in Translation,” one of the finest uses of Murray’s weary empathy yet. As an aging film actor who strikes up a friendship with an aimless college grad (Scarlett Johannson) during their stay at a luxurious Japanese hotel, Murray brought his likable affability to Coppola’s story of existential ennui, isolation and culture shock. Johannson was at her best here as well, and combined with Lance Acord’s dreamy cinematography and Coppola’s nimble direction, the whole thing added up to one of the most romantic, intimate stories of non-romance in film.

Ethan

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