Wes Anderson's world in "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" comes out with a storm of expectations. The 9pm showing I went to on the weekend was packed with 800 people waiting to see what his next quirky vision would be like. Suffice to say he didn't disappoint the least bit with this new one. It's not just the distinctive visual and narrative style that makes this an incredible achievement, it's also the fact that he has infused his obsessive dollhouse-like world with real heart and passion for character. Moreso than usual, something I haven't seen from a Wes Anderson film since quite possibly "The Royal Tenenbaums" back in 2001. It helps that the film is anchored by a remarkable Ralph Fiennes performance -maybe the best of his career?- a theatric yet compassionate performance that is filled with depth and persuasiveness. To mention Fiennes as a Best Actor contender this early in the game would be foolish and understandably irresponsible but he is so good in "The Grand Budapest Hotel" that it would be a real shame if he gets forgotten amidst the October-December awards shuffle of contenders.

It's not just Fiennes, the entire cast is uniformly good, as expected with any Anderson film, he even finds the time to sneak in long time collaborator Bill Murray for 10 minutes. It's just that kind of movie, one where anything goes and the fun comes in watching the director perform a balancing act with his odd narrative structure. And what a balancing act it truly is. In fact, in this and every other picture of his the story itself is only secondary to its execution. Anderson juggles three different timelines and eras and plays around with the assortment of characters he has created in his little dollhouse. From the fake sets to the lightning quick camera angles, to the OCD-like attention to detail, his movies are not for everyone but those willing to give Anderson a chance might get rewarded.

What I like best about Anderson's films is how they get better with each subsequent viewing. This one is no exception, the attention to detail and the uniqueness of it all will most likely make secondary viewing as essential as any of his previous films, particularly "The Fantastic Mr Fox" and "Moonrise Kingdom" which at first seemed distant but slowly revealed themselves as fantastic art by looking closer. Which is why having a final opinion on "The Grand Budapest Hotel" after one viewing is just not fair to its creators and to the film itself. There is a lot to digest upon first viewing and I find that with Anderson, moreso than any other director working today, watching his films a second time plays an essential and integral part in understanding his language and body of work.  What I do know is that this is probably the first great movie of 2014 - anything else of high quality come out?