Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Blood Ties, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Noah (2014)

Blood Ties

Directed by Guillaume Canet
Produced by Alain Attal, Guillaume Canet, John Lesher, Hugo Selignac and Christopher Woodrow
Written by Guillaume Canet and James Gray
Starring Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana, Matthias Schoenaerts and James Caan


Two brothers (Owen and Crudup) on opposite sides of the law go head-to-head in 1970's Brooklyn.

This was adapted from a novel and a French film, so maybe something was lost in the translation. The story feels stale, the actors miscast, and the tension nowhere to be found. Despite the meaty backstory of these characters, the depth never registers, and it makes a dull film out of a promising start. Moreover, the film has no identity of its own, which renders most of it uninteresting. As good as it could be, there is just not much here, and it's quite disappointing on the whole.

Oscar Potential: None

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Directed by Wes Anderson
Produced by Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson
Written by Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness
Starring Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, 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 and Tony Revolori


A hotel concierge (Fiennes) and his new lobby boy (Revolori) have a series of misdventures in early 1930's Europe.

The film is brimming with more lighthearted quirkiness from Wes Anderson, with a refreshingly hilarious performance from Ralph Fiennes. The numerous acting cameos and small roles from Anderson regulars only add to fun, backed by Alexandre Desplat's lovable score and the (as usual) gorgeous visuals. It's a sweeping, cartoonish delight, and awards across the board would be well deserved.

Oscar Potential: Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score


Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Produced by Scott Franklin, Darren Aronofsky, Mary Parent and Arnon Milchan
Written by Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel
Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Anthony Hopkins


After a sign from God, Noah (Crowe) builds an ark in preparation for a great flood, which will wipe out the rest of humanity.

It veers from the Biblical text, but there is much to love in Aronofsky's latest controversial film. Thematically rich, the few problems of some minor plot developments and execution are hardly noticeable. Russell Crowe gives another commanding performance, while the rest of the cast delivers solid work as well. Overall, it's a beautifully wrought, powerful experience and my favorite film of the year so far.

Oscar Potential: Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects


  1. Loved Budapest Hotel, I can see that remaining in my top 10 all year. I agree Anderson's film could receive oscar noms.

    I might have to check out Noah, because its Aronofsky, and you praise it, though I can see from reviews not everyone cared for it. Perhaps there will be a future reappraisal, once the hype and controversy dies down.

    1. I definitely want to see Budapest Hotel again. Moonrise Kingdom improved for me on a second viewing, and I'm hoping it will too.

      Noah has its flaws, but it's a powerful film that I can't shake. It's still fresh in my mind, and I haven't seen it in almost 3 weeks.

  2. I'm actually looking to GBH the most out of those, in spite of Aronofsky being a director of Noah and me loving each of his previous films. But this one...it just doesn't look appealing to me.

    1. Yeah, Noah isn't for everyone, but it really connected with me. Hope you like GBH.

  3. YAY! Noah is still my favorite of the year too!

    I'm sad to hear about Blood Ties. I saw it on VOD earlier and was thinking of renting it tomorrow, but I may just rent Joe instead. I'll eventually see it, but it's a shame if it is a bore :-(

    1. At this point, I can't see Noah missing my top 10 list, even if it's #10. But we'll see.

      I need to rent Joe too, but I'd imagine it's better. Blood Ties manages to take a solid cast and render them unremarkable and stale in roles that should be more interesting. It just doesn't come together.

  4. Completely agree on Blood Ties. That one should've worked on so many levels, but it fell flat in almost every aspect. Save some of the key performances, it didn't really work for me at all.

    1. It was such a letdown. I was expecting something more with that cast and production team.