There are 12 or 13 movie journalists (including MCN’s David Poland, Thelma Adams, First Showing‘s Alex Billington, The Playlist‘s Rodrigo Perez, Collider‘s Steve Weintraub, Coming Soon‘s Ed Douglas) staying at the Grand Windham Berlin. A slightly earlier time has been set for tomorrow’s round-table interviews of the Grand Budapest Hotel guys at the Hotel Adlon, and so earlier today Weintraub asked Fox Searchlight publicists, “What time should we meet in the lobby for the shuttle now?” The instant I read that I quietly harumphed and shook my head.
The Adlon is about a 20-minute walk from the Windham. (Okay, maybe 25.) It’s not that cold out and it’s a pleasant and scenic stroll. And Lord knows writers need all the exercise they can get. But Weintraub wants to be driven over in a van, surrounded by warm friendly bodies and relieved of the responsibility of using his smartphone GPS to find the Adlon on his own. We were all included in his email so I sent this response: “Or…you know, some of us could face scary Berlin all by our lonesomes and walk over to the Hotel Adlon. I mean, there’s that option.”
Non-Stop (Universal, 2.28) isn’t just the latest high-concept action flick starring Liam “Paycheck” Neeson. A new kind of “Die Hard on a jet airplane”, it has a dopey-sounding plot in which Neeson (playing a brawny air marshall) is not only trying to stop a blackmailing psychopath from icing a passenger every 20 mintues but clear himself of suspicion while doing so. Also collecting a check is 12 Years A Slave‘s Lupita Nyong’o (no — I don’t think this is Nyong’os Norbit). Ditto Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery, Nate Parker (who was so great in Arbitrage), Linus Roache, Scoot McNairy and Corey Stoll.
You can’t glide your way through the Berlin Film Festival. Cannes is a breeze compared to this place. You have to put on your learning cap, screw down your focus and study the paperwork and submit to a lot of crowding and lines and trying to figure out how the fuck this and that works. The wifi around the Berlin Hyatt, which is only a block from the Berlinale Palast, is so overburdened that you learn quickly to just put your phone away and not even try. There were two midday press screenings today for The Grand Budapest Hotel, and I for one felt like a steer in an over-packed stockyard. In Cannes those with a pink badge with a yellow pastille can just slip right in, and even those with lesser badges wait in well-organized lines. There wasn’t even a line to get into Budapest this morning. It was a mob scene. At least I learned how things work around here.
A combination of (a) zonking out for four hours late this afternoon (2 pm to 6 pm) and (b) the nostril wifi agony that was injected into my life by the Grand Wyndham Berlin Hotel has delayed my review of Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which I’ve seen twice now — in Los Angeles last Monday afternoon and again today at Berlin’s CineMAX plex. Rest assured that while Budapest is a full-out “Wes Anderson film” (archly stylized, deadpan humor, anally designed) it also delights with flourishy performances and a pizazzy, loquacious script that feels like Ernst Lubitsch back from the dead, and particularly with unexpected feeling — robust affection for its characters mixed with a melancholy lament for an early-to-mid 20th Century realm that no longer exists.
Budapest (Fox Searchlight, 3.7) is a dryly fashioned experience but a sublime one. It feels like a valentine to old-world European atmosphere and ways and cultural climes that began to breath their last about…what, a half-century ago if not earlier? This is easily Wes’s deepest, sharpest and most layered film since Rushmore, which, believe it or not, came out 15 years ago.
The Grand Wyndham Berlin Hotel wifi situation turned rancid for a lot of people here yesterday afternoon. Zero page loads or loading speeds so slow they barely merit the name…no action. I don’t know why I didn’t notice the problem then but I definitely noticed it today. It was working, not working, working, etc. I was given a new restricted password and it worked for a while, and then chaos again. I did what any mild-mannered professional would do in this situation. I made the people who are administratively responsible suffer. Bad wifi makes me see red. I become Nick Fury. It’s funny but on some level I almost enjoy raising persistent hell when this happens. Well, I don’t actually “enjoy” it but once I give myself over to a Shohei Imamura Vengeance Is Mine mindset, I feel like I’m in some kind of groove. Anyway, the “air” is now working again, and for good measure the hotel manager gave me a couple of ethernet cables for direct connectivity. I guess I’ll be okay but my hotel wifi motto still stands. Bring internet anguish into my life and I will double if not triple it before sending right back into yours.
Based on a non-fiction work by Barbie Latza Nadeau, The Face of An Angel is Michael Winterbottom‘s roman a clef about the Amanda Knox murder trial. A filmmaker (Daniel Bruhl) is hired to make a movie about a high-profile murder case involving an American female exchange student living in Italy who’s been convicted of killing her roommate and her boyfriend, etc. Kate Beckinsale co-stars as a reporter who’s also working the same story (i.e., presumably based on Nadeau). Pic is currently shopping for a distributor.
Last night Fox Searchlight publicists invited Grand Budapest Hotel junketeers to a bar lobby reception at Berlin’s Hotel Adlon Kempinski. Soothing vibe, pretty waitresses, pleasant surroundings. The Adlon was one of the great world-class luxury hotels in the early to mid 20th Century, but most of it was destroyed by Allied bombings near the end of World War II. A plush nouveau-riche imitation was built in the mid ’90s — nice but the architectural signature is 21st Century ersatz. Around 9 pm I noticed Wes Anderson, Tilda Swinton, Willem Dafoe and other Grand Budapest Hotel creatives exiting the Adlon elevator. They didn’t wave or stop to chat, but no worries. Thelma Adams and I walked back to our hotel — a nice 25-minute stroll. Grand Budapest Hotel will press-screen today around noon and open the Berlin Film Festival this evening. I lost my ticket due to changing my hotel room inside Berlin’s Grand Wyndham Hotel twice since late last night — insufficient heat, spotty wifi, a light that wouldn’t turn off, a tub/shower that drove me crazy. I’m now in a nice spacious suite. The squeaky wheel always gets the grease.
The current Adlon Kempinsky Hotel bears only a superficial resemblance to the old classic Hotel Adlon (pictured here in 1928).
The present-tense, nouveau-riche version of the Hotel Adlon.
The Brandenburg Gate is only a block or so from the Hotel Adlon.