Check in to “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and you’ll find yourself mingling in the cavernous, rococo lobby with the ghosts of Billy Wilder, Ernst Lubitsch, Alfred Hitchcock and a host of other European directors who came to define the wit, urbanity and heart of Hollywood pictures in the 1930s and ’40s.
Those cosmopolitan auteurs have a kindred spirit in Wes Anderson, the precise writer-director whose clockwork imagination, questing curiosity and storybook vision make him both a throwback and one of the most original filmmakers of his generation.
Anderson’s pictures — from “Rushmore” and “The Royal Tenenbaums” to “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Moonrise Kingdom” — possess a dreamy density that make them seem old-fashioned and coolly contemporary at once.
A proudly quirky stylist and boho innovator, Anderson holds true to his previous fascination with eccentrics and outcasts in his new film, which takes its cues from those European sophisticates, as well as from the tragically fated Viennese writer Stefan Zweig, to construct the baroque, old-world spa of the title in the fictional alpine country of Zubrowka.
There, overseeing daily operations with the dash of a symphony conductor is Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes, hilariously effete), the hotel’s legendary concierge — obsequious to the rich guests, stern with his loyal staff and all-knowing about the ins and outs of European aristocracy. Gustave takes a naive young lobby boy, Zero Mustafa (wonderful newcomer Tony Revolori), under his wing, and, following the mysterious death of a wealthy dowager, who happened to also be Gustav’s mistress, the two set off on an antic caper aptly reminiscent of Belgian cartoonist Herge’s globe-hopping “Tintin” adventures.
‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law. (Language, some sexual content and violence)