Category: My Take On

Grand Budapest Hotel – A Grand Family Reunion

Grand Budapest Hotel is the latest film from Wes Anderson chronicling the adventures of a concierge and his protégé in Eastern Europe between the wars.

Family reunions are usually filled with familiar faces, a space for stories, and of course, the typical melodrama.

It’s not too difficult to envisage Anderson’s films as fundamentally comparable.

Grand Budapest Hotel is a fine offering providing the usual characteristics of a Wes Anderson film, still symmetrical shots, wide panoramic scenes, and grand storytelling.  He mixes all this with dry and sharp humour throughout which has pervaded all his previous films

Ralph Fiennes plays Monsieur Gustave, one of – if not the – most respected and specialist concierges of Eastern Europe, who is as known for his penchant of older, blonde lovers, as he is for his exquisite and exceptional service.  So much so, Gustave is the main reason that guests visit the hotel, his reputation precedes him across industry and country.

Bringing class, elegance and sophistication to his character drawing our attention every time he appears, one wonders whether any other actor could have delivered as good a performance with such aplomb as Ralph Fiennes has done here.

When Gustave is the main recipient of the will from one of his recently deceased guests, he must work with his protégé and lobby boy Zero, to ensure that he receives what is owed him, and escape the clutches of his clients family.

While it may seem simple to assume that Gustave is self centred, egotistical, and greedy, as the film progresses and we bear witness to his relationship with his young pupil, we understand why Zero looks up to him so much.

Zero is an immigrant without friend or family, played with ease and confidence from Tony Revolori, and it seems surprising given the reaction of Eastern Europeans to immigrants between the wars, to have Gustave not only befriend and mentor him, but to defend him publicly putting his life and reputation on the line.

It is in those moments, that we see the true colours of Gustave, and of what Anderson and indeed Fiennes, finds so appealing about the character.  Gustave is none of the assumptions you initially make of him.

Contrastingly, Willem Dafoe colours the film with a darker palette, producing a brutal turn as Jopling, the hired guardian paid to retrieve the family’s rewards, and pursue Gustave as he makes off with the family treasure.

In conjunction with his employer Adrien Brody, Jopling provides some of the darkest moments seen in any of Anderson’s films, cutting through characters as if they were books at a Nazi bonfire.

With Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson delivers a grand story, one of his funniest in years, without the overt melancholic tones of Moonrise Kingdom or The Royal Tenenbaums, but with the same camera work and humour that all his films produce.

A distinguished and ensemble cast throughout the film provide the familiar faces required for any family reunion, playing to the precision and directness of the camera that his films construct.

Like any friendly family reunion, when all is said and done, you walk away, laugh, and reminisce.  However, what you really do is look forward to the next one, and wonder what stories are in store.

Mara Vlatkovic: My Take On

Company:Be Smart About Art; London

The biggest influence in my life has been my family. Growing up in a large family (we’re 6 kids!) means that you know you can always rely on someone to have your back, regardless in how much trouble you are.

One of the most important life lessons my parents taught me was to always follow my dreams and make them reality. I’m still well on my way but they will never consider any idea or undertaking stupid.

I would love to live in New York City without a doubt. Probably not forever though. A couple of years in the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps would be a dream.

To unwind I go for a run along the Regent’s Canal where I live in London. It’s me-time, the time of day to listen to great music, get some oxygen flowing and wonder at the great characters walking along the towpath.

All the artists out there inspire me, from musicians to sculptors, who know that the only thing they need to do in life to be happy is practice their art. I find it fascinating, brave and inspiring.

I’ve loved the arts for as long as I can remember and was always surrounded by it, having grown up in a musician’s family. The big realisation was when I figured out I will always have to work in a field connected to the arts.

Working in the arts has taught me that you can get immense enjoyment and fulfilment simply from seeing something being created. It has taught me that money and appreciation are only one tiny part of the process at the very end of the ‘list of importance’.

It’s satisfying seeing people being affected by a performance or an artwork. It needn’t even be a positive reaction. Just the fact an artwork has moved you and stirred up feelings already means it’s worked its magic.

“Music is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. And people need it like the air they breathe and the water they drink.” – Sir Simon Rattle

Social media has had a significant impact on the arts, as it made the arts more accessible to anyone interested. It has also broken down standard barriers of distribution and communication. Everyone can publish a book, release a movie and sell artwork online. Social media powers that on. I personally still believe social media’s full potential for the arts has not yet been reached though.

After a morning run (in the summer) or meditation (in the winter), a shower and breakfast, I commute to work on the bus. I check whether any important emails have come in that need immediate attention and then spend the rest of the commute catching up on the news and creating updates for various Twitter accounts. Once in the office I make myself a nice cuppa tea and get started with the largest task first usually.

Since I have started doing the 1-2-1 digital training called “Empowering you Digitally”, I love seeing people put things into place from our training sessions and through that getting a wider audience, more visits or actually selling artworks.

At Be Smart About Art I am the Communications and Events Manager, meaning that I am in charge of our communications with our clients as well as partner organisations and suppliers. I also run the day-to-day event planning and manage all our guest speakers, external events and attendees.

Apart from developing even more interesting professional development events for Be Smart About Art and making them happen, I would also like to take on more classical musicians to expand my artist management business.

I learned that a lot depends on how it is being portrayed and re-told. You might have an incredible talent, but if no one knows about it and you don’t know how to convey it, people will not be interested.

Not sure it counts as technology, but within the last year I have come to use a lot of new software for various parts of the business such as Xero for accounting, Salesforce for project management and Stilios for gallery management. On the techie side, after my stint in Salzburg with the wonderful Re-Rite project of the Philharmonia Orchestra, I now certainly know how to work a projector and cables!

I couldn’t live without my smartphone and laptop! As they allow me to be so flexible in my work schedule and location. Without Dropbox and great email systems this wouldn’t work either. And lastly, Tweetdeck and Bufferapp have changed the way I use social media to become great resources of information.


About Mara: Mara currently works in London at Be Smart About Art, a business offering a programme of talks, workshops, webinars and mentoring for the arts and artists. Mara is a Marketing & Business Development Professional, and New Media Trainer for Art Professionals.  Get more from Mara on Twitter.


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