Ralph Fiennes in “The Grand Budapest Hotel”


“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (R) —  Perched high in the mountains of an obscure eastern European nation, the Grand Budapest Hotel once hosted the most prestigious (and eccentric) of the old high society. In the creeping dawn of the second World War, “The Grand Budapest’s” preening hotel concierge (Ralph Fiennes) and his faithful lobby boy fight for their lives and an odd-looking Renaissance painting.

Writer/director Wes Anderson forges on with his signature style —  painstaking detail, the quirkiest characters and a dry sense of humor. Anderson also makes use of his menagerie of talented stars appearing in smaller roles (Ed Norton, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray and many more). Outshining all of this is the sincere and comedic performance from Fiennes.

“Ernest & Celestine” (PG) —  This beautifully animated French import follows the unlikely love between an artistic mouse and grouchy bear. In this world, the bears rule the snowy city streets, while mice must live in underground tunnels, fearing the hungry bears above. Celestine (voiced by Mackenzie Foy in the English version) is a mouse with a passion for painting who gets caught by a bear while she’s on the surface. The two strike a mutual agreement, making them mismatched friends and fugitives from their respective societies.
It’s a refreshing visual experience to see an unfamiliar animating style that still sings with the artistry and quality you’d expect from a top-tier Disney or Pixar film. Of course, the story is just as adorable as possible, with the artsy mouse unlocking the bear’s love of music.

“Joe” (R) —  Nicolas Cage steps up in this violent drama that showcases the inherent talents of the otherwise oddball leading man. Joe (Cage) is hardworking guy in a backwoods town —  he has a heart of gold situated next to a boiling temper. Joe wants to do right and break the cycle, but he’s always falling back into rage and outbursts. Joe hires 15-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan) to his working crew, and takes the quiet boy under his wing. Gary’s abusive father and Joe’s protective nature could put Joe on a path to destruction or redemption.

“Authors Anonymous” (PG-13) —  In a hopeless group of aspiring authors, the least intelligent of them all is the first one to land a publishing agent. Henry (Chris Kline) wants to quit his day job and live the literary life, but he just can’t explain the unexpected success of ditsy Hannah (Kaley Cuoco). It uses the mockumentary style of filmmaking popularized by Christopher Guest. “This is Spinal Tap” and “A Mighty Wind” put real comedic talent in front of the camera in a way that let bizarre characters step into the real world. This movie is the work of somebody who couldn’t quite pull that off.

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© 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.