Matt Zoller Seitz’s The Wes Anderson Collection: The Grand Budapest Hotel is fueled by a sense of escalating invention and exploration. Nothing is taken for granted in this book. You might be glancing through an interview, skimming before taking the cover-to-cover plunge, only to be side-swept by a footnote that’s a self-contained mini-essay pertaining to, say, the brief rise of narration in fiction films in the 1940s, or by a remark about an actor that segues into a brief encapsulation of their notable roles. The book is charged by an obsession that recurs in both Anderson and Seitz’s work: with getting to the bottom of something, thoroughly and resolutely. Any sentiment expressed by either man is liable to be treated as a thread to be pulled so as to initiate a new investigation, which might reveal another sidebar (or illustration, or detailed diagram, or storyboard, or book of sheet music, or painting), which will feature other gems of information and beauty. These gradually accumulate to offer an immersive portrait, not just of The Grand Budapest Hotel, but of life as an ongoing gesture of education as route to refining a sense of empathy.
Stefan Zweig (#1–10 of 2)
1. “Her Again.” Anthony Lane on the unstoppable Scarlett Johansson.
“In the event, at the Waldorf, no such harshness was required. ’Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,’ the photographer, Pari Dukovic, said. I watched two male assistants, in denim shirts and matching baseball caps, one of whom repeatedly stepped forward to make tiny adjustments to her hair. Don’t we all need them in our lives? She stood in a striated green-and-black top, black pants, and heels that could have been pinched from Black Widow’s closet. ’Give me nothing,’ Dukovic said, and Johansson wiped the expression from her face, saying, ’I’ll just pretend to be a model.’ Pause. ’I rarely have anything inside me.’ Then came the laugh: dry and dirty, as if this were a drama class and her task was to play a Martini. Invited to simulate a Renaissance picture, she immediately slipped into a sixteenth-century persona, pretending to hold a pose for a painter and kvetching about it: ’How long do I have to sit here for? My sciatica is killing me.’ You could not wish for a more plausible insight into the mind-set of the Mona Lisa. A small table and a stool were provided, and Johansson sat down with her arms folded in front of her. ’I want to look Presidential,’ she declared. ’I want this to be my Mt. Rushmore portrait.’ Once more, Dukovic told her what to show: ’Absolutely nothing.’ Not long after, he and his team began to pack up. The whole shoot had taken seventeen minutes. She had given him absolutely everything.”