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February 10, 2014 [The Grand Budapest Hotel]

My favorite kind of nostalgia is for a time I didn't live through. I read a book or see a movie (and another and another and another) or even listen to an old man talk about his childhood and there I am—not really, not at all, but comfortable in the feeling of unearned loss and yearning.

Well, maybe partially earned. After all, when Jane Eyre hides in her window-seat from those horrible step-siblings, the dark heavy curtain on one side, the winter outside the glass on the other, a book in her hand (or for a brief time her own thoughts in her head), I knew I had been there, done that. Or some version of it, maybe under my grandparents' dining-room table or alone in the yard—or simply alone in my room. Book or no book, I know what Jane wants and "remember" how to be there and do that.

The stories-within-stories of The Grand Budapest Hotel drop us like exploring children down the dumbwaiter of a hotel not in ruins—no, hiding beneath the ruins: the hotel under the hotel, l…

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