movies, music and everything else

This blog is about pretty much what the title implies... movies, music and everything else.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

a stylish trip to nowhere

Let me start off by breaking down my feelings on the other films in Wes Anderson’s cannon. I think that his first three are fantastic. RUSHMORE is my favorite, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS is the best script and BOTTLE ROCKET will always hold a special place in my heart. I am a huge fan of his as a writer and a director. I was not, however, a fan of LIFE AQUATIC. I thought that it was pretty much a mess, lacked heart, a meaningful thru-line and was filled with nothing but one-dimensional characters. I was disappointed, but still was really excited about his new film, THE DARJEELING LIMITED. Before I saw it (and I strongly recommend this to everyone before watching the feature) I checked out the short film that serves as a prequel, called HOTEL CHEVELIER. This twelve-minute short focuses on Jack (the Jason Schwartzman character) and hits on the back-story between him and his girlfriend (played by Natalie Portman). This short will not only serve as in introduction to the film, but it provides all that you need to know about Jack.
THE DARJEELING LIMITED is the story of three brothers who are brought together in India by the oldest (Francis, played by Owen Wilson) in order to reconnect. The three were really close, but have drifted apart and haven’t spoken since the funeral of their father. There is no set-up, as the film starts with Peter (Adrian Brody) running to catch the train (The Darjeeling Limited), and then finding his brothers. Once the three are all together, Francis unveils his plan. They are to reconnect, bond, become brothers again and embark on a spiritual journey together. Various details of the plan are left out and we embark on this spiritual journey, getting to know bits and pieces about their past and relationships with each other as the film goes along. As expected, the journey does not go as planned, resulting in frustrations, but in the end, there is some what of an “unexpected” conclusion and they all are forced to deal with the past as it is finally unveiled to the audience.
This is a Wes Anderson film through and through. It has the quirkiness in abundance, the bright colors, the zoom shots, the slow motion and the Kinks in the background. The biggest problem is that is all it is. It suffers from much of what LIFE AQUATIC does in the way that it sacrifices real emotion and heart and character in lieu of “style”. Don’t get me wrong; there are some fantastic shots in this film including one outside the train that follows multiple stories in an unbroken shot. The problem is that I was never lost in the movie. Every time there was a long shot or a zoom or slow motion, I was slammed back into the reality that I was just watching a movie made by a man that has been told how clever he is. Wes Anderson has been making essentially the same film for ten years, but the problem is that they are not getting better. It is tired and done. He started off his career as potentially the new Hal Ashby (or was trying to be) but has turned into just a parody of himself.
The acting in the film is fine at times and really good at others. It is nice to see Owen Wilson take a more serious turn as the older brother trying to reunite the family. He is still quirky and funny, but there is a serious undertone throughout and he pulls that off nicely. Adrian Brody seems born to be in a Wes Anderson film. He is odd by nature, and eats up the opportunity to explore that in a world that encourages oddity. Jason Schwartzman is really charming and feels at home in this world as well. I feel like I connected to his character the most because of the short film and the fact that I knew some of who he was going in.
The biggest downfall is the script, written by Anderson, Schwartzman and Roman Coppola. Like LIFE AQUATIC, there just seems to be no real heart in the characters or love in the storytelling. Maybe it is a coincidence, but it seems like Anderson’s films lost their human element and compassion when he stopped writing with Wilson. All of the weird and quirky characters are there and the stylized dialogue is there, but it all seems shallow and forced because there is nothing concrete to hold on to. There is an attempt at the end of the film to tie together all of the people involved in the film with a long dolly shot that sticks out as a prime example of everything that is wrong with the film. It is a beautiful shot that is clever, but it says absolutely nothing about anyone and leaves you feeling cold.
This is a better script and a better film than his last one, but suffers from all of the same problems. It is thin at every turn. All of the colors and tricks and set dressing in the world cannot hide this fact. When he attempts to be emotional, the film falls flat because we don’t know or care about the people we are watching. I still think that Wes Anderson is a talented filmmaker, but was I wish is that he would forget that he is “Wes Anderson” and just go out there and tell a good story


Anonymous The Darjeeling Limited Movie said...

The film is occupied with wonderful moments. It is full of comedy plus drams. The movie is directed by Wes Anderson. I salute to him..He has done well done job in this film.

11:15 AM  

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