|Title:||The Darjeeling Limited|
|10.20.07||Regal Arbor|| Got to see this with Jason Schwartzman in attendance. He was funny in the Q&A.|
So... let me preface this by saying I wanted to like Life Aquatic much more than I did when I first saw it (I barely like it now... it's kind of a movie where I enjoy scenes while I'm watching and walk away not liking the movie as a whole) and I'm of the mindset that Anderson's forgotten he's from Texas and thinks he's a New Yorker who summers in Paris or something, so there's a lot of pretension that leaked into Aquatic and it was kind of an ill omen because even from the beginning his shot composition and editing and music selection are very particular and precious but the characters and story always had enough heart to keep the movies honest. I'm now starting to think that most of that character and heart came from Owen Wilson because Anderson's first two movies compared with his latest two (I think Tenenbaums was the turning point although I still love that movie) LOOK very similar but that's about it. It's probably at least part the John Woo doves implosion thing where Wes Anderson movies have to be Wes Andersony now but... I watched 10 minutes of Rushmore before going to Darjeeling and think there's a much larger difference there than familiarity. I feel his earlier films had an exuberance and excitement that's now settled into malaise.
Which sort of speaks to how I felt about Darjeeling. One last pre-note:
The short, Hotel Chevaliar, is like my worst fears of Anderson realized. 12 minutes of dollies, steadicams, overcranking, whip pans, and interesting little knicknacks surrounding Jason Schwartzman trying to act like Belmondo talking to Natalie Portman trying to act (and look) like Jean Seberg. Nothing happens. Every line of dialogue is stilted and artsy, and even seeing Portman's butt is kind of too late. Sure it's a nice butt but whatever... That's how bad the short is! It made me not care about seeing Natalie Portman's ass!
So... with that fresh in my mind going into the theater, I was actually pleasantly surprised that this movie was watchable and looked and sounded like a real movie. It's kind of a shame that my expectations have to be on the floor in order for me to enjoy it but... here we are.
There are a few moments I think I'll like once it's out on DVD. Certainly the beginning with Bill Murray as Karl Malden in the old American Express commercials. The final little character wrap-up including the tiger, everyone downing the different muscle relaxers (someone out in the lobby told me that alcohol was illegal in India and that's why they were guzzling), the other two calling Adrien Brody "rubby", etc.
It kind of bugs me when the same source music is used more than once in a movie though. And I don't mean like in a you hear the beginning then it stops for a few seconds then it comes back as the scene continues way or even a calling-back-to-earlier-events type way like Hurdy Gurdy Man in Zodiac but in a clearly-using-this-instead-of-a-written-score-cue way and using the same part of the same music more than once. That kind of bugs me. So it bugged me when Anderson used the same Satyajit Ray filmscores more than once.
I kind of liked how we're given no context at all to any of these characters and you more or less discover who they are while they're on the train, but the flashback scene seemed like too much to me, way too explicit for something that, until now had been really implicit. But oh well.
I think the net result is I liked it but not a lot. I might give it a second viewing (who am I kidding, I'll probably buy it if Criterion puts it out) just to see how it grows on me, but I am pretty disappointed that Anderson's trend toward pretention continues.