Handyfilm etc

Film reviews and other thoughts

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Darjeeling Limited

This very entertaining new film from Wes Anderson is a step up from the uneven The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, although it never reaches the heights of the extraordinary The Royal Tenenbaums. The visuals are splendid – not only the breathtaking photography of India, where most of the film is set, but also Anderson’s unique cartoon-geometric composition and editing. It’s a brightly colored delight to watch. And with Anderson’s already justly renowned taste in music, the soundtrack is, not surprisingly, a treat.

Most of the acting too is very fine – particularly Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzmann as two of three tragicomically dysfunctional brothers staging a reunion on the train that gives the film its title. Adrien Brody, the third brother, is sometimes too mannered and self-conscious, an easy trap to fall into when playing Anderson’s heavily whimsical, minimalist material. Wilson and Schwartzmann, as previously initiated members of the Anderson stock company, appear far more at ease, and devise something approaching three-dimensional – and often very funny – characters. Anjelica Huston (as the trio’s mother, now a nun!) and Waris Ahluwalia (as the train’s no-nonsense Chief Steward) are two of the standouts in a great supporting cast.

But even though this movie only runs about 90 minutes, it feels longer, unlike the nearly-two-hour Tenenbaums. I would attribute this to an imbalance of charm, of which there is almost too much, and narrative and emotional resonance, both in rather short supply – despite such inventive bits as a beautifully executed flashback (moving from one funeral to another) that is also a dramatization of the Schwartzmann character’s autobiographical short story.

Imperfect as it is, The Darjeeling Limited is well worth seeing, as is Anderson’s prequel short film, Hotel Chevalier, viewable free on iTunes. Featuring Schwartzmann and Natalie Portman in an extended deadpan, bitterly comic romantic vignette, it was shown before the feature at the New York Film Festival screening, and each of the two films makes the other better, more satisfying.

It’s good to have this gifted young American filmmaker back on the screen, even with something less than a masterpiece. No doubt he’ll give us more of those in seasons to come.


Blogger Cheryl Snyder Taragin said...

You know, I'm actually quite upset with you. You have a beautiful blog and you obviously have a very sensitive soul. I love Philip Glass! He's actually the cousin of a childhood friend of mine, Ira Glass (who in his own right is amazingly talented). But you have no e-mail address posted anywhere, hence, I am reduced to making this unrelated comment to your article to grab your attention. I will not post any more comments at BlogCritics because then I would be contradicting my own statements. Sorry.

I don't want to debate you any longer. Really, I am done. What surprises me is that all along you are a supporter of Edwards. So why all the negativity against my article? You should have been very pleased by what I said. Instead, you belittle and bate me and try to make me look stupid. I just don't understand that.

Also, if you support Edwards and you're casting a vote for him in the primary, the article was not directed at you. You should have commented by voicing your support for Edwards. Then we wouldn't have had all this back and forth, and over writing (as you call it), and all the "looney" stuff (as you also like to call it), and the references to more well-known pundits and YouTube videos, etc. You have to acknowledge your own part in bringing about those comments. I think subconsciously, maybe, that's what you were trying to accomplish.

I'm not a conservative, Handguy. And I will probably never be a Republican. I'm a true moderate. That is not who Hillary is. She's pretending so that truly stupid, less informed moderates will think she's their candidate. The polls are worthless. Right now, she is sinking fast and Bill has planned a trip to Africa to step out of the fray. Go figure.

I didn't leave the Democratic Party of John F. Kennedy - fiscal conservative, champion of democracy, staunch supporter of capitalism, yet socially very progressive (maybe light on foreign policy, but only because he was gunned down before he had a chance to shine). Unfortunately, I'm starting to see more and more that the Democratic Party maybe is leaving me. And that saddens me.

I say cast that vote for Edwards if that's who you really want. Believe it or not, if he gets the nomination, I may vote for him in the general election. You don't think I would because he's left of HRC, but his rhetoric may make a shift toward the middle if he makes it to the general election. Likewise, Obama.

So what that I'm committed to Biden or Dodd? So what that my vote in the primary will go to one of them? So what if they don't win? At least I have voted my conscience. That's what democracy is all about.

We really don't know who will get the Republican nomination. I can tell you right now that if it is McCain or Huckabee -- as long as we are not running Hillary -- the Dem has my vote. If it's Giuliani or Romney, all bets are off the table. But, if we run Hillary, the game is rigged because yes, I will vote for McCain or Huckabee just like I voted for Bush in 2004 (bad or worse - I beat myself over the head every day for that decision - not that it mattered since Maryland overwhelmingly went to Kerry - although like I said, that may not matter in 2008 as our General Assembly passed legislation to abolish the electoral college).

I plan to pay very close attention to the two finalists in the months leading up to next November. Then I will make my final selection. I just don't want my party to rig the game. Is that too much to ask?


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