Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Public Service Announcement

Hotel Chevalier, the short film that acts as a prologue to Wes Anderson's upcoming The Darjeeling Limited, is now available as a free download from the iTunes store (link from here, you'll need to have iTunes installed, but it is available for both Mac and Windows).

Though they are undeniably precious, I'm a big fan of Anderson's films. I can't help but wonder, however, whether he didn't peak with The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. The trailer for The Darjeeling Limited suggests that it's that preciousness (as well as his quirky visual sensibility) that Anderson is stressing in this film, and I have a strong suspicion that he is very close to going overboard with it.

8 comments:

Liz said...

I'm not sure why I am so reluctant to give my credit card details over to iTunes in return for free stuff given that Apple a) already have them and b) probably own part of my soul, but I am. So I'm waiting for it to show up on a torrent before I can ogle Natalie Portman^w^w^w decide if he's disappeared up his own bottom.

Bobby said...

Peak with Life Aquatic? If he has peaked, I would say it was with Royal Tannenbaums - although I think Gene Hackman's insistence to resist the guiding twee spirit of that film was it's singular salvation. Perhaps Anderson cast him for that purpose, although I do recall reading of conflicts between the two after Anderson tried to give Hackman line readings. Which reminds me of another theory that posited Owen Wilson (as a collaborating writer, not so much as an actor) as the necessary counterbalance to Anderson's preciousness. It does seem, one way or another, that he needs to collaborate with someone who will serve as an antidote to his excesses and indulgences. Having said all that though - I did enjoy that recent Amex commercial Anderson did ("Francois!!!").

Avishai said...

I have to agree with bobby, Zissou definitely lacked the heart and spirit Anderson's collaborations with Wilson possessed. I have a strong feeling that Darjeeling will be of the same visual delight yet emotionally sterile vain. "Hotel Chevalier" gives us a good hint of things to come, the thing looks like an overlong deleted scene spiced with Natalie Portman's ass just to give your average googler something to chew on. Owen, come back!

jpb said...

I'll say "peaked with Rushmore," but that may be just me.

I'm curious as to whether other people are troubled by the "colonialist" vibe of Anderson's films, which I thought might have peaked with the Indian manservant in Tenenbaums, but which seems to have resurged grimly in this new film, which is literally named after a colonialist resort.

jpb said...

Put another way: it's the underlying racism of Anderson's films that troubles me way more than his tweeness, quirk, preciousness, or emotional sterility.

Rich Horton said...

I loved Rushmore, and everything since has been a horrible disappointment. The Life Aquatic in particular -- the least funny film that was supposed to be funny since Lost in America.

The Royal Tenenbaums was better than that, to be sure.

I would say that preciousness is definitely a problem for him. Also believing that he is a genius.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

Rushmore is probably Anderson's most intimate film, and the one that comes closest to raw emotion. The Royal Tenenbaums is a lot of fun, panoramic and clever and funny, but it's missing that core of emotion. I thought Zissou came close to striking a balance between the two - it's as well-constructed, elaborate and multi-threaded as Tenenbaums (plus funny - "Don't point that gun at him, he's an unpaid intern" is one of my all-time favorite movie lines), but I thought Zissou and Ned's characters came close to a believable, naturalistic humanity.

That said, it's been a while since I watched any of these films, and I've found that they don't leave much residue with me except a memory of how pretty and clever they were, so it's possible that I'd revise my assessment of all of them if I watched them again.

Pjb, I too was made uncomfortable by the Darjeeling Limited trailer and its treatment of Indian culture as something exotic intended to soothe white people. But then, don't most stories about white people in India tend towards this aggravating model?

jpb said...

its treatment of Indian culture as something exotic intended to soothe white people.

In the exact same way that Bottle Rocket's Hispanic maid Inez is also there to soothe white people, and (more arguably) Pelé dos Santos, on board the Belafonte (sigh) is as well. Grumble, grumble.

It's good to see Gene Hackman play a flinty racist in Tenenbaums because it at least brings racism into the foreground.

I'd care less if I didn't otherwise enjoy his films so much. But I guarantee that this one (which I will probably go see) will make me scream out loud.

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