Monthly Archives: November 2007

Some links, for you.

The New York Times Style Magazine has a rather lovely feature on the “smart, beautiful, and real” Natalie Portman called “Screen Goddess.”

Paste Magazine‘s “Signs of Life” Best 50 Films of 2007 included The Darjeeling Limited at #26.

Total Film has a great interview with Jason Schwartzman (thanks, David!).

Empire Magazine has a video interview with Wes Anderson. Not much new here, but it is always good to hear from Wes (thanks to Julien).

Wes talks shop, and Mr. Fox

Rotten Tomatoes
November 22, 2007
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Wes Anderson burst onto the American Indie scene in 1996 with his first feature film Bottle Rocket which also introduced the world to Luke and Owen Wilson. Cementing his reputation as the Godfather of Quirk with films like Rushmore, The Life Aquatic and The Royal Tenenbaums, Anderson returns to screens this year with The Darjeeling Limited, about a trio of brothers who take a train journey through India and discover more about themselves and each other than perhaps they’d ever hoped for. He talks to Rotten Tomatoes.

Where did the idea for the film come from originally?

Wes Anderson: Initially I had two ideas; one that I wanted to make a movie in India and the second one was that I had this idea about a movie with three brothers on a train together. I mixed them together and they became The Darjeeling Limited.

The other main idea I think was that I thought I’d like to write with Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman and I think the movie we wound up making is really the combination of all three of our points of view mixed together.

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Britain reviews, and Randall Poster interview

TDL is out in the U.K., and the critical response has been quite good.

Kevin Maher of The Times (London) says:

Yet the devil, as always with Anderson, is in the detail. The way that the older brother Francis orders food for his younger siblings and the unspoken paternal affection between Francis and Jack – when combined with Anderson’s smart use of pop classics and gorgeous slow-motion photography – create something compelling and emotionally satisfying. It may not have you weeping in the aisles, but it will be with you for days after you see it.

This is Hertfordshire’s Steve Pratt asserts that The Darjeeling Limited is an “offbeat comedy… worth a trip.”

IndieLondon has an interview with music supervisor Randall Poster. 

“In defence of quirkiness” (Guardian, U.K.)

The Film Blog, November 20, 2007

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We all know what quirkiness is, but as a film sensibility it’s become something like what ‘screwball’ was to comedy in the 40s.

A cobra in a box, a tiger on the loose, Raj-era Tintin-like stereotypes and Owen Wilson. All these things together in one movie set in India can only mean one thing: Wes Anderson has a new film out. The Darjeeling Limited is business as usual for Anderson: family dysfunction and pristine set design; every scene traced in with whimsical misadventures and poker-faced witticisms (“I love you, but I’m gonna Mace you in the face”), all perfumed with an impeccable eau d’irony.

Atlantic Monthly contributor Michael Hirschorn recently dubbed Anderson’s modus operandi “quirk”, “the ruling sensibility of today’s Generation X indie culture”. It’s not hard to come by these days. In the cinema, Hirschorn cites Napoleon Dynamite, Garden State, Little Miss Sunshine, Everything is Illuminated, Me and You and Everybody We Know, as well as Anderson’s oeuvre. You could certainly add Wristcutters: A Love Story, also out this whttp://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200709/quirkeek, set in an purgatorial afterlife for suicides filled with meandering slackers going on road trips and trading Coupland-esque loops of bombed-out conversation.

We all know what quirkiness is, but as a film sensibility it’s become something like what “screwball” was to comedy in the 40s: a set of rules (and hence moral assumptions) that govern over a fictional world. Atmosphere, surreal observations, pop-culture-filtered flotsam and random encounters take priority. And plot? Generally speaking, the quirk films display a similar attitude to plot as the Gen X gang did to 9-5 employment: something previous generations chased after.

Perhaps the quirky sensibility has its roots in observational, auteur-led cinema of the 70s Raging Bulls brigade, then the 80s American indie scene where the survivors took refuge when Spielberg and Lucas cleaned up. The oddball, antic approach has meandered from strength to strength since. Generation X are probably busy writing their wills, even Generation Y are getting older, and quirk is a firmly established style. The studios might give Jim Jarmusch a job now – even if he’d tell them to stick it. Anderson’s growing profile (in proportion to weakening output) shows that the mainstream gets him, and you can add a raft of other film-makers of similar age doing similar things. Donnie Darko’s Richard Kelly stands out for crimes against conventionality, as well the great MTV triumvirate: Spike Jonze, Mike Mills (remember Keanu Reeves’ New Age-fixated dentist Perry in Thumbsucker?) and, of course, Michel Gondry.

Hirschorn is pretty hard on quirkiness, deeming it “a self-satisfied pose that stands for nothing and doesn’t require you to take creative responsibility”. Maybe because I fall smack-bang in the middle of the demographic that created it and I have a tendency to regard my life as a string of encounters that some unspecified observer (my peers, if I’m feeling particularly desperate) may or may not be taking a dim pleasure in, I find it harder to condemn.

“Post-ironic” as it’s been dubbed, quirkiness definitely has cul-de-sac potential. Anderson is in danger of becoming a cautionary tale. He’s become a repeat (albeit usually enjoyable) performance. Rogue authority figures and families getting by constantly crop up in his films, to be softly wrapped up by the director, but it feels like he’s skirting the conflict that would mean serious drama and emotional sacrifice. It’s no surprise he had to put his new film on rails to generate some forward momentum.

But I think quirkiness has its redeeming value. Post-ironic does sound meaningless, but it’s a make-do tag for a world in which everything has been said, described and subject to representation. Even acknowledging this – irony – has become a devalued tool (one paper reckoned this week the Sex Pistols’ latest reunion had, for want of a better term, gone “beyond irony”).

The quirky sensibility, then, is maybe a gentle strategy to say something new, see things fresh, from an askew angle. There’s a sly lyrical pleasure at work in Wristcutters, for sure. In some respects Gondry shows as many signs as Anderson of being stuck – the lovelorn man-child is a perennial in his films – but his work is so intensely besotted with its own creativity, it seems to take you through a solipsistic wormhole into another universe (see the amazing recreations of Hollywood’s output in his new film Be Kind, Rewind – awesome title, too!).

Then there’s David Lynch. You could call his work quirky, but that would be like calling world war meanspirited. But he’s the leading example of the places you can get to if you let a spirit of waywardness flower

The Darjeeling Limited a “beautiful trip” (Scotsman)

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“All Aboard the Mystery Train” (select passages)

IF WES Anderson was a shopkeeper he would deal in curiosities, junk and antiques: elephant’s foot hat-stands, dollhouses and model trains, and records, on vinyl, in protective PVC envelopes. In the American sense of the word, he is a thrift-store filmmaker, operating away from the main drag, just out of town, and taking great pleasure in the everyday stuff most people don’t value….

And it is a beautiful trip, pitched somewhere between The Monkees and an early Jim Jarmusch movie, with flickers of silent comedy thrown in. Oddly, amid such conspicuous design, much of the dialogue feels improvised, but the film does meander towards a point: something to do with forgiveness and acceptance, and the unspoken ties of brotherhood. But with Anderson, the point isn’t really the point.

Adrien Brody in the Daily Mail (U.K.)

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November 16, 2007, The Daily Mail

When he’s not hacking though the jungle of the film industry, Adrien Brody indulges in his passion for the muscle car. Not exactly the image of the sad-eyed, sensitive musician he portrayed in the melancholy Holocaust movie The Pianist

Drag racing in super-fast cars, equally racy model girlfriends and thrill rides on 1,000cc motorbikes are not images that immediately come to mind when thinking of the sad-eyed, sensitive musician Adrien Brody portrayed in the melancholy Holocaust movie The Pianist. But in real life Brody is a much tougher character than you might imagine.

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“Professional weirdo” (Guardian, U.K.)

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November 17, 2007, The Guardian


The Darjeeling Limited’s Jason Schwartzman has carved out a career playing freaks and geeks. Andrea Hubert meets the actor recently named ‘the coolest man in Hollywood’

Looking like a stylish, impeccably polite hybrid love child of Cher, Anthony Kiedis and Steve Carell, Jason Schwartzman sits back, one leg casually slung over the table, waiting for the interview to begin. I’ve seen this laid back stance before – on that infamous YouTube clip, where an equally unperturbed Schwartzman sits quietly, one leg on the desk, observing without drama on the set of I Heart Huckabees as director David O Russell goes apeshit on co-star Lily Tomlin. In the “comments” section below, someone remarks “I love the way Jason Schwartzman is just sitting back, chilling”. I kinda like that too.

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