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.

Bravo, everyone.

Good morning, Wes world. Some links and news…

Wes Anderson will be awarded the Stockholm Film Festival’s Visionary Award next month.

He has made lasting impressions through his unique ways of using scenography and subtle humour in film successes such as “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “Rushmore.” (link)

Bravo, Swedes!
Be sure to check out The Onion’s A/V Club “Random Rules” feature with Jason Schwartzman and Randall Poster. Yankee Racer Loraxaeon explains the concept:

It’s a feature where they have people just hit random on their iPods and tell them what song comes up and explain why they like it, etc. (thread)

Be sure to enter our First Annual Wes Anderson Inspired Halloween Costume Contest… you could win a Darjeeling Limited prize package!

Finally, The Darjeeling Limited opens nationwide this weekend. Hotel Chevalier will be playing as well. I leave you with the words of fellow Yankee Racer slint:

I just got back from seeing it, finally. Interestingly, Hotel Chevalier did play beforehand, and I’m glad it did. Frankly, having seen the film, I can’t imagine why the studio had pulled it originally.

So…I loved the film. It was such a relief, after my experience with TLA. It flowed so much more naturally, and just carried me along, rather than dragging me. I agree with the Bottle Rocket comparisons; it did feel like Francis is a logical extension of Dignan. His laminated itinerary reminded me of Dignan’s spiral notebook with plans for 6 months, 1 year, 10 years, etc. Overall, this film was just a joy to experience. I had a permasmile, and seriously felt giddy a few times. This totally reaffirmed my love of Sir Anderson’s films…. This was a confident and graceful return to the saddle. Bravo. (thread)

Conclusion: Bravo Swedes, Wes Anderson, and slint.

Updates:

Jason Schwartzman appeared on Live 105.3’s “Wild Ass Circus Show,” Houston/Ft Worth (videos).

IMDB has rescinded an earlier report that Natalie Portman was unhappy with her nude scene in Hotel Chevalier:

UPDATE: A U.S. magazine has been forced to apologize to actress Natalie Portman after suggesting she’s far from happy with her performance in short film Hotel Chevalier. Sunday supplement Parade stated Portman was talking about the movie, in which she appears nude, when she commented about an “uncomfortable” scene she shot in a forthcoming essay she wrote for the publication. But the actress’ publicist, Kelly Bush, has pounced on Parade, insisting her client was actually talking about a torture scene in new film Goya’s Ghosts. A statement from the magazine’s publicist reads, “We say that Portman regrets doing a nude scene in the movie Hotel Chevalier. This is wrong. When Portman writes about this in Parade, she does not mention a specific movie title. She tells us she was referring to a torture scene with a body double in Goya’s Ghosts, which was taken out of context and leaked onto the Internet. Portman is very happy with Hotel Chevalier and proud of her work in the film.” In her essay, Portman admits she is still rather upset about agreeing to do something she felt awkward about, writing, “I’m really sorry I didn’t listen to my intuition. From now on, I’m going to trust my gut more.” (link) (thread)

Wes, Jason, and Roman on another train

All aboard! AP writer Ryan Pearson rode along with Wes, Jason, and Roman on another train ride… this time in California.

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The Darjeeling Limited goes national, with Hotel Chevalier, this weekend!

And Hotel Chevalier is one of the many mysteries in The Darjeeling Limited, according to USA TODAY.

“Are the three brothers — Francis, Jack and Peter (played by Wilson, Schwartzman and Brody, respectively) — inspired by the film legends Francis Ford Coppola, Jack Nicholson and Peter Bogdanovich?

Close but not quite, Anderson says. Jack is actually named for Schwartzman’s father, not Nicholson. “We named the (Wilson) character after Roman’s father, and Peter … well, I’d like to give that to Peter Bogdanovich because he’s my friend.”

Fox Searchlight Pictures

First Annual Wes Anderson Inspired Halloween Costume Contest; Monday update

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We are organizing our First Annual Wes Anderson Inspired Halloween Costume Contest. Thanks to our good friends over at Fox Searchlight, we will have some great prize packages, featuring those ever-coveted marketing items from The Darjeeling Limited. We will have more details very soon (including the exact contents of the prize packages). Direct enquiries to halloween@yankeeracers.org. Who will you be? Peter Whitman? Max Fischer? Steve Zissou? Wes Anderson himself? Bob Yeoman? Dart Boy?

Do note that we will have a special “Darjeeling Limited” category. And, please spread the word!

We are reporting about the addition of Hotel Chevalier to The Darjeeling Limited print and the weekend box office at the Yankee Racers forum.

Also, please check out the big Darjeeling feature at Premiere.com.

Glenn Kenny sits down with Wes, Roman, Jason, Adrien, and Amara.

Finally, the New York Times has an article on Hotel Chevalier:

 Nancy Utley, a chief operating officer of Fox Searchlight, said that her company did not even know about the short until “The Darjeeling Limited” was completed. Even though Fox was aware of the critical acclaim, the company decided not to release it along with the feature. She said Fox decided to remain “flexible” on what to do.

“We thought it would be too challenging to moviegoers to be exposed to the short in theaters right at the beginning of the run,” she said. “We wanted to make sure ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ got established first as a movie.”

With the wider release looming and “Darjeeling Limited” doing small business at the box office (just over $2.5 million so far), it seemed the obvious choice to include the film’s more popular little sibling as a bonus. Fox Searchlight also is hoping the short is Oscar-worthy and plans to promote it as a contender in the best live-action short category.

Wes Anderson and Adrien Brody on AMC’s Shootout

Wes Anderson and Adrien Brody will be on AMC’s Shootout Sunday, October 21, 2007 at 11.00 a.m.

A few clips:

Wes & Jason on the Reel Geezers, India, Mr. Fox, and Bottle Rocket on Criterion

Help get/keep The Darjeeling Limited on the Yahoo! Buzz Index of most popular searches by clicking here.

Wes and Jason were on CBC’s The Hour last night (video). Wes promised that Hotel Chevalier will be added to The Darjeeling Limited print in Canada.

Ain’t It Cool has a great interview with Wes and Jason, including Wes’ confirmation of a Criterion Collection edition of Bottle Rocket. Some highlights:

[about this]. Roman said they are both very smart, and he really liked them. And the old man said that he liked these brothers, that the movie is from their point of view traveling through India. And she doesn’t like them, but she also felt that the film exploited people in India. And I always feel like, that makes me unhappy to hear anybody say that because we went to India because I was fascinated with this country. We fell in love with it. We are tourists there; that’s all we can ever be there. But we’re tourists who are very interested in this culture and learning about it. It’s a place where people who go there and like it tend to love it, and the people who love it tend to want to go back. There is more religion, more variety of religion, more practice of religion, more rituals there than any place else I’ve ever experienced. I think that’s why people go on pilgrimages there because it’s a place where, if you’re open to it and interested it will genuinely have quite and impact on you just because of the intensity of the place. I’ve always found that I had very emotional experiences there, but then you get sensitive and wonder if that sounds kind of naive. I don’t know. I just hate to sound self-protective and defensive; I’d rather just express our real feelings about it….

It’s taken us a long time to get this [Fantastic Mr. Fox] going, but we finally got it going. Noah Baumbach and I adapted it. George Clooney is going to play Mr. Fox. We’ve just started working on it in England, and it’s going. We have a guy named Mark Gustafson directing the animation. Henry [THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS] Selick was going to do it originally but over time that didn’t work out because Henry has his own thing he’s directing [CORALINE, based on Neil Gaiman’s novel]….

I think the closest thing to compare it to is that Eastern European stuff, because the animals are going to have fur, and the sets are meant to look kind of like real life. So it’s more in the vein….

[about the Criterion Collection DVD] That’s right. We just have to do a lot of work to prepare it, but that’s in the works. I was supposed to do a bunch of stuff already that I didn’t do yet, so I’m going to get on it though. But some of the stuff is at my mother’s house in Texas, so I have to go to Texas and dig through all my boxes, because there’s materials for the movies that I haven’t looked at in a long, long time. And we want to try and include everything that might be good….

Jason’s new album Nighttiming is available as an MP3 download on Amazon.com. Buy it here — it supports the site.

Onboard video: train tour, and more production videos

Go see The Darjeeling Limited this weekend, newly available in 13 new markets this weekend! Also be sure to join our community forum, the Yankee Racers.

TDL opens the New York Film Festival tonight! & Criterion treatment for BR?

Send your reports and photos to edwardappleby @ yankeeracers.org (no spaces).

MTV.com is reporting that Bottle Rocket will “get Criterion treatment at last.” Of course, these rumors have been flying around for years, but we really hope it is true this time.

Add this fun widget to your social networking page…


On to more reviews…

Newsweek calls Darjeeling a “return to form.”

Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com on Darjeeling (keep in mind it’s the first Anderson film she doesn’t dislike):

“Shows flashes of raw feeling. The picture is just naked enough that you want to wrap a blanket around it. . . “The Life Aquatic” met with a less-than-rapturous response even from many loyal Anderson admirers. And so to his credit, Anderson tries to push into new territory with “The Darjeeling Limited.”

But reserves her highest praise for Hotel Chevalier:

“Short films are exceedingly difficult to pull off, but Anderson has made one that’s very close to perrfect.

New Jersey Star Ledger:

“Had he been born two generations earlier, Anderson probably would have made some great screwball comedies. . .Taken as a whole, it’s incontrovertible evidence of Anderson’s own free-wheeling talent.” – Stephen Whitty

Filmcritic.com:

“The auteur’s best work to date. The use of songs by the Kinks, the Marc Jacobs designs, the dazed pastels; its all Anderson to a T, but it’s the first time these elements have allowed Anderson to roam free, rather than cooping him up inside.” – Chris Cabin

IGN:

“Anderson’s last film, The Life Aquatic, received deservedly mixed reviews — it had many, many great qualities along with its shortcomings — but almost all of them observed that he was sort of teetering on a precipice, in danger of falling too deeply in love with his font sizes, color schemes and quirky characterizations. Darjeeling is a response to that: Not only an acknowledgement of the dangers of indulging his most idiosyncratic impulses, he rightly points out that even in a carefully-constructed environment things have a way of falling messily out of order, and often to even more profound effect.

The Darjeeling Limited, by comparison, feels like a more comfortable fit than its predecessor — a newcomer that possesses almost all of the qualities of former companions, but offers the promise of new and even more interesting opportunities in the future. As far as coming-of-age experiences go, this is undoubtedly my favorite thus far of 2007 — cinematic or otherwise.” – Todd Gilchrist

Cinematical:

“It’s the chemistry between Schwartzmen, Brody and Wilson that really takes the film up a notch. . . Though it might seem odd to hear, the film succeeds because a lot of the details are left out. Anderson cut entire scenes (in which, I imagine, backstory was explained) in order to let the audience come to their own conclusions. . . like the three main characters, we’re asked to search for them and, thankfully, they’re not handed to us on a silver platter.” – Erik Davis

Susan Granger:

“A spicy, lyrical cinematic feast, slyly written by Anderson, Schwartzman (Talia Shire’s son) and oman Coppola (Francis’s son) – with a terrific score and cameos by Ifan Khan and Bill Murray.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Darjeeling Limited” is a poignant, peripatetic 8.”

Filmiholic:

“See it. It’s mood altering, in a positive way, in spite of some of the darkness that Anderson touches on. The soundtrack is excellent (Bombay Talkie and Rolling Stones), and not since Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint shared a sleeper on the 20th Century Limited has rail travel been so sexy.

New York Sun has a great piece on the film:

“Even among the gathered members of the press waiting for Mr. Anderson’s arrival at a recent “Darjeeling” press day, there was conjecture as to where this sudden dramatic streak came from. Was it his attempt to spread his wings? Did he run out of comedic material?

“I don’t think of this movie as some reaction against the ‘hermetically’ sterile ‘Life Aquatic,'” Mr. Anderson said, discounting the notion of loftier intent. “I’m just trying to use my imagination to make something interesting. I have to get obsessed with something to spend three years making it, and I’m just trying to put all my ideas in and make it as exciting as possible. I don’t mind people recognizing these films as mine, that they can put all the DVDs up on a shelf, and that they go together in some way that hopefully makes sense.

Keyboard, tip, tip, tip (Thursday morning update)

Wes from the New York Observer

The Darjeeling Limited opens the New York Film Festival tomorrow (if you are going, please send your reports and photos to edwardappleby @ yankeeracers.org, no spaces). Hotel Chevalier, the 13 minute prequel to (or ‘Part I’ of) The Darjeeling Limited, was released on iTunes yesterday.

Many fans have been frustrated with the limited availability of the short film. Russer, from the Great White North, writes:

Please mention on your website that people around the world are wanting to see “Hotel Chevalier” just as much as [A]mericans do. Unfortunately, iTunes does not allow people outside of the US to download the short film even if they are current customers. Ridiculous!

Many of the Yankee Racers have been upset about this problem, and the difficulties of dealing with iTunes (i.e. needing to enter a credit card number to register for an iTunes account, even if the film itself is free). We are excited — thrilled — about the film, but we hope Fox Searchlight and the Wes team find a more democratic/international method of distributing the free short.

I have received leads on MANY relevant newspaper and magazine articles. I will try to archive them here on the website once the initial commotion has ended, but until then, some links:

In the New York Magazine piece, there is an exchange between the writer (David Amsden) and Wes about recent criticism of his work, The Life Aquatic in particular. Wes’ eloquent response is worth quoting at length:

At one point I [the author] bring up a recent essay by Michael Hirschorn in the Atlantic Monthly arguing that, as a culture, we are “drowning in quirk,” an aesthetic he defines as the “embrace of the odd against the blandly mainstream.” … Anderson, who in person is typically quite calm, becomes suddenly animated by the topic. “You know, I’ve heard that argument a million times, and it’s completely uninteresting to me,” he says. “It’s just deadeningly unoriginal. If you have ideas that you think can contribute to a movie, that you think might help you honestly enjoy it more…” … “When they say a movie I make is smarter-than-thou, that the movie is ‘too smart for its own good,’ as if we’re making movies to try to show everybody how great and cool we are…well, that’s just not the case. We’re trying our hardest to entertain people, to make something people will like, something people will connect with. I don’t think there’s a great effort to try to make some statement about ourselves, you know?”

About.com review:

“A wonderful film. It’s a pleasure to write that sentence. I want to write it again. The Darjeeling Limited is a wonderful film — both funny and affecting.” – Marcy Dermansky

The New York Sun review:

“The Darjeeling Limited” is Mr. Anderson’s most heartfelt film. . . Now that he’s freed from his own tendencies, it is again exciting to ponder where Mr. Anderson will travel next.” – S. James Snyder

New York Press’ resident eccentric Armond White weighs in:

“Casual moviegoers might grumble that Anderson’s vision is “quirky” and doesn’t allow for the mass hypnosis of self-reflexive trash like Superbad or Ocean’s Thirteen. But The Darjeeling Limited is so reflective of personal experience (within the context of rarefied pop antecedents) that it returns common emotional power to today’s fragmented, disingenuous popular culture.”

Eric Kohn – also of the New York Press:

“Having seen Darjeeling twice, I feel firmly convinced that it’s one of Anderson’s greatest accomplishments.”

Lisa Schwartzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gives Darjeeling a B+:

“There’s a startling new maturity in Darjeeling, a compassion for the larger world that busts the confines of the filmmaker’s miniaturist instincts.”

Check out this video interview with Brody and Schwartzman – there’s a mini review at the end.

Finally, the MTV Movies Blog mentions that (link) Bill Murray has been “enlisted” for The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Mr. Anderson’s next film, an adaptation of the children’s book by Roald Dahl. George Clooney will be Mr. Fox. Jason Schwartman will offer his talents. The fantastic Cate Blanchett and Anjelica Huston are rumored to be part of the (voice) cast as well. Wow, I haven’t even seen the new one yet, and we’re already excited about the new new one!

As usual, send your questions, links, leads, and other coherent statements to edwardappleby @ yankeeracers.org (no spaces).

Hotel Chevalier

Hotel Chevalier is now available free on iTunes (link). Note that you do not need an iPod or other portable device to screen the film; you can watch it on your home computer after downloading the free iTunes software.

[Hotel Chevalier commentary thread at Yankee Racers]
[Marc Jacobs and The Darjeeling Limited in the New York Observer]

Photos from the New York screening of Hotel Chevalier (source):

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Photos from Chicago screening of Hotel Chevalier (thanks to Loraxaeon):

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We are looking for more photos from the NYC event, as well as photos from the New York Film Festival premiere on Friday. Please e-mail edwardappleby @ yankeeracers.org (no spaces) to share.