Unlimited Appeal

Is Wes Anderson a Genius?

“What Wes Anderson has done with The Darjeeling Limited is craft a masterpiece that eschews all the criticism for his previous work. . . The Darjeeling Limited is basically a collection of short stories with the same three recurring characters. The film is indeed episodic, but in a good way, with a narrative thru-line that helps carry the emotional baggage (pun intended) throughout the journey. . . it wouldn’t surprise me if the film were made in the 70’s. It didn’t remind me of any modern day films, instead conjuring up The Passenger or the Apu films or The 400 Blows. But it still felt original, like it was a unique and modern film, only with hints of where film has gone before. . .While I don’t think this film is on par with The Royal Tenenbaums, it is still a small masterpiece that stands up to Rushmore and is miles beyond The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.”

Anne Thompson of Variety.com is one of many who call Darjeeling Wes’ best since Rushmore:

“Darjeeling is gorgeous to look at, full of the hum and vibrancy of India, quirky, delightfully detailed, and often funny. . . a satisfying entertainment.”

San Diego City Beat agrees:

“The Darjeeling Limited isn’t a particularly complex film, and that actually makes it stronger . . . It’s easy to say this is just another film about spoiled man-children who are unable to deal with the realities of life, and that enlightenment, spiritual or otherwise, can’t be purchased through a travel agent. And you’d be right. But that’s the point, and that’s exactly why Wes Anderson has gotten back on track. Because, grasshopper, sometimes enlightenment is found when you stop looking for it.”

The Onion A.V. Club interviews Wes:

Any time someone doesn’t like one on the first run, I hope they will give it another shot. At least we’ll get another chance. But I do feel, in my approach, I am not really a minimalist. I don’t like to leave out ideas that I think could add something to the story. Sometimes, you can’t quite pick up on all of it in one sitting. It’s not by design. But maybe it’s a side effect of my approach.”

The Onion also gives us 10 Films That Couldn’t Have Happened Without Wes Anderson, and 16 Films Without Which Wes Anderson Couldn’t Have Happened

Scribe Life/Folio Weekly says it’s all played for laughs, except when it’s not:

“The most oddly affecting little movie of the season. It’s funny, goofy and genuinely sweet.”

Baltimore City Paper interviews Wes:

“Honestly, I’m not making movies where I think, `Let me see how weird this can be,'” Anderson defends himself. “With [Darjeeling] our credo was, How personal can we make it? . . . When I make a movie about India, I make it from the point of view of a foreigner.”

Huffington Post has a piece by Darjeeling set designer Mark Friedberg:

“Wes had refused the traditional approach of building an interior set on a stage and the fate of the film was in the balance. Having intimate insight into the process I can safely say that the film almost didn’t happen. Many sleepless nights in the bed of the designer and the producer were had leading up to the beginning of our shooting schedule. On the night the train arrived the entire crew showed up at the shop and cheered.”

The Willamette Week raves:

“Nothing in the film matches the dull inevitability of its reviews . . . And there’s something about that first Darjeeling image, two men sprinting in slow motion for a train, that brings to mind The Great Gatsby ’s famous words about how “tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further….” Wes Anderson beats on, while his characters are borne back ceaselessly into their pasts.”

Here’s a fun ‘behind the scenes’ video from the Venice Film Festival – thanks, Stretch!

Big Wheels Keep Rolling

Release Schedule from Fox Searchlight

Image Courtesy of The New Yorker

IndieWIRE: Big Wheels Keep Rolling:

“A steamrolling weekend gross of $561,628 made Wes Anderson’s sibling comedy “The Darjeeling Limited” the top release on the iWBOT, which ranks films by per-screen average. “Darjeeling Limited” was also Fox Searchlight’s best fall comedy, so far outperforming its 2004 comedy “Sideways.”

Adrien Brody on Regis and Kelly

There is a great interview with Sweet Lime at rediff.com.

Pajiba.com on Darjeeling:

“The Darjeeling Limited is a smart, nimble film, swinging from subtle wit to outright hilarity to devastating loss . . .Anderson has retreated far enough into his dreamworld that he’s come out the other side, back into reality, pulling with him everything he learned and saw along the way.”

Jason Schwartzman on The View

Anthony Lane of The New Yorker gives the film a subtitle: “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the East”

Ain’t it Cool:

“The Darjeeling [Limited] isn’t like other films by this somewhat enigmatic filmmaker. It’s full of mystery and spender and a few raw notions that set this one apart from the rest.”

World Hum calls Dareeling fresh and funny

Glenn Whipp of The Los Angeles Daily News

“Anderson has pulled the heartstrings before, though that seems to go unnoticed by people who get distracted by his precisely constructed worlds. But the beautiful, wistful melancholy of “Bottle Rocket,” “Rushmore” and “The Royal Tenenbaums” has been augmented here by a more mature empathy and understanding for the vast world outside of Anderson’s making. It makes for an extraordinary movie, filled with splendor, laughter and a touch of cosmic wisdom. You won’t forget it.”

Take Dead Aim

Last week, Slate.com (I actually just mistyped it as Stale.com) went after Wes. Slate had both a negative review and a piece attacking Wes for being racist.

Glenn Kenny takes dead aim:

“Because the e-zine Slate is all about kicking things up a notch in the “contrarianism” department, it was not content to post Dana Stevens’ entirely predictable (the word “twee” is used) pan of The Darjeeling Limited last week. (Stevens’ point, a hardly original one, is that Wes Anderson needs to start making movies that are less like Wes Anderson movies.) It went for a one-two combo, with Jonah Weiner’s “Unbearable Whiteness” intended as the knockout punch.

Weiner doesn’t come out and call Anderson a racist, but the piece’s rhetoric does play to the very special, considered self-righteousness of its ideal reader. “That queasy feeling you get when watching a Wes Anderson movie” reads the subhead. Oh yes, I wondered about that. Please do tell from whence it stems, Jonah Weiner.”

If Jonah Weiner finds Wes’ films so offensive, I wonder what he thinks of his Slate colleague Christopher Hitchens, and his culturally sensitive piece, “Why Women Aren’t Funny.” If you’re looking to be outraged by insensitive material, I think you can find a better target than Wes Anderson whose filmography is unusually warm and generous in spirit.

Off the soapbox, and on to more good reviews, including Rolling Stone’s full review:

“The dumb rap against the gifted Wes Anderson is that his comedies (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic) all hit on similar themes of broken dreams and shattered families. Damn him. And damn Hitchcock for his obsession with suspense. And what’s with Scorsese and violence? My point is, an artist can spend a satisfying lifetime developing personal themes and deepening their resonance. . .The magically compelling Darjeeling Limited strikes me as the fullest blossoming yet of Anderson’s talents as a total filmmaker.” – Peter Travers

New City Chicago says Darjeeling is “the best thing he’s done since “Rushmore.”

More good box office news. In New York, Darjeeling actually came in second on the box office charts. Not just the per screen average, second overall.

The Los Angeles Times has a great interview with Jason Schwartzman:

“The “Darjeeling” shoot was an intimate one. Mornings, Wilson cooked Brody and Schwartzman oatmeal that he’d brought from L.A. Then they each donned their suits, fixed their own hair and makeup and by 7, they were jumping on a train which became their traveling set. For about 14 hours each weekday, everyone packed into those tiny compartments. “You have no place to hide,” said Schwartzman. “And I think that really helped. We really were forced to be there for each other.”

Mark Reviews Movies on Darjeeling:

“Anderson back in fine form. . .What I most admire about Anderson is his confidence in laying all his cards on the table. His neo-New Wave style is and makes us conscious of technique, but when he’s on, Anderson balances the artifice with the affecting in a way that somewhat blindsides us with its sincerity. The balance of The Darjeeling Limited is weighted just right.”

EW.COM interview with Anderson, Murray, Schwartzman, Brody, and Waris Ahluwalia

Another fine Schwartzman interview

Interview with Wes about Darjeeling, Aquatic, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Nervous Wes at the Fest

News, Reviews, & Elephant Pins

Darjeeling Limited did gangbusters at the box office this weekend.

“We are extremely excited about it,” Fox Searchlight’s Sheila DeLoach said Sunday. “Wes Anderson’s fans came out in droves.”

Terry Gross interviews Wes and Jason on NPR’s Fresh Air

Bill Murray’s Darjeeling Evening

Interview with Wes, Jason, Adrien on LA.COM

Article on US reaction to Darjeeling from IndieLondon

Glenn Kenny’s night at the Darjeeling premiere

Chicago Sun Times Interview with Wes

Incredibly detailed analysis of the Darjeeling marketing campaign

Interview with Wes in the New Jersey Star Ledger

Jason Schwartzman on The Early Show

Variety has an article on the New York Film Festival, which includes this alarming anecdote:

“John Powers saw an early sneak of ‘Rushmore’ and as I remember the people at Disney had no idea what to do with it. There was some talk of it going straight to video. John called and said, ‘I saw this film, it’s really terrific, can you do anything about it?’ And so I called up Disney and, to make a long story short, by inviting the film, I think we (staged) an intervention in its future.”

That was indeed an elephant pin Bill Murray was wearing, more on that here.

Book Passage Immediately

Photos and reviews are surfacing after last night’s premiere at the New York Film Festival.

Official Premiere.com review:

Reason for moviegoers to rejoice. . . The movie does so many things so well — one such thing is realizing Brody’s potential as a comic actor. . .The surface pleasures of the film are so beguiling that you might not catch its other spells right away.” Glenn Kenny

Pete Hammond of Maxim:

“A wonderful mix of humor and humanity with vintage Wes Anderson at his finest and funniest, as he takes us on a soul-searching magical mystery tour.”

The Portland Mercury:

“In a lot of ways it’s the loosest of Anderson’s movies . . . what strikes me right now is simply how genuine the film feels. . . Anderson catches a lot of shit for his hyper-detailed design and excessive stylization, but more often than not, and this includes Darjeeling, he backs it up with beautiful characters and authentic emotions, and there are some really beautiful and moving moments in the film.” – Erik Henriksen

Paper Magazine:

Wonderful . . . wildly heartfelt as well as quirkily funny. Book passage immediately.” – Dennis Dermody

Pics from the premiere – is Bill Murray wearing an elephant pin?

IndieWIRE, Flavorpill, & AIN’T IT COOL Hop On Board

“Wes Anderson doesn’t stray too far afield with “The Darjeeling Limited,” but judging by his latest film’s considerable merits, do we really want him to? . . . Asking Anderson to change (or “grow,” as some critics would call it) ignores everything that’s right with the artistic fluidity from “Bottle Rocket” to here. If “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” seemed too mechanical, too locked-in to its director’s gambits, then with “Darjeeling” Anderson has found a way to overcome his own limitations without forgoing his expected style.

Some of the most wistful, even transcendent passages of the director’s career.– Michael Koresky IndieWIRE

“THE DARJEELING LIMITED, the latest film by Wes Anderson, is pretty much awesome. . . Anderson has absolutely perfected his style. It is easily his crowning achievement so far . . . perhaps the best work Wes Anderson has yet completed.” – AIN’T IT COOL NEWS


“Happily, The Darjeeling Limited redeems that early promise and then some . . . Though these boys don’t remotely resemble each other, they achieve a fraternal chemistry — all deadpan humor and hangdog glamour — that hurdles them, in a turquoise-and-pink train, toward their (and Anderson’s) true adulthood.” – Flavorpill

The Train Doesn’t Stop Here

USA Today catches up with Wes and calls Darjeeling a “reinvigorating return.”

“Will Anderson and his buddy work together again? And especially, will they write together again since many feel they bring out the best in each other’s words?” Owen is a huge part of the filmmaking team,” Anderson assures. “He always will be. We have lots of other things in mind to do together. We have an inventory.”

In other words, the train doesn’t stop here.” – Susan Wloszczyna

New York Magazine runs a long profile on Wes that highlights his artful approach to life:


“This is the dynamic at the heart of what those close to him affectionately refer to as “Wes’s world,” which resembles a vaudevillian family by way of Evelyn Waugh . . . In his films he creates a very particular and unmistakable world, and I guess you could say the same is true in his life. . .

In talking to Anderson you can tell that Aquatic was a difficult movie for him—beginning with its making . . . Discussing it seems to exhaust him, as if he were reliving the experience. “We just put everything into it, and it kind of, you know, got a bit of a rough ride,” he concludes. “I think it’s generally thought of as the least loved of all my movies.” – David Amsden