Friday, March 21, 2008

Review of "The Darjeeling Limited" and "Hotel Chevalier" (on DVD)

First with the Bad

Hotel Chevalier
My Rating: **
Directed by Wes Anderson
Starring Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman

Hotel Chevalier is the short film companion piece to The Darjeeling Limited . Well, Wes Anderson wasted some good time with this one as it's totally unnecessary. It's just an exercise in ripping-off Jean-Luc Godard. The conflict between Jack Whitman and his ex-girlfriend is more exciting in the Darjeeling than in Chevalier , and yet it is only spoken about in the former. The film is awkward and clumsy and does not have much conflict or heat between the two. The only thing interesting in this film is Natalie Portman's nude scene. The whole film got me scared that Darjeeling was going to be a pretentious clunker like Anderson's previous film The Life Aquatic , but.....

The Good...

The Darjeeling Limited
My Rating: ***
Directed by Wes Anderson
Starring Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson

In 2004, Wes Anderson made the poorly thought out comedy drama, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, a movie about a Jacques Cousteauesque character who searches for the shark that killed his friend and bonds with a man who could be his son. It was pretentious crap that made me lose hope in Wes Anderson. After making Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, he made that movie. So with Darjeeling, I was afraid. Was it going to be the same as those previous films, like with Life Aquatic? Well, the film may be the first step for Anderson returning to form. It's a good film, and despite the predictable premise, it's keeps you interested throughout the characters' journey. The cinematography by Robert Yeoman is breathtaking and the score, taken from the films of legendary Indian director Satyajit Ray, adds a great ambiance to the film. The Whitman Brothers consist of Peter (Adrien Brody), Jack (Jason Scwartzman) and Francis (Owen Wilson). After a motorcycle accident, Francis organizes a trip through India to bond with his brothers in a post-dad world. The many escapades they encounter include Jack developing an infatuation with a train attendant, the brothers' quibbling with a conductor and their spiritual encounter with an Indian village. The three actors have a solid chemistry throughout the film, as they try to reach their estranged mother living in a convent. Though not his comeback film, Anderson directs with ease like he did with Rushmore and Tenenbaums. It also manages to cut the quirkiness that Anderson relied too much off in Aquatic. Anderson has finally managed to evolve as a director. It's safe to say that his next film will be better than this one, but this one is better than Life Aquatic. Wes Anderson is back, everybody!

Three Brothers. One seriously messed up trip.

Rushmore (1998) ****
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) ***1/2
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) **

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