Hotel Chevalier

Update: The short film is available online. Watch it NOW.

We’ve learned that Wes Anderson’s 13-minute short film Hotel Chevalier starring Jason Schartzman and Natalie Portman will not, according to trade reports and Jeff Wells, be showing before The Darjeeling Limited after all. Hotel Chevalier acts as a prequel to The Darjeeling Limited. The short was filmed way before Darjeeling started production, and Anderson is showing the short before Darjeeling film festival screenings. I guess the plan is to release the short on the internet and on the eventual DVD. I’ve heard the short is actually pretty well linked to the film’s main story, and I believe Fox Searchlight should seriously reconsider, and release the film nationwide with the movie (or at least in the major cities or something).

The short takes place in one room of a French hotel (Hotel Chevalier) and serves as “a short epilogue of one heartbreaking history of love and the prologue of the travel told in ‘The Darjeeling Limited.” Hotel Chevalier screened Out of competition in the upcoming Venice Film Festival, and is also scheduled to make an appearance at the New York Film Festival.

And the first Darjeeling Limited reviews are starting to come in, and they don’t look good. The Hollywood Reporter writes:

“The whimsical and insightful charm that Wes Anderson and his filmmaking pals have displayed in such films as “Rushmore” and “The Royal Tenenbaums” curdles ruinously in the Indian sun that shines so brightly in their smug and self-satisfied new film The Darjeeling Limited.”

“But when current affairs are in such a parlous state, it’s almost unforgivable to make a film about stupid American men traveling abroad with not the slightest awareness of or reference to anything that’s going on in the world. The film is overly pleased with itself, and the characters are way too self-absorbed. There’s never a man-eating tiger around when you need one.”

Ouch. For the record, I’m a big fan of Wes Anderson’s earlier work. Bottle Rocket is a great indie comedy, but Rushmore is his perfect film. Many people love The Royal Tenenbaums more, but to me it seemed like the beginning of Anderson’s movement of being quirky just to be quirky. And even then, I still very much enjoyed Tenenbaums and even The Life Aquatic. The Darjeeling Limited looks nothing like his earlier films, aside from the returning cast (Owen and Jason), the soundtrack, and choice of camera angles. Okay, may-be it isn’t far off – but at least the characters, at first glance, seem to be less quirky just to be quirky than his last two films. And I’m still excited to see this flick despite THR’s negative review.

photo credit: NataliePortman.com

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