(Welcome to The Unpopular Opinion, a series where a writer goes to the defense of a much-maligned film or sets their sights on a movie seemingly beloved by all. In this edition: Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited isn’t just underrated, it’s the best film he has made yet.)
Wes Anderson is more than a director – he’s a brand. Beyond enjoying name recognition, Anderson has an identifiable aesthetic rivaled perhaps only by Quentin Tarantino among indie filmmakers. A cottage industry of trailer remakes, Etsy shops and Instagram accounts has sprung up around his name. His films’ releases are the closest things to events outside of major studio tentpoles.
So how did the 10th anniversary of The Darjeeling Limited pass by last October with hardly any significant decade retrospective piece? Anderson, ever a reliable click-generator for film sites, should easily have inspired some online chatter encouraging reevaluation for better or for worse. Instead, Anderson’s 2007 film simply cemented its status as his most forgotten film. While not the worst (an honor sometimes reserved for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou since most people cut his debut Bottle Rocket some slack), few rank it among his iconic classics like Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums or Moonrise Kingdom.
Consider this a belated invitation to reconsider the movie. I maintain The Darjeeling Limited is Wes Anderson’s best film, a perfect blend of style, story and sentiment. You can’t quote it as easily as Rushmore, but Anderson’s deadpan dialogue retains its snapiness. You can’t dress up as it characters for Halloween as easily as The Royal Tenenbaums, but the personalities are as vibrantly acidic as ever. You don’t have an ensemble of stars to fill the poster like The Grand Budapest Hotel, but Anderson goes deeper than ever on three brothers who are among his most completely realized cinematic creations.
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As loyal cinephiles, we love the work of Wes Anderson. While you’d be hard-pressed to say that Wes Anderson has grown as a filmmaker throughout his career, you can’t deny that he has a style all his own that has connected with a particular audience. You can call them hipsters, or you can call them craft beer enthusiasts, or whatever you want, but we’re note going to judge anyone’s love of Wes Anderson.
Now the director behind movies such as The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel is taking some jabs from the folks at Honest Trailers. And just as we said before, Wes Anderson hasn’t really evolved much as a director, and that’s why this edition of Honest Trailers takes aim at all of the filmmaker’s movies. Read More »
Earlier this month, we wrote about Matt Zoller Seitz‘s new book The Wes Anderson Collection, a book examining the work of writer/director Wes Anderson. The Pulitzer Prize finalist has been following Anderson’s career since the very beginning, and has teamed up with editor Steven Santos to bring the book to the web in a documentary/video essay format. A couple weeks back we posted the first two chapters, on Bottle Rocket and Rushmore. Last week we featured The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Matt has now released Chapter 5 and 6 which cover The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom. Both are online and available to view after the jump.
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Wes Anderson sits on a short list of filmmakers who, no matter what they put in theaters, we’ll go see it. His latest, Moonrise Kingdom, is only his seventh feature film but with each and every movie, Anderson’s unique vision evolves and focuses telling original, beautiful stories that are wholly his own, even when they’re based on someone else’s work (The Fantastic Mr. Fox for example).
In my opinion Moonrise Kingdom, which is now playing in select cities and will continue to expand throughout June, marks a change for Anderson and speaking with the talented director, I asked him about it. He didn’t quite agree. We also spoke about how his next movie will “not be family friendly,” the genesis of Moonrise’s glorious end credits, if he looks back at his old movies, feels added pressure being so revered and the art galleries that have taken to commemmorateing his work.
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Fox Searchlight released their first film, The Brothers McMullen, in 1995. This year the minimajor is celebrating their 15th anniversary. Anyone who reads /Film knows that I tend to love the type of films that Searchlight picks up at Sundance, and more recently, the films Searchlight has been producing in house (Aronofsky’s Black Swan, Boyle’s 127 Hours, Romanke’s Never Let Me Go to name a few). /Film reader Kees van Dijkhuizen put together a short video showcasing some of the great films Searchlight has brought up over the last 15 years. You might remember that Kees created some of the video montages we’ve posted in VOTD in past years including Cinema 2009: 1 Year, 342 Movies, 12 Months of Production, 7 Minutes and the movies of Cinema 2008. It looks like someone at Fox saw his work and commissioned the video editor to create this video for Fox Searchlight 15th anniversary. Here is Kees description:
15 Years of Drama, Compassion, Icons, Romance and Challenges. Some of the best indie flicks came were brought to us by Fox Searchlight, and to celebrate their 15 year anniversary, here’s a quick recap of what they have brought us. Some of the movies featured include Juno, The Darjeeling Limited, Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, (500) Days of Summer, Napoleon Dynamite, The Last King of Scotland, Crazy Heart, Sexy Beast, One Hour Photo and Thirteen.
Watch the video now embedded after the jump.
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I’ve always loved the artwork of Wes Anderson‘s brother Eric Chase Anderson, who many of you might recognize as the production designer on The Royal Tenenbaums. Not only did he make all of the rooms in the Tenenbaum house look different and unique, but he created all the drawings and paintings credited to Richie Tenenbaum in the movie. He also created the fantastic cover artwork for the Criterion Collection editions of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, as well as some of the inside art.
Many people don’t know this but with the Criterion Collection release of Bottle Rocket, the cover and menu art was created by Ian Dingman. A lot of people confuse the two artists as their artwork looks very much in the same style. This probably also explains why Wes has employed Dingman to create the cover artwork for his future home video releases when his own brother became unavailable. You can read an interview with Dingman in Time Out Chicago. His latest work is the cover and inside artwork for the Criterion Collection edition of The Darjeeling Limited. We now have a first look at the cover art for Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited. Check it out after the jump.
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I’m thankful for the Criterion Collection nearly every day, but especially on a slow weekend before Comic Con. This week Criterion finally announced a slate of October releases, which includes a couple of highly anticipated pressings. Finally we’ll get Criterion editions of Stanley Kubrick‘s Paths of Glory and the absolutely insane 1977 Japanese haunted house movie Hausu. And the collection continues its love affair with Ingmar Bergman and Wes Anderson with releases of The Magician and The Darjeeling Limited. Read More »
When I first heard that Adrien Brody had hopped on Dario Argento‘s signature serial killer flick Giallo, I pictured him playing the stylish murderer. Vincent Gallo had been typically outspoken about his loathing to play the part due to the involvement of his former fiance and Argento spawn, Asia Argento. Unsurprisingly, Gallo is no longer attached (and neither is Asia). Alas Brody, the Oscar winner who kinda slayed in the underrated The Darjeeling Limited, will apparently play the role of an Italian detective, a role previously rumored for Ray Liotta. No offense to Brody, but Liotta versus Gallo with knife wielding would have been wild, man, wild.
This casting bit arrives with a new log line for the exploitation thriller: “Giallo revolves around an American flight attendant who teams with an Italian investigator to search for her missing sister who has been abducted by a serial killer known only as Yellow.” Argento tackling flight attendants equals awesome. And it’s all the rage to say this right now on the Web, so here ya go: giallo means yellow in Italian. Celebrate this “newfound” morsel of information with a 10-foot party sub.
Discuss: So, is the Brody for Liotta/Gallo trade-out a good one? There’s a lot of “he’s too good for this film, not a good career move” blah blahing going on, but what’s wrong with the buzzing indie direction Brody is going in?
Cool Posts From Around the Web:
You’ve heard us talk about Wes Anderson’s 13 minute short film Hotel Chevalier which stars Natalie Portman (in the buff, kinda) and Jason Schwartzman. And now you can watch it exclusively on Apple iTunes. Fret not, it’s completely free – just click this link, download and consume.
Hotel Chevalier is set in a hotel room in France and is a “brief coda to a doomed romance and the prologue to The Darjeeling Limited.” I read in an interview that Portman didn’t want to smoke in the short (which was part of the script) so they replaced the cigarette with a toothpick.
A few screen captures after the jump, including the much talked about “money shot”.
Update: The movie is now available on Google Video, check it out after the jump.
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Wes Anderson is one of my favorite directors, but I more appreciate his earlier work: Bottle Rocket, Rushmore (especially) and of course, The Royal Tenenbaums. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was good but not great, and went on to become a box office failure. The film, which cost more than the budgets of this three previous films combined, went on to make only $24 million at the box office. But commercial success aside, it wasn’t his best film. I’ll be seeing The Darjeeling Limited later this week, but advance buzz puts it a step above Aquatic, but a step below his earlier films. So one must wonder: What happened?
Anderson wrote his first three films in collaboration with Owen Wilson, Aquatic with Noah Baumbach, and Darjeeling with Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman. So one must wonder if Wilson was part of the magic that made the first three films so great? And if so, when will Anderson sit down with Wilson and pen another project together. Thankfully, Vogue asked Anderson, and this is what he said:
“It will happen,” Anderson said. “I don’t know what the factors will be, but I believe it will happen.” He didn’t look like he wholly believed it would. As though to reassure himself, he added, “We actually talked about doing something not long ago.”
I’m not sure I buy the optimism, but I sure hope it happens. And afterall, Owen never wanted to be an actor in the first place – he wanted to write. Here is an interesting and telling story of Owen Wilson’s first acting performance:
There were nine students in the writing class, and the big assignment was to write a play. “Wes was the one who actually finished his,” Wilson told me. It was called A Night in Tunisia. The teacher, Webster Smalley, singled Wes’s play out, and it was given a production in the college auditorium. Wes wanted Owen to play the main character, but Owen “never wanted to be an actor,” Anderson said. “I had to talk him into it. Luke would do it, but Owen was always trying to find other guys to do his parts.”
After the first performance, during a dialogue with the audience, the play was warmly complimented. But one person was critical, and that person happened to be James Michener, the author, who then was teaching at the University of Texas. “He singled Owen out,” Anderson recalled, smiling his toothy smile. “He said, ‘That guy is very inappropriate and doesn’t seem to know how to act.’â€‰”
Read more at mensvogue.com.