Sunday, November 11, 2007
CD in Play: PJ Harvey, White Chalk
Finally got around to seeing The Darjeeling Limited yesterday with my friend and fellow Wes Anderson aficionado, Gavin. I saw Anderson's Rushmore with a friend named Diana when it came out. I became a huge fan at that point and my admiration for Anderson's work has only been cemented with each passing film. That admiration is not universal, however, and it seems many critics are calling for Anderson to adapt or change his style and vision. (If you click on the Wikipedia link above, read the section on "critical reception".)
Suffice it to say for the momment, I like the film and found it to be a rather different experience from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore. Darjeeling is melancholic and provides few laughs, but I really got into the characters played by Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson - three estranged brothers trying to come to grips with one another and their mother a year after the death of their father. It is a film that bears another viewing because I am more than certain I did not take it all in.
Prior to seeing the film with Gavin in Coquitlam, I had been hunting online for the short film, Hotel Chevalier, which acts as a sort of non-specific prologue for The Darjeeling Limited. No joy, but I was unaware that it was screened prior to The Darjeeling Limited. Both films make for a viewing experience most likely experienced by people old enough for the adult cinema that people my parents age (both presently 64) would have experienced in the late 1960's and early 1970's. By adult I am not referring to porn, so minds out of the gutter, (Trent) I am referring to adult minded films made for grown-ups capable of intelligent discussion. Anderson's work has a very European/International sensibility that has been growing stronger with each passing film. However, unlike many International auteurs, Anderson has an uncannily child-like approach to dealing with adult themed films that allow the viewer greater access into the meaning and depth of his work. But then perhaps that is part of the problem with The Darjeeling's reception, perhaps it is too adult a film for this day and age?
Pete Chattaway and I have talked about this before and we both agree that there is a dearth of mature film making out there at this time. Perhaps this is tied to my generation's and subsequent generation's apparent inability to completely grow up? Perhaps this is yet another example of the "dumbing down" of North America - the closing of the North American mind? The love of spectacle and the need for distraction? Television trumps books? Whatever the reason, it has lead to a rather stagnant and decidedly immature cinema.
Like Wes Anderson's films or hate them, his body of work should get you talking about it. There are reasons to like or not to like Anderson's film, and perhaps that is just one great gift he gives to the viewer? Anderson's work provides a platform for discussion.