“The Darjeeling Limited”

On Tuesday night Christine and I attended a WGA screening of Wes Anderson’s latest movie, “The Darjeeling Limited” (opening today in limited release) at the cool, ultra-cushy Arclight Theatre in Hollywood.

Anderson and one of his co-writer’s, Roman Coppola spoke afterwards as well, so it was crazy crowded and we arrived so late (I know, shocking) that I actually ended up sitting on the floor a few rows behind Christine. And let me tell ya, even the floor at the Arclight is cushy.

But the luxurious Arclight carpeting was nothing compared to the movie!

The amazing DARJEELING cast!

Without giving away too much of the plot, the story revolves around three brothers — superbly played by Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson and freakishly-tall-Oscar-winner, Adrian Brody (shown above) — setting off on a mystical and often hilarious train ride through India.

Co-written by Anderson, Coppola and Schwartzman, the movie is beautifully shot and loaded with tons of classic film scores from the movies of Ismail Merchant, James Ivory and acclaimed Indian director, Satyajit Ray. Really great movie music re-purposed here to sometimes stunning effect.

And while the movie is chock full of Anderson’s typically cool, idiosyncratic details — the train itself is so artfully designed, it’s almost like another character — the biggest surprise was how deep, heartfelt and truly emotional the movie is. Hands down Anderson’s best movie since “Rushmore” (my favorite of his films) “Darjeeling” has an earthiness and authenticity to it that sets it apart from anything else he’s made.

This might be the influence of Anderson’s new co-writers, or it could stem from the fact that they wrote most of the script while traveling together — like their characters — on a train in India, but no matter what the reason for this newfound depth is, the results are amazing.

Anderson (in truck), Coppola (on foot) and cast @ work!

The problem we usually have with Anderson is that sometimes his movies are too droll and detached for their own good, which totally kills any sense of humanity or emotion, and what you end up with are these stunningly beautiful — but ultimately cold — little shadow box movies. This trend started with “The Royal Tennebaums” (which I still love, despite its generally frosty tone) and reached its disastrous zenith with Anderson’s last movie, the virtually unwatchable “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou”. Yikes, that movie just plain sucked!

More than a return to form for Anderson, “Darjeeling” is a giant, thrilling step in a whole new direction. Like P.T. Anderson (no relation) with “Punch Drunk Love” or Woody Allen with “Match Point”, Wes Anderson really shakes up his cool, ironic MO with this movie and man, I couldn’t be more impressed!

Oh yeah, and the post-screening Q&A was awesome! Anderson and Coppola had a really nice, chill vibe about them and were both very funny and totally self-deprecating…especially when Coppola’s iPhone rang (twice!) in the middle of the discussion. And best of all, I found a real seat next to Christine when someone left before the discussion. Yeah!


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9 responses to ““The Darjeeling Limited”

  1. According to Writer’s Guild terms and conditions, section 42, clause 6, you are not authorized to review a movie before the actual release date. I received a report from your friend James that your blog entry about my film appeared yesterday — one day before the actual release date. One day!!! Keep this up, and you’ll never eat lunch in this town again with me, my sister Sofia “I ruined Godfather 3” Coppola, my dad Francis Ford “Actually, I runined Godfather 3” Coppola or my cousin Nic “I came this close to fathering Elvis’ grandchild” Cage.

  2. We’ll go see it! 🙂

  3. Melissa

    Dying to see it! Let me count the ways: Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, India! Every time I see the trailer, I get excited…well, you know, there’s excited and there’s excited. Anyway, I hate to agree about The Life Aquatic, but I must. Except for the soundtrack, it was pretty forgettable. I have high hopes for this one.

  4. yeti9000

    You’re right, the soundtrack to “Aquatic” was awesome! We listen to it all the time, but the movie, yikes! The soundtrack for “Darjeeling” is amazing as well, you’ll love it!

    Also, forgot to mention in my post but there is a short film prequel to “Darjeeling” called “Hotel Chevalier” that is available as a free download on iTunes right now. It stars Jason Schwartzman (playing the same character from the feature) and a totally nude Natalie Portman too!

    If you can, try to check out the short BEFORE you see the movie as there are some fun references in it that will totally enhance your enjoyment of “Darjeeling”!

  5. Melissa

    Finally went to see it today. FYI: the short film was shown before the film as Part 1. I could do without that cheesy song played throughout the short. Best part of that was laughing at Dave, who admitted that he owns the song on vinyl.

    Loved that Irrfan Khan was in it, albeit briefly, and agree that the soundtrack is awesome. Yay!

    I really enjoyed the film; it really resonated with me in a lot of ways.

    Is it just me, or does Anjelica Huston look really cool with short greying hair?

  6. yeti9000

    Glad you dug the movie, I agree, the soundtrack was amazing! I was not familiar with the work of Mr. Kahn before, but he was awesome and I hear he is pretty terrific in “The Namesake” as well, which we are finally seeing next week. That movie’s been out for a million years, so I’m sure you’ve seen it already, but aside from Kahn, I’m dying to see how “Kumar” does in a more grown up role! And when you throw in super hot Jacinda “The Real World” Barrett to boot? Wow, how can “The Namesake” not be good??

    And about Angelica Huston’s short grey hair in “Darjeeling”? It’s not just you, she looked incredible!

  7. Melissa

    I saw The Namesake twice and have read the book twice as well…obviously, I’m a fan. They’re different enough that you don’t totally have to compare them, but the book is better. Hope you like it.

  8. Ginger

    Ok, so I finally watched this movie last week, and I must say, it is one of my favorite films of 2009…er…2007. Absolutely delightful!

    I’m looking forward to watching more of Wes Anderson’s films. I did see “The Life Aquatic” awhile back, and was not really impressed (I kept trying to like it!), but after watching this movie, I’m excited to watch more.

  9. Yay! So glad you liked it!! I still think this is one of Wes Anderson’s best movies…really good stuff!

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