Monthly Archives: October 2007

Poster: "The Savages"

This is the newest poster for what looks to be a great film, “The Savages”, due in December. I love the style, it looks very Daniel Clowes. The trailer is impressively original and I really can’t wait for this film. Click for a larger view…

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Review: The Darjeeling Limited

Director Wes Anderson has had his hits and misses with the critics throughout his career as a filmmaker. His first three films “Bottle Rocket” (1994), “Rushmore” (1998), and “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001) were all heralded as a triumphant new generation of films for a new generation of filmgoers. His fourth film, “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” was recognizably weaker than his previous works but still had his signature quirky visual style and perfect dry wit.

His fifth film is “The Darjeeling Limited” which he co wrote with Roman Coppola and one of the film’s stars Jason Schwartzman. The movie is the story of three estranged brothers, led by Francis who is excellently played by Anderson’s best friend Owen Wilson. The two other brothers Peter and Jack are played by Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman, respectively.

It is apparent that the relationship between the three siblings has been broken apart through years of disillusionment and deceit.

Francis, Peter, and Jack set off on The Darjeeling Limited (a beautiful blue and yellow train run by a terribly impatient conductor) across India with a plan to find themselves and bond with each other. Unfortunately they find that a spiritual journey cannot be forced, it must literally happen by accident. This accident occurs in the form of the death of a young Indian boy which brings the trio into an unconscious spiritual journey that spawns a new relationship between the three of them.

The film does not disappoint at all. Wes Anderson is back in true form both visually and in his spectacular narrative style. It shows how much Anderson thinks about the visual aspects of his film above the actual acting itself. The acting in his films is very slow but it is intensified by his gloriously beautiful cinematography and art direction. There is always more than what the eye can see happening in almost every frame of the movie.

The acting may be slow, but it is absolutely terrific. Jason Schwartzman, who amazed critics with his performance as Max Fischer in Anderson’s “Rushmore”, shows how much he has grown as an actor. His sad eyes convey more than any of his dialogue. Owen Wilson (who has been gaining a lot of negative press lately for a suicide attempt), is completely perfect in his fifth Anderson film. It’s a little off-putting that all of the characters he has played for Anderson have been quite similar, but he delivers those dry witty lines so well that it’s entirely permissible. His character is suicidal, but the film was written long before Wilson’s personal problems so it shouldn’t be a distraction.

Adrien Brody is the best part about “The Darjeeling Limited.” His performance of the sad middle brother who is still coping with his father’s death and the impending birth of his first child is top rate. He is also superb as an Anderson player. Bill Murray’s career was completely changed after his incredible spectacular performance in “Rushmore.” We should expect to see a different Adrien Brody from now on after this performance.

Other great performances in the film come from Angelica Huston and the relatively unknown Wallace Wolodarsky. Veteran actress Huston plays the mother of the three travelers. Her performance is extraordinary and quite memorable. Wallace Wolodarsky plays the alopecic Brendan, Francis’ trusty assistant who is very touchy due to his hairless condition. Wes Anderson films are notorious for these small characters that end up becoming huge cult figures (such as Mr. Littlejeans in “Rushmore”, Dusty in “The Royal Tenenbaums” and Pelé dos Santos in “The Life Aquatic”). Brendan is one of these wonderful characters, something that becomes more cherished than the film itself. Wolodarsky has never been in front of the camera, but he proves a talented character actor with this film.

“The Darjeeling Limited” is definitely one of the best films of the year and is a huge step up for Anderson. His previous film had a weak revelation for its main character Steve Zissou which is something this film made up for. We aren’t spoon fed the story – a lot of it is up to interpretation of the viewer. It is very easy to care about the characters and the story as both are completely developed and profound. The journey that is “The Darjeeling Limited” is a beautifully crafted piece that shows even more promise from an unbelievable talented director. Grade: A

Originally published in Framingham State College’s The Gatepost

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R.I.P. Deborah Kerr and Joey Bishop

Two stars of the past died today, The first of which is Deborah Kerr. Kerr is most famous for her role in “From Here to Eternity” but also known for being the most Oscar-nominated actress without a win. She will be missed.

The second is Joey Bishop, the last surviving member of the famous Rat Pack. There will probably never be anything cooler than the Rat Pack and now the last of what was once great is gone.

The really sad part about this is that we’re all waiting for the third famous person to die. That’s really terrible, but I know I’m interested in who it will be.

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"Star Trek" casting confirmations

So up until this point we have been getting little casting gifts from J.J. Abrams for his “Star Trek” prequel. Today two huge cast announcements were made so here’s the list of what we know.

Zachary Quinto/Leonard Nimoy as MR. SPOCK
I’ve been totally excited about this casting news since it was announced in August. Sylar as Spock is perfect. Leonard Nimoy’s inclusion has sparked rumors that the film will include a space/time continuum issue, which is completely overused in the Trek universe. They might do it right, but then again they might completely screw everything up.

Zoe Saldana as NYOTA UHURA
We know her from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films as one of Jack Sparrow’s former flames. With this film she could really become a huge star, especially if she plays the part right. As long as she can put a finger up to her ear and can swivel in a chair, she’s got it.

Anton Yelchin as PAVEL CHEKOV
This casting is a little confusing since Chekov didn’t join the show until later in the series. Hopefully Abrams realizes this and didn’t just cast him so he could say “Nuclear Wessels.” Maybe he’ll show up in Starfleet Academy or something. Yelchin has been proving himself a young star to watch. He was the only good thing about David Duchovny’s directorial debut/travesty “The House of D”, and he looked good in “Charlie Bartlett” even though that film looked horrid.

Eric Bana as NERO
The “Munich” actor will be playing the villain Nero. We have no clue as to if this is just the character’s name or if it’s Emperor Nero. If that’s the case then they are really going for that classic Trek storyline with the space/time continuum paradox plot.

John Cho as HIRAKU SULU
This was one of the announcements today. I couldn’t be more pleased with Harold as the sometimes sword wielding, always cool Sulu. People still don’t know John Cho’s name, but hopefully this film will help his rising star.

Simon Pegg as MONTGOMERY SCOTT aka SCOTTY
This is either the best casting ever or the worst casting ever. I love Simon Pegg and I think he’s a terrific comedy actor, so I hope he’s not being cast for the comedy relief. Scotty’s job has become something of a joke over the years. If you watch the original series you can obviously see that James Doohan always played the character as straight as he could (no matter how repetitive). I have a feeling that, like Quinto’s casting, this is the result of a possible Trekkie-ness in Pegg. Also, he doesn’t look bad with dark hair, check out this photo.

Chris Pine
or Mike Vogel as CAPTAIN JAMES TIBERIUS KIRK
The casting for this coveted role seems to be down to these two young actors. Chris Pine seems to look the part better while Vogel seems to be Abrams new muse. Pine has been in “Smokin Aces” and “Just My Luck” while Vogel is the headlining star of Abrams still untitled “Cloverfield” project. I have my fingers crossed for Pine, just because he has a theatre background. I think that ability should help him to recreate the unbelievable character that Shatner made 41 years ago.

Whatever happens, I’ll be there in December 2008 to see this. If I only see one 2008 film, this will be it.

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