A few inches of snow had fallen earlier in the day, and it appeared a few more inches might fall. The streets were all crappy. For some reason, extraordinarily bad weather makes me want to get out of the house. And get out of the house I did!
What were my choices tonight at the LaGrange?
American Gangster – Hmm, Ridley Scott directing a crime movie, starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe… Sounds tempting, but it starts at 9:30pm and has a long running time.
Across The Universe – I am still smarting from seeing Sgt. Pepper’s when I was eight years old.
August Rush – What the hell is this? I have never heard of it. Is it a beverage? A low-budget illegal drug? Is this even a movie?
The Darjeeling Limited – Okay, I’ll try it out.
Like most sentient beings, I loved Rushmore. Later on I saw Wes Anderson’s first movie, Bottle Rocket, and liked it quite a bit too. Rushmore and Bottle Rocket seemed pulled from personal experience. There was lots of hip pop music floating around, slow motion and self-conscious camera moves, but you felt some genuine emotion underpinning it all. And all these stylistic devices in many cases heightened the emotion of the films.
But then his subsequent films, I didn’t like so much. I felt a lot of the emotion drain away in Royal Tenenbaums and the Life Aquatic. There were glimmers of it, but mostly it was all subservient to preciousness, at some conscious attempt at having quirky characters that related to each other obliquely. The stylistic devices were still there, but without any feelings for the characters, they rang kind of hollow.
I had read some rather unfavorable reviews of Anderson’s most recent film, The Darjeeling Limited, and so went into Theater 4 (the Bob Seger Theater) not looking for much.
Sadly, not much is what I got. The flaws in Anderson’s work were only more in evidence. The use of music, slow motion and cute camera moves and framing only foregrounded the absence of passion and conviction. If I want to see a bloodless movie, I’ll see the latest Woody Allen stinker, thank you very much.
The death of a small child occurs in the middle of the film, but the characters are insulated from it by slow motion and mannered performances. By the end of the movie, it seems they have already forgotten this supposedly life-changing event.
In these reviews, I try and be snarky, so I can live up to my “Schmuck” moniker. But it’s honestly difficult to be snarky with regards to movies like this. I enjoyed this movie probably the least of the movies I have seen thus far at the LaGrange (alright, alright, Fracture was still the worst). Maybe the other movies weren’t as competently made as Darjeeling, but at least you felt that there was something other than preciousness motivating the filmmakers.
In the end, this movie was like a finely-crafted state-of-the-art station wagon. Sure, maybe it’s put together well, but do you really want to drive it? *
* No, you don’t.