Archive for January 21st, 2008

January 21, 2008

>Gone Baby Gone + Hotel Chevalier + The Darjeeling Limited

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Between the right choice and the moral choice Does the previous sentence sound a little pleonastic? Wait until you see Ben Affleck’s debut as a director to understand my choice of words better and hence Casey Affleck’s character dilemma. In the city of Boston, a little girl has disappeared. The police hasn’t found a single clue that might lead them to the missing child, her mother (Amy Ryan) doesn’t seem to care so much either, but two other relatives can’t stand the situation and decide to hire the private services of detectives Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan). Due to the matter of the investigation and how it turns out in a surprising twist, this particular case will consume the couple both personally and professionally, though it’s Kenzie who is going to suffer deeply from the first to the final step. In this investigational thriller adapted from a Dennis Lehane novel, Ben Affleck shows better skills behind the cameras than in front of them. I’ve been told he knows the city where the story takes place very well, therefore, I can only conclude that was also a great choice of him to adapt the book to the screen. In its first minutes, the camera intimately captures another average day in the neighborhood, not as normal if it wasn’t for the fact several journalists stand in front of the disappeared child’s house. Another great shot is the one which a character wrestles with another on the top of a building, where you can see all the city behind.

Schwartzman with Portman earlier – “Do you wanna see my view of Paris?” and later with Wilson and Brody in a surreal train across India

Leaving all old family problems behind, just like that Director Wes Anderson has pointed his short film Hotel Chevalier interlaces with the story told in The Darjeeling Limited. It actually does, but just superficially and why not say, incompletely. It does tell us about Jack Whitman (Jason Schwartzman), literally an american man in Paris, for about a year (or more), but what about his two siblings? Living alone in a luxurious room in the hotel from the title, he receives an ex-girlfriend (should I say THE ex-girlfriend) phone call, who has just arrived in Paris. She goes to the hotel, they talk, she brushes her teeth and they make love, despite the fact they could feel emotionally horrible by the next day. The brief film is punctuated by the song Where Do You Go To My Lovely, that fits the happening like a glove, and so does the typical Anderson’s slow camera while filming Natalie Portman in all her nude glory (I wonder what made her strip to Anderson’s camera, as she had better reasons to do it before to Mike Nichols, but refused). And mentioning Closer, I’d disagree on those who have said the actress only replayed her Oscar nominated role here. Besides being equally mysterious, Jack’s ex-lover is far more sophisticated and much less vulnerable than Alice. She’s the kind of lady that hurt one man’s feelings, instead of being hurt herself.

In The Darjeeling Limited, Jack Whitman joins his two older brothers (Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody) on a train trip across India, that according to a recent fatal-accident-survivor Francis (Wilson, the eldest brother) will help them to bond with each other while finding salvation and relief. But the goal is not so easy to be achieved, as in the beggining the brothers don’t even trust each other. Francis has almost died in an motorcycle accident, Peter (Brody) is about to become a father; a very clueless and confused one, and Jason…well, just read the paragraph above. Or maybe I should add a year alone in Paris had a lot to do with the fact he wanted to be as away of his family roots as possible, the contrary that is about to happen in this film, as they remember their father’s funeral (probably a year back) and they try to find their mother (Anjelica Huston), who has become a nun in the Himalayas. Their father’s death is remembered through flash-backs after an accident by the second half of the film, that turns out to be more drama than comedy. TDL’s best qualities are its soundtrack and art direction, that fluctuates between red and yellow in a beautiful harmony. And once again, the slow motion editing is used in its best, especially in one of the last scenes, which the brothers literally get rid off their heavy luggage, as a symbol of the family issues they left behind. After all that, I still felt like the Whitman brothers’ journey was incomplete, though I didn’t take it seriously from the beggining.

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