Saturday, October 06, 2007

Twee Straights and Gorgeous Baggage

It's pretty rare these days that a "gay" movie has any appeal to me. I can barely remember the last time I went into a bookstore that has a rainbow flag in front of it, and I am often baffled that as late as 1993 or 1994 I would gobble up a volume on queer culture or read tripe such Out and Genre. And Brokeback Mountain had less relevance to me than a film about an elderly woman running a tea stall in Cambodia.

These thoughts went through my head as I headed to watch with considerable anticipation Wes Anderson's new Darjeeling Limited. Knowing that he had returned to topic of a dysfunctional family set in a country I have visited several times and simultaneously adore and abhor. After the great disappointment of The Life Aquatic, I was preparing myself for another great let down and mumbled under my breath "please don't be crappy, please don't be crappy". The few reviews I read warned that it was no where equal to The Royal Tenebaums but mostly pretty good with some considerable flaws. I'd pretty much agree with that, and while there is a moving segment during what I will only reveal as the river sequence, it certainly didn't enrapture me into a foreign but terribly familiar world the way Tenenbaums did but came close a few times. And again visually and aurally it provided a trip that could make you forgive whatever weaknesses there are in the script.

An interesting article on Anderson in the last issue of New York outlined a lot of the characteristics that make me relate to his work before any Brokeback tales or RuPaul or porn star tales. Anderson is a Texan with a European sensibility and though critiqued for being a tad too twee and precious (how dare people criticize the Dalmatian mice!), makes me feel very much home with his dysfunctional, privileged but not necessarily wealthy families with their eccentric bohemian formality.

It was Tenenbaums that introduced me to Emmitt Rhodes, and no movie can have too much Nico. The soundtrack was wonderful and diverse again this time, with at least four Merchant Ivory films referenced. I felt like an absolute indie movie nerd when the brothers got onto a bus and I not only recognized the tune Typewriter Tip Tip sung by Asha Bhonsie and Kishore Kumar but was quietly singing along in Hindi until I saw a head in the row in front of me about to turn in disapproval.

While Anderson's post-metrosexual heterosexuality has never been in question, he has far more of a omni-queer vibe than many film makers working today. And unlike Brokeback Mountain, the three male leads are saying "I love you" every five minutes, albeit as three decidedly straight brothers.

It's impossible to watch Owen Wilson's physically and emotionally damaged character without holding it up against his recent suicide attempt. I've never been much of a fan of his, but I found him very touching with his often inept attempts to become the new patriarch of the family.
Though it won't hold up in my heart the way Tenenbaums did, especially coming so shortly after 9/11, it is a film I know that I will want to come back to in the future, retracing routes on a luxury rail car of the imagination in the very real Rahjistan.

And, of course, I would love to have that full set of Marc Jacobs bags designed for Louis Vuitton. I'm glad they got screen credit since they deserve supporting actor nominations.

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At 5:41 AM, Blogger Dave said...

I've been loving me some Wes Anderson since way back when Bottle Rocket came out, one of my favorite movies ever.

Also, while it's really cool that you're able to sing pop songs in Hindi, there is a special place in Hell for people who talk/sing/take cell phone calls during movies. Please try to be more careful in the future, will you?

At 10:07 AM, Blogger jason said...

I loved The Royal Tennenbaums too....and never found anyone who would agree with me.

I actually saw it three times at the theater with various friends, in efforts to evangelize, never successfully.
ah well....

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Bryce Digdug said...

The Royal Tennenbaums is one of my favorite films, and yes the music was so great. The Peanuts Christmas Special music! The Underwater World was a disaster and I consider one of the worst films ever made.Its great that Darjeeling is good. THe writer of Underwater World wrote The Squid and the Whale which I love. That movie tore me up.

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Ladron de Basura said...

Dave - I didn't realize you believe in Hell, but just to clarify I fibbed on saying that I was singing out loud. It was just in my head. I hobble into movies using a cane that I really don't need but have it handy to whack any talkers or cell phone users in the theater. However, if you'd like a CD of my Hindi singing, I'll gladly mail it to you.

Jason - People either get Wes or they don't. I've seen Tenebaums 25-30 times. I plan to rewatch it this afternoon.

Bryce - How fitting that the writer did well with one water animal movie and bombed with the other one.

At 8:57 PM, Blogger kimy said...

i don't know where jason lives, but the fact that he never found anyone who enjoyed/identified with the RT only means he must either move or get a new circle of friends. wonderful movie...and yes worth multiple viewings, but 25! oh dear jt you must have way too much time available!

thanks for the heads up on darjeeling limited.... will be on the hunt.

tweedle dee! xx

At 10:25 PM, Blogger Ladron de Basura said...

Kimy - I think I only saw it in the theater twice but pull it out frequently like a familiar family memento since that house reminds me so much of the one I grew up in and, to a certain degree, the one I live in now. While mine is certainly not that large or grand, the color scheme and aesthetic are pretty close. I'd have Dalmation mice were it not for the cat.


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