Sunday, October 21, 2007

Across the Tracks

While experience has taught me (generally unsuccessfully) to not keep my hopes in people too high, I have to say that I have come to expect better things from Wes Anderson than a poisonous-snake-is-loose-on-the-train gag. This lame joke is trotted out relatively early in The Darjeeling Limited; then around the halfway mark, an extended flashback grinds the movie to a complete halt (and sabatoges a key scene later on, when Owen Wilson removes the bandages from his ravaged face). There are some funny and lovely moments along the way, namely in the quickly broken promises and rapidly switching alliances between the three brothers; and painful though it is to find Wilson in the state he's in, it's still wonderful to see him. There's a touching idea in The Darjeeling Limited about the connections we make along our separate journeys in life. Like The Life Aquatic, it's another transitional film for Anderson, an opportunity for him to throw chaos into his obsessively orderly frames. As when Tiger Woods went through a bad patch of golf to alter his swing and raise the level of his game, Anderson will learn from this and make a great movie again someday. For now, what's missing between his early films and his most recent efforts is the difference between emotional shorthand and emotional shortchanging.

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