©2008 Big Empire Industries and Randy Shandis Enterprises
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This week:
The Darjeeling Limited

Filthy says:
"The Wes Anderson limitation!"

Have you ever been around someone who seems like a genius the first time you meet them. Maybe even in subsequent encounters they still strike you as brilliant. This has happened to me a shitload of times. Like the fat guy who lives in a converted shed down the street. He stopped me once while I was driving the Galaxie and told me the carb floats were set too high. The guy could tell just by hearing me drive by at idle.

If that's not genius, what is? I never heard that Einstein tuned a car by ear at twenty-five feet. The fat guy turned out to be a bonafide genius about carbs. A pedophile, too, but I didn't know that until the cops came around. After Fatty fixed my warm hardstarting with only a flathead screwdriver I started bringing all my problems to him. And he had a solution for everything. Drinking acetone cures impotence. Give my wife a tub of udder cream for Christmas. Urine stains can be taken out of carpet by urinating on them. If Mrs. Filthy's making me sleep in the garage, take this note over to that seven-year-old boy who is playing shirtless in his front yard. No, don't read it!

I learned that genius can be compartmentalized. Fatty may have known about carbs like I know the oeuvre of Candy Bottoms, but he was wrong about every other fucking thing he told me. The acetone made my stomach lining dissolve and I sweated blood for eight weeks. I ended up using all the udder cream one weekend in November when Mrs. Filthy was out of town and I found a stash of coffee-stained pornos behind the fire station. And urinating on urine stains just makes larger urine stains. Basically, I stopped asking that guy for advice about anything except carbs... and moisturizers.

Wes Anderson is a lot like Fatty Carb Man. Not necessarily a pedophile. Just a man whose genius is very compartmentalized. He's fun to meet, talk to a couple times, but then the law of diminishing returns kicks in and every subsequent visit is loaded with either bad information, or repetition. Pretty soon, you're dreading seeing Fatty, or Wes, because you know it's going to end badly.

I loved Wes Anderson's first two movies, Bottle Rocket and Rushmore. They're fucking brilliant. They were fresh, with a new tone, funny characters and real heros. Since then, though, Anderson's been running in place in the tiny compartment of his genius. He doesn't even seem to be trying to expand his abilities. What he appears to be doing is contracting the part of the movie he can control and supplant it with bigger budgets, more spectacular scenery and larger casts.

The Darjeeling Limited is fucking gorgeous to look at. A train ride through the exotica of India with cobras, bazaars, camels, one unbelievably hot (especially in glasses) Indian stewardess (Amara Karan) and painted cows. There are small rural villages and large temples, the crazy traffic and crush of its population. Oh, and least important, thjere is a nominal story of three brothers (Adrian Brody, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson) trying to reconnect one year after the death of their father. Wilson, apparently a millionaire, lures his two brothers onto the trip claiming it will be a spiritual journey that will heal the fractures among them. In reality, he's taking them to see their mother, who is now in a convent on a hilltop.

Each of the boys has some pop psychology problem that needs the fatherly guidance they no longer have. Schwarzman obsesses over an ex, Brody is about to have a child but isn't sure he's ready, and Wilson has just tried to commit suicide, clearly unhappy with his success and wealth.

None of that means much, though. It's just an excuse for what little taciturn, quirky dialog there is among these selfish siblings. The story is broken into three distinct acts. In the first, the brothers board the train, ride, tour the countryside and bicker. It's tedious and pointless. In the second, they rescue two Indian boys from drowning and are accepted into a rural village, despite the heavy sadness around the loss of a third boy. This is the only resonant and involving part of the story. In the third act, they continue their journey to meet their mother, who doesn't want to see them. Again, this part of the story has no thrust or importance. Although the incident with the boys is supposed to be the spiritual breakthrough the boys need, it isn't very well linked to the end or the beginning. It feels like an isolated moment of poignance in a story about boys who are so emotionally retarded they are beyond redemption.

I don't know if Anderson thinks everyone is always unhappy. In Rushmore, Max Fisher is relentlessly happy and resilient. He is the sould of the movie and the joy is watching his ignorant can-do spirit rub off on sad sacks. B ut now, Anderson isn't able to bring joy to anything. He's just working with the sad sacks, and as long as they're self-absorbed, unhappy and plan to stay that way, they might as well be middle-class housewives in New Yorker short stories, or the stars of MTV's

Anderson can make a gorgeous movie. He captures India in a non-cloying way, where unusual things like wildlife and palaces are side by side with rickshaws and huts. I imagine it's both a flattering and realistic view of the country. What he can't do is get out of his God damn shell long enough to give us a reason to give a fuck about these asshole brothers. They are quirkly, and speak in short, staccato bursts. They reveal some unusual insights, but the movie also dwells too long on the obvious: the train ride is like the ride of life; their father's physical luggage represents their emotional luggage; blood is thicker than water; you can't plan a spiritual awakening. It's almost as though the director believes more in technique than what he has to say anymore.

The Darjeeling Limited makes me want to go to India. But not with these assholes. They can ride the train alone and keep all their selfish misery bottled up. Anderson is probably stilla genius, but I think I don't need him anymore. Two Fingers.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Pete Hammond (of course)

Rendition is "Guaranteed to get your heart racing!"

Reservation Road "Rips into you like a hurricane! Suspenseful, emotional and completely engrossing throughout!"

"You'll love" The Darjeeling Limited.

The Kingdom is "a riveting, hold-your-breath ticking time-bomb of a movie!"

Control is "an exceptional film. This is one of those rare gems you must not miss!"

Really, Pete? I thought they were all rare gems to you.

Filthy's Reading
Colin Woodard - The Republic of Pirates

Listening to
Neutral Milk Hotel - Everything Is


The Great Race