iTunes Movie of the Week: Wes Anderson's THE DARJEELING LIMITED (2007)

    We're big Wes Anderson fans here at Searchlight, so we were really pumped to work for him on 2007's THE DARJEELING LIMITED, and again on THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX in 2009. The tale of three quirky brothers who embark on a cross-country train ride in India, DARJEELING LIMITED is in the same curious vibe as Anderson's THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS and THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU–meaning that it's well worth the ride.

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    In director Wes Anderson's THE DARJEELING LIMITED, three American brothers who have not spoken to each other in a year set off on a train voyage across India with a plan to find themselves and bond with each other -- to become brothers again like they used to be. Their "spiritual quest", however, veers rapidly off-course (due to events involving over-the-counter pain killers, Indian cough syrup, and pepper spray), and they eventually find themselves stranded alone in the middle of the desert with eleven suitcases, a printer, and a laminating machine. At this moment, a new, unplanned journey suddenly begins. Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman star in this film about their adventure and their friendship.

    THE DRAJEELING LIMITED has a Fresh audience score of 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, and pulled in some rave reviews at the time of it's release. Here's what some of the critics had to day at the time:

    "Finally, Darjeeling is a movie about people who literally carry a lot of emotional baggage, metaphorically unpack it, and spiritually lighten their loads. By the end, I felt lighter. Which is closer to enlightenment than most movies get."--Carey Rickey, The Philadelphia Enquirer

    "The casting of the three brothers is also a good fit. Their personalities jostle one another in a family sort of way; they're replaying old tapes. Then they have unplanned adventures as a result of the obscure medications, and end up off the train and in the "real" India with all of that luggage. But Anderson doesn't have them discover one another, which would be a cliche; instead, they burrow more deeply inside their essential natures."--Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times

    The tone of lyric melancholy is remarkably sustained. Anderson wrote The Darjeeling Limited with Schwartzman and Roman Coppola. They’re gifted, clever men, but none of them have much perspective on their characters’ overentitlement. What they know, of course, is what it’s like to grow up with insanely narcissistic parents who leave them both spoiled and bereft—globe-trotting basket cases.--David Edelstein, New York Magazine

    In "Bottle Rocket,"Rushmore,"The Royal Tenenbaums" and "The Life Aquatic," Anderson has created a rigorously art-directed alternate universe where sensitive, self-involved, youngish men struggle to make peace with their egocentric parents and chase elusive love objects. And so it is in "The Darjeeling Limited," a movie that is nonetheless touching and effervescent with charm."--Colin Covert,  Minneapolis Star Tribune

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    If you saw THE DARJEELING LIMITED in theaters, you may have also caught HOTEL CHEVALIER, a companion short that Wes Anderson directed, starring Jason Schwartzmann and Natalie Portman. From the fim's Wikipedia entry:

    Director Wes Anderson first approached actors Schwartzman and Portman about Hotel Chevalier in 2005. Schwartzman and Anderson had previously worked on Rushmore (1998), Anderson's cult second feature, and had been living together in Schwartzman's Paris apartment in the months leading up to the shoot. Portman was approached after the director obtained her email address from Scott Rudin, producer of 2004's Closer in which she starred. The actors appeared for free, and Anderson financed the remainder of the production himself. It was filmed at the Hôtel Raphaël in Paris, which had previously been used as a setting for the films Love in Paris (1996) and Place Vendôme (1998). It was shot by a crew of 15 using Panavision film stock and props from Anderson's apartment. Filming took two and a half days, and editing (done on Anderson's computer) another week. Despite his use of a wardrobe from prestigious fashion designer Marc Jacobs and a handmade suitcase from Louis Vuitton, the director described the production as "like making a student film".

    Anderson initially intended it to be a stand-alone short film, but shortly before filming commenced, he realized that Schwartzman's character bore a close resemblance to one of the protagonists of a feature film he was writing at the time. That film would begin production a year later as The Darjeeling Limited. Chevalier takes place two weeks before Schwartzman's character (named Jack Whitman in the feature) joins his two older brothers on a journey in India in Darjeeling. The dialogue between the characters at the end of Chevalier is recounted by Schwartzman's character to his brothers at the close of the feature film, in the form of an excerpt from a short story he has composed. Portman's character has a brief cameo in the feature. Fox Searchlight Pictures, the studio that backed Darjeeling, was unaware of the short until the feature had been made and claimed to have no financial interest in it.

    Here's a brief video of Wes Anderson and Jason Schwartzmann discussing HOTEL CHEVALIER:

    And the trailer for THE DARJEELING LIMITED. Enjoy!

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