The Seersuckered Prince of Twee
Raise your hand if you thought that at the end of the Life Aquatic Jason Schwartzman might gallop to the front of the theater in a blue velvet suit and conduct a brief Q&A about the cinematography. Anyone? No? Just … Read More
Raise your hand if you thought that at the end of the Life Aquatic Jason Schwartzman might gallop to the front of the theater in a blue velvet suit and conduct a brief Q&A about the cinematography. Anyone? No? Just me, I guess.
I've hated Wes Anderson since he put a leather bonnet on an eagle named Mordechai. Emo may just be the only artistic cant to have infiltrated the three big contemporary media of music, film and literature. (Wait for Robert Mapplethorpe's Toby Maguire series for painting to fall, too.)
If matter can't occupy the same space, then what kind of cosmological meltdown awaits when Belle and Sebastian, Wes Anderson and Jonathan Safran Foer mosey into Cafe des Artistes all wearing the same pastel polka dot bow tie?
Self-infatuated arrested development has become the new modernism. But it wasn't until I read Jonah Weiner's top-drawer essay in Slate, a thoughtful review of Anderson's latest film the Darjeeling Limited, that I realized just how condescending and sinister most of it really is:
Like his peers Zach Braff, Noah Baumbach (who directed the excellent Squid and the Whale and co-wrote Life Aquatic), and Sofia Coppola (whose brother Roman helped write Darjeeling Limited), Wes Anderson situates his art squarely in a world of whiteness: privileged, bookish, prudish, woebegone, tennis-playing, Kinks-scored, fusty. He's wise enough to make fun of it here and there, but in the end, there's something enamored and uncritical about his attitude toward the gaffes, crises, prejudices, and insularities of those he portrays. In The Darjeeling Limited, he burrows even further into this world, even (especially?) as the story line promises an exotic escape. Hands down, it's his most obnoxious movie yet.
"The Boy with the Arab Strap": "The Asian man / With his love-hate affair / With his racist clientele." (How clever. Now listen to Morrissey's "Svengali in Platforms" for a real taste of cultural risk.) Lost in Translation: "Lip my stocking." I could go on…
Actually, the best treatment of over-privileged white ennui in the last decade was a film now known dormitories over as a guilty pleasure: Cruel Intentions. No one in that 90210-ish update of Les Liaisons dangereuses was likable, not even I'm-saving-myself-for-the-pool-scene Reese Witherspoon, except for the black student Ronald, who was brighter than everyone else and used Upper West Side racism to his advantage. Also, he killed Ryan Phillipe, which is worth a thousand Coppolas of the Sorrowful Countenance.