Friday, October 12, 2007

the view from the balcony tonight...

A grand night all around. Accompanied by the fair and sporting Miss Tricia, I caught a (second) screening of DARJEELING LIMITED, with the director and writer Wes Anderson, writer Roman Coppola (who directed the superfantastic CQ), and star Waris Ahluwalia (plays the porter on the Limited) in attendance, sitting for a post-movie Q&A session. How does the Brattle not kick ass? =)

Anderson, Schwartzman, and Natalie Portman created a short film "prequel" of sorts to DARJEELING LIMITED, entitled HOTEL CHEVALIER. It's been released online for free via iTunes, and I thought that the only time it would get big screen play was at the New York Film Festival premiere of LIMITED a few weeks ago. Turns out, the reel that played at the Brattle tonight included CHEVALIER as an appetizer. I personally think it's better experienced separate from the feature film. I watched it online a couple days before seeing LIMITED the first time, and I think the time/"distance" between my experience of the short film and that of DARJEELING enhanced the storytelling in both. The short itself feels a bit like an exercise, a lovingly constructed one, but not a complete tale. You certainly don't need to see it to appreciate DARJEELING, but I have to say, seeing DARJEELING definitely added to and augmented my appreciation of CHEVALIER.

In the course of the Q&A, director Wes said that he thinks that as DARJEELING opens in more theaters, HOTEL CHEVALIER will likely be included as an opening short, and of course, definitely on the dvd release.

I refrained from asking any questions myself. I had only two somewhat formulated.

1. What is the significance of Bill Murray's "man on the station platform?"

2. What is the deal with the little kid apparently holding a gun on Adrien Brody in the scene where he is praying in an Indian temple?

I did not go as far as asking them because I suspected that both would be answered with a "happy accident" sort of response, a phenomenon I feel is vital and intrinsic to the art of filmmaking. That is, these were elements of the film that were not designed with intentional meaning or subtext, but simply for "coolness," practicality, or serendipity. As the Coen brothers said about the hats in MILLER'S CROSSING, "Sometimes, a hat is just a hat." Director Wes fielded two other questions of the "happy accident" sort, addressing Jack's (Jason Schwartzman) going barefoot throughout both films as well as the significance of characters being submerged in water in DARJEELING and all of his other works.

Regarding my question 2, when talking it over w Tricia, I realized that the kid likely had an incense holder in his hands, and not an actual pistol. Still, I want to think that its appearance in the child's hands, as the form of a gun, could be significant, perhaps in a Lonely Hearts Club Band cover way.

As for question 1, I can see all kinds of possible readings of the man on the platform. I'll spare you them now, as they'd be a bit spoilery and probably tiresome.

I'd gone shopping during lunch to pick up some dvds—BOTTLE ROCKET and RUSHMORE—in the hopes that the guests would be available for autographs at the end of the evening. Alas, Jason, who was scheduled to appear, couldn't participate, done in by a broken foot. I would have had Wes sign both discs and Jason sign RUSHMORE. Unfortunately, the guests had to bolt after the Q&A to make a plane for their next destination. Nuts. Still, I'm glad I found the dvds for the two films I picked up. Except for DARJEELING, I haven't given Anderson's films more than single viewings so far, and feel that he peaked with his first release, BOTTLE ROCKET. RUSHMORE and LIMITED are next in my esteem, then ZISOU and lastly, TANNENBAUMS.

TRAPPED ASHES: tales from the creepshow...
BFFF 2007 | miceSpace

Once the Q&A wrapped up, I had to ditch Tricia and stick around for a late show of TRAPPED ASHES, the kickoff film of the Boston Fantastic Film Festival 2007. ASHES is a modern riff on the classic TALES FROM THE CRYPT model of horror filmmaking. That's the Peter Cushing TALES, not the Crypt Keeper one. The basic model—a group of strangers with no connection to each other are brought together in a situation that requires them to share their most frightening personal experiences. Half the stories were way over the top and a bit gonzo/scandalous, involving blood-sucking teats and a monster worm, but get some points for following thru unflinchingly on screen on their premises. I would've liked to see something a bit more imitative of the Hammer era horror films. This collection of shorts offers a variety of horroriffic textures, with each segment directed by a different modern cinematic horror and tall tale master, including the creators of retina-burning visions such as LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM, GREMLINS, THE MATRIX, and FRIDAY THE 13TH. As a result, compared to the original old school TALES FROM THE CRYPT-era inspirations, this anthology felt a little wilder, a bit TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, a bit CREEPSHOW, both good things, but unfortunately, not nearly as interesting, more late night Cinemax than I usually go for.

Still, did you catch that? Blood-sucking teats.

Okay, me sleep now.

Keep on creepin on~

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