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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

entry arrow11:22 AM | Colorful Claustrophobia

I have yet to see Fantastic Mr. Fox [2009], but why is it that I am beginning to feel that my swooning infatuation with Wes Anderson has come to an end? (God, I hope not.) He piqued my interest, in a minor way, with Bottle Rocket [1996], a strange cinematic tumble with a peculiarity of composition that immediately drew me in; that fascination only strengthened in Rushmore [1998]. But when I saw The Royal Tenenbaums [2001], I was in love. Here was a director with a film syntax all his own, somebody with a curious fascination for elaborate production design [can we call it the vintage New York hotel look?], enhanced color palette, and quirky characters, often very smart people at the end of their ropes hanging only with the bitterest but repressed hopes. [OMGLists has a "Five Signs You're Watching a Wes Anderson Movie" list.] Then The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou [2004] happened, and while the Anderson visual staples and quirks were still evident, it smacked of unribald indulgence. The story, despite having Bill Murray in it, had no heart. And alas, with The Darjeeling Limited [2007], which I saw last night, exactly the same conclusion can be drawn. Why should we care about this trio of brothers traveling across India by rail in both a spiritual quest and a search for the mother who has abandoned them? At the end of it all, I still had no answers. There is no emotional gravity here, and certainly no sense of expansive spirit, just a strange claustrophobia engendered by the cooped up space we had to squeeze into in the title train's corridors and carriages. Which is sad because India -- the country, the people, the culture -- is huge, but here it just becomes an excuse for Anderson to squander his overly saturated production design.

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