Sunday, November 04, 2007

Pairs Spating

  • Movie Reviews 1: The Darjeeling Limited and Dan in Real Life. Darjeeling is yet more familial whimsy from Wes Anderson, and after the overindulgence of The Royal Tenenbaums and especially The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, I was prepared not to like it very much. But the director is working against a much wider background than usual -- the stunning beauty of India -- and with a much more limited principal cast -- only Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, and Adrien Brody; and those two factors seem to have humbled and focused him, so he develops the stories of their private disappointments and shared grief in a depth that, for once, isn't overwhelmed by the idiosyncratic (some would say cutesy) details. Though the details are there too, of course: custom-monogrammed suitcases, laminated schedules, the delight of a well-ordered train compartment, and color and music everywhere. Even if you get impatient with the film, wait around for a late dream sequence on the train -- a fantasy of order and harmony as beautiful as anything I've seen on film this year.
  • Movie Reviews 2: And Dan in Real Life. This film is probably not going to do that well -- the title is "Dan in Real Life," for one thing, and its poster features Steve Carell's head on a stack of pancakes, for another. But it really, really deserves to do well, and I hope you will go see it, because it's an intelligent, funny, character-driven grown-up romantic comedy, and if we want Hollywood to make more of those (which I do), the ones available to us have to make money. . . . Heck, I might have to see it again, and I honestly wouldn't mind. It opens with Carell as a trademark Good Guy -- the kind of dad who makes individual sandwiches for each of his three daughters. After they arrive at their family reunion, he slips away from the bustle one morning and meets Marie (Juliette Binoche), a beautiful, lively woman who listens to him, who clicks. But just as he's telling his family about this wonderful creature, his brother's new girlfriend arrives: Marie. Love and jealousy turn Dan into a jerk, but because you sympathize with him, the results are heart-wrenching as well as funny -- the kind of film where the audience says "Aww" and means it. (And there are some very funny bits with the family as well -- Dan's brothers tease him about a potential date with an improvised soul song titled "Ruthie Pigface Draper.") The director and screenwriter is Peter Hedges, of What's Eating Gilbert Grape and About a Boy, and if you appreciated those movies (or even if you didn't), you should see this one.
  • Me in Media 1: This is waaaayy out of date, but if you have never heard my dulcet tones and are desperate to do so (and I hope you can hear the sarcasm dripping off said tones right now), I was part of the child_lit picnic featured on the Fusenumber8 podcast here. (I'm the one talking about Forever as "first base in Chapter Four, second base in Chapter Five," etc., and later going on about the Vanishing Cabinet in Harry Potter.)
  • Me in Media 2: And I'm quoted in an online sidebar to a Horn Book article on sequels here.
  • Delightful Sports Link 1: My favorite sportswriter, Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star, now has a blog, where he continues to be funny, heartfelt, and amazingly verbose.
  • Delightful Sports Link 2: If you have not yet seen "the Trinity play," it is here, and it is hilarious. (Courtesy Five Bucks.)
  • Quote 1: "The most futile thing in this world is any attempt, perhaps, at exact definition of character. All individuals are a bundle of contradictions -- none more so than the most capable." -- Theodore Dreiser
  • Quote 2: "I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat ... Assuredly we bring not innocence into the world, we bring impurity much rather; that which purifies us is trial, and trial is what is contrary." -- John Milton


  1. Have you seen LARS AND THE REAL GIRL?

    It's a wonderful little movie. I've seen it twice.

  2. I've read great reviews for LARS and hope to see that and DAN soon. I love those types of films.

  3. I've sort of appreciated Wes' quirkiness of his other movies,
    but not fully embraced/loved them, but, because of your comments went to see Darjeeling,and wow,it really is his best.


  4. HI,
    I read great reviews for LARS. Like it Thank for posting this blog.....