Mini Review: Hotel Chevalier by Wes Anderson

Hotel Chevalier Screening at the Apple Store SohoUPDATE 3: Well, now that the credits are right there, that song is “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)” by Peter Sarstedt. It’s on the youtubes. It was his big #1 hit in ‘69. And I was close with the lyric, it’s “With your carefully designed topless swimsuit / You get an even suntan on your back and on your legs”. Which, you have to admit, is a pretty great thing to say.

UPDATE 2: Sam just pointed out that the short film is now available fo’ free on iTunes. Nice.

UPDATE: Oh, I totally forgot, but the scuttlebutt is that Hotel Chevalier will be available for free download on the iTunes music store sometime today. Not now, though. Sad.

So yesterday eve I was perusing Gothamist and stumbled across their posting of the Hotel Chevalier screening at the Apple Store SoHo. Not only was it a free screening but Wes, Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman would be there, too. So I rounded up the troop and we headed down. Sadly, I forgot to bring my camera, so the best I got was this one with the ol’ iPhone. Not bad, all things considered.

Now, I don’t know why I thought this, but the plan was to grab some dinner at Kelley and Ping’s at 7 and then mosey on over at 8 (it was slated to start at 9). When we got there though, we noticed that the line was already ridiculously long so we queued up at 7. Unfortunately they didn’t let in till well after 9 and because we were kinda at the back of the line we had really crappy views – for me it wasn’t too bad, I could see the movie and if I stood on my tippy tippy toes I could see the ensuing interviewers as well.

It was a 12 13 minute movie – a prequel to Darjeeling Limited, filmed a year before Darjeeling was written, I think they said. It is set completely in a hotel room featuring Jason and Natalie. I think I was pretty worried about this initially – I haven’t loved his most recent movies, but this short slowly but surely won me over. Initially, I felt it was more of the same – beautifully shot, quirky characters, childlike behaviour. But as the short moved on, it’s doggedly slow pace and very different approach to love ultimately seemed worlds away from his previous movies. With little dialogue (they said the script was 2.5 pages!) the feeling came from how Wes built in the silence. It was honestly amazing how much he conveyed with so little. It was 12 13 of my favourite Wes minutes since Rushmore. (another set of favourite minutes is the bee scene from Rushmore, but that’s neither here nor there) Very well worth seeing.

After that, Wes, Natalie and Jason came out to much applause for a little Q&A. The first question was directed at Natalie wondering about her decision to do the nude scene in the movie. To which she basically said, “Wes is the man, what can I say?” Then, sort of strangely and sort of not, the crowd pretty much didn’t ask her anything else directing most of the questions at Wes and Jason.

Wes gave his reasoning as to why he wasn’t showing the short with Darjeeling Limited. Which is that, he doesn’t want Hotel Chevalier to be seen immediately before the movie – he wanted a bit of space between one and the other. At the festival, they’d show the short and then come out and chat and then show the movie. Can’t really do that in the theaters. So, it might come up in the movies later and definitely on the DVD. I dunno how I feel about that, I think if he puts it in theaters later, it’ll be annoying and seem much more like a marketing ploy to get people to watch the movie twice. Still, if Darjeeling is as good as the short, it’ll work on me.

In general the Q&A was pretty interesting – my aging brain can’t remember much. They talked about how they wrote some of the script on a train in India and how they finished on top of a mountain. Must be nice to be a famous actor and director. :) They didn’t really talk enough about the music and scoring that is always so awesomely amazing in Wes’ films. This film featured a song with lines along these lines (paraphrased, my old brain, etc.. etc…) “Your carefully designed topless swimming suit / giving you an even tan on your back / and your legs” in some olde thyme rhythm. I had assumed it was written for the movie, but I think he said he just heard it and loved it.

The short gives me renewed hopes that Darjeeling’s going to be great. And it opens this saturday! I thought it was just showing at the NYFF and that I had long missed my chance to see it anytime soon but fortunately not, it’s opening on a few screens this weekend. Anyone down?

Oh, and if you don’t know what all the fuss is about and you haven’t seen them already you ought to go and rent Bottle Rocket and Rushmore. Post haste.

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