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November 23 - 29, 2007
Ottawa Edition
Movie Review
‘The Darjeeling
Epoch Times U.K. Staff
Weird and wacky, insightful and
intriguing, that’s Wes Anderson’s
M.O. An auteur filmmaker with an
infallible oeuvre, Anderson makes
movies of a certain ilk for moviegoers
with an acquired taste. But if his distorted world-view is your bag (baby),
then there’s nothing better. And if
you enjoyed his previous efforts, then
you’ll love “The Darjeeling Limited.”
Written by Anderson in collaboration with real-life friends Roman
Coppola and indie darling Jason
Schwartzman (“Shopgirl”) during
an art-imitating-life train trip of their
own, “The Darjeeling Limited” is yet
another Anderson film preoccupied
with the dysfunctional family.
Estranged and strange, the
Whitman brothers Francis (Owen
Wilson), Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack
(Schwartzman) haven’t spoken for a
year since their father’s funeral. Now
they’re lumped together on a train voyage across the Indian plains on a spiritual quest to “bond, seek the unknown,
and be open to everything.”
Veering off course when their
petty squabbles get them thrown off
the titular train, the brothers find
themselves stranded in the middle of
the desert with only their matching
luggage, a printer, and a laminator
for company. Thus begins an odyssey
none of them expected…
Surreptitiously taking you on a
journey from quirky, oddball comedy
to an involving portrait of loss, love,
life, and death, “The Darjeeling
Limited” will adroitly work its way
under your skin to leave a lasting
impression. Layered with metaphors
(umm… matching luggage—or is
that baggage—anyone?) and hidden
meanings, it is a movie that lets the
audience fill in the blanks, allowing
them their own personal experience
of the adventure.
Though growing on you in much
the same way as the movie itself, the
Whitman brothers initially come
across as arrogant, affluent, and
conceited. It’s only as you come to
realize they are more damaged than
initial appearances suggest (except for
the mummy-like Francis, obviously)
that you begin to become involved
with their inner issues. Brought to
life by a triumvirate of talented actors, “Darjeeling” features top-notch
performances from the versatile
Brody and unconventional everyman
Schwartzman, as well as a never-better turn from Wilson (with some current, real-life connotations enhancing
his performance).
Lurching from funny scenario to
funny scenario rather than winding
its way through a flowing narrative,
“Darjeeling” is a film more interested
in moments than in a cohesive whole.
And it does not suffer for this, as each
and every moment Anderson makes
you privy to is either an amusing or a
touching one. Unfortunately, it would
be bad form to describe even one of
the veritable smorgasbords of outlandish situations and comic mishaps
that befall the brothers Whitman as
this would entirely affect the enjoyment of it. But your mind can rest
assured that any film containing the
line “I love you too, but I’m gonna
mace you in the face” followed by
a superb slapstick bundle between
three oddball brothers is undoubtedly
going to be an entertaining piece of
‘Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium’
Movie Review
Natalie Portman and Dustin Hoffman
on their recently released fantasy film
By LIDIA LOUK Epoch Times New York Staff
Magorium’s Wonder
Emporium” starring Dustin
Hoffman, Natalie Portman,
Jason Bateman, and child
actor Zachary Mills opened
in U.S. theaters on Nov. 16.
Despite the all-star cast, the
main character is actually the
film’s other title character—the
most fantastic and wonderful
toy store in the world.
The Wonder Emporium is
to toys what Willy Wonka’s
Chocolate Factory is to
candy—magical and a bit
mysterious. The store is able to
come alive and helps characters discover their true selves.
Two-time Oscar winner
Dustin Hoffman plays the 243year-old store owner, who possesses the unique skill of finding
the magic in everyone around
him. In preparing to play this
aged character, he shared at
the film’s New York press
conference that prosthetics
weren’t necessary to make Mr.
Magorium into a character that
the audience would believe.
“What’s important is if you
think you can believe. . .You
just have to have 5 percent of
the character in you. . .My character is a kid who did not want
to grow up. I had that in me.”
The word “play” also has a
philosophical undertone for
Dustin Hoffman and brought
him to reflect on the profession
of acting. He pointed to working on “Finding Neverland” with
Johnny Depp and director Marc
Forster when they once discussed
the playwright Arthur Miller.
Miller felt that a play is just a
play, intended to be drama performed by the actors. However,
Hoffman feels differently.
“My own feeling is that I
don’t think actors do anything
differently than all of us, because we all do that. We all act.
And we all play, and we all put
on a face depending upon what
it’s for.”
The young, Oscar-nomi-
BIG KIDS: Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman in a scene from the G-rated “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium,” a film that’s
appealing to both children and adults. FOX WALDEN
nated actress Natalie Portman
portrays Molly Mahoney, the
manager of the magic store.
For Portman, this was her first
film for children.
“It let me go back to my
childhood in a way. What was
interesting is that I started
working as a kid. You know,
I started working when I was
11, but I was never in a kids’
movie, and now I’m suddenly
in a kids’ movie, but I don’t get
a kid’s treatment, because I am
Holiday Movie Reviews
a grownup. That was sort of a
bizarre experience.”
Even though the special effects, stunning photography,
and a cornucopia of toys help
the audience embrace the kids’
wonderland, the film’s most
magical moments are the most
realistic and simple scenes,
such as Mr. Magorium dancing on bubble wrap in the park
the day before he is supposed
to die. This light-hearted and
humanistic film does not fall
short of tackling adult themes
of life and death, insecurity,
and finding one’s own path in
life. Natalie Portman found
a strong relation to what the
film’s main messages were.
“It’s that transition from
playing someone else’s [musical] pieces to writing your own
[musical] piece. And the metaphor is that of conducting your
own life rather than just playing music. It is about the courage to put yourself out there.
This is what I’m making, this is
me, this is a piece of me. What
do you think of it? Putting
yourself out there is a big deal,
and there is always this insecurity. And then it’s finding
magic in every moment. Can
we find magic in ourselves?
Directed by the brilliant writer Zach Helm
(“Stranger Than Fiction”),
“Mr. Magorium’s Wonder
Emporium” is a sweet holiday
treat for both kids and adults.
‘Fred Claus’ & ‘The Perfect Holiday’
The holiday season is officially underway. Here are two PG-rated, family
movies good for a few laughs and to help you get in the holiday spirit.
‘Fred Claus’
‘The Perfect Holiday’
Fred Claus has lived his entire life in his brother’s very large shadow. Fred tried, but
could hardly live up to the example set by the younger Nicholas, who was just a perfect,
well, saint. True to form, Nicholas grew up to be the model of giving, while Fred became
the polar opposite: a fast-talking repo man who’s run out of luck and money. Over Mrs.
Claus’s objections, Nicholas agrees to help his brother on one condition—that he come to
the North Pole and earn the money he needs by working in Santa’s Toy Shop. The trouble
is that Fred isn’t exactly elf material and, with Christmas fast approaching, Fred could
jeopardize the jolliest holiday of the year.
Nancy is a divorced mother of three who is so busy raising her children that she’s forgotten
to take care of herself. With Christmas coming, she decides to take her kids to the mall to meet
Santa Claus, not knowing that youngest daughter Emily has sensed her mother’s sadness and
is determined to use her time with Santa to make her mom happy again. Just a few days prior,
Emily heard her mom say that all she wanted for Christmas was a compliment from a man, so
that’s exactly what she tells Santa. Ironically, Santa, as it turns out, is office supply salesman and
struggling songwriter Benjamin, who ends up giving Nancy just what she wants for Christmas, and
much, much more.