I appreciated Anderson's "The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001) but to me "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou" was borderline unwatchable. (How "Life Aquatic" ended up in the Criterion Collection is beyond me.)
With "Darjeeling," Anderson returns to form and to the subject of family, specifically three brothers played by Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman.
A year after the brothers' dad kills himself, they reunite in India with the intention of going on a spiritual quest. Instead, these intellectual goofballs fall into a series of misadventures: most of them funny ... one not. For much of the movie, it's in the passenger-train genre, too seldom seen these days.
"The Darjeeling Limited" feels like a wiser follow-up to "The Royal Tenenbaums." It's easily Anderson's best work, I'd say.
Fox's single-disc "The Darjeeling Limited" DVD comes with one extra, but it's a good one: The production featurette shows Anderson, co-writer/director Roman Coppola and company at work in India.
The short film "Hotel Chevalier" runs before the film, if you select that option (please do). This gem involves Schwartzman's character from "Darjeeling" in a hotel-room drama with his estranged girlfriend, played sexy-bitchy by Natalie Portman. It's erotic (she gets tastefully nude), funny and sad. In my mind, it'll always be the prologue to "Darjeeling."
I hesitated to watch the making-of while still under the spell of the film, but was delighted to find the little docu is in keeping with the loose spirt of the movie, a bit of dessert. There's no narrator or linear structure. A lot of attention is paid to the crafts work -- notably by Indian artists -- that produced such a visually immersive film.
Fox's DVD looks quite good, capably delivering all those bold primary colors. The audio is good enough, and has no problem delivering clear dialogue or selling the fine quirky soundtrack.
* * *
"30 Days of Night" tells of an Alaskan town that goes totally dark for a month each year. Communication to the outside world suddenly goes out, watchdogs are butchered, the only helicopter is sabotaged, and there's a mysterious stranger in town who resembles Tom Waits in "Bram Stoker's Dracula."
Josh Hartnett does an OK job as the sheriff, while Danny Huston slums cheerfully as the vampire pack's leader. It's all predictable, but "30 Days of Night" carries the tradition capably, with a few new twists. The movie is based on a graphic novel of some note.
The movie looks terrific on 30 Days Of Night">Sony's Blu-ray. Audio is powerful and the mix bursts about all six speakers. The extras are what you'd expect. Rent it.
* * *
CBS' "Comanche Moon" attracted and then repelled many fans of "Lonesome Dove," which is fondly remembered as the last of the great TV miniseries.
Larry McMurtry also wrote the source novel and co-wrote the script of this semi-sequel. The novel may be fine -- McMurtry is a great writer most of the time -- but this is just plain bad TV.
I only got through the first 40 minutes or so before invoking "life's too short," so consider this a warning, not a review. Some people do like bad westerns and this is for them.
Sony's DVD looks and sounds as it should.
Also circling the DVD blog's players this week are "Beowulf" in high-def, the "Color Honeymooners Collection 2" and Criterion's "The Last Emperor" (review to follow).
Pick of the week: The Last Emperor
Dog of the week: Comanche Moon
New and notable:
Beowulf Director's Cut (Paramount)
Color Honeymooners Collection 2 (MPI Home Video)
Comanche Moon (Lonesome Dove 2) (Sony)
The Darjeeling Limited (Fox)
Dark Shadows: The Beginning 3 (MPI Home Video)
Day Zero (First Look Studios)
Death at a Funeral (MGM)
The Fugitive: season 1, Vol. 2 (Paramount)
Goya's Ghosts (Sony)
Invisible Man Collection (Dark Sky)
The Last Emperor (The Criterion Collection)
1968 With Tom Brokaw (A&E Home Video)
Robyn Hitchcock: Sex, Food, Death ... And Insects (A&E)
Rough Diamond (Acorn Media)
The Smurfs season 1 (Warner)
30 Days of Night (Sony)