Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Castello Cavalcanti (2013) ***½

NR, 8 min.
Director/Writer: Wes Anderson
Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Giada Colagrande

Jason Schwartzman is perhaps the perfect actor for Wes Anderson, who has used the actor in most of his movies and launched the Copolla-related actor’s career with his sophomore picture “Rushmore”. Schwartzman is the perfect Wes Anderson character. He delivers all his lines as earnestly as possible and yet some doubt always seems to linger under the surface of the confidence of everything he utters. He’s the human contradiction Anderson believes all his characters to be.

Now, in between their theatrical releases “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, Anderson and Schwartzman offer this Prada produced 8 minute short, “Castello Cavalcanti”. I’m not really sure what Prada’s interest in this film was, other than having their name plastered across the main character’s racing suit, but I’m glad they made it.

Like so many of Anderson’s films, we find ourselves presented with a provocative set up using his typical unit shots of a town that seems to be sitting around waiting for something to happen. We pan from one group of people to the next with no real introductions, but each seems to exist on their own terms, yet within the same setting. Then we discover they really were waiting for something to happen as a series of motorcars race through the town square and all the people pull out their flags and cheer as if this is the only eclipse of the sun they will see in their lifetimes. Then the racers are gone.

Minutes later another car comes racing into the square and with typical Anderson ingenuity, we hear the car careen to a crash off camera. We pan across the square and there’s the car smashed into the center square statue and Schwartzman is climbing out of it claiming it was all the car’s fault, or more accurately his brother’s for putting the steering wheel on backwards. It’s a circle, isn’t it?

But, Schwartzman isn’t really a jerk in this movie; he just comes across as one at first, as is often the case with him. He actually has heart and so does the movie, which then careens like the car into unexpected territory for its hero.

This is a sweet little movie. That’s one of the things that I like so much about the short film format. You can call one “sweet” and “little” and it will actually be a genuine compliment instead of backhanded one. It’s also a perfect little Anderson type of universe where you get to see a different side to human nature, one that can only be witnessed from Anderson’s unique perspective. This was a nice appetizer for “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. I don’t know if it was intended to be, but that’s how I’m taking it.

Watch the movie in its entirety below.

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