Monday, November 21, 2011

Hotel Chevalier

"Hotel Chevalier," 2007, 13 minutes
Written and Directed by Wes Anderson
Starring Jason Schwarztman and Natalie Portman

"Hotel Chevalier" is a companion short and prologue to Wes Anderson's film "The Darjeeling Limited." It was released on the Internet and as a free download on iTunes prior to the film's release (I know, because I'm always one to take advantage of free iTunes downloads).

In this film, we don't know the characters names, nor do we know much about their backstory - everything is in the now. The short follows Schwartzman's character, who is seemingly living out of a Paris hotel. He receives a call from a woman, whom we assume is a girlfriend or ex-girlfriend. He cleans up the room before she arrives, and once she does, his submissiveness makes it clear that she, played by Natalie Portman, is an ex-girlfriend he has has been hiding from. Not much else happens in the short; the two talk about what Schwartzman is doing living in the hotel, they receive room service, engage in a little foreplay while discussing if they've slept with anyone else, etc. The short ends with a slow-motion shot of Schwartzman helping a naked Portman into a yellow robe, and leading her across the room to the balcony. The final shot is of the two staring looking out over the rail, then retreating back into the hotel room. The camera pans to the other building across the way.

I chose this short because I was reminded of it during today's discussion about the difference between a curated collection of shorts and an omnibus film. As stated above, "Hotel Chevalier" is a companion short and a prologue to Anderson's feature "The Darjeeling Limited." However, I think this film is unique in that the viewer does not need to have an understanding of the plot of "The Darjeeling Limited" to understand what is going on the short. I also think the the viewer doesn't feel obligated to watch "The Darjeeling Limited" after viewing the short (in fact, even though I haven't seen the feature, I don't think Portman is even in the film).

I also chose the film because it deals with something we haven't talked too much about: stardom. I will admit that the only reason I downloaded the film was because of Schwartzman and Portman. I think it is safe to assume that many others downloaded the short for that reason as well. We can also bring Anderson into the stardom conversation. He's a successful filmmaker and has a large fan following. Perhaps Anderson himself is a reason that the short was able to make it onto iTunes, which receives a great deal of traffic each day.

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