Wes Anderson, it seems, has entered his European period. His next feature film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, which comes out in March, takes place in its titular location. His new short film Castello Cavalcanti, too, takes place in its titular location, a hamlet tucked away somewhere undisclosed in Italy. Then again, hasn’t Anderson, aesthetically and referentially speaking, always enjoyed something of a European period? (Maybe we can call it European by way of his native Texas, which, for me, only adds to the visual interest.) This, combined with his apparent fascination with the objects and built environment of the early- to late-middle twentieth century, has won him a great many fans sympathetic to his sensibilities. (Along with, of course, a handful of detractors less sympathetic to them.) This brief but vibrant new piece should, for them, resonate on several levels at once.
Anderson transports us to Castello Cavalcanti in the suitably midcentury year of 1955. The quiet evening scene, exuding that richly Italian feeling falling somewhere between idyll and indolence, splinters apart when a race car crashes into the center of town. Out of the wreck emerges the unscathed but enraged driver: Jed Cavalcanti, played by none other than Jason Schwartzman, star of Anderson’s 1998 breakout Rushmore. Once his anger at his brother-in-law mechanic cools — evidently, the steering wheel got screwed on backward — the Italian-American Cavalcanti realizes he may have driven not only straight into his own ancestral village, but into the company of his ancestors themselves. These charming and vividly colorful seven Andersonian minutes come brought to you by Prada, who, apart from our hero’s racing suit, don’t seem to have left many overt stamps on the finished product. Prada’s prices may still keep me away from their door, but their taste in directors sure won’t.
Castello Cavalcanti will be added to our collection of 600 Free Movies Online.
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.