Wes Anderson in Italy: Castello Cavalcanti
staring Jason Schwarzman
The Italian Caffé
How many of you have travelled to Italy in hopes of finding the perfect caffé? If you could design it from scratch what would the caffé look like? Possibly a dimly lit street scene where the sign over the door glows off of the heavily worn pavers out front. To the left, sits a group of old men sipping small cordials of Italian liqueurs, which purport to help things like digestions. When in reality they are a pleasant, almost sweet way, for the elder tribesmen to keep a happy buzz as they alternate between their card games and the young girls who work in the caffe. There is a baby at the next table…because no Italian scene would be correct without the ever present reminder that man’s sole purpose on this earth is to procreate. If you have been to Italy and are old enough to have children but don’t, you will know what I mean.
Inside there is always a duo working the tables and the kitchen. The female figure is best outlined as a strong, disinterested type who looks as if she might carry a boot knife. Floating in a daze, the kind that has made slow Italian service famous, she stands not at attention, but like a goddess who is allowing you to view her. Then from the kitchen comes the brute yells of the chef, possibly her brother or husband. Their exchanges are fiery and they assure you that nothing is the matter. Its just the way they speak. This sounds like the type of place I would like to visit. Well until we find our perfect caffe, Wes Anderson gives us a few ideas to go on in this short piece staring Jason Schwartzman.
The Travel Piece
For those of you who are not familiar with Wes Anderson, but enjoy photography abroad I suggest you give his films a try, or a second try. Admittedly not all of his films won me over on the first round. But when I return to them, they bring me to a place far away with a sensibility that seems familiar. For the photographer, he consistently demonstrates how the details of a scene matter. The arbitrary nature of photography while traveling often falls short in meaning, visual impact, and overall effect. Anderson gives every one of his imaginary worlds a complete overhaul. While I was in Japan, I brought a copy of The Darjeeling Limited. The bulk of the movie was filmed on a train that was outfitted specifically for the film. In true Indian style, the train continued to operate on a quasi normal schedule while filming, but all of the stenciled interiors and painted cabins were customized for the film. You can take or leave the story about the three brothers on a botched spiritual quest (I enjoyed it and its absurdity) but the real take away for the photographer is that when you can shoot a scene where everything from the clothing, lighting, and architecture are considered the effect is far beyond the photo journalists reality. I will be doing a few more article on Anderson’s works over the next few weeks, because he has a lot to offer and quite frankly, I enjoy his mini worlds. In the mean time, enjoy Castello Cavalcanti and stay tuned for more.