Fashion film has been in something of a slump. While the line of A-list directors willing to moonlight in the medium is still long (most recent example: Scorsese for D&G), the promise that caught our eye when we first highlighted fashion films over 3 years ago seems to be lost—narrative ambition and formal innovation have receded, and a big name doesn’t obfuscate the fact that most of the work is eye candy, indistinguishable from the industry’s traditional TV spots.
Thank goodness for Wes, who never treats his paycheck jobs like just another paycheck (most beloved example). After teasing us with a sexy and fun New Wave homage in a (too) short series for Prada’s “Candy L’Eau” fragrance, he has just debuted a new 8min short for the Italian brand that sees him cinephilically time travel once again, this time to the Italy of Fellini.
Screen Daily was at the Rome Film Festival premiere, and had some interesting nuggets from Anderson’s talk. The film was shot at Cinecitta Studios, where La Dolce Vita was made, and was inspired by a scene in Amacord.
In the short, frequent collaborator Jason Schwartzman plays a too cool for school race car driver competing in 1955 Italy. He crashes his car in a small town, and discovers he has a connection to the place and people.
It’s light plotwise, but Anderson’s meticulous attention to elements of production design and humorous camera pack a lot of pleasure. In keeping with his body of work, the short features several long takes, with multiple camera moves and highly coordinated action. Schwartzman’s character, fast-talking, brash,and clearly angered by his crash, is contrasted with the still and laconic nature of the townspeople and their effortless cool and authenticity. It’s a showy and broadly comic role for Schwartzman as he transitions from his obscene self-centeredness, through a series of interactions, into a dawning realization of the significance of his circumstances.
Like Hotel Chevalier, the prequel short to The Darjeeling Limited which also featured Schwartzman (and famously, Natalie Portman’s butt), Castello Cavalcanti, is resolutely specific, confined to a single geographic space and time, but hugely evocative in what it hints at in character and backstory. With The Darjeeling Limited, that character was able to be further explored. Will that be the same case with our Cavalcanti protagonist? In Rome, Anderson revealed that he’d love to do a series of films for Prada, saying, “I love Jason’s character of this racing car driver in the 1950s and we think this could be the first chapter in an ongoing series.” We’re all for the idea!