Film/TV May 14, 2014 at 4:00 am

How Wes Anderson Went from a Fuckin' Innocent to a Civilized Wild Animal

Wes Anderson at his earliest and best, respectively.


There are many excellent articles about the work of WES ANDERSON in Slate magazine.
Bottle Rocket was my first Wes Anderson film and still my favorite. In fact, if I rank them, they almost go in the order they were made. I think Rushmore was the best presentation of his aesthetic, i always called it "high school play production on the big screen", and i feel like the rest of his films never quite captured it as perfectly again. I also think Bottle Rocket and Rushmore had real heart, something his later films lacked as he poured on the twee and quirk and drowned any real emotions out of his stories. I really felt for Dignan. I really felt for Max (and REALLY felt for his dad), but the last character I had a real emotional connection to was probably Ben Stiller's paranoid widower in Tennenbaums. I don't count myself as a hater, and I still watch all his films, but mostly I find them just nice to look at.
I read the other day that he's like the great-great-grandson (or something) of the guy who wrote the Tarzan books. I thought that was funny.
A great director has one statement or question they spend their entire career communicating to us. What a stupid statement.

Wes Anderson is irrepressible.

So how can one repress him?

The lack of interesting, dynamic female characters. That's the only beef I have. And I need to put it aside when I watch his movies, because I truly enjoy them. But you either have the stoic, beautiful, pained treasure-woman, or you have the wonderful old mother-crone. Or that slightly-shrewish Mrs. Fox. There are no female characters who are loveable fuckups like the characters that Jason Schwartzman or the Wilsons play. Some argue that Paltrow's character in Tennenbaums is a fuckup, but she's too gorgeous and quiet for that to have any real resonance. This omission of real, relatable females is somehow more difficult to see in his films than in the films of other directors. I think it's because the aesthetics somehow veil it, or distract the viewer from it.
Addendum and disclaimer: I haven't seen "moonrise kingdom." I've heard that one breaks the mold, which is cool.
Only two of his movies (Tenenbaums & Moonrise Kingdom) pass the Bechdel test, and only just barely. Absolutely pathetic. No more attention to these types of movies and directors, they're white male supremacy in film form.
I'd like to see a Wes Anderson-Johnny Depp collaboration. The super cloying and whimsical nature of it would make eyeballs explode in the theaters.

As Johnny studies up whatever ethnography he intends to plunder, Wes will be designing cutsy cutout sets that blend the design notions of IKEA with some nostalgic Euro-centrism.

After it's all been done, the Coen Brothers can edit in a single 15 minute landscap-y location shot. Something with a jeep or VW microbus moving turtle-like over the Southwest and which references Charley Varrick.
My only complaint is that he can't make a movie every year. I really love all of Wes Anderson's movie in varying degrees -- even Darjeeling isn't as disappointing as I remembered -- but agree with you about the pure perfection of Fantastic Mr. Fox. I know that a lot of people have a soft spot for Up, but it murders me to know that it took the Academy Award right out of Mr. Fox's paws.

We think raku is full o'shite.
great read.

i enjoyed darjeeling limited, and agree mr fox is his best work. haven't seen the hotel yet.
"Some argue that Paltrow's character in Tennenbaums is a fuckup, but she's too gorgeous and quiet for that to have any real resonance."

Yikes, really? The perceived beauty of the actor playing the role doesn't negate the complexity of the character. I wouldn't dismiss the importance of Richie -- another quiet character -- because I find Luke Wilson attractive (with the beard).

And how does Etheline's being a mother detract from her complexity as a character? She's definitely a better parent than Royal, but she's not defined by motherhood.
"Naturalism is the lie." Paul, I wonder if you're conflating naturalism with realism. They're quite different. Film noir is naturalist; cinema verite is realist.…

Bottle Rocket is amazing and I love it deeply. I saw it in the theater and it blew me away. What both it and Mr. Fox have in common is that they are both caper movies. Capers in film are escapist fantasies that have a lot in common with filmmaking itself: you assemble a crew of diverse talents, you make a meticulous plan, everything goes wrong, and through your wits and courage you pull it out of the fire.
Thank you! I love his films. I don't understand the people who think his films are precious or mannered. They break my heart every time.
I say The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is the best film that Wes Anderson has made.

Come at me.
#16, don't worry, I got your back. We'll take them on together. I adore Life Aquatic. All of it
I always thought the opening of American Beauty and the idea of "beautiful garbage" (the dancing plastic bag) was ripped off from the scene in Bottle Rocket where Inez and Anthony were talking about their feelings for one another through a translator:

Rocky: [translating for Inez] You're like paper. You know, you're trash.

Anthony: Like trash?

Rocky: You know, you're like paper falling by, you know... It doesn't sound that bad in Spanish...
I've never cared for Bottle Rocket, every time I've watched it I've struggled to get through it and by the end I'm left wanting to watch literally any of his other movies. Even The Darjeeling Limited. It's not something I've ever been able to put my finger on, as I love just about everything else he's done.

@16/17 The Life Aquatic is I think Anderson's most under-appreciated film. I'd rank it his second best after The Royal Tenenbaums.

@8 Transformers passes the Bechdel Test. Michael Bay must be your favorite director, what with him being such a staunch feminist ally with a deep respect for women.
I liked it better, Paul, in your rough draft, where it ended with

"... and it's the kind of hopeful statement that Anderson reserves for only the most divine moments in his movies, when all the artificiality and control builds to a moment of pure honesty and love, captured in a single perfect wrect angel."

Please wait...

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