Not only is this post the conclusion to Wes Anderson Month, but I have also used this opportunity to talk about a few more parts of Anderson’s movies which I have not touched on yet. At the end you will find my personal rankings of each of his films. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.
Definition: Wes Anderson film
1- a motion picture written and directed by Wes Anderson
2- a movie containing a soundtrack of 1960s British pop music, an offbeat sense of humor, symmetrical framing, yellow titles, and Bill Murray or Owen Wilson.
Thoughts on the Music:
One aspect of Anderson’s films which I always enjoy is the music. The tunes are usually unfamiliar to me, yet I often connect to them immediately. This is a testament to the craftsmanship of the filmmakers as well as the musicians. While everyone of the soundtracks that I enjoyed this month were good, two in particular stood out to me:
The early frontrunner for my favorite Wes Anderson soundtrack was the music of Fantastic Mr. Fox. The film’s score, composed by Alexandre Desplat, is excellent, communicating the adventure and playfulness of the story in addition to the characters’ complex emotions. There are also several songs from the ’60s/’70s sprinkled throughout the picture. The music of Burl Ives and the Beach Boys can be expected. Nearly every time I see this film, either “Heroes and Villains” by the Beach Boys or “Let Her Dance” by the Bobby Fuller Four settles into my brain for a few hours. Then there’s “Petey’s Song,” written and performed by Jarvis Cocker, which is an unforgettable, hilarious show-stopper.
Looking back, I believe I was a little too hard on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou when I reviewed it back at the beginning of February. Even though I didn’t fall head over heels for the movie, I immediately fell in love with some of the music I heard. The score was by Mark Mothersbaugh, co-founder of the new wave band Devo, who also composed the score of Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Moonrise Kingdom. However, while the score in The Life Aquatic is great, I thought the real highlight of the film’s soundtrack was the music of David Bowie. Songs like “Life on Mars?,” “Starman,” and “Rebel Rebel” are applied perfectly here; the performance of these pieces by Seu Jorge (in Portuguese) is magical. Of course, I also have to mention the Zombies’ sublime “The Way I Feel Inside,” which is brilliantly sampled as well.
Thoughts on the Influences:
While there has never been a filmmaker like Wes Anderson, there have been great artists who have influenced his work. In a wonderful essay, The Royal Tenenbaums: Fading Glories, Kent Jones lists some similarities between the director and Preston Sturges, noting that they both have “a similarly keen ear for gaudy dialogue; a gift for surprise and for topping one joke with a bigger one; a knack for rooting out archetypes hitherto untouched in movies; and a penchant for making films that feel like pageants, composed of a democratically diverse cross section of humanity.”
However, Jones then proceeds to write, “There the similarities end. Unlike Sturges, Anderson is fixated on failure, hesitation, depression. He has a very keen sense of class envy.” Indeed, few directors of comedy have dealt so often with class relations. Could this have originated from Anderson’s admiration of Buñuel? While naming The Exterminating Angel among his ten favorite Criterion films, Anderson said this of the movie’s director, Luis Buñuel. “He is my hero. Mike Nichols said in the newspaper he thinks of Buñuel every day, which I believe I do, too, or at least every other.”
I have said that I have found some of Anderson’s characters to be difficult to like. Reading Ebert’s write-up on The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie revealed to me that this was another parallel between the work of Anderson and Buñuel: both are often likely create characters that “are often selfish and self-centered.” The similarities may end there, but Anderson would undoubtedly have made completely different films without the influence of one of the greatest filmmakers of all-time.
Thoughts on The Grand Budapest Hotel:
This is the title of Anderson’s next film, which is scheduled to release in 2014. According to IMDb, the movie will center on “the troubles and tribulations of Mr. Gustave, who serves as the hotel’s perfectly composed concierge.” Ralph Fiennes is reportedly set to star as Mr. Gustave. The rest of the cast will include Saoirse Ronan, Ed Norton, Jude Law, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, and F. Murray Abraham. Interviews have also revealed that the story will take place primarily in 1930s Europe with a few parts taking place during the ’60s.
Of course, I’m anxious to see what Anderson produces next year. I believe that he is currently on a marvelous string of movies (Darjeeling, Mr. Fox, Moonrise) and that his distinct visual sense is only becoming more fascinating which each movie that he directs. Prospects could not look better, especially with the outstanding cast of actors which he has accumulated.
5 Things I Learned from Wes Anderson Month:
Before unveiling my rankings, I feel compelled to share a few short lessons that I have learned from my journey this past month:
1) Owen Wilson can act.
2) Bottle Rocket and The Darjeeling Limited are underrated.
3) There is no such thing as a bad Wes Anderson soundtrack.
4) Anderson’s films are loved by many movie-goers, but there are plenty of people who can’t stand them.
5) There are still original and talented filmmakers working in the comedy genre.
Ranking the Films:
So here are my preferences when it comes to the Wes Anderson filmography. Certain spots were difficult to fill, especially the number 1 slot, which I easily could have given to any of my top 3 or 4 picks. But in the end, this is probably the most accurate ranking of these movies, which are all good and worth-while pictures. Click on one of them to read my review:
I’m not the only Wes Anderson fan in my family. My sister was able to join me in traveling through the Anderson catalogue and she even provided an estimated ranking of her own. Interestingly enough, her list is extremely similar to mine…
1) The Darjeeling Limited
2) Moonrise Kingdom
3) Fantastic Mr. Fox
4) Bottle Rocket
5) The Royal Tenenbaums
6) The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
With a Little Help from My Friends:
This pastmonth wouldn’t have been nearly as fun without you all reading my reviews and giving me feedback, so now I’d like to return the favor to some of you. Also, readers can use the links below to find some other opinion’s on Anderson’s movies. Please take some time to visit all of these awesome blogs!
-A short review of Bottle Rocket at the IPC.
-Two write-ups on Rushmore from Committed to Celluloid and Fog’s Movie Reviews.
-A great piece of artwork and a review of The Royal Tenenbaums at Criterion Affection.
-3 Guys 1 Movie reviews The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
-Life Between Films’s piece on the short, Hotel Chevalier.
-Mark Waller of Marked Movies on his favorite Anderson film, The Darjeeling Limited
-Three reviews of Moonrise Kingdom from CinEnemA, the Cinematic, and Film Hipster.
Just in case you didn’t get a chance to read them, below are three links to my miscellaneous Wes Anderson posts which have arrived throughout the month:
I had a great time last month and I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did! Thanks for reading!