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The Good, The Bad and the Badass: Wes Anderson

1 year agoby:

Last week we looked at the brilliant career of the late Harold Ramis, whose frequent collaborator, Bill Murray, is also a favourite of this week's subject...

Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson is a genre unto himself. You either love his stuff or you hate it. Luckily, the vast majority of moviegoers and critics fall into the former category and not the latter. As far as I'm concerned, he's one of the few geniuses currently working in film, and whenever he's got something new coming out I go crazy with anticipation.

What's especially wonderful about his movies is that they're pure adult escapism. When you buy a ticket to a Wes Anderson film, you're basically surrendering to his skewered, heavily stylized vision of reality for two hours. In the Wes Anderson universe, everyone is quirky and dresses in ill-fitting blazers and trousers that are an inch too short, family drama is a given, and a mod British rock soundtrack underscores everything.

Since bursting onto the scene with 1996's BOTTLE ROCKET, Anderson's made eight movies. Each film has been almost universally acclaimed by the critics, and he's so well respected that The Criterion Collection has the exclusive North American rights to his catalogue, which is an honour that I believe is unique to Anderson, but one he thoroughly deserves. It's his unique sensibility and sense of style (which is easy to lampoon, such as on SNL's dead-on “The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Invaders” sketch) that's given him such an exalted place in American film, even if – astonishingly – he's yet to win an Academy Award, or have one of his films nominated for Best Picture. That said, with THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL raking up such incredible notices, maybe this will be the year? Even if that doesn't happen, Anderson likely has another twenty-to-thirty years of classics up his sleeve, so sooner or later he'll get his due.

His Best Film

For me, this is really a toss-up between RUSHMORE and THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS. I'm giving RUSHMORE the edge for two reasons. One, it was the first time Anderson collaborated with Bill Murray, and since them Murray's become an essential ingredient in all of his films, regardless of whether he's the lead (as in LIFE AQUATIC) or appearing in a wordless cameo (THE DARJEELING LIMITED). Pre-RUSHMORE, Murray's career was faltering through a series of uninspired comedies (LARGER THAN LIFE, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO LITTLE), but his work with Anderson reinvigorated his career and helped him transition into quirkier, interesting parts. I doubt Murray would have ever done something like LOST IN TRANSLATION or BROKEN FLOWERS if it was not for his work with Anderson.

The other reason I'm choosing RUSHMORE is that it happens to be the first Wes Anderson film I ever saw. I remember it well. RUSHMORE opened in very limited release in late fall of 1998, and I saw it at the massive Loews cinema in Montreal (which sadly closed soon after) with some friends who – I suppose – were excited to see the “new Bill Murray comedy”. Inconceivably my friends hated it, but from the opening montage of Max Fisher's clubs set to Creation's “Making Time” I was hooked. Being seventeen at the time, it was easy for me to relate to Jason Schwartzman's Fisher, and in the years since I've seen the movie countless times. It's one of my all-time favorites, but then again, ROYAL TENENBAUMS is just about its equal.

His Most Overrated Film

This is a tough one for me as I honestly can't recall ever being unimpressed with Anderson's work, or thinking it was overrated. Probably the closest was with THE DARJEELING LIMITED. It's a good film, but Anderson made a bad mistake by making the “Hotel Chevalier” short such an important ingredient in the film (it's almost incomprehensible without it) but then having it shown theatrically minus the short, which was only tacked on to critics' screenings and festival dates, until the film was reissued after a few weeks of mediocre box office. By doing this he shot himself in the foot, and it's worth noting that in all of its home video incarnations “Hotel Chevalier” is included. To this day, THE DARJEELING LIMITED is considered his weakest film, and while I agree, Anderson at his worst is still better than anyone else at their best.

His Most Underrated Film

At the time, THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU was Anderson's most ambitious film. Boasting a giant (for Anderson) $50 million budget, and with stories suggesting a production run amuck, when it came out LIFE AQUATIC was rather coolly received by critics, scoring a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, and not garnering any Oscar nominations. It was also a box-office bomb by virtue of the gross-to-budget ratio. As far as I'm concerned, it's one of Anderson's best, and Bill Murray should have been nominated for an Oscar as the iconic Steve Zissou. Luckily, in the ten years since it hit theatres its picked up a massive cult following, so while it was underrated at the time, nowadays most fans consider it one of his best films.

His Most Memorable Scene

There are so many scenes to choose from, but for me, I'll never forget being on my feet and cheering during Bill Murray's big pirate shootout in THE LIFE AQUATIC. It's so totally unexpected, and Murray's great as he runs around the boat – action hero style – wildly shooting a gun (but only nicking one pirate) and dodging grenades as Iggy Pop's “Search & Destroy” plays on the soundtrack.

His Top-Five Films

5. THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU
4. BOTTLE ROCKET
3. MOONRISE KINGDOM
2. THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS
1. RUSHMORE

Up Next

With THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL having just opened in limited release (it hasn't hit Montreal yet so I haven't had the chance to see it) we probably won't be hearing much from Anderson for the next year or so. Typically he makes a film every two years or so, meaning he'll probably come out with something new around 2016, although if he's working on anything it's still being kept quiet.

Source: JoBlo.com

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12:04AM on 03/11/2014
Rushmore is overrated. YUCK!!!

I love everything else from him though.
Rushmore is overrated. YUCK!!!

I love everything else from him though.
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11:19AM on 03/10/2014
I agree with The LIfe Aquatic being underrated. That is tied with The Royal Tenenbaums as my favorite WS film. If I was forced to choose between them I'd say RT is slightly better.

Most overrated is easily Moonrise Kingdom. I actually hated that movie immensely, and it felt like Wes Anderson trying to make a Wes Anderson movie more than one that his style was a natural part of. I equate it to Panic Room, where you could see the studio telling David Fincher "just do all the cool stuff
I agree with The LIfe Aquatic being underrated. That is tied with The Royal Tenenbaums as my favorite WS film. If I was forced to choose between them I'd say RT is slightly better.

Most overrated is easily Moonrise Kingdom. I actually hated that movie immensely, and it felt like Wes Anderson trying to make a Wes Anderson movie more than one that his style was a natural part of. I equate it to Panic Room, where you could see the studio telling David Fincher "just do all the cool stuff you did in Fight Club ."

My children probably watch The Fantastic Mr. Fox 5 times a week. By their own request.
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10:33AM on 03/10/2014
I'd also like to a add Fantastic Mr. Fox as my favorite Wes Anderson film, by far (and I like all his movies a lot). I actually believe FMF to be the funniest movie of all time. It is too bad it came out the same year as Up, because Up might be my favorite movie of all time and did in fact deserve the Oscar that year.
I'd also like to a add Fantastic Mr. Fox as my favorite Wes Anderson film, by far (and I like all his movies a lot). I actually believe FMF to be the funniest movie of all time. It is too bad it came out the same year as Up, because Up might be my favorite movie of all time and did in fact deserve the Oscar that year.
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10:08AM on 03/10/2014
Anderson is one of my favorite directors of all time and love his attention to detail in every film he makes. And the fact that he can assemble some of the best casts around for each one of his films is amazing as well. I mean who wouldn't want to work with a such a talented director such as Anderson. And what I love most about the guy's films are his dry, witty humor and his fantastic stories. You know whenever you see his films you'll be entertained in a intelligent way.

Out of all of his
Anderson is one of my favorite directors of all time and love his attention to detail in every film he makes. And the fact that he can assemble some of the best casts around for each one of his films is amazing as well. I mean who wouldn't want to work with a such a talented director such as Anderson. And what I love most about the guy's films are his dry, witty humor and his fantastic stories. You know whenever you see his films you'll be entertained in a intelligent way.

Out of all of his films, I believe his best film is The Royal Tenenbaums and it's also my personal favorite of his (also in my top five films of all time). It also features one of Hackman's greatest performances ever.

Really looking forward to The Grandbudapest Hotel. It's a shame that it didn't open nationwide yet.
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6:14AM on 03/10/2014
Wes Anderson kicks ass in his own way. Though his movies may not kick ass in terms of Kicking Ass or Blowing Things Up kind of way, his movies capture you from the beginning to the end. They captivate you with loads of characters of various caliber. Not many directors can do that. My favorite is The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom.
Wes Anderson kicks ass in his own way. Though his movies may not kick ass in terms of Kicking Ass or Blowing Things Up kind of way, his movies capture you from the beginning to the end. They captivate you with loads of characters of various caliber. Not many directors can do that. My favorite is The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom.
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5:02AM on 03/10/2014

Life Aquatic is hugely important to my story.

One of the first movies that really meant something to me (and is probably just as responsible - if not more than LOTR in making me a filmmaker). Probably the defining movie for me in high school, just as Darjeeling Limited was for me in college. Definitely the two I've seen most.
It's so funny to me that Life Aquatic, Darjeeling Limited & Hotel Chevalier are usually regarded as his worst. Since those were the ones that put him on the map to me. I even directed a play last year that had big
One of the first movies that really meant something to me (and is probably just as responsible - if not more than LOTR in making me a filmmaker). Probably the defining movie for me in high school, just as Darjeeling Limited was for me in college. Definitely the two I've seen most.
It's so funny to me that Life Aquatic, Darjeeling Limited & Hotel Chevalier are usually regarded as his worst. Since those were the ones that put him on the map to me. I even directed a play last year that had big strokes of Hotel Chevalier all over it.

Oh well.
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4:46AM on 03/10/2014

It's Funny....


... how in america you ignore your great directors, while in Europe, specialy in France we have a cult-following for your greatest filmakers. Of course, here, the casual movie goer does not care about this kind of movies and, like in america, the box office is dominated by the blockbusters, but, The Grand Budapest Hotel, for exemple, has a wide release, and is showed in the art houses and in the mega multiplexes too ; and, in various cities, every time a great directors releases a new movie,

... how in america you ignore your great directors, while in Europe, specialy in France we have a cult-following for your greatest filmakers. Of course, here, the casual movie goer does not care about this kind of movies and, like in america, the box office is dominated by the blockbusters, but, The Grand Budapest Hotel, for exemple, has a wide release, and is showed in the art houses and in the mega multiplexes too ; and, in various cities, every time a great directors releases a new movie, many theaters play his greatest movies. I travel a lot to the US, in big cities and small ones, and I am always surprised how such great directors are so overlooked.
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4:06AM on 03/10/2014
Moonrise Kindgom and Fantastic Mr. Fox I believe are his best
Moonrise Kindgom and Fantastic Mr. Fox I believe are his best
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1:55AM on 03/10/2014
Love Wes Anderson however I'm disappointed that other than the photo Fantastic Mr. Fox was not mentioned as it is my favorite Anderson movie. And I still believe it should have won an Oscar over Up that year.
Love Wes Anderson however I'm disappointed that other than the photo Fantastic Mr. Fox was not mentioned as it is my favorite Anderson movie. And I still believe it should have won an Oscar over Up that year.
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11:30AM on 03/10/2014
FANTASTIC MR. FOX is indeed a great film, but Up is an absolute classic. That opening montage earned it the Oscar right there.
FANTASTIC MR. FOX is indeed a great film, but Up is an absolute classic. That opening montage earned it the Oscar right there.
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