Auteur Spotlight: Wes Anderson

One of the few directors whose body of work I’ve seen in its entirety, regardless of its size, Wes Anderson is in my always humble opinion, a genius. His films feature wonderfully complex, eccentric characters coupled with thoroughly outlandish plots full of equal parts side-splitting humor and soul-crushing emotional resonance. He’s oft times criticized for being a bit smug thanks to his trademark style, but I consider him to be a prominent forefather of quirkiness as part of contemporary cinema, and on top of that, I’ve never been disappointed by anything he’s had a hand in. So, without any further adieu, I present to you my very first Director’s Consensus!

6. Bottle Rocket (1996)

Anderson’s first feature-length film follows a pair of friends as they hatch a scheme to pull off “the perfect heist.” Much like other debut efforts, Bottle Rocket‘s respectable in the sense that everything characteristic of later Anderson films surfaces in an attempt to establish the auteur’s place within the realm of cinema. Unfortunately, it’s also a bit uneven, but its subtle sense of humor, endless charm, and a pair of knockout lead performances carry it through to its delightful conclusion.

5. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

“At the risk of sounding redundant, it’s a relief that Wes Anderson’s stop-motion adaptation of the Roald Dahl children’s classic has proven that Pixar isn’t running a monopoly over the world of animated cinema. The amount of effort it takes to produce a film of Fox’s stature should alone make it worthy of praise, but Wes Anderson’s creative touch helps transform an otherwise straightforward kid-friendly romp into one of the most enjoyable films of the year. Furthermore, fans of Anderson will be pleased to know that his knack for portraying quirky, dysfunctional characters and the tense relationships between them is very much present and as appealing as ever, but given the source material, the intended demographic might have a hard time grasping just what exactly is going on outside of the film’s more playful moments…” Full review found here.

4. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

“What I noticed right off the bat was that The Life Aquatic possesses a sort of higher grade of eccentricity not altogether present in Anderson’s earlier work. While some critics have deemed such eccentricity as “smug,” I must respectfully disagree, as it’s this eccentricity that makes the film as enjoyable as it is. To elaborate, some scenes are, for a lack of a better term, just plain whimsical in regards to Anderson’s direction and the incorporation of (extraordinarily) artificial oceanic creatures and seascapes. It’s these elements that help the film achieve the brilliant visual quality I hold it accountable for, as well as the fantastic sense of unpredictability present throughout…” Full review found here.

3. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Anderson’s fifth film marks a slight departure from his earlier work, but in the best possible sense. Centering around a group of estranged brothers about to embark on a spiritual journey across India in an attempt to reconnect, some themes are introduced that aren’t entirely present elsewhere. The most noticeable change in this regard is an apparent emphasis on spirituality in relation to the film’s India setting, of which is relatively non-Anderson, but the trademark dysfunctional family element is there, as is the signature mixture of humor and tenderness that aid in making the film as enjoyable as it is. Even Anderson newcomer Brody gives an excellent performance.

2. Rushmore (1998)

It was tough to choose between this and The Royal Tenenbaums as my favorite film of Anderson’s, so let the record reflect that I share an equal amount of love for both. As for Rushmore itself, I’ll go so far as to say it’s easily Anderson’s most charming film to date, and quite possibly, the funniest. Schwartzman gives a spot-on portrayal of 15-year-old Max Fisher, a student who’s crazy about his beloved Rushmore, yet fails to succeed in the one area where it counts the most: his grades. Bill Murray is also stupendous, yet some may criticize the film as a whole for being a bit, well, aimless. Fortunately, this doesn’t bother me in the slightest, and Rushmore manages to be thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

1. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

“This film is essentially everything I’ve come to appreciate in modern-day cinema, and then some. It’s terrifically quirky in a way that gives all of Anderson’s work the feel he’s undoubtedly associated with, yet it also manages to be emotionally poignant in a way you would never expect. Further still, it’s brilliantly cast and well-acted, with kudos going to Gene Hackman for showing all of us that he can be funnier than we’d ever thought possible. Other noteworthy performances from the supporting cast, consisting of Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Luke and Owen Wilson are nothing short of terrific…” Full review found here.

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