Friday, March 30, 2018

thanks Wes Anderson.

Saying i’ve been delinquent  here is an understatement, and likely not going to change anytime soon (but you never know). but having just seen a really good film (that’s doesn’t involve lightsabers or Stan Lee), and having some thoughts and time to burn, this one felt easy, and worthwhile enough.

And sure, the internet was made for lists; and sure, everyone’s already ranked the latest Star Wars among the current set (easy: 5, 4, 4.5, 6 + 7 = Tie, 3, 2, 1 for the record; and fwiw, this summizes the great disturbance in the force quite well)

But there’s one ranking that we don’t talk as much about: Wes Anderson.

For many Anderson's work is polarizing, though it’s clear where i stand: Wes Anderson is one of the few directors whose movies i will see no matter what (Chris Nolan is another, on the other side of the spectrum). 

Having seen his latest, Isle of Dogs, i’ve got Wes on the brain. so here’s my ranking of every Wes Anderson film (not including his shorts), with a few personal notes on why. and while I’m sure there are more complex themes at work in each of these, that’s for smarter people that don’t read my work.

Royal Tenenbaums: Seen during a really rough moment of my life, so the humor and the heart really made an impact when i saw it. whether it’s Elliott Smith’s “Needle in the Hay” as Luke Wilson has his moment, or Ben Stiller’s touching statement to his father at the end of the movie, the palmation mice, or the amazing music, i can’t get enough of this dysfunctional family.

Moonrise Kingdom: Touching and heartfelt. The two kids are the centerpiece, and for once, everyone else, while interesting is as much part of the set design as all the other quirks Anderson places throughout.

Isle of Dogs: So much heart, such an ambitious project, and honestly, a really not-so-subtle commentary on the state of the world (though maybe that’s just me channeling my contemporary frustrations), addressed through the simple mission of a boy and his dog. without ruining too much, one of my favorite elements of this movie is how (most of) the humans only speak Japanese, a language the dogs (through whose perspective we follow the film) cannot understand, like us (the audience). and barely reliant on quirky folk-rock music (which is usually a great character as much as anything else in a Wes Anderson movie). Arigato, Anderson-san.

Grand Budapest Hotel: While this one is great, it gets far too much credit, likely bc it was his first film to really scale in mainstream theaters. It’s great, but felt it was being complicated and quirky for the sake of being a Wes Anderson movie. For me, while the characters journey and motivations were meaningful, i felt less less heart and heft

Fantastic Mr Fox: Only barely below GBH, bc the source material - a classic kids book i had never heard of - was not originally Wes. One imagines though that much of the intepreration was all him though. The characters are rich, and their motives are true. And the foray into stop-motion animation, combined with Anderson’s attention to detail give the film a really unique texture. However, I took my mom to see it and she didn’t like it. but that might be bc she’s probably not a Wes Anderson fan.

the Life Aquatic: Probably the one i need to watch a few more times. i have little recollection of the story, characters, or motivations. though it had an expansive cast, and some great moments. I love Bill Murray as much as the next hipster, but in Wes Anderson films i’d rather have him play a supporting role, not the main one. Also, Owen is my second favorite Wilson brother.

X-Men: You’re probably asking yourself “WTF” right about now. Wes didn’t make it, but this was created by an aspiring film creator/essayist i really respect. and frankly, i’d watch this version of the movie before i watched Rushmore again (sorry Mario + Chadwick). This is how Fox revives the franchise to keep it from Big Mouse. 

Rushmore: i have many friends who can quote this entire movie, and who will vociferously disagree with my low-ranking of the first Wes Anderson film to really break into the mainstream conscious (as a weird movie, not a Wes Anderson one, bc it was his second). But while it was good, it just wasn’t complicated / weird enough for me. I’d rather watch Jason Schwartzman board a plane.

the Darjeeling Limited: This is how i prove i’m not racist - even i don’t like a Wes Anderson film set in India. The Wilson brothers cancel themselves out, and i’m meh on the guy from the Piano. Maybe i should watch it again with my parents? 

Star Wars: Ahh, Coco. Suck it BottleRocket.

Bottlerocket: It’s strong and interesting enough, but something had to make the bottom of the list. Wes gets a pass because it was his first film (if everyone’s first attempt was great, we’d all be Ryan Coogler). As my Scottish pals says, “good effort."

Don’t have the time (or patience) to sit through several Wes Anderson films? Well while you’re missing out,  this recent Honest Trailer for almost every one of his films sums it up nicely.

So thank you Mr. Wes Anderson. Please keep up the great work (it adds to the happy weirdness of our world), and i’ll gladly keep giving you my money. 
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