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Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson 
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Post Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
From the previous thread, I mentioned about a "big, magnificent-looking book detailing the movies and behind-the-scenes" of a director that my dad got me as a belated New Year gift. It's this one:

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I think the idea for this gift is based purely from that Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom happen to be two of a handful of movies per year that he and I watched (and enjoyed) together. Not that I'm complaining; I flipped through it, and the interviews, artworks, and the making-of pics all look enticing. So I decide to bump him up as my next director, having seen only his last 2, out of 7 films total.


Thu Jan 23, 2014 8:34 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
1/7

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Bottle Rocket (1996) - 6.5/10

The movie seems to find Wes Anderson in early form. His visual flair is already evident, especially the color and some light touches in compositions. Here it still looks half formed, mixed with more straightforward direction. Some individual scenes are very, very funny (I think any scene involving 4-5 people or more are gold, especially the two heists), but there are a lot of paddings in between which derails the story often. It is also a pretty slight story, and I think it might have worked better as a short film. Still an enjoyable debut that promises a unique talent to come.


Thu Jan 23, 2014 8:36 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
I like Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and Fantastic Mr. Fox. But I was never a huge Wes Anderson fan. I always was a bigger fan of Paul T Anderson.

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Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:01 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
peng wrote:
Bottle Rocket (1996) - 6.5/10

The movie seems to find Wes Anderson in early form. His visual flair is already evident, especially the color and some light touches in compositions. Here it still looks half formed, mixed with more straightforward direction. Some individual scenes are very, very funny (I think any scene involving 4-5 people or more are gold, especially the two heists), but there are a lot of paddings in between which derails the story often. It is also a pretty slight story, and I think it might have worked better as a short film. Still an enjoyable debut that promises a unique talent to come.


I like this one a little more than you, but either way, those heist scenes are really, really funny. Kumar standing in the ice box makes me lose my shit every single time.

You can really see Anderson's writing style come to the forefront here. He doesn't have an interest in the boxy set pieces he'll start using in his next film, but you can see how he enjoys using flawed, quirky characters to mine comedy and drama equally. Good stuff.


Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:33 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
The Fantastic Mr Fox is probably the best film I saw last year.

Firstly, is there any animated voice-over remotely as fitting as George Clooney as Mr Fox. He lends the role tonnes of charisma.

Secondly, and most importantly, the Fox character himself is at once both wonderfully sympathetic, and inspiring. A family man (or Fox) a wee bit frustrated with life, who uses bravely, guile, ambition and yes, recklessness to make life better for his brood.

The whole execution is just splendid too. It's dark, cruel, funny, picturesque, charming and bizarrely accurate in depicting how people interact.

Fantastic indeed.

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Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:41 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
NotHughGrant wrote:
The Fantastic Mr Fox is probably the best film I saw last year.


Not sure I can claim the same, but it is still my favorite animated film of 2009. Granted, I saw Up only once (FMF twice) and its first 10 minutes are better than anything in the two movies, but Fantastic Mr. Fox is more consistent and just plain delightful. The style meshes perfectly with the story and humor.


Thu Jan 23, 2014 2:03 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
I'm not that big on Anderson. I saw Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums back in the day, but never cared enough to revisit them. I barely remember them now. Also, back in 2002-2003, I rented Bottle Rocket with my girlfriend at the time, and never finished it. I don't think it was the kind of film we were in the mood for at the time, but I've never went back to it.

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Thu Jan 23, 2014 8:08 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
I still think you should've waited until March to cover Wes to coincide with the release of "The Grand Budapest Hotel," but whatever. Like the Coens, he's one of my top can't-miss filmmakers out there, and I feel each of his films have gotten better than the last (well, "Life Aquatic" and "Darjeeling" are about a tie), so, yeah, "Bottle Rocket" is his least impressive effort. As has been pointed out ad nauseum on movie forums throughout the 'Net, his dry, deadpan, ironic, whimsical style isn't for everyone, but if you are attuned to it, you'll be greatly rewarded.


Last edited by H.I. McDonough on Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:30 am, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Jan 23, 2014 10:12 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
Thief12 wrote:
I'm not that big on Anderson. I saw Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums back in the day, but never cared enough to revisit them. I barely remember them now. Also, back in 2002-2003, I rented Bottle Rocket with my girlfriend at the time, and never finished it. I don't think it was the kind of film we were in the mood for at the time, but I've never went back to it.


I saw his last two films first (with FMF not even knowing who Anderson was at the time) and found them pretty accessible for a newcomer, and really enjoyable too. You might want to try those out.

H.I. McDonough wrote:
I still think you should've waited until to cover Wes until March to coincide with the release of "The Grand Budapest Hotel," but whatever.


I can always add stuff later, like I did with the Coens' short film ;) . If you loved Anderson don't forget to check the book out.


Thu Jan 23, 2014 10:39 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
2/7

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Rushmore (1998) - 7.5/10

Lovely, lovely movie... saved for having a central character that is Max Fischer. I have read that his awfulness may be the point, in the vein of some black comedies. If so, the choice of putting a character like this in a Wes Anderson storybook setting still creates such an emotionally jarring contrast that every extreme decision he makes (stalking, self-obsessing, harassing, and lying) rings false notes and has me gritting my teeth. Most of his vitriol being directed towards Bill Murray's warm, hilarious presence doesn't exactly endear me towards the character better either.

Oh well, let it sound like I sour towards the movie completely: Wes Anderson has sharpened his visual style a lot from his debut. The quirks suit the coming of age tale better, and the varied compositions and great soundtrack aid the story immensely. Murray and Olivia Williams also give sympathetic, endearing performances. And it's much funnier than Bottle Rocket. That Vietnam play at the end is an absolute gem.

Seriously though, I went searching for a review pic and couldn't help finding every image of Jason Schwartzman in this punchable, so I went with the above instead.


Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:22 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
I never got why people made such a big fuss about Rushmore either. I so disliked Jason Schwartzmann's character that I still carry baggage from it into other roles he's played. It generally takes a few scenes when I'm watching a film he's in before I get over it. I like Bill Murray a lot, but I never understood all the howling over his Oscar snub either. There wasn't anything remarkable about this film. The Vietnam play is funny though.


Fri Jan 24, 2014 5:50 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
peng wrote:
NotHughGrant wrote:
The Fantastic Mr Fox is probably the best film I saw last year.


Not sure I can claim the same, but it is still my favorite animated film of 2009. Granted, I saw Up only once (FMF twice) and its first 10 minutes are better than anything in the two movies, but Fantastic Mr. Fox is more consistent and just plain delightful. The style meshes perfectly with the story and humor.


I would say that FMF is far, far superior to UP.

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Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:31 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
3/7

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The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) - 10/10

Ah, that old movie advertising phrase: "You'll laugh, you'll cry". I never thought the sentiment could be applied to a Wes Anderson film, but here it is. The tale might look like it takes place in another world, where idiosyncratic compositions and storybook feeling reign supreme, but they help underline and modulate the pain, regret and frustration bottled within the characters, which feel all too real. All are aided by tremendous performances, with special mentions going to Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Luke Wilson (his crucial scene late in the movie is a stunner). Quirky humor and boxy style may be personal touches, but family confrontations (and, just maybe, familial love) are universal.


Sat Jan 25, 2014 12:14 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
The Royal Tenenbaums is my favorite Wes Anderson movie that I've seen. Though I have great affection for The Darjeeling Limited as well.


Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:09 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
Gwaihir wrote:
I never got why people made such a big fuss about Rushmore either. I so disliked Jason Schwartzmann's character that I still carry baggage from it into other roles he's played. It generally takes a few scenes when I'm watching a film he's in before I get over it. I like Bill Murray a lot, but I never understood all the howling over his Oscar snub either. There wasn't anything remarkable about this film. The Vietnam play is funny though.


I'm just glad I watched I Heart Huckabees before this one. That film and the baggage of his Rushmore role I'd likely have would be an unbearable combination.


Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:02 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
4/7

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The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004) - 7/10

This one kind of sneaks up on you. The visuals are maybe Wes Anderson's most visually stimulating yet (and come closest to what I have seen from Moonrise Kingdom). Henry Selick's stop motion creations are creative and a joy to watch. However, during first hour, the director's twee and the quirks threaten to swallow the narrative whole. There are a lot of characters, but apart from a precious few, they don't engage you on anything more than guiding us through the stunning world Anderson has created. Cate Blanchett is especially and disappointingly wasted. The secret weapon here is Bill Murray, as usual. The second half starts to subtly turn the focus more on Zissou and let other characters be more of just players in his orbit. In the end, it manages to pluck some real emotional chords from two of his relationships, thank in large part to Murray's performance. Much like "I've had a rough year, dad" from The Royal Tenenbaums, the line "I wonder if it remembers me" hit you out of nowhere.


Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:17 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
5/7

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The Darjeeling Limited (2007) - 6/10

This is my third director go-through, and in all three, it seems I manage to find one entry that looks out of step with the rest of their respective filmography (regardless of the actual quality). Much like Russell's The Fighter and Coens' True Grit, this is "straightforward" Anderson. There are still striking compositions here and there and splashy use of color. But this is as realistic as Wes Anderson get: more open and less set minutiae. The story's flow also seems more uncertain without his usual visual as the guideline. There are stretches in which the narrative feels flat or seems awkward. A scene by the river in particular creates a jarring tone, maybe because it's the kind of material that Anderson, at least in this film, isn't suited for yet. The film is saved by three strong characters at the center. All actors do excellent jobs of handling the brotherly dynamics and engaging me through the narrative's lulls. All in all, the film is still funny, and even moving at times, but the whole is quite less than its parts.


Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:49 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
peng wrote:
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) - 10/10

Ah, that old movie advertising phrase: "You'll laugh, you'll cry". I never thought the sentiment could be applied to a Wes Anderson film, but here it is. The tale might look like it takes place in another world, where idiosyncratic compositions and storybook feeling reign supreme, but they help underline and modulate the pain, regret and frustration bottled within the characters, which feel all too real. All are aided by tremendous performances, with special mentions going to Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Luke Wilson (his crucial scene late in the movie is a stunner). Quirky humor and boxy style may be personal touches, but family confrontations (and, just maybe, familial love) are universal.


So glad you loved this one. It's one of my personal favorites and I tear up and the very end every single time. It's one of the best combinations of deeply felt story and character and technical excellence that there is in film. It's Wes Anderson's masterpiece.

My favorite thing about the movie is how the camerawork initially shows each character in individual shots to emphasize the fractured family idea. As the film progresses, and the family begins to heal, more and more characters are in shots together (the first big one being when Margo greets Richie at the bus station), until we finally get lengthy shot with everyone in it that culminates with the, "I've had a rough year, dad," moment that shows the family fully healed. It's such a smart, effective way to visually tell the story. So good. So, so good.


Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:03 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
PeachyPete wrote:
My favorite thing about the movie is how the camerawork initially shows each character in individual shots to emphasize the fractured family idea. As the film progresses, and the family begins to heal, more and more characters are in shots together (the first big one being when Margo greets Richie at the bus station), until we finally get lengthy shot with everyone in it that culminates with the, "I've had a rough year, dad," moment that shows the family fully healed. It's such a smart, effective way to visually tell the story. So good. So, so good.


Yep, I remember marveling at how many frames are telling stories in and of themselves, adding to the main narrative arc positively.


Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:19 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#3: Wes Anderson
6/7

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Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) - 9/10

Third time; previously 8.5. This just gets better on rewatches. Animation is such a perfect fit for Anderson. Everything in his signature style seems more natural in this environment. Both the animation and Roald Dahl's material help strengthen the humor, and make the intricate compositions become even more delightful. The cast also delivers big time, from the perfectly charismatic and confident voice of George Clooney, Meryl Streep's suspicious "Hmm", to Wallace Wolodarsky's clueless Kylie. Best of all, the screenplay is pitched at a sophisticated level that will appeal to both kids and adults. Just a cussing fantastic movie.


Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:20 am
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