The decline of Wes Anderson?

A debate has emerged over at Hollywood Elsewhere in response to Matt Zoller Seitz’s video essay, part I, on Wes Anderson’s cinematic infuences. The issue, an old one: the alleged decline of Wes Anderson.

My favorite response is from lonniechung:

I think it says more about Wes Anderson as a filmmaker that each of his films are measured against each other. If any of his last three had been his first, he’d still be seen as visionary. I thought Aquatic and Darjeeling were his two most personal and heartbreaking films. It just seems like he’s penalized for having a particular style to how he shoots and writes. All of the “quirky” shit is lazy journalism. The father-son story of Aquatic, the brothers story of Darjeeling, the family story of Tennenbaums, the friendship story of Bottle Rocket are all unique to themselves. Just because the characters he puts on screen tend to show their flaws more than their strengths, it doesn’t mean he’s repeating himself.

For the record, The Darjeeling Limited is my second favorite Wes film, so the “decline” of Wes Anderson is a non-issue for me.

Thoughts? Read on for the discussion that has developed here at the Academy.

Marshall Fine wonders “What is killing independent film?”

A good article over at Huffington Post:

That’s the question I’ve asked myself recently after watching any number of worthy but small movies. I come out of the screening room – or turn off the TV because I’ve had to watch a DVD screener – and thought, “This is a nice little movie – but who will ever have the chance to see it?”

Maybe these films will have a life on DVD or on cable or video-on-demand. But how will anyone hear about them if they wind up painted/tainted with that “straight-to-video” label? (read the rest)

Last call on webicon contest!

The webicon contest ends tonight at midnight! We will post the finalists and open the voting on Thursday!

E-mail edwardappleby @ or tweet @rushmoreacademy!

Oh, and new entries have been posted. You can win a copy of Derek Hill’s fantastic Charlie Kaufman and Hollywood’s Merry Band of Pranksters, Fabulists and Dreamers: An Excursion Into the American New Wave (available for purchase on

New York Magazine: “Is Wes Anderson Changing the Ending of Fantastic Mr. Fox?”

The New York Magazine entertainment blog, on the heels of The Playlist, wonders if Wes has changed the ending to Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. For one thing, we should consider the source: an anonymous message board post (see the post in question here).  And, a correction: these observations are not from the Sunday screening in New Jersey but an earlier one (check the date on the message!).

Wes Anderson’s hugely anticipated stop-motion film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox screened for a New Jersey test audience yesterday. How was it? “Very good,” says an anonymous message-board critic with a devil-may-care attitude about signed nondisclosure agreements. There is something slightly troubling, though. From the review:

“The plot itself doesn’t deviate from the book that much. At the moment they’ve changed the ending slightly from the book, but from the feedback we gave in the discussion at the end, it wasn’t particularly popular (although I personally thought it was quite good), so they may do something completely different with it.”

What could Anderson have possibly changed? And what makes his new ending so odious? Did he shoehorn in an Anderson-esque scene in which the three farmers are all simultaneously reunited with their fathers? Is there an egregious use of sixties Britpop? We’re getting worried!

“Wes Anderson: The Substance of Style” at the Museum of the Moving Image

Matt Zoller Seitz has created a five-part video essay, Wes Anderson: The Substance of Style, over at the Museum of the Moving Image website. Part I, “Introduction,” is now available for viewing (sorry that no embedded video is available).

With just five features in 13 years, Wes Anderson has established himself as the most influential American filmmaker of the post-Baby Boom generation. Supremely confident in his knowledge of film history and technique, he’s a classic example of the sort of filmmaker that the Cahiers du cinéma critics labeled an auteur—an artist who imprints his personality and preoccupations on each work so strongly that, whatever the contributions of his collaborators, he deserves to be considered the primary author of the film. This series examines some of Anderson’s many cinematic influences and his attempt to meld them into a striking, uniquely personal sensibility…

This series will take the process a step further, juxtaposing Anderson’s cultural influences against his films onscreen, the better to show how he integrates a staggeringly diverse array of source material into a recognizable, and widely imitated, whole. It will examine some, but certainly not all, of Anderson’s evident inspirations. Along the way, it may incidentally illuminate why Anderson-esque movies—from Garden State to Son of Rambow—can seem, no matter what their virtues or pleasures, a weak substitute for the real thing. (link for more)

You may remember Matt’s A Little Love: The Art of Bill Melendez (posted after the break). Discuss this video essay over at the Yankee Racers forum. Thanks to Racer Loraxaeon for the lead!

Continue reading ““Wes Anderson: The Substance of Style” at the Museum of the Moving Image”

Going to see Mr. Fox this afternooon?

If you are going to a screening of Fantastic Mr. Fox today in the New York area, we would love to hear your spoiler-free feedback.

E-mail edwardappleby @!

The real Eagle’s Island

The New York Times recently ran a piece on City Island in the Bronx, the real Eagle’s Island.

Along with a handful of historic houses, including the stately Queen Anne where the movies “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” were filmed, City Island, just 1.5 miles long, manages to cram in two parks, a ball field, three churches, a synagogue, two schools, a cemetery, a museum, a French bed-and-breakfast and 33 restaurants.


The island is popular among film and TV producers (most recently “Law and Order” and “Life on Mars”). The landmark Queen Anne at 21 Tier Street was used in “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”


A whale decorates the weathervane on the peak of the Queen Anne house at 21 Tier Street.

(from our Gallery)

Enter the Rushmore Academy Webicon contest (updated)

Make Wes Anderson-inspired art at Paste Magazine’s! Then, Tweet (@rushmoreacademy) or e-mail (edwardappleby @ us your image. We will post your entries here at the Rushmore Academy, and the best one will win of copy of Derek Hill’s fantastic Charlie Kaufman and Hollywood’s Merry Band of Pranksters, Fabulists and Dreamers: An Excursion Into the American New Wave (available for purchase on


Contest is on-going. We will add new prizes if we extend it beyond April 1, 2009.

Check out the entries so far after the break! Please digg our contest!

Continue reading “Enter the Rushmore Academy Webicon contest (updated)”

U.K. Academy Books now open for business

For our readers in the U.K., we now have an Academy Books storefront. It is available through the regular Academy Books link above.

Remember that purchases though our Amazon sites support the crucial maintenance of this website.

You should watch Wes Anderson’s oeuvre before you die!

According to Yahoo’s recent list “100 Movies to See Before You Die,” Wes Anderson’s films are not mandatory pre-mortem viewing. We disagree, of course. Criterion proudly boasts 16 titles on the list (there really ought to be more). Satyajit Ray’s World of Apu, one of the films that inspired The Darjeeling Limited, made the list even though it is out of print in the United States.

From this image (also below) and the list’s postscript, we are left to assume that Rushmore was strongly considered for the list. Why Groundhog Day made it and Rushmore didn’t, we shall never know. Other than Wes Anderson’s films, what other great movies are missing from the list?


Yes, the Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente (BAFICI) got it right! They’re showing Rushmore in this year’s festival!