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.

7 Replies to “The decline of Wes Anderson?”

  1. Thought: regardless on what side of the fence you’re on in this debate, the fact is Wes Anderson has made five films and hasn’t even turned 40, yet.  I think some people are a little too quick to start writing the book on this guy.

  2. I agree that’s the most lazy crticism of Anderson you can find because it doesn’t even reject his work outright, it claims that he’s losing something. Seeing Darjeeling again when it came on DVD I noticed how more mature the relationship dynamics between the brothers is than any of the dynamics in Wes’ earlier films. I really think it is an issue of people not seeing past the superficial flash of the style. There’s a shot in Darjeeling a friend of mine thought was characteristic of Wes’ needless flashieness, the one shot take where the three brothers are waiting for the bus the second time in the village where the boy who died was from, he pans from the brothers, to right, straight ahead, to the left, etc. and each time he pans back a certain way, more people are approaching the brothers, and behind it’s aesthetically pleasing nature, the shot gives you the point of view of the brothers without being a point of view shot, and does so far more effectively than it would had it been done in cuts.

  3. I have to say Rushmore and Tenenbaums are the strongest on every aspect by far. Zizzou better than Darjeeling. They are all very visual, but that doesn’t mean he’s repeating himself. It’s just his style.
    A decline? yes maybe… if so for another (major) reason. Not writing with Owen Wilson that is. Makes you think how good Owen as writer really is, because of the first three movies are just better written. A lot better.

  4. I think TDL is Wes’ most sophisticated and mature film yet (in terms of film-making and narrative). I understand concerns over the aesthetic overindulgence of TLA, but I still adore it.

    I don’t understand why, if every film Wes makes isn’t a Rushmore (or TRT, if that’s your thing)-caliber masterpiece, he has suddenly fallen off the wagon. He always makes interesting, worthwhile films, which is far more than most of Hollywood is doing.

    I find this whole debate overplayed.

  5. I think true Anderson fans won’t be phased by anything negative or less than enthusiastic about the films or about Wes.

    I know it didnt’ phase me. : )

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