My Private Screening With Pauline Kael {archive}

New York Times
January 31, 1999

Wes Anderson, the director and co-writer of the new offbeat comedy ”Rushmore,” is a lifelong fan of the New Yorker magazine film critic Pauline Kael, who is now retired. Wanting to show her his film, he tracked her down last fall at her home in the Berkshire Mountains. The following account of his visit is from the introduction to his ”Rushmore” screenplay, to be published on Friday by Faber & Faber.

I already had Pauline Kael’s phone number because I’d found it when I was looking through somebody’s Rolodex a couple of years ago. ”Hello. My name is Wes Anderson. I’m calling for Pauline Kael, please.” I had immediately recognized her voice (from a tape I have of her on ”The Dick Cavett Show”) when she answered the telephone, but I wanted to give her a chance to introduce herself.

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“Teacher’s Pet” {archive}

“Rushmore” director Wes Anderson talks about his first “collaborative” writing effort, his recent pilgrimage to the home of Pauline Kael and New York telephone booths.


Director Wes Anderson’s rise from cable-access obscurity to Hollywood buzz boy is the stuff of indie auteur reverie. After graduating from the University of Texas, Anderson and his roommate, Owen Wilson, wrote and shot a 15-minute short on a shoestring budget. Through a combination of luck, talent and some well-connected family friends, the film found its way to Hollywood, where it gained the support of producer-director James L. Brooks. Brooks helped the duo hone their screenplay and secure a $5 million budget. The resulting feature, 1996’s “Bottle Rocket,” which starred Wilson and his brother Luke, is the story of a couple of suburban slackers whose aimlessness leads them to commit a series of half-baked heists. Though it opened to critical raves, it was more cult hit than blockbuster, but Hollywood took notice: Anderson commanded an eight-figure budget from Disney for his second feature, “Rushmore.”

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If I Can Dream {archive}

The Everlasting Boyhoods of Wes Anderson
From the Archive
Film Comment, January/February 1999
by Mark Olsen

Unlike many writer-directors of his generation, Wes Anderson does not view his characters from some distant Olympus of irony. He stands beside them — or rather, just behind them — cheering them on as they chase their miniaturist renditions of the American Dream. The characters who inhabit Anderson’s cinematic universe, a Middle West of the Imagination, embody both sides of William Carlos Williams’ famous edict that the pure products of America go crazy, being, for the most part, both purely American and slightly crazy. Though some might label his people losers, or even invoke that generational curse, slackers, they are in fact ambitious and motivated overreachers, misguided though their energies occasionally are.

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A Real Buddy Picture {archive}


Newsweek, December 7, 1998

Two young friends make an adorable new comedy about passion and prep school. Go, Rushmore!
by Jeff Giles

You think you know a person. Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson have been friends for nearly 10 years. After graduating from the University of Texas, they wrote a caper flick called Bottle Rocket. Anderson directed the movie. Wilson turned in a hilarious performance as Dignan, a zealous loser who tries to get his buddies excited about a life of crime, shouting orders into a walkie-talkie and launching every half-baked robbery attempt by barking, “Let’s get lucky!” Bottle Rocket was a winning debut. But, like Dignan, it underperformed. Tonight, in a restaurant in Dallas, Wilson reveals just how disillusioned he was when the movie was released in 1996. As he puts it, “I was exploring a career in the armed services.” Across the table, Anderson looks up, confused: “What are you talking about? You’re making that up, right? You called the Army?” And the Navy, it seems. And the Marines.

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“The Buddy System” {archive}


Rolling Stone, October 29, 1998

Current Project Rushmore, an off-kilter comedy that’s one of the funniest, most intelligent teen flicks since the heyday of John Hughes. Like their previous movie, Bottle Rocket, it was co-written by the twenty-something duo and directed by Anderson. Rushmore stars Bill Murray and is set at an all-boys private school.

Inauspicious Meeting Anderson: “We went to school together [at the University of Texas at Austin] and were in a play-writing class. We never spoke the entire semester. There were only eight people in the class, and everyone sat around a long table, and we sat in desks in opposite corners of the room. A mutual friend introduced us the next semester.” Wilson: “We recognized each other from that class: ‘There’s that jerk who wouldn’t take part, who thought he was too good. Who does he think he is? This brooding outsider.'”

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“Rebel Yell” {archive}

PremiereOctober 1998

Who taught you the most about filmmaking? Who inspired you?

Cable access was where I learned about editing and everything. The people I learned the most from were the people that I collaborated with as a writer: my writing partner, Owen Wilson, and Jim Brooks, who was one of the producers of Bottle Rocket.

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“Who’s Laughing Now?” {archive}


Icon Thoughtstyle, September/October 1998

Backed by some big Hollywood players, Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson have two movies, a house in California, and the same life they had in Texas.
by Philip Zabriskie

In high school, Houston-native Wes Anderson directed shorts on a cable-access station and wrote plays, “real crowd pleasers, stuff designed to get a big audience reaction,” says the 29-year-old. “We did a play, The Alamo, that was just like a big war scene. We did one called The Five Maseratis, that all took place in these Maseratis. When I look back, it seems kind of static, because everybody was just sitting in these cars. I always cast myself as the hero. Maybe that was the reason I wanted to do them.”

“I didn’t know what I was going to do, maybe…advertising?” says Dallas-native Owen Wilson, also 29. “I guess movies seemed impossible. It seemed so far away and so difficult to break into.” Anderson and Wilson met at the University of Texas. Anderson was not wearing a monocle, as Wilson claims, but they shared prep-school backgrounds and a similar sense of humor. And, Anderson says, just as “we might think the same things are funny, we might think the same things are sad.”

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“The New Kids” {archive}

Texas Monthly, May 1998

They’re not yet thirty, but they’re playing with the big boys.
by Pamela Colloff

On an overcast afternoon this past winter, a crowd of autograph hounds and hangers-on stood in silent reverence outside Don’s barbershop in Houston, craning for a view of the star rumored to be shooting a film inside. Across the street, while traffic crawled past the white trailers and frenzied production assistants cluttered the sidewalk, gawkers stood on the hoods of their cars, squinting under the white-hot floodlights. But it wasn’t comedian Bill Murray at the center of the disarray; unbeknownst to the crowd, he had already shot his scenes and flown back to New York. Rather, it was Wes Anderson, the gangly 29-year-old director and co-writer of Rushmore, who was pacing the barbershop floor and running his pale hands through his unruly thatch of hair. Wearing a slouchy green cardigan, faded corduroys, and Converse All-Stars, he looked more like a distracted graduate student who had wandered onto the set than someone shooting his second feature for a major studio.

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Production notes from Bottle Rocket {archive}

Sources: (R.I.P.), from official Bottle Rocket website (Sony Pictures)

Bottle Rocket tells the gently comic story of three devoted, would-be thieves who prove the importance of friendship, honor and duty as they ineptly pursue a life of crime.

Directed by Wes Anderson, Bottle Rocket is written by Owen C. Wilson and Wes Anderson. In addition to Owen C. Wilson, Luke Wilson and Robert Musgrave, the film also stars Andrew Wilson, Lumi Cavazos and James Caan as Mr. Henry. Polly Platt and Cynthia Hargrave are the producers. The executive producers are James L. Brooks, Richard Sakai, Barbara Boyle and Michael Taylor. Robert Yeoman is the director of photography; David Wasco is the production designer; David Moritz is the editor. The film is co-produced by Ray Zimmerman and L. M. Kit Carson. Karen Patch is the costume designer. Music is by Mark Mothersbaugh.

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“Slouching toward Hollywood” {archive}

“Slouching toward Hollywood”
September 7, 1995 – Dallas Observer
By Matt Zoller Seitz

Can four young Dallas filmmakers sell their dream-and still keep their souls? Matt Zoller Seitz follows the trail of Bottle Rocket.

Jimmy Caaaaaaan!

Luke Wilson was thrilled. It was November 1994, and the star of The Godfather, Thief, and Misery, icon to two generations of aspiring young actors and a walking template of life’s rougher passages, was jogging beside him on train tracks near a downtown Dallas factory.

A film crew was gathered nearby. They were shooting a scene for the new movie Bottle Rocket. In it, Luke Wilson played a younger thief taken under the wing of an older heist expert–Mr. Henry–played by Caan.

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