Abrams Books has released a trailer (yes, a book trailer) for the greatMatt Zoller Seitz’s forthcoming The Wes Anderson Collection, which will be released into fine bookstores near you on October 8th. We heartily recommend you buy it. Did we mention it’s by, for our money, the foremost critical voice on Wes’ work? Did we mention it has an introduction by certified Important Author Michael Chabon? Did we mention it has a brand spanking new interview with Wes that encompasses his entire career to date? We didn’t, did we. Well it does, so be like Margot and sit in your zebra adorned room reading like a Tenenbaum. Pre-order from Amazon (by doing so you help support the site, and ensure we post at least three to four times a year).
We’re very pleased to learn that Matt Zoller Seitz will be publishing a book on Wes this Spring, with essays on all of his films and an interview with Wes. In the mean time, read pal Derek Hill‘s wonderful book.
Roman Coppola talks with Interview Magazine regarding his experiences co-writing The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom. (Bonus trivia: In the interview, Roman uses the phrase “a memory of a fantasy,” which was coined by an interviewer during Cannes, which was referenced by Wes in his NPR interview.)
Watch the full 40 minute Moonrise Kingdom press conference from Cannes over here.
Short List has “alternative” designs for the Moonrise Kingdom poster, some of which we’ve featured here before, but it’s worth taking a look at the whole gallery. Certainly telling that the film inspired so many diverse images.
That’s where Wes Anderson comes in. The director of “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001), “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou” (2004), “The Darjeeling Limited” (2007) and this year’s Roald Dahl adaptation “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is as much a train-set filmmaker as Zemeckis, Jackson and Lucas, and like Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson (“Punch-Drunk Love,” “There Will Be Blood”), Zemeckis and Spielberg, he’s one of the few prominent Hollywood filmmakers working in the ’70s auteur tradition — and doing it with a style so distinct that it can never be stolen, only imitated. He’s notorious for fretting over every aspect of his movies, from the texture of the clothes to the precise geometric motion of each shot and camera movement to the choice of on-screen font (he prefers variations of Futura). Detractors describe his style as fussy, overcomplicated, even airless — and if one prefers a messier, more spontaneous kind of filmmaking, or a more “invisible” style of direction, Anderson is almost certainly the opposite of fun.
I won’t mount a defense of Anderson as an exciting, imaginative and important filmmaker in this article, because I’ve already done it in a series of video essays.I mention him in this piece because of two particular aspects of his art. One is his commitment to analog moviemaking. He shoots on film and prefers to do everything, special effects included, on the set rather than create them after the fact. Even when he employs digital effects or processes, he calls attention to their artificiality; think of the obviously stop-motion sea creatures in “Aquatic” — or, for that matter, the unruly, roiling fur on the creatures in “Fantastic Mr. Fox” — which the director insisted be fabricated with hard-to-manage animal hair rather than more controllable synthetic hair, because he just liked how it looked.
Be sure to read the full piece at Salon, and leave your comments below. It’s a great essay, and well worth the read.
This is the fifth in a five-part series of video essays analyzing the key influences on Wes Anderson’s style. Part 1 covers Bill Melendez, Orson Welles, and François Truffaut. Part 2 covers Martin Scorsese, Richard Lester, and Mike Nichols. Part 3 covers Hal Ashby. Part 4 covers J.D. Salinger.
Spurred on by Matt Zoller Seitz’s video essays “The Substance of Style,” Jamie Rich has written an eloquent defense of The Life Aquatic, the film in Wes’ oeuvre that has received perhaps the harshest criticism:
That said, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou always seems to be the most maligned of these core films. Invariably, when talking about the movies with others, there is almost a knee-jerk need to claim that it is not as good as its siblings. It’s a comment that is so predictable and automatic, it has become one I no longer trust, at least without some further qualification. More often than not, it’s a movie that its detractors have seen once and never revisited, and whether they realize it or not, their main problem is an inability to forgive it for not being either Rushmore or The Royal Tenenbaums–which, of course, is absurd and also misses how amorphous the auteur really is. When you think about it, though one can draw a connector between those other films, that Rushmore is about the singular experience of the lone outcast and Tenenbaums is the collective experience of a family of outcasts (and one that Max Fischer might not have necessarily thrived in), they are also quite different. For as much as is made out of Anderson’s signature style, the creator is not as singular as even his ardent fans make him out to be. Though his is a rarefied world, a kind of shared universe where any of these stories could exist side by side in terms of creating a larger whole, each movie is distinctly different. They may have variations on similar themes, the way that, say, Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, and King Lear all mine relatable veins of love both romantic and familial, but they distinguish themselves as separate entities; in tone and setting, the Wes Anderson oeuvre is as vast as those three Shakespeare plays (read more).
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Anderson’s selective adoration. But when you look at the totality of what Ashby accomplished—the social and political dimensions that all his films explored, the blunt honesty of their expression—Anderson’s work can’t help but come up short, just as the work of Anderson’s imitators is overshadowed by the genuine article.
Tell Matt Seitz he just made my list of things to do today. In all seriousness, I guess I can see Seitz’s point, but you can only conclude “Anderson’s work can’t help but come up short” when you demand of Anderson’s work the things it is quite pointedly refusing to do.