Oct 26, 2009

The essence of Wes

"Anderson's renown as a director when, in 200. at the age of 30. on the basis of his first two films, Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, he was named 'the next Scorsese' by Martin Scorsese himself, writing in Esquire. Scorsese was right in one respect: Anderson's first films like Scorsese's, introduced to cinema a new tone, a new mood. But it was hardly the tone or mood of early Scorsese. Anderson's characters are rarely violent or even particularly demonstrative; their dialogue is understatedly droll, and their behaviour is at once quietly idiosycrantic and startlingly sincere. The performances are controlled, tamped down. The action takes place amid eye-catching decors and anachronistic furnishings. The scripts offer a winking catalogue of inside movie references, and the soundtracks are replete with a carefully curated collections of recordings, heavy on British Invasion Classics. Anderson frame his images simply; their straightforward precision betrays a skeptical, comic edge and a zone of reserve. His emotional investment in his characters is offset by engaging antics that deflect bathos and refine dark and painful doings to a sharp, single point" — Richard Brody, The New Yorker
A brave and largely successful attempt to distill the essence of Wes. There's only two things I'd take issue with; first, the idea that the films are a "winking catalogue" of movie references. If so, they've flown over my head. I suppose Bill Murray stepping into the pool in Rushmore is reminscent of Dustin Hoffman lurking at the bottom of the pool in The Graduate. On the whole, though, I'd say that Anderson's movies are mercifully free of this kind of stuff, and that cineastes tend to be a little trigger-happy when spotting it.

Also there are more similarities with early Scorsese than he finds. "It was hardly the tone or mood of early Scorsese. Anderson's characters are rarely violent or even particularly demonstrative." It depends what you mean by "early Scorsese" I guess. If you include Taxi driver in the mix the analogy completely collapses, but I would say Anderson's tone is very close to the skittering Oedipal screwball at of Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and the boisterous verbal scat of Mean Streets. I would say tone and mood are what unites the two directors. I was delighted by Scorsese's fan latter to Anderson, as much for what it said about him as it said about his protogee.

But on the whole: good job. I've had the misfortune to review only one of Anderson's films, The Royal Tenenbaums, and found it nearly impossible. Trying to nail down all that quicksilver drollery, I managed only a clobbered thumb.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm how about the homage to Buckaroo Banzai at the end of "Life Aquatic." See for yourself, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WzB1Rtr7Q0 (Buckaroo Banzai)
    and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3inEK-Dyq0 (Life Aquatic)