POSTED May 29 2012

Wes Anderson, Irritant or Enchanter?

Saw Moonrise Kingdom this morning. It’s an Edward Hopper seascape seen through a tumbler of spiked lemon KoolAid. At the beginning of this, Anderson’s most stylized movie (which is saying something), each man (and boy) is an island. By the end of the film set in 1965 New England, Hurricane Maybelline has blown through, reconfiguring the human islands into an archipelago with lots and lots of bridges connecting these once-isolated individuals.

I run hot and cold on Anderson. Responded to Bottle Rocket, snatches of The Royal Tenenbaums and all of Darjeeling Limited. Didn’t respond to Rushmore or The Life Aquatic. Thought The Fantastic Mr. Fox was fun, if not fantastic. (Much as I love Owen Wilson, with the exception of Bottle Rocket I seem to prefer Anderson’s screenwriting collaborations with Roman Coppola.)

Peopled with arrested-development child prodigies and arrested-development adults too old to be prodigies, all of Anderson’s movies seem to be variations on a theme proposed by Erik Erikson: That the identity crisis for the person of genius often is prolonged.  Frankly, I couldn’t care less about this theme. Likewise I remain unmoved by the dead metaphors of his imagery: the people carrying too much baggage and symbolically unpacking it for the audience; the lighthouses as phallic symbols and/or beacons; the set design that says life is a dollhouse and that Anderson is manipulating the playthings inside.

What gets me is the recognition and resignation of his young characters that the universe is unreliable and grownups mores. What gets me is that even in the darkness of this recognition AndersonVille is shot with sunshine in the streaks of yellow that accent his films. What gets me is his use of music — we hear Benjamin Britten’s “Noah’s Ark” (more precisely, Noye’s Fludde), Hank Williams ballads and Alexandre Desplat’s score here– which I find primally moving. Likewise his visual compositions, which have the proscenium-arch framing and childlike symmetry of Late Gothic paintings by Simone Martini.

So I guess what I’m saying is that I find Anderson both irritating and enchanting. Can’t think of another filmmaker who drives me to these extremes. You?




  1. Gary says:

    I resist Anderson’s work. It’s always twee, and too clever by half. FOX is the only film of his I really admire (maybe because it had a Dahl novel as source material and was animated). Miranda July is equally precious, and while I loved ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW, I was less keen on THE FUTURE. But I like idiosyncratic filmmakers and still go see their work.

  2. Eric says:

    What a perfectly succinct description. The Royal Tennenbaum’s was a perfect example of the irritant and enchanting arc you describe. This description may fit a few other directors as well.

  3. Qiang made a gag gesture. Said: Do not bother other people, I just wanted to ask a few questions, answer questions on my left, does not affect you recuperate

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please prove you\'re not a robot: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.