Quoth Stuff White People Like:
White people love Wes Anderson movies more than they love their kids. If a white guy takes a white girl to a Wes Anderson movie on their first date, and neither of them have seen it, they will immediately commence a relationship that is reflected in songs by Ryan Adams and Bright Eyes.
– On: “Wes Anderson Movies”
If you read my review on “The Darjeeling Limited” (“The Darjeeling Mumbledy”), I make no bones about my dislike of the cult of Anderson that has so thoroughly given him carte blanche to make vapid etchings into celluloid with pretensions of grandiosity-cum-naivite.
It’s one thing to criticize an artist with words, but to criticize bad art with good art, now that takes a special breed of determination. I give you Alex Cornell’s vision: “A Hypothetical Wes Anderson Film Festival.” Thanks @meghatron.
[– Alex Cornell]
But what is it that irks me so about Anderson hipster juggernaut that the beautiful work of Cornell so successfully indicts him on? It’s the “tweed becostumed ingenue beneath a façade of gentle meekness” schtick that is absolutely calculated and drapes heavily on all Andersonia. It’s the “Anderson movies are the most insightful thing under the sun” that his fawning public holds as credo.
Dig that Howard Kosell Wide-World-of-Sports jacket in the photo in the mock-up above? Designed by a custom designer (Thom Browne) in Brooklyn, not some vintage off-the-rack find. And what’s with the Futura obsession? Ah, I get it, it’s an homage to the Italian futurist movie-makers. Aren’t we clever. Oh, wait, I get it, you’re too naive to be that hip, how quaint.
These ideas are effectively lampooned by Cornell, in a beautiful art design project it’s hard to believe he put so much work into a parody. That through simple design and typography he is able to communicate this is truly a commendation to his talent.
I might be asked, am I projecting this? An interview with Anjelica Huston documented this amore of affect. She described how she, playing an archaeologist, asked the esteemed auteur if she were playing his mother, also an archaeologist. She then related thaht he shook with a start of absolute surprise that this could have been latent in his script. Really, you didn’t realize your major matriarchal protagonist was based essentially on your mom. How darling! I don’t see that one could be caught unawares.
“But what about Rushmore?”
Yes, well what about it. Yes, it was a very good movie, and I would quite nearly forgive him the many sins that came after this movie for the lovely tale of Max Fischer and company. It’s the sort of achievement that gets used to justify all sorts of terrible movies post facto.
Let’s say on on old time balance scale that you have “Rushmore” and “Bottle Rocket” on one side. Now heap in “Life Aquatic”, “Darjeeling”, and maybe split “Tenenbaums” 50-50. I can almost see those scales balanced out.
But for me what makes the bad-Anderson pan weightier than the mass of the two good movies in the good-Anderson pan were the absolute howlers of “The Darjeeling Express”
“I guess we’re going to have to let go of Dad’s baggage”
…this is the quite-literal line delivered as the characters let go of their, uh, late father’s baggage and the inherited (emotional) baggage and run to the future. This could have been done with pictures (we are making a movie here). How about tight-framed gunfighter-style shots on the brothers, sweating, angry that they’re about to miss the train. A slow-mo of Owen Wilsons eyes pan left to a tight shot on Brody, Brody the same to Schwarzmann, a look of desperation, tight shot of their feet with India’s dust swirling on the colorful planks as one bag falls behind, close-framed shot, surprise dawns on each of them…etc.
And what about the conceit of Schwartzman’s character contending “All his characters are fictional” when they are so clearly a clef. I honestly thought I might bust an iris rolling my eyes.
I would love to see Wes Anderson take on M. Night Shamalyan in a pretension-off, Summer Slam-style. Both ride the coat-tails of their early work to make woefully bad movies in the present that are given far too much leniency.
[– Alex Cornell]
Yes, Alex Cornell, you say it so, very, very well.