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Fantastic Mr. Anderson

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Eccles for  NY Mag
Photo Courtesy of Andrew Eccles for NY Mag

Little flags, the Futura typeface, and Bill Murray. These trademark icons make their way into every Wes Anderson film and his unique, ’60s-inspired style has gained thousands of cult followers over the year. As far as directors go, his name may not be as much a household name as say Steven Spielberg, but his movies rival those of the blockbuster giants.

At only 44 years old, Anderson has gained what one may consider the perfect amount of fame. Only a few recognize his name, but he still beats weekend cinema records- most recently, The Grand Budapest Hotel grossed $800,000 from just two cities. Anderson even casts Hollywood A-listers like Owen Wilson (without having to worry about the paparazzi looming outside of his Parisian door front).

From stop-motion films, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, to cult classics like The Royal Tenenbaums and Bottle Rocket Anderson’s resume is nothing short of amazing. He often doubles as a screenwriter for his films, like in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou – a film following a sea-bound documentary crew that doubles as the Zissou society (a nod to the Cousteau Society).

Only in an Anderson film will all cast members wear matching red beanies and blue jumpsuits. And only in an Anderson film will Owen Wilson’s character fall in love with a pregnant journalist that his alleged father, played by Bill Murray, is also clandestinely in love with. The beauty of Anderson’s films comes from their absurdity, and their honesty.

Subtle, heart-wrenching monologues paired with bizarre landscapes, say a prep school in the ’90s (Rushmore), evoke a certain understanding from viewers that is not obscured by the setting. The imagination of both Wes Anderson and all viewers shines through his films and keeps fans coming back for more.

In addition to Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Huston, Ben Stiller, and the Owen brothers are some of the many acclaimed actors that can be found lurking as a cameo or performing as the leading antagonist.

With the release of The Grand Budapest Hotel this month, two are added to this list: Ralph Fiennes and Jude Law. As fans of Anderson’s earlier work, they shine as excellent additions to the Anderson catalog.

Wes has a way of adding historical backing that is considerably lacking in other films. With the Grand Budapest, set in an Eastern European hotel struggling between the two world wars, violence is used (though still a minimal amount, his films are unusually yet tastefully pacifistic) to mimic the brutality of the time. He even incorporates his own Nazi SS group with the ZZ, or Zig-Zags.

Anderson draws inspiration from older films as any other director, but also the imaginative element he finds in childhood. In Moonrise Kingdom, released 2012, two adolescents in the ‘60s correspond through letters and conspire to run away together; a goose-chase of epic proportions ensues, with a small town bumbling through forest and beach to find the couple. In this film and so many of Anderson’s others, love, innocence, and humor weave their way into the plot.

Impressive and reserved, Anderson refrains from producing a large-scale, Hollywood budget movie because, to him, it takes the fun and sincerity out of filmmaking. In his low-budget films, normally only released at festivals, the viewer experiences the perfect balance of imagination and nostalgia.

For a sneak peak (a SNL parody) of  Anderson’s next film, check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSEzGDzZ1dY

About Marianna McMurdock

Self-described as an "ardent archivist", Marianna is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Sun. When she is not despairing over her beloved television characters (Underwood and Holmes represent) she enjoys listening to movie scores, Andrew Bird, and Beyonce. She also serves the Sun as Photo Editor, and has been a self-taught photographer for four years. Her personal work is available at www.flickr.com/photos/maridock

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