Sunday, August 23, 2015


Today's Director Spotlight focuses on a man who has done 8 films in his award-winning career - Wes Anderson. For all 8 of his films he has also co-written them as well with others such as Owen Wilson, Noah Baumbach and Roman Coppola. In this post , I will highlight 3 of Wes's films that are never considered his best work but still highly entertaining movies. They range from young love to a old man of the sea's search for a elusive creature.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) -  I have a little secret to tell. This and the last movie I will talk about might be my two favorite Wes Anderson films. In the film, Bill Murray plays world famous oceanographer documentarian Steve Zissou  who latest film is going to be his discovery and destruction of a "Jaguar Shark" that killed his best friend. A sort of black comedy at points, we get to see Steve and his crew go through everything from pirates , a unexpected son and lack of finances. 

The cast is one of many Wes Anderson regulars like Owen Wilson as Steve's possible son Ned Plimpton who financial supports the film as a chance to finally get to know the man who could be his father,Willem Dafoe plays a hilariously jealous first-mate who finds the presence of Ned a threat to his relationship with Steve to Jeff Goldblum as a  millionaire rival of Steve's who becomes a reluctant ally. Add in great actresses Angelina Huston as Steve's ex-wife & Cate Blanchett as a pregnant reporter there for a story and gets much more and this is one of the best cast in any of Anderson's films.

I enjoy this film because of all the wackiness that happens. Bill Murray plays Zissou as a grumpy, past his prime man but you also real sympathy for him thanks to Wes's writing and Bill's performance. A scene where Steve and his crew are trying to save the "Bond Company Stooge" (Bud Cort) from pirates who kidnapped him shows this perfectly. As Steve checks the rooms in a abandoned hotel and is unable to find him. Then as he is about to quit, he trips down some steps. Bill shows the pain and disappointment in his face as Steve has realized this is it and wonders what he has to show for it as he tells the cameraman filming it to leave it in. Just one scene that shows the flaws of Steve but lets you also continue to like him or at least understand him. 

Also it has a cool end credits sequence that is heavily borrowed from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai 

 Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) - A Stop-motion animated film, this comedy is widely considered one of the best of Wes's career.  George Clooney and Meryl Streep do the voices of Mr. Fox and his wife Felicity who are trying to live a quiet life but it is hampered by farmers protecting crops and Mr. Fox's inability to not let go of his days of being a thief. Based off the Roald Dahl book (the main reason Wes agreed to make the film), it is able to highlight the humor of the book but also add Anderson touches to the film. The stop-start animation might be tough to get use to at first but once you do you are able to you will enjoy the style and the humor of the movie. Also Wes picks some very classic and modern musical pop-tunes. 

The voices include many Anderson mainstays like Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman but the movie belongs to Clooney and Streep's characters. The story highlights their relationship through the good and bad moments and it is great vocal work by the two. Main other themes are hit upon in this film such as jealousy through Mr. Fox's son Ash (Schwartzman) when everyone starts loving his cousin Kristofferson.  Another one is what happens when you get restless for your old way of life and how it affects not just you but everyone around you displayed through Mr. Fox's return to thievery. I love films that look like it's one thing but ends up being something else and that's what Fantastic Mr. Fox is. As a reviewer said about this film "Wes made a kids movie for grown-ups."

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)- Moonrise is my favorite Wes Anderson film. A touching film filled with different and eccentric characters, this may Wes's most touching film as it's focus is the love story between a unpopular odd boy Sam (Jared Gilman) and quiet Suzy (Kara Hayward).  Their story is one that is very real and you can see it in their performances as they are going through the beginnings of young adulthood and still have the fire and love that the adults around them have lost. 

The movie is helped by a wonderful supporting cast (Murray, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand) and the beautiful cinematography of the land that showcase the wonderful scenery. The film highlights how some adults are stuck in certain ways and the kids who are not yet beaten down by adulthood and finding young love and adventure for the first time.  Also I can't say enough how good Jared and Kara's performances are. They have to jumble so many emotions and they nail it perfectly. As it has a kitten in it , so of course I was going to love that as well. 

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