Three degrees of Wes Anderson
Written by Bwog Staff
In which Bwog newbie Thomas Rhiel ascends to the height of filmmaker fandom.
Critics seem to have lost much of their patience with Wes Anderson (He’s elitist! Self-important! Maybe even racist!), but I admit it: I can’t get enough. I want my characters quirky, forlorn, and constantly smoking. I want my frames symmetrical and colorful, crammed with eclectic knick-knacks and Futura Bold. I want quick pans and quicker zooms. Another slow-motion sequence set to a catchy pop tune? Yes, please, make me feel it.
So it was with a great deal of excitement that I set out on each of the following adventures, journeys into that fantastical realm of child prodigies, jaguar sharks, and Bill Murray. Tragically, each experience left me feeling emptier than the last.
One: On Tuesday night, the SoHo Apple store screened the premiere of Anderson’s Hotel Chevalier, a 13-minute prelude to his latest feature film, The Darjeeling Limited. Jason Schwartzman, Natalie Portman, and Anderson himself were scheduled to be there, and would take questions from the audience after the film. I arrived an hour early, which, considering the event’s scant publicity, I expected to be safe, maybe even worth a seat near the front. Instead, turning onto Prince St., I was confronted by a mob of fellow fans lined up against the Apple building and around the corner, many perched in folding chairs, some playing board games. Disheartened but not giving up, I trudged to the end of the line, where, after 30 minutes, an Apple employee kindly informed my neighbors and I that we should give up.
Two: Earlier this week, I heard from a fellow Bwogger that the house from The Royal Tenenbaums is for sale. So yesterday, adorned with a camera and a red Adidas tracksuit, I travelled to the corner of 144th St. and Convent Ave. to pay my respects. The house, a beautiful structure of bright red brick, is unmistakably the one from The Royal Tenenbaums: a destitute Royal descends those stairs with his luggage after his family kicks him out, an unstable Richie climbs through that window on the right after escaping from the hospital, and a doped up Eli Cash crashes into that iron fence in the movieÃ¢ï¿½ï¿½s final moments. I couldn’t figure out, however, whether or not the house was actually on the market. There were no “For Sale” signs or people to ask. I was left standing outside a locked gate, observing the overgrown lawn and some ratty-looking stuffed animals filling an upstairs window. I yearned for an uplifting Nico song to swell in the background or for a polka-dotted mouse to scamper past my feet, but there was no whimsy to be had here, no whimsy at all.
Three: Also yesterday, I saw The Darjeeling Limited. Several critics have hailed Anderson’s choice to shoot the film in India as a sign of the director’s maturity, a departure from his usual fascination with subjects wealthy and white. And while its setting gives The Darjeeling Limited a beauty new to the Anderson brand, it also comes at a price: no longer anchored to an East Coast boarding school, a New York residence, or a brightly hued boat, Anderson’s characters actually have to go places, leaving them no time for the endearingly eccentric passions–such as Max Fischer’s playwriting, Chas Tenenbaum’s enterprising, or Steve Zissou’s filmmaking–that made previous characters interesting and previous films engaging. If I can’t find Wes Anderson’s trademark quirkiness in the real world, I at least want to find it in a Wes Anderson movie.