Wes Anderson

The Royal Tenenbaums

Year: 2001
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Written By: Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson

RYAN’S REVIEW

This one takes me back to a long time ago when life was so much simpler. A time when a good time was a an hour down the road at my brother’s apartment and life’s greatest concern was getting school work done on time. It was at my brother’s apartment where I first saw this film and I fell in love with it immediately. I was in college myself at the time and this movie just spoke to me at that time and place in life.

I think Wes Anderson is an awesome filmmaker with a very unique style that sets him apart. I am a bigger fan of the movie he followed this one up with, The Life Aquatic, but this was a great movie in and of itself. This movie tells an interesting story about a family that used to be a big deal but tragedy befell them all as time moved on. They are all estranged until they find themselves being drawn together for the first time in almost 20 years. Their conflicting and contrasting personalities make for a great black comedy.

The cast of this movie is quite remarkable. I don’t know the whole back story behind the connection between Wes Anderson and the Wilson brothers. I know they went to college together and have a friendship beyond their careers but there is certainly more to the story than that. He must be a quite likable director because many actors and actresses continue to work with him regularly. Some even go out of their way for him actually. I read that during the shooting of this movie some of the other actors like Anjelica Huston and Bill Murray would specifically work to shield Anderson from Gene Hackman who notoriously can be difficult to work with. I read that Murray would actually show up on set during his days off just for this purpose.

Whether he was hard to work with or not I have always been a big fan of Hackman and like him in this movie specifically. He is perfect as Royal Tenenbaum and I think it was a role that capped off a great career. It hurts my heart to consider that after more than a decade of not acting we have definitely seen the last of him. At 86 years old he is still with us though, and hopefully enjoying his retirement. The last time I heard anything about Hackman he had been in a road rage incident in which he beat up somebody giving him guff, and that was only a few years ago. The man, even in his 80’s, is too badass for the general public to cross. I could be wrong about the story I’m remembering but I like it the way I remember it.

Beyond Hackman the cast is nothing short of fantastic. It’s always fun to see Ben Stiller and the Wilson brothers together but I think specific props go to Gwyneth Paltrow who played such an interesting character in this one. I think the role that Bill Murray plays is his weakest of all the roles he has played in Wes Anderson films. Murray is great as always but his character is just underused and not his best. I think Danny Glover is fantastic as Herny Sherman. While still very active as an actor Glover just doesn’t get the roles he used to and that’s a shame.

I don’t feel like I’ve said enough about this movie but this movie is all Wes Anderson and I have written my thoughts on him before. For more insight into my thoughts on the director see some of our reviews of his other films. We have reviewed The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limitedand Moonrise KingdomWe also have The Grand Budapest Hotel in the collection but it was a late addition we have yet to get around to reviewing.

So in the spirit of not being redundant I’m going to close out this review simply by letting you know that this movie is worth your time. If you are a fan of Wes Anderson then you should have already seen it but if you aren’t then you should check it out and see what you’ve been missing.

I am sure there is plenty of backstory to this movie that is interesting and note worthy. Unfortunately I have never taken the time to read about it. Anybody who does know more about the Anderson/Wilson relationship and how it transitions into the movie feel free to leave a comment and enlighten us.

NEXT MOVIE: The Rules of Attraction (2002)

 

 

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Moonrise Kingdom

Year: 2012
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Written By: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola

RYAN’S REVIEW

How funny it is that so soon after we review Monster’s Ball we should come to another love story so equally awkward and awesome.  I think on paper the love story of a teenage girl and a khaki scout running away together to prematurely get married doesn’t sound so good but with the right guy at the helm it can become magic. I’ll admit that there are times during this movie that I feel a bit awkward because the stars are so young but it really takes nothing away from how cute and romantic their relationship is. Like all Wes Anderson movies this one is built on outstanding performances from a rich cast to go along with smart dialogue and unique direction.

I think Wes Anderson is one of the smartest filmmakers out there today.  Like a solo Coen Brothers act that makes something with a style of his own that never fails to be different and interesting.  I would never insult the man by trying to diagnose him myself.  I wholeheartedly believe this man more than most to be smarter than myself and I have no business trying to put his work under a microscope.  It’s incredible, its original, and it is a reminder to me that there are still fresh movies being made during this age of big budget special effects monsters. Wes Anderson is a director that knows how to develop characters during the time constraints of a film.  He draws top tier actors to his films and puts them all in a position to play a really memorable role. I don’t know where he found his two stars for this film but I thought the love struck couple was played by some outstanding young actors.  The supporting cast is as good as any I have ever seen yet these two kids manage to still really distinguish themselves. The star crossed lovers, Sam and Suzy, were played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward.  I don’t know what the future holds for them but they have the talent to grow into greats one day.

This was the first Wes Anderson film to feature Ed Norton and I hope we see more collaborations between the two.  I am and have long since been a big fan of Ed Norton. I do not know what’s been up with him for the last decade or so. He really blew up in the late 90s and early 2000s playing parts that left quite an impression on me.  Since then the only noteworthy thing he has done has been The Incredible Hulk and although I thought he was great as the mean green machine he burned bridges with the studio.  That movie was to be part of the cannon of films being made around The Avengers franchise but when Norton got into a dispute with the studio over a writing credit he was dropped like a bad habit.  His character was replaced for the big show and as a result there is a good possibility we don’t see anymore solo Hulk films for quite a while.  I think it’s a shame because I liked Norton as Bruce Banner and I would have liked to see more of his Hulk movies.  In this film he is awesome as Scout Master Ward and I think he fits in nicely with the Wes Anderson crew.

Bruce Willis and Frances McDormand were also collaborating with Anderson for the first time in this film and like Norton I think they fit in perfectly.  They are both in points of their careers where they can seemingly do no wrong when given the right opportunity.  For all his talent I think Bruce Willis makes a lot of crap these days but I am specifically thinking of the recent Die Hard sequels.  The man is too good of an actor to keep beating a dead horse in my opinion.  McDormand on the other hand doesn’t make stupid movies, and I love her for it.  Great actress that can never get enough credit.

The Wes Anderson regulars know what he wants now and their performances in his movies are always perfect.  Bill Murray is a legend and I love everything that he does.  He continues to be part of incredible films and I specifically love the way he has grown as an actor and entertainer over the long haul of his career.  Jason Schwartzman always plays an interesting character and this film is no different.  I have loved Schwartzman since his portrayal as “Cool Ethan” in one of my favorite comedies of all time, Slackers. That movie is largely forgotten and I rarely meet anybody who has even seen it but he is so damn funny in it.  In this film I specifically like the slow motion scene when Sam and Suzy are leaving the chapel as “man and wife” having just been wed by Schwartzman.

I have loved each and every film that Wes Anderson has made and this one is obviously no different.  I look forward to his most recent film, Grand Budapest Hotel, because I haven’t seen it yet.  Despite not seeing it I have already bought it and expect it on my doorstep the day it is released to video.  I have that much faith in Anderson that I will buy what he has made whether I have seen it or heard anything about it or not.  That isn’t something I can say for too many directors but I have no doubts about this one.  A truly remarkable filmmaker and in my opinion each and everything he does is worth your time.  He is still a young director so I hope we have a lot more to look forward to from him in the future.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I just love this adorable movie. It’s an interesting little love story about two kids, who I feel in the end teach everyone a little something about love. It takes a special kind of actor to pull off any Wes Anderson film, and I think he always does a fantastic job of finding actors who can portray so much depth even though they are mostly melancholy the entire film. Another note worthy thing about a Wes Anderson film is the opening credits. They are the most artistic in the business. It doesn’t get much better from an artistic opinion.

moonrisekingdom

This is how you fit everyone in the movie into the poster in an effective way. No cheesy glows and fading, floating faces. One big group shot. Any other movie and this might be cheesy as well, but not this movie. Because it’s too intentional. It works. The coloring matches the movie and the scenery matches the plot. The typography is a little hard to read since the value of the yellow is really close to the blue behind it, but it’s strange and out of place because of the fancy script; yet this too works simply because everything in his movies are strange and out of place. Yes, I will admit I am biased, but this poster works for me. I was already interested in seeing the movie because it’s Wes Anderson, but just in case…the poster also makes me want to watch.

NEXT MOVIE: Multiplicity (1996)

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Year: 2004
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Written By: Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach

RYAN’S REVIEW

Wes Anderson has only made a handful of movies to date and I love nearly all of them but this one is without doubt my favorite.  His movies tend to be slower and have a very subtle type of comedy to them that just gets me every time. The film is dedicated to Jacques Cousteau and was made as both a tribute and caricature to his films. In this film we see Bill Murray in the lead role playing an apathetic and disheartened rival to “Cousteau and his cronies” that is on a mission for revenge of all things. Somewhere out there is the mysterious Jaguar Shark, that may or may not exist, who killed his right hand man. Things have fallen apart for him and he just flat out doesn’t care anymore.  As he goes on this adventure seeking revenge he encounters financial difficulties, pirates, a small mutiny, and a tragic loss along the way.

I am a huge fan of Bill Murray and think his performance in this film is one of the best he has ever had.  As Steve Zissou he plays a man who was once on top but has fallen from the limelight and is now laughable.  He has lost his drive and now lives carelessly and without inhibition. I love his “scientific purpose” for killing this Bigfoot of the sea. Revenge, a ridiculous notion to take out on a sea creature that may or may not exist, but it jives perfectly with the personality of Steve Zissou.  When Ned approaches him with the possibility of being his son he simply drifts away for a moment and smokes a joint on bow of the ship then returns to immediately pick right back up with the conversation.  The way he treats Ned is hilarious too.  When they sit down to have a drink together he treats this grown man as if he were a child, “no that’s mine, he doesn’t know anything about wine.” Paired with Zissou’s apathetic style is an arrogance that only a man who was once great can have.  I love when he renames Ned Kingsley Zissou and just goes forward with it even after Ned’s reservations. Zissou may be kind of a dick but he is ballsy and that makes him a badass. The scenes when he breaks free to fight the pirates and leads his crew in the rescue of the bond company stooge are awesome.  One of my favorite lines from the movie comes right after he fights off the pirates when he yells “you left your dog you idiots!” Yet Zissou later leaves the dog behind himself after rescuing the bond company stooge. All and all I love this guy; he’s like “The Dude” of the sea only not a pacifist and a lot crazier.  He is an awesome character and I don’t think any other actor out there could have brought him to life in quite the same way as Bill Murray.  Murray is truly a one of a kind artist and person. We must cherish every film he has left in him and with hope there are many more to come.

Wes Anderson uses so many of the same actors on a regular basis that he has practically developed his own troupe.  Owen Wilson is one of his regulars and turns in a great performance as Ned, who may or may not be Steve Zissou’s son.  I think his accent in the film is perfect, it has a draw and twang to it that really adds humor to the things he says.  I’ve read that he modeled the accent after that of Will Patton.  I can see how he tried but there is still a nasally sound to it that makes it sound altogether different from Patton.  Willem Dafoe plays the part of Zissou’s most loyal crewman Klaus, who struggles with the relationship developing between Steve and Ned possibly because he is a closet homosexual.  I think Klaus is awesome and I love the scene in which he confronts Ned and smacks him across the face. Willem Dafoe was everywhere for a while right at the turn of the century but I haven’t seen him in anything significant in quite a while.  That’s disappointing because I think he is a great actor.  He has a role in Anderson’s next movie and I look forward to it.

I am not a big fan of Anjelica Huston but Wes Anderson obviously is because he casts her in everything.  I don’t know this but if I was a betting man I’d put money on the notion that she probably reminds him of his mother as that is the role he usually casts her in.  She has a look that conveys intelligence and dignity and she brings that quality to every role she plays in his films.  As Eleanor Zissou, Etheline Tenembaum, and as the estranged mother Patricia from Darjeeling Limited she is always a strong, wise, and independent woman.  I’m not a big fan because personally I have always thought she looked kind of evil but her roles in Anderson’s film have really made me come around to liking her more.

I’ve also never been a fan of Jeff Goldblum, at least not as a leading man anyway.  I do like him much more when he plays a secondary character like he does in this film as Zissou’s rival Alistair Hennessey. I think Goldblum has plenty of great scenes in this movie but my favorite is when he meets Zissou on the deck of his ship.  When he casually asks the dogs name before walking over and smacking the shit out of him is so funny.  I like the way asks its name before hitting it and the way he points at it as he stares it down afterwards.  It conveys power from a man who has succeeded so much more than his rival has financially.  Cate Blanchett is a fantastic actress and has a very interesting role in this movie.  Blanchett hadn’t even met her co-stars when she walked onto set and filmed her first scene with them on the beach looking at the glowing Man-of-wars.  She is that talented of an actress though, she’s a pro who can show up and drop a great performance just like that.

It was made out to be a big deal that Bud Cort was cast in the movie but I don’t buy it.  Now I’m not saying he didn’t do a good job because I thought he was excellent as the bond company stooge.  I love the scene after the rescue on the Belafonte when Hennessey asks how they got all his equipment and Cort replies “we fucking stole it,” hilarious.  I simply won’t give Cort any additional credit because I specifically hated the film he is most famous for.  I hear all the time about how it’s a classic and what not but I can’t see it.  As far as I am concerned Harold and Maude is a bleak and demented movie.  Its dark comedy on suicide never really appealed to me and I think the relationship between the two title characters is gross.  You can say love holds no bars but screw that I’m telling you there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed when it comes to age difference as it pertains to sexual relations.

The ending to this film is so powerful.  When everyone finally sees the Jaguar shark it proves that Zissou wasn’t crazy, and even he himself questioned that at times.  Throughout the entire film he never seems certain that there is actually anything out there but finding it validates him as a person.  He gets emotional for the only time in the film because he realizes he isn’t crazy and he still has the talents he thought he had lost.  I think in that moment he finally allows himself to feel the loss of his best friend Esteban and of his possible son Ned.  It is touching to see this stoic and apathetic character actually feel something. Following that scene is the Zissou sitting outside alone as the audience applauds his newest film.  As he is joined by his crew he walks away triumphantly to whatever new adventure lay before him.  It is an incredible ending to an awesome movie.

This is a movie I usually hesitate to recommend to people because I never know how other people will take Wes Anderson.  I love his films and wholeheartedly look forward to every one he makes but most of the people I talk to don’t really like his films.  Despite that I’m going to say this film is without doubt worth your time because it is one of my favorites.  If you have seen it before please leave a comment to share your own thoughts, I am always interested to hear what other people have to say about a film I don’t know many who have watched.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is absurdly ridiculous in all the right ways. Of course by now you should know, and understand that we really like Wes Anderson. He has an original style and look and I don’t think any other movie carries it as well as this one. It was such a strange, strange film yet so interesting you can’t look away. And furthermore, I will watch anything that has Bill Murray in it. (Side note about Bill Murray. Have we ever mentioned we live in North Carolina? Every year we go down to SC around Folly Beach and vacation and visit some friends. Guess who also vacations around the area? That’s right Bill Murray. And legend has it that he is extremely nice in real life.)

lifeaquatic

This is probably the best I have seen where the designer tried to fit the whole fucking cast in there. I still hate it. But at least there are no floating heads in the ocean surrounding the pod. I have to say I am really disappointed with this poster. I think that they had such an opportunity to do something really cool because of the design and style of Wes Anderson. Boo, I am not impressed with this poster at all. One of my least favorites simply because of the opportunities lost on it.

NEXT MOVIE: Life of Brian (1979)

Ever After: A Cinderella Story

Year: 1998
Directed By: Andy Tennant
Written By: Susannah Grant

RYAN’S REVIEW

If I put too much effort into this review I would have to get up and take a long wondering look at myself in the mirror because I wouldn’t know the guy looking back at me.  This is a movie made for fourteen year old girls and  it was a real challenge for me just to sit through half of it.  I remember this movie being in the family collection among all the adrenaline fueled action movies when I was younger.  It was for my sisters, and now it is in our collection for my wife.  Undoubtedly my daughters will one day identify with this silly movie as well so I suppose it should stay on the movie rack.  If you are a teenage girl then by all means see this because I suppose it is worth your time.  Otherwise keep channel surfing because you will find something more interesting in a heartbeat.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Oh emm gee…he like didn’t even write about the actors in this movie.

This movie is definitely for a fourteen year old girl, but I still love it. I loved it then and I love it like I will always love Clueless. This movie stars Drew Barrymore as the poor little girl whose father dies early in the movie, leaving her with a stepmother she barely knows and her two step-sisters. (A classic Cinderella story.) Her evil stepmother is played by the great Anjelica Huston who is a favorite of Wes Anderson, a personal movie hero to both Ryan and myself. They play very well opposite each other, and I do believe Angelica Huston is very, very good at playing a bad guy. This movie plays out just like Cinderella. It is very sappy and it is very much for the fourteen year old girl inside yourself.

NEXT MOVIE: E.T.: Extra-Terrestrial 

The Darjeeling Limited

Year: 2007
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Written By: Wes Anderson

RYAN’S REVIEW

Some movies can just speak to you in ways that you can’t really put into words.  Sometimes a film can coincide with your life so well that you feel an instant bond with it. Wes Anderson films typically revolve around people with suppressed emotions and difficulty coping with dramatic circumstances.  I was going through similar issues in 2007 and while my issues were completely different from those in the film it put me at ease nonetheless. Wes Anderson movies do that to me though, he has an interesting method when it comes to storytelling.   This film is also set in India, which is another reason I really like it.  There is a lot of emphasis in the film on India culture and I have always been very interested in India.  It is a very rich and diverse culture that has been cultivated for thousands of years.

Wes Anderson is the kind of director that draws a lot of talent to any project, even when he travels to the other side of the world.  This film has many of his regular stars.  Bill Murray makes a small cameo in the beginning, this was his fourth collaboration with Anderson.  Anjelica Huston in her third film with Anderson as the mother of the three brothers.  As the brothers he has Owen Wilson, who has worked with Anderson on all of his films. Jason Schwartzman plays the youngest brother, he also frequently works with Anderson. I am a big Jason Schwartzman fan, he is a really talented and funny entertainer.  Adrien Brody plays the middle brother and I am a big fan of his as well.  I didn’t like Brody at first but he has continued to impress me with his range as an actor, he just keeps making good movies.  What really makes Wes Anderson movies great is the fact that they get better each time you see them.  He is a true filmmaker, being involved in all aspects of production.  It’s the movies that are made by men like Anderson that tend to be my favorites.  In many ways he is very similar to the Coen brothers that way.

This is a really good movie but it isn’t one I usually recommend to anyone.  Wes Anderson makes such a unique film that I never feel confident trying to persuade someone to give one their time. My favorite Anderson film is far and away The Life Aquatic, but I love them all and this one is probably either second or a close third behind The Royal Tenenbaums. If you give this one a shot I hope enjoy it as much as I did.  This isn’t really a good enough review for a movie I love so much, you will have to excuse me.  I have  recently cut caffeine out of my diet, it blows.

AMBER’S REVIEW

If you know anything about us, you should know this. We are HUGE Wes Anderson fans. I believe the first one I ever watched was The Royal Tenebaums and I have been in love with his films ever since. This one is a more recent installment compared to the rest that we own. The whole concept of this movie is very strange and weird in true Anderson fashion. Most of his films revolve around weird and unusual family situations that are completely outside of the normal family unit. In this one, their father dies and their mother has joined a convent. The three borthers (Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody) go on a journey to bond and to try to find their mother that left to become a nun and didn’t attend their father’s funeral. The movie is filled with strangeness that cannot be explained and is completely worth watching.

One of the best things about Wes Anderson is that he loves working with the same people. He takes these actors that I feel he finds “worthy” and uses them in different films and in different scenarios. It always works out and they always perform so well and different every single time. He loves Schwartzman, Wilson (both of the Wilsons), Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, and has even made Ben Stiller into someone he usually is not. I love this film and this guy. All of his films are worth watching and this one is no exception. You have to see it, it’s not even a suggestion.

NEXT MOVIE: Darkman (1990)