Wes Anderson

1996
Bottle Rocket 85
[ review ]

1998
Rushmore 71
[ review ]

2001
The Royal Tenenbaums 84
[ review ]

2004
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou 57
[ review ]

2007
Hotel Chevalier 79
[ The impeccable framing, the carefully calibrated art direction, the excellent taste in music… This is a Wes Anderson film alright, and it’s blody brilliant. In this 10 minute prequel to “The Darjeeling Limited”, starring Jason Schwartzman (as the same character he plays in “Darjeeling”) and the ever lovely Natalie Portman, a young man and his ex meet in a swanky room of the titular hotel. They talk, they make out, they step out onto the balcony. And that’s that. It’s simple, but it works wonders. It’s alternately sexy, melancholy and cynical, and it features what might be my favorite line of dialogue of the year, spoken by Schwarzman to Portman, after she gives him that classic girly bullshit about not wanting to lose him as her friend: “I promise, I will never be your friend, no matter what, ever” ]

The Darjeeling Limited 90
[ review ] [ my interview with Anderson ]

2009
Fantastic Mr. Fox 91
[ Not unlike Spike Jonze with Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are”, Wes Anderson was a rather unexpected choice of director to bring Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book to the big screen. But far from toning down his style and sensibilities to make a conventionally crowd-pleasing family movie, both hipster filmmakers delivered one of their most personal, idiosyncratic and enjoyable pictures to date. From the yellow chapter titles to the virtuoso tracking shots, the carefully composed widescreen tableaux, the fanciful art direction, the witty dialogue and the awesome soundtrack (The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, etc.), this is clearly the work of the man who brought us “Rushmore”, “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “The Darjeeling Limited”. On top of all that, the furry stars of this wonderfully old-fashioned stop-motion animated movie are almost all voiced by regulars of the Wes Anderson company, notably Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson and Willem Dafoe, who surround a perfectly suave George Clooney as the quote-unquote Fantastic Mr. Fox and a feisty Meryl Streep as his hot wife. An existentialist character-driven dramedy full of whimsy and true emotion, Anderson’s latest is also a rollicking action-adventure flick, with heist, shooting, siege, fight and rescue scenes that are surprisingly exciting. Pure wild animal craziness! ]

2012
Moonrise Kingdom 85
[ The year is 1965. A “troubled girl” (Kara Hayward) and a nerdy orphan boy (Jared Gilman) run away together in the wilderness. Chasing them are the girl’s parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), the boy’s Khaki Scout master (Edward Norton), a local cop (Bruce Willis) and Social Services (Tilda Swinton). That’s about the gist of Wes Anderson’s second collaboration with co-writer Roman Coppola (following the underrated The Darjeeling Limited), but as is always the case with Anderson’s movies, the plot is just the framework for an endless series of quirky, witty, trippy traits and touches, starting with all these Scouts who take themselves way too seriously and recklessly toy with violence and danger… Then of course there is the hazy, 60s-movie quality of the cinematography, the impeccable shot composition and perfectly timed camera movements, the meticulous, dense art direction, the typically great soundtrack (the use of Françoise Hardy’s Le Temps de l’amour during the underwear dance/gawky teen make-out scene being the most priceless music cue), not to mention the wonderfully arch dialogue and all those priceless non sequiturs (“I’ll be out back. I’m gonna find a tree to chop down.”). The only slight drawback, for me, is how the two young leads (both first-timers) seem to be having trouble with line delivery. They look the part and their characters remain adorable nonetheless, but they’re just not that great as actors, not yet anyway, especially compared to the incredible adult cast, which also includes Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban and Harvey Keitel. Still, Moonrise Kingdon remains a major treat, packing big laughs and building up to an unexpectedly touching resolution. ]

2014
The Grand Budapest Hotel 76
[ Alternately garish and pastel colors, varying aspect ratios (1.37:1, 1.85:1, 2.35:1), elaborate production design… “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is certainly rich visually, but it’s almost equally dense narratively, telling a story-within-a-story-within-a-story about the days when the insistution’s owner (F. Murray Abraham) worked as a lobby boy (Tony Revolori) under the guidance of concierge M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), who made an habit of romancing rich old ladies. There is an odd mix of sophistication and vulgarity to M. Gustave and to the film in general, which alternates between depicting the lifestyle of high society and various murders and chases. Now, ultimately, the plot is rather inconsequential and the characters are generally one-dimensional, but Wes Anderson’s direction is consistently delightful and there is further pleasure to be had from the all-star cast, which also includes Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Mathieu Amalric, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson and Léa Seydoux, among others. ]