The fundamental basis of negative criticism directed at Wes Anderson can be summed up in the maxim, “familiarity breeds contempt.” Or as Mark Browning would have it, “the only movies Wes Anderson films look like are other Wes Anderson Films” (Kunze, 1). The director’s dogged adherence to the same box of cinematic tricks – obsessive
technical precision, symmetrical composition, vivid colour palettes, elaborate planimetric tracking shots, and a recurring stable of actors – has provoked a strongly-held belief that the director is retreading the same well-worn ground with every new film. But “Anderson is a filmmaker whose work you either ‘get’ or you don’t. Some express an honest bafflement at the films, some misinterpret them severely, and some greet them with outright hostility” (Jones, “A Family Romance,” 19-20). The genius of Anderson’s storytelling ability is that it does not rely on technical proficiency. Anderson’s obsessive compulsion with framing, shot compositions and meticulously symmetrical images can often obscure what is right in front of the viewer. The allure of his precisely-constructed images can occasionally disguise the emotional heart and maturity at the centre of every film.
His representations of loss and grief are universal traumas identifiable to all, but his compassion for each tortured, traumatised character is often apparent only through familiarity. However, just because it is hard to spot doesn’t mean it’s not there. It just takes a bit more effort to see it. Each text demonstrates “a desire to reengage with innocence to get back to enthusiasm ” (MacDowell, “The Andersonian, The Quirky, and ‘Innocence,’” 162). In Anderson’s world there are no losers. Bad deeds are atoned for and experience leads to redemption. In contrast with his “smart” film associates, Anderson does not mock or hold something up for ridicule. The beginning of his twenty-year career marks the end of the ironic disengagement and moral turpitude of Generation X.
Anderson’s own reaction to unfavourable assessments and over-analysis of his films is characteristically prudent. “How much good can come from putting any time into studying how people are responding to your movies? The best-case scenario is that it makes you feel flattered for a certain period of time, which doesn’t really buy you much in life; and inevitably, it’s not going to just be the best-case scenario, so learn to spare yourself that experience” (Zoller Seitz, The Wes Anderson Collection, 323). Anderson has yet to confirm what his next project will be, but at the time of writing there is some speculation that the director will return to the stop-motion animation of Fantastic Mr. Fox (2010) for an adaption of Vittorio de Sica’s The Gold of Naples (1954). But whatever Anderson chooses to do next, it will undoubtedly be an immaculately visual piece involving the redemption of broken characters through unconventional means. And I will probably have to watch it twice.
Biancolli, Amy. “The Darjeeling Limited: An Affected Film about Disaffected People”. The Houston Chronicle. 19 October 2007. <http://www.chron.com/entertainment/movies/article/The-Darjeeling-Limited-1845127.php>.
a. Narration in the Fiction Film. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1985. Print.
b. “Wes Anderson Takes the 4:3 Challenge.” The Wes Anderson Collection: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Ed. Zoller Seitz, Matt. New York: Abrams, 2015. Print.
Buckland, Warren. “Wes Anderson: A ‘Smart’ Director of the New Sincerity?” New Review of Film and Television Studies 10.1 (2012): 1-5 pp.
Caruth, Cathy. “Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History.” London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995. Print.
Davids Scott, Jason. “”American Empirical” Time and Space: The (in)Visibility of Popular Culture in the Films of Wes Anderson.” The Films of Wes Anderson. Ed. Kunze, Peter C. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Print.
Elsaesser, Thomas. “The Persistence of Persona.” Criterion.com. 27 March 2014. <http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/3116-the-persistence-of-persona>
Felando, Cynthia. “A Certain Age: Wes Anderson, Anjelica Houston and Modern Femininity.” New Review of Film and Television Studies 10.1 (2012): 132-51 pp.
Farrell, Kirby. “Berserk Style in American Culture.” London: Palgrave MacMillan. 2011. Print.
Gibbs, John. “Balancing Act: Exploring the Tone of the Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.” New Review of Film and Television Studies 10.1 (2012): 132-51 pp.
Gilbey, Ryan. “The Darjeeling Limited.” Sight and Sound. 6 June 2012. <http://old.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound/review/4086>.
Gittell, Noah. “The Case Against Wes Anderson.” Movie Mezzanine. March 9 (2014). <http://moviemezzanine.com/the-case-against-wes-anderson>
a. “On Life After September 11.” Film Comment 37.6 (2001): 20-1. Print.
b. “A Family Romance.” Physical Evidence: Selected Film Criticism. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2007.
Jones, Kent and Smith, Gavin. “At Home with the Royal Family.” Film Comment 37.6 (2001): 28-9. Print.
Joseph, Rachel. “’Max Fischer Presents’: Wes Anderson and the Theatricality of Mourning.” The Films of Wes Anderson. Ed. Kunze, Peter C. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Print.
Kelly, Christopher. “Wes Is More; or How I Stopped Hating the Director of Rushmore and Love Moonrise Kingdom.” Texas Monthly. November 2012 (2012). <http://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/wes-is-more>
Kunze, Peter C. “The Wonderful Worlds of Wes Anderson.” The Films of Wes Anderson. Ed. Kunze, Peter C. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Print.
Le Cain, Maximilian. “Storytime: The Royal Tenebaums.” Senses of Cinema 20 (May 2002). <http://sensesofcinema.com/2002/feature-articles/tenenbaums/>
Livingston, Paisley. “Characterization and Fictional Truth in the Cinema.” Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies. Ed. Bordwell, David and Carroll, Noel. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996. Print.
Luckhurst, Roger. The Trauma Question. New York: Routledge, 2008. Print.
a. “Wes Anderson, Tone and the Quirky Sensibility.” New Review of Film and Television Studies 10.1 (2012): 6-27 pp.
b. “The Andersonian, the Quirky, and ‘Innocence’.” The Films of Wes Anderson: Critical Essays on an Indiewood Icon. Ed. Kunze, Peter C. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 153-69. Print.
Olsen, Mark. “The Everlasting Boyhoods of Wes Anderson.” Film Comment 35.1 (January) (1999): 12-14, 17 pp.
Peberdy, Donna. “”I’m Just a Character in Your Film”: Acting and Performance from Autism to Zissou.” New Review of Film and Television Studies 10.1 (2012): 46-67 pp.
Pomerance, Murray. “The Look of Love: Cinema and the Dramaturgy of Kinship.” A Family Affair: Cinema Calls Home. Ed. Pomerance, Murray. London: Wallflower Press, 2008. Print.
Robé, Chris. “’Because I Hate Fathers, and I Never Wanted to Be One’: Wes Anderson, Entitled Masculinity and the ‘Crisis’ of the Patriarch.” Millennial Masculinity: Men in Contemporary American Cinema. Ed. Shary, Timothy. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2013. Print.
Rybin, Steven. “The Jellyfish in the Moonlight: Imagining the Family in Wes Anderson’s Films.” The Films of Wes Anderson. Ed. Kunze, Peter C. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Print.
Sconce, Jeffrey. “Irony, Nihilism and the New American ‘Smart’ Film.” Screen 43.2 (2002): 349-69 pp. <http://screen.oxfordjournals.org/content/43/4/349.full.pdf>
Thomas, Deborah J. “Framing the ‘Melancomic’: Character, Aesthetics and Affect in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore.” New Review of Film and Television Studies 10.1 (2012): 97-117 pp.
Wilkins, Kim. “Cast of Characters: Wes Anderson and Pure Cinematic Characterization.” The Films of Wes Anderson. Ed. Kunze, Peter C. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Print.
Zoller Seitz, Matt.
a. The Wes Anderson Collection. New York: Abrams, 2013. Print.
b. The Wes Anderson Collection: The Grand Budapest Hotel. New York: Abrams, 2015. Print.
Bottle Rocket. Dir. Wes Anderson. Columbia Pictures: The Criterion Collection, 1996. DVD.
Darjeeling Limited, The. Dir. Wes Anderson. Fox Searchlight Pictures: The Criterion Collection, 2007. DVD
Fantastic Mr. Fox. Dir. Wes Anderson. 20th Century Fox, 2009. DVD.
Grand Budapest Hotel, The. Dir. Wes Anderson. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2014. DVD.
Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The. Dir. Wes Anderson. Buena Vista Pictures: The Criterion Collection, 2004. DVD.
Moonrise Kingdom. Dir. Wes Anderson. Focus Features, 2012. DVD.
Royal Tenenbaums, The. Dir. Wes Anderson. Buena Vista Pictures: The Criterion Collection, 2001. DVD.
Rushmore. Dir. Wes Anderson. Buena Vista Pictures: The Criterion Collection, 1998. DVD.