The Hits and Sh*ts of: Wes Anderson

When it comes to directors, no-one does symmetry, tracking shots, or keeping Bill Murray employed half as well as American film director and screenwriter, Wes Anderson.

Wes is one of my favourite directors and when I say “the shits”, I struggled. I pretty much like all of his full theatrical releases, so these so-called shits are like tiny, healthy-shaped ones that fall out with the greatest of ease, and cause absolutely zero splash-back.

I should probably start talking about a highly acclaimed director, and not bowel movements now, shouldn’t I?

NOTE: This list will only include movies directed by Wes Anderson; not produced. So you’re lucky, She’s Funny That Way (2015).

The Hits

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

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We all knew Wes could craft the ideal movie; he’d directed five feature films prior to this, but who the hell knew he could do animation too? Buggar off, Wes, you smug git. Leave some of the talent to us.

The adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel sees a huge cast, including George Clooney and Meryl Streep, in a visually gorgeous piece, with all the usual Anderson tropes thrown in. The characters are stylistically perfect, the recurring songs are so perfect for the theme, and the stop-motion animation, for example, splashing water, is just so retro, it’s beyond cool.

Also, Bill Murray’s great as Badger.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

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It’s about bloody time! Wes Anderson received an Academy Award for Best Picture (nomination) for his most recent picture. And it should have won it… If Birdman, Whiplash, and Boyhood weren’t nominated too.

This is a much more grown-up piece than Fantastic Mr. Fox, with a much darker tone; including soldiers giving a kid a bloody nose, to dropping the f-bomb several times, but it’s still a fun, whacky caper with an incredible Ralph Fiennes in the lead.

Also, Bill Murray’s great as M. Ivan.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

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This is probably Wes’ most quirky film; Bob Balaban narrates the entire film, everyone is a complete nerd, a dog gets murdered by an arrow, and you see the interiors of more bags and suitcases than you’ve had hot dinners. Unless you’ve had, like, six hot dinners.

While Moonrise Kingdom should only be tackled by Wes-uber fans, it’s one of Wes’ more understated and charming affairs that constantly reminds you of your youth; climbing trees and building forts… LOL. As if I did any of that. I spent a good 97% of my childhood playing Crash Bandicoot. Sod the outdoors.

Also, Bill Murray’s great as Mr. Bishop.

The Shits

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

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Now I had to pick a film to be a shit. I didn’t want it to be this, but how much of a brown-noser would I be if I just did “The Hits of: Wes Anderson”? Er.

The screenplay’s pretty funny; we see Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman as estranged brothers who pretty much assume they’ll find spiritual enlightenment within milliseconds of visiting Asia. But – unlike 99.999% of Wes’ other works – none of the brothers really have distinctive characteristics and all just blur into one. You recognise them as the one with a normal nose, the one with the big nose, and the one with a crooked nose.

Also, Bill Murray’s great as an unnamed businessman.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

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At least the title of this movie isn’t at all pretentious at all, is it?

Again, I don’t hate this film, but – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – but it’s just a bit too Wes Anderson-y. The Life Aquatic relies solely on being eccentric, and doesn’t focus nearly enough on the pace or storyline. “There’s, erm, a guy playing a guitar. Owen Wilson looks at the sea. OH SHIT! A BLOODY PIRATE FIGHT! THIS IS SICK! Oh. I’m looking at starfish now. Okay, cool.”

I’m not going to tell Oscar-nominated Wes Anderson how to make a movie, but the story should focus more on Bill Murray finding the shark that killed his partner, and not every other minor chore in the way.

But still… Bill Murray’s great as Steve Zissou.

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