Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson’s movies are considered comedies, but there’s always something dramatic going on beneath the surface. His characters are deeply flawed and their relationships are usually dysfunctional. He is well respected within the industry; Martin Scorsese even called him “The Next Scorsese.” He is known as an auteur, a director that is actively involved in all aspects of a film’s production in order to ensure that the film is made in his vision.

His debut, “Bottle Rocket,” was co-written by Owen Wilson, who also stars in the movie. It’s a comedy about three bumbling friends – Dignan (Owen Wilson), Anthony (Luke Wilson) and Bob (Robert Musgrave) – as they attempt to enter the criminal world. Since it was shot on a shoestring budget, the production values aren’t as sharp as Anderson’s subsequent films, but many fans still feel that it’s his best work to date. Anderson secured financing for “Bottle Rocket” by entering a short of the same name into the Sundance Film Festival.

“Rushmore” was also written by Anderson and Owen Wilson, and for many, it serves as the best introduction to Anderson’s work. It follows a teenage boy, Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), who falls in love with Miss Cross (Olivia Williams), one of the teachers at the somewhat stuffy Rushmore Academy. Max strikes up an unlikely friendship with Herman Blume (Bill Murray), who also falls for Miss Cross. The three become entangled in a hilarious romantic triangle. “Rushmore” is often credited for launching the second stage of Bill Murray’s career, in which he has received critical acclaim for portraying tragic characters in “Lost in Translation” and “Broken Flowers.”

The success of “Rushmore” allowed Anderson to use his growing clout to garner a superb cast for his third film, “The Royal Tenenbaums,” which he again co-wrote with Owen Wilson. Royal (Gene Hackman) is the absent head of a dysfunctional family, which includes his wife Etheline (Anjelica Houston) and three genius children: Richie (Luke Wilson), Chas (Ben Stiller) and Margo (Gwyneth Paltrow). Rounding out the cast are Richie’s friend Eli (Owen Wilson), Margo’s husband (Murray) and Etheline’s boyfriend, Henry (Danny Glover). Since the initial script was so detailed, Hackman was at first reluctant to take on the role, but he relented once Anderson said he wasn’t going to make the movie without him. The film is a study about love and regret, and while it certainly derives a lot of humor from the Tenenbaums’ quirkiness, it’s quite heartwarming as well. As a result, Anderson and Wilson were nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2001. That year, Julian Fellowes won the award for “Gosford Park.”

Anderson’s most recent film, “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,” was co-written with Noah Baumbach, the writer/director of the cult-classic “Kicking and Screaming” (not the Will Ferrell soccer movie), who later went on to write and direct “The Squid and the Whale” , which Anderson produced. “The Life Aquatic” follows Steve Zissou (Murray), a Jacques Cousteau-esque explorer, on his quest to find the jaguar shark that killed his best friend. Zissou has a troubled relationship with his wife, Eleanor (Houston), and discovers that he may have a son, Ned (Owen Wilson). Jane (Cate Blanchett) is a reporter that follows the Zissou crew (which features Willem Dafoe as Klaus) on their search for the jaguar shark. Owen Wilson’s absence from the writing process may have hindered the story’s humor, and while it was met with a tepid response at the box office, “The Life Aquatic” is still a fine film.

Anderson’s next two projects are “The Darjeeling Limited,” which stars Owen Wilson as one of three brothers who travel through India after the death of their father, and “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” an animated story about an angry farmer who tries to get rid of a fox that has been raiding his chicken coop. It’s based on the children’s book with the same name. Both films are tentatively scheduled for release in 2008.

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Bullz-Eye Features

Check out the Wes Anderson Mix Disc Monday, featuring the best of the songs featured in his films. Wes Anderson Mix Disc Monday.

Wes Anderson Quotes

On his work ethic:
“I am surprised because I always think of myself as someone who tries to do a lot of stuff and who is lazy. So I am happy to learn I can actually get things done.”

On his writing style:
“Writing on my own is not fun for me.”

On his characters:
“I am not trying to make them naturalistic or normal in any way. I am trying to come up with characters surprising to people and surprising to me. People who like weird people, I guess, are more likely to like my films than people who call people weirdoes.”

On working with Bill Murray:
“He’s the one that I’m most likely to describe as a genius. He really can be very surprising in the way that he’ll come up with something. His thought process is something I can’t quite put my finger on at all. A sentence will come out of his mouth that’s just the last thing I expect, and I don’t quite understand until I think about it for a minute. And I enjoy him personally and that makes it very pleasant to work with him.”