Wes Anderson the Absurd

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#27 Cussing photo of director Wes Anderson on the set of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009)

The director/writer has a cult following and a hefty percentage of people who just don’t get him. This is indicative of his work, for Anderson’s films are full of contrasts and absurdities. There is an eloquence to his symmetrical staging of nature and characters like viewing artwork in a gallery.  Also, there is a jerkiness to his presentation with frozen pauses and delayed deliveries in contrast with ramped up movement and chase scenes of the collective. His dark themes contrast with brilliant colors, unnatural and creepy, like watching a cartoon. His characters are buffoons who grow on you because their intentions are noble while their schemes are ridiculous and violent. Above all, I like the intimacy of his films; his much-favored center shot places me in the front row before the proscenium. I breathe the plot and see the shimmer of sweat on the performers before me. Like a magician, Wes Anderson has suspended disbelief, and I am entertained.

theater of the absurd
1.theater in which standard or naturalistic conventions of plot,characterization, and thematic structure are ignored or distorted in order to convey the irrational or fictive nature of reality and the essential isolation of humanity in a meaningless world. 

One could argue Wes Anderson has modified the characteristics from the theater of the absurd and adapted it to his filmography. Is Wes Anderson a modern twist of Friedrich Dürrenmatt? I would love to see Anderson create a film adaptation of The Visit.

Anderson’s stories feel fragmented and bizarre, yet end up cohesive and imaginative. He has a knack for including violence and profanity into his world, and it doesn’t feel offensive. There’s a boyish charm to his stories, as though Anderson was a precocious seventh grader and never grew up, but with adult sophistication he now has the power to revisit the bullies, dogs, and authority figures and make them look ridiculous. Sweet revenge. Check out this great vimeo by Dávid Velenczei:

In The Fantastic Mr. Fox, he removes all profanity and inserts the word “cuss”.  This makes his character quirky and fun to listen. If you listen closely, all his scripts are full of puns and innuendos and satire. Anderson is one of the few directors who spreads out this talent and shares it with an ensemble cast. It’s not the principal character that’s great. It’s all of them.

You can count on his motley crew to stay put at an isolated setting. An apartment building. A train. A boat. A school. An island. A farm. A hotel. You can count on an elaborate chase scene and a fight. You can count on a quirky, perfect score of random hits and no CGI. And an askew happy ending.

It’s difficult to say which is my favorite. I hear his next film will be another stop-motion film about dogs. I loved The Fantastic Mr. Fox, so I’m all for it.

What do you think of Wes Anderson? 

Dear Ralph Fiennes,

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If I ever have the pleasure to meet you, I promise to address you as “Rafe Fines”.

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You’ve said, “The process of making a film is a mad lottery. Whenever you get the feeling that you’re making something special, you have to quickly squash it because you are so often proved wrong.”

You have been nominated over fifty times in your film career but have never won an Oscar or Golden Globe. Your biggest accolade thus far is a Tony Award for Hamlet in 1995. Your villains in film have reached iconic status; your voice is as smooth and delicious as aged Scotch; your eyes and intellect entrance; and you have the breadth and depth on the same plateau as Daniel Day-Lewis. Here’s one top-ten list showcasing your talent:

Other personal favorites would include: The Duchess, The Invisible Women, and Grand Budapest Hotel. You do have your trademark expressions frozen in my mind.

The Pained Lover

Relationships are difficult, aren’t they? Especially when outside forces interfere with your all-consuming love. Who better than you to lament, mourn, suffocate, or repress your devotion for a lady on the screen?

The Powerful Boss

You ooze power and your haughty confidence makes anyone jump. I love your energy.

The intelligent, psychotic monster

Here’s where you shine. You are the epitome of Lucifer from Milton’s, Paradise Lost who  sermonizes, rationalizes, and justifies his case for descent. Ralph Fiennes, you’re not scary; you’re petrifying. How do you shed that horrible character and go back to Ralph Fiennes? When you wake up at 3:00a.m., and look into the mirror, I wonder what you think and who you see?

Daring, unexpected roles 

You have the ability to play diverse characters when you aren’t portraying the above archetype. Ralph, even with flops like The Avengers or Maid in Manhattan, I find you one of the more horrifying and stimulating actors working today.  As a director, I enjoyed The Invisible Women. I thought it a marvelous period piece. Looking forward to seeing you in Bond 24.

I remain faithfully,

Your Biggest Fan

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