Thursday, April 16, 2009

the substance of style: wes anderson

an essay called "the substance of style" by film critique Matt Zoller Seitz breaks down Wes Anderson's influences, style, and cinematic tricks. Anderson possesses the rare ability to mesmerize his viewers with visual intricacies leaving them delightfully enchanted, without necessarily feeling overwhelmed. in this critique, Seitz lays the perfect foundation for those of us actually interested in cracking the Anderson egg. click on the videos on the right to watch (as opposed to reading) his thesis. sorry, they're not embeddable.

i would have enjoyed the mention of gabriel garcia marquez or even tom robbins in seitz's critique but, as ASP of Novel Designs pointed out to me this afternoon, "it's a given in the influences he draws from".

  • Part 1 covers Anderson's three main influences: Bill Melendez (director of "a charlie brown christmas)", Orson Welles, and Francois Truffaut
  • Part 2 covers Martin Scorsese, Richard Lester (director of the beatles "a hard days night"), and Mike Nichols (director of "the graduate")
  • Part 3 covers Hal Ashby (director "harold and maude")
  • Part 4 covers J.D. Salinger
  • Part 5 is an annotated version of The Royal Tenenbaums. very cool.
From the Salinger segment (via Kottke):
Detractors say Anderson's dense production design (courtesy of regular collaborator David Wasco) overwhelms his stories and characters. This complaint presumes that in real life our grooming and style choices aren't a kind of uniform -- visual shorthand for who we are or who we want others to think we are. This is a key strength of both Anderson and Salinger's work. Both artists have a knack for what might be called "material synecdoche" -- showcasing objects, locations, or articles of clothing that define whole personalities, relationships, or conflicts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've always seen Wes Anderson as a guy 'stuck' in a style. Something (well everything) about his films can be seen in the next and the next. While this isn't always a bad thing, his filmography seems to be taking a downward slope in quality. Not production quality (obviously), but originality.

And his mise en scene (sorry, lame word) is so dense that I don't always see it as a positive.

Maybe he needs a genre change, or a new DP.

Stale I guess is a good word to describe him, what if he started writing and not directing? Who knows.

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