Wes Anderson is a young filmmaker. But, at the age of 32, he has already been compared to the masters, making three films that have changed the form of cinema. Like the men who came before him, Scorsese, Kubrick and Lynch, Anderson has been inspired by their styles and has originated his own style.
Anderson has just received his first Academy Award nomination for his screenplay for “The Royal Tenenbaums,” the highly acclaimed motion picture that not only garnered the best reviews of Gene Hackman’s illustrious career, but took what would have essentially been an art house film and brought it out to the mainstream.
Since his student short film, “Bottle Rocket,” in 1992 made an impression on filmmaker James L. Brooks (“As Good As It Gets”), Anderson and his college chum Owen Wilson (who would later star in Anderson’s films and others such as “Zoolander” and “Meet the Parents”) wrote the feature-length script of “Bottle Rocket.” It tells the story of three young men longing to be thieves, but can’t manage to steal. Their debut earned a great deal of buzz at the Sundance Film Festival in 1996.
Anderson’s second directorial outing came from another script he co-wrote with Wilson. The story of “Rushmore” is the engrossing character study of Max Fischer, a 15-year-old underachiever whose biggest dream, aside from adapting plays from classic 1970s feature films, is to win the love of Miss Cross, the first grade teacher.
The cast of “Rushmore,” like “Bottle Rocket,” is filled with many unknowns. Jason Schwartzman (in his debut) plays Max. Anderson’s precise choice in casting made him hold out for someone who completely fit the role. That also came when casting Max’s mentor, a poor boy turned rich steel tycoon Herman Blume, played by Bill Murray.
What stood out in “Rushmore” was the unique style of a young filmmaker coming into his own after a second outing. With a bigger budget than “Bottle Rocket,” “Rushmore” was able to achieve so much more in terms of visuals and talent. If you pay attention to “Rushmore,” every single scene looks like a painting or a vintage photograph. Anderson came into his own here.
“Rushmore” earned Anderson the credentials to make a bigger motion picture and write a bigger story. It earned Bill Murray the greatest reviews of his career, and many Best Supporting Actor awards from critic circles.
“The Royal Tenenbaums” brings us up to present, where Anderson has painted a picture of 10 wonderful characters who, in some way, embody someone you know.
“The Royal Tenenbaums” is the story of three child geniuses who achieve greatness early in their lives, but lose that greatness before they reach their 30s. Their father, Royal, enters their lives after years of estrangement when he announces that he is dying. Trying to reestablish a relationship with his children and getting to know his grandchildren, Royal gets to understand who he is and what he has become.
The film shows how Anderson is maturing as a filmmaker. His style is increasingly becoming noticeable, whereas his knack for dry comedy is not only humorous, but also thought-provoking. Each shot and performance is well-directed and crafted so that it is hard not to fall in love with what has been shown.
Wes Anderson is hoping to write a western next. Anderson is a great example of a master filmmaker making great films with the resources he has to work with.