Wes Anderson

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Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson in Berlin, 2005.
Born Wesley Wales Anderson
May 1, 1969 (1969-05-01) (age 39)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Occupation Actor, Director, Screenwriter, Producer
Years active 1994–present

Wesley Wales "Wes" Anderson (born May 1, 1969) is an American film director, screenwriter, actor, and producer of features, short films and commercials. He was nominated for a 2001 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for The Royal Tenenbaums.


[edit] Biography

The second of three brothers, Anderson was born in Houston, Texas. His father, Melver Leonard Anderson, worked in advertising and currently owns a public relations firm in Houston; his mother, Texas Ann Burroughs, a former archaeologist, is now a real estate agent and was the inspiration for Etheline Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums.

Anderson attended both Westchester High School and St. John's School, a private school in Houston, which he later featured as a location for his second film, Rushmore. Like Rushmore's protagonist, Max Fischer, Anderson wrote and directed plays on the stage of St. John's now-demolished Hoodwink Theatre.

Anderson studied philosophy at the University of Texas, where he met Owen Wilson. After producing a short version of Bottle Rocket, Anderson and Wilson attracted the notice of producer James L. Brooks. With Brooks' help, the two were able to enter the short at Sundance and secure funding for a feature-length Bottle Rocket.

Anderson divides his time between New York City and Paris, France. His friends include a diverse set of fellow filmmakers, including the screenwriter-director Noah Baumbach, the actor-screenwriter Owen Wilson, and director-actress Sofia Coppola. His brother, Eric, designs both sets and styles on his films. His older brother, Mel, is a doctor.

While making The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, according to the Internet Movie Database 'The once pasty, bookish Anderson got a tan, grew his hair long, and got into better shape. His frequent star, Anjelica Huston, noted that Wes had "suddenly" become "handsome".'

[edit] Film work

Wes Anderson has been called an auteur[1], as he is involved in every aspect of his films' production: writing, cinematography, production design, music selection.

[edit] Influences

Anderson has recently acknowledged that he went to India to film his 2007 film, The Darjeeling Limited partly as a tribute to the legendary Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray, whose "films have also inspired all my other movies in different ways." He dedicated the movie to Ray's memory.[2]

[edit] Trademarks

  • With the exception of the independently financed Bottle Rocket, his films employ a similar visual style, primarily through the use of vivid primary colors. He is known for deliberate, methodical cinematography, using 90 degree camera angles, parallel and perpendicular arrangement of forms, frequent use of symmetry, close-ups, quick pans, and slow motion shots.
  • Wes Anderson is known for making independent-type stylistic films that mix poignancy and dry humor. Examples of his humor include malapropism and understatement.
  • All of Anderson's films utilize the font Futura Bold in either the opening credits, title sequences or closing credits and is also displayed in other printed materials used throughout his films. Each film also uses Futura Bold to display the main closing credits in a particular format where the first name is displayed in a title case and the last name is displayed in all caps (except The Darjeeling Limited which uses capitals for full names).
  • He often uses folk and early rock as the background music in scenes.
  • His often damaged characters are viewed in a compassionate light.
  • His main characters frequently come from families with money (Anthony "never worked a day in his life" in Bottle Rocket, Blume's multimillion dollar business in Rushmore, the elaborate townhouse in The Royal Tenenbaums and the family inheritance in The Darjeeling Limited).
  • By contrast, each movie has minor characters who are working class (such as the housekeeper Inez in Bottle Rocket and personal assistant Pagoda in The Royal Tenenbaums)
  • About his American Express commercial, Anderson states that his films, "point out the beauty in flaws and vice versa."
  • The depiction of escapism and companionship through chemicals seems to be one of his trademarks also. In each of his films, one or more of the main characters smokes cigarettes or marijuana, excessively drinks, takes pills, etc. To accompany the cigarettes in his films he also features Zippo lighters prominently; from Dignan in Bottle Rocket lighting firecrackers to Raleigh St. Clair in The Royal Tenenbaums. Additionally, his films often feature a heavy-smoking female character.
  • A recurring character in Anderson's films is a respected middle aged male who is essentially a fraud.
  • All of Anderson's films, with the exception of The Darjeeling Limited, end with slow motion sequences - although The Darjeeling Limited's third to last shot is in slow motion.
  • Furthermore, almost every Wes Anderson movie contains a shot of one or more characters under water.

[edit] Collaborators

Anderson's films feature many of the same actors, crew members, and other collaborators. For example, the Wilson brothers (Owen, Luke, and Andrew), Bill Murray, Seymour Cassel, Anjelica Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Kumar Pallana and son Dipak Pallana, Stephen Dignan and Brian Tenenbaum (Anderson's close friends), and Eric Chase Anderson (Anderson's brother).

Other frequent collaborators are writer Noah Baumbach, who co-wrote The Life Aquatic, and wrote/directed his own film, The Squid and the Whale, with Anderson as producer. Also cinematographer Robert Yeoman (A.S.C.), and composer Mark Mothersbaugh.

Actor Bottle Rocket (1996) Rushmore (1998) The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) The Darjeeling Limited (2007) Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Waris Ahluwalia X markN X markN
Owen Wilson X markN (Co-Writer) X markN X markN X markN
Luke Wilson X markN X markN X markN
Andrew Wilson X markN X markN X markN
Bill Murray X markN X markN X markN X markN X markN
Anjelica Huston X markN X markN X markN X markN
Jason Schwartzman X markN X markN X markN
Kumar Pallana X markN X markN X markN X markN
Cate Blanchett X markN X markN
Seymour Cassel X markN X markN X markN

[edit] Recent work

In 2005, Anderson produced The Squid and the Whale, written and directed by Life Aquatic co-writer Noah Baumbach. The Squid and the Whale won two awards at the Sundance Film Festival; one for its direction and one for its writing.[3] In 2006, he directed and starred in a "My Life, My Card" American Express commercial.

Jason Schwartzman reunited with Anderson on the 2007 film, The Darjeeling Limited. The script is written by Anderson, Roman Coppola and Schwartzman.[4] Anderson's stop-motion animation adaptation of the Roald Dahl book, Fantastic Mr Fox is slated for 2009 release.

[edit] Acclaim and criticism

Critical reviews of Anderson's early work were positive, with some exceptions. His second film Rushmore was a critical darling, and many[who?] argued that Anderson would soon become a major artistic voice in American cinema.[citation needed] Many critics[who?] noted a strong sense of sympathetic but intelligent humanism in Anderson's films that linked them to the work of Jean Renoir and François Truffaut.[citation needed] Filmmaker Martin Scorsese is a fan of Anderson's, praising Bottle Rocket and Rushmore in an Esquire magazine article.[5] The Royal Tenenbaums was also a critical favorite and garnered Anderson an Academy Award nomination. The film was his first high-profile commercial success, featuring several established movie stars.[citation needed]

In September 2006, following the disappointing commercial and critical reception of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Steely Dan's Walter Becker and Donald Fagen released a tongue-in-cheek "letter of intervention" of Anderson's artistic "malaise". Proclaiming themselves to be fans of "World Cinema" and Anderson in particular, they offered Anderson their soundtrack services for his The Darjeeling Limited, including lyrics for a title track.[6]

Anderson has also been criticized by journalist Jonah Weiner for what the writer feels are shallow portrayals of non-white characters[7]. Reihan Salam of The Atlantic offered a rebuttal to this line of criticism[8].

[edit] Advertising

In September 2007, Wes Anderson oversaw a series of six commercials for AT&T: “College Kid,” “Reporter,” “Mom,” “Architect,” “Actor” and “Businessman.” The campaign also includes online, print and outdoor advertising. These TV spots are part of AT&T's "Your Seamless World" national campaign from BBDO/New York. Each ad embodies Anderson's distinct style by focusing on a subject and having the environment around them change. Each of the six AT&T commercials introduces us to a different AT&T customer. As each of these people comes before the camera and talks about the different, far-reaching locales where he or she needs cell-phone service, the visuals behind the customer change dramatically to reflect the different destinations.

The "Reporter" piece was subject to controversy when several Lebanese-American groups protested its airing as ignorant given the complex and sensitive nature of the Lebanese political situation. The ad portrayed photojournalists dodging bullets on a Beirut rooftop while the city was being bombed. It was subsequently pulled from rotation after the assassination of Antoine Ghanem on September 19, 2007 with AT&T and BBDO issuing public apologies.[citation needed]

Anderson also starred in and directed an American Express "My Life, My Card" commercial, which chronicled the "filming" of an action movie starring Jason Schwartzman. Anderson acts as if he is being interviewed by someone from American Express for the ad, while walking around completing tasks on set. It was aired on television and in movie theaters in both a short and extended version, during and shortly after the theatrical release of The Life Aquatic.

[edit] Filmography

[edit] Feature films

[edit] Short films

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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