When you think of directors that have influenced Wes Anderson, you typically think of Truffaut, Godard, Scorcese, and Ashby. But as you’ll see in this video of Anderson pulling out some recommended films from this Paris video store, his taste in movies is broad. There’s Drunken Angel (Kurosawa), A Streetcar Named Desire (Kazan), Vagabond (Varda), Birth (Glazer), Bridge of Spies (Spielberg), and Witness (Weir).
Of Spielberg, Anderson says:
If you make movies, if you direct movies, this is somebody who can help you. You looked at his movies for solutions. He usually found a way to do it right. He’s one of my favorites.
Precise. Symmetric. Stylized. Controlled (often bright) color palette. Slow-motion. Lateral tracking. These are allhallmarks of Wes Anderson’s films. But as this short video from Luís Azevedo shows, there are plenty of imperfect moments in his movies as well. Anderson is a canny filmmaker and it’s the contrast between the controlled worlds he constructs and these more frenetic, off-kilter, imperfect moments that gives them their weight and impact.
So, ever since I’d heard that Bill Murray had to drop out of filming Asteroid City, I’ve wondered which role he’d meant to play. After seeing the movie, I thought it was either the grandfather (played by Tom Hanks) or the hotel manager (Steve Carell) and it was Carell’s role:
Murray was originally cast as a motel manager in the desert town where the movie is set, in 1955. “Normally, I don’t think it’s such a nice idea to tell everyone the person who didn’t end up in the movie,” Anderson said recently. “But Bill got covid in Ireland, and it was four days before he was supposed to work.” Murray was in Ireland for a family trip (“And usually golf has something to do with it,” Anderson said), en route to Spain, where “Asteroid City” was shooting. With Murray in quarantine, Anderson scrambled to recast the part. “The movie was a jigsaw puzzle of actors’ schedules, so we couldn’t wait,” he recalled. “We were extremely lucky that Steve Carell said yes — and was perfect in the part.”
Then, the day after the movie wrapped, Anderson and Murray concocted an idea: in a metatheatrical curlicue, Murray would play a character who was cut from the film. Anderson corralled Schwartzman, who plays a war photographer (and the actor playing the war photographer), and they shot a short scene in the style of a retro promotional trailer for a Hollywood film, in which a director or a studio executive would give a stilted pitch for an exciting new picture. Think of the Paramount head Robert Evans boosting “Love Story” and “The Godfather,” or Cecil B. DeMille hyping his 1934 production of “Cleopatra.” Anderson recalled, “We made this very peculiar thing that is just a spontaneous creation before the set was going to be struck down. It was the last thing we did. And then we put all our things in the golf cart and drove off into the sunset.”
[I know, this is a lot of Asteroid City stuff — maybe you don’t care about this quite so much? He gets like this about stuff he likes. It’s ok, he’ll grow tired of it in a few days and the site will go back to being about *checks notes* everything else in this whole wide world. -ed]
The other day I posted about how contemporary filmmakers, Wes Anderson in particular, use miniatures in their films. The model/prop maker featured, Simon Weisse, has worked with Anderson on several films, including his latest, Asteroid City. Weisse has been posting behind-the-scenes shots of his studio’s work on Asteroid City to his under-followed Instagram account and I thought a separate post highlighting some of those props and miniatures would be fun.
This video shows a bunch more of the miniatures used in the movie:
I also ran across a few behind-the-scenes videos of the production if you’re in the mood to deep-dive (as I appear to be):
If you’re lucky enough to be in London in the next week and a half, you can go and see some of these props and sets and even eat at the diner at 180 Studios. Very. Jealous.
Vox talks to prop & model maker Simon Weisse, who made miniatures for Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, about the perhaps surprising popularity of miniatures in contemporary filmmaking, when the technique works and when it doesn’t (e.g. when unscalable elements like rain or fire/explosions are involved), and why certain directors use it instead of CGI.
Miniatures in movies are way more common than you may realize, and one of the most stylish filmmakers keeping them alive is Wes Anderson. In this video we spoke to Simon Weisse, prop maker and model marker for some of Wes Anderson’s recent projects, like The Grand Budapest Hotel, The French Dispatch, and Asteroid City.
Older movies, like 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, had no choice but to use miniatures to make their worlds feel real. But even in the modern day of CGI, filmmakers are still using minis — just look at projects like The Mandalorian, Blade Runner 2049, Harry Potter, and The Dark Knight series. In those movies, miniatures are used for expansive sets that establish the world of a film, otherworldly vehicles like spaceships, and more.
It’s perfect for Anderson’s storybook aesthetic, of course…it looks great in Asteroid City (which I really enjoyed overall).
I know, I know. Too much Wes Anderson. Too much AI. But there is something in my brain, a chemical imbalance perhaps, and I can’t help but find this reimagining of the Lord of the Rings in Anderson’s signature style funny and charming. Sorry but not sorry.
It’s a no-brainer: what if you handed over a visually rich sci-fi universe with slightly campy origins to a quirky auteur with an overwhelming aesthetic, just to see what you’d get? This short trailer imagines Wes Anderson at the helm of his very own Star Wars movie, complete with Bill Murray as Obi-Wan and Owen Wilson as Darth Vader (wow).
See also, from back in 2012, Conan O’Brien’s take on Wes Anderson’s Star Wars, A Life Galactic. I would totally watch either of these movies tbh.
Wow, I’d never seen these before today! For the 1999 MTV Movie Awards, Wes Anderson created three promo spots, each one a staged re-creation of a nominated movie in the style of the Hollywood-inspired plays in Rushmore (Serpico & the Vietnam War one). All three shorts (Armageddon, Out of Sight, The Truman Show) star Jason Schwartzman as Max Fisher, along with the rest of the Max Fischer Players. (via open culture)
The top two comments on YouTube sum this trailer for Asteroid City up pretty well: “Just when you don’t think it can get more Wes Anderson, it gets more Wes Anderson.” and “You know a Wes Anderson movie is a Wes Anderson movie, but you can’t really describe a Wes Anderson movie to someone who has never seen a Wes Anderson movie.” Here’s the synopsis:
The itinerary of a Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet convention (organized to bring together students and parents from across the country for fellowship and scholarly competition) is spectacularly disrupted by world-changing events.
Does it even matter to know this? At this point, you’re either throwing money at the screen after watching this trailer (*raises hand*) or you’re just not interested. For those in the former camp, Asteroid City opens in theaters on June 16.
I’m just speaking for myself, but I recently rewatched all of his films in chronological order. You can see typography become a more and more prominent component over time — it’s quite fascinating. In later films like Isle of Dogs and the French Dispatch, it almost becomes its own character rather than a visual or narrative flourish. Especially in a story about writers and publishing, every book, every page, every shop sign, every poster.
Even thinking about the three stories contained within the film, graphic design and typography are really at the core of each one: exhibition posters, protest signs and even menus. You piece a lot of key information together just through certain objects from the set, as well as emotional nuance: humour, joy, sadness. With such a huge part of the narration depending on typography, you have to expect a high level of detail.
Some people can be quite dismissive of Anderson’s work as preoccupied with mere aesthetics, so it’s great to hear Boulanger talk about the depth that something that’s ostensibly aesthetic like typography brings to his films. I loved the use of type in The French Dispatch…so much information conveyed with “just” words. (via sidebar)
With all due respect to Ganz and other dissenting critics, who are well within their rights to dislike Dispatch or the general direction Anderson’s work is headed in, there is nothing childish or superficial about the film. The similarly maligned-for-her-tastes Sofia Coppola showed us in Marie Antoinette that teas, cakes, and even childhood (or teenagedom) are not frivolous subjects, not even when rendered with ostentatiously luxurious styling. Such exercises in not plainly depicting a set of ideas but entangling them in a detailed visual makeup are best done in films, and for good reason — a medium as prolonged as it is abridged, it ideally requires audience members’ sustained and close observation.
“Sustained and close observation” nails it. I wasn’t bored for a single second during The French Dispatch — more like rapt. I love films that reward paying attention — it’s a form of love, don’t you know.
Wes Anderson has directed a stylish animated music video for Jarvis Cocker’s lovely cover of Christophe’s “Aline”, which was a big hit in France in the summer of 1965. The video, illustrated by Javi Aznarez, also doubles as a trailer/moving poster of sorts for the film in which the song appears, Anderson’s own The French Dispatch.
Wes Anderson’s tenth film, The French Dispatch, is about a fictional magazine published by a group of Americans in France. The movie’s magazine is based on the New Yorker and in advance of its release, Anderson has published an anthology of articles from the actual New Yorker (and other magazines) that inspired the characters in the film. It’s called An Editor’s Burial.
A glimpse of post-war France through the eyes and words of 14 (mostly) expatriate journalists including Mavis Gallant, James Baldwin, A.J. Liebling, S.N. Behrman, Luc Sante, Joseph Mitchell, and Lillian Ross; plus, portraits of their editors William Shawn and New Yorker founder Harold Ross. Together: they invented modern magazine journalism.
Two reasons. One: our movie draws on the work and lives of specific writers. Even though it’s not an adaptation, the inspirations are specific and crucial to it. So I wanted a way to say, “Here’s where it comes from.” I want to announce what it is. This book is almost a great big footnote.
Two: it’s an excuse to do a book that I thought would be really entertaining. These are writers I love and pieces I love. A person who is interested in the movie can read Mavis Gallant’s article about the student protests of 1968 in here and discover there’s much more in it than in the movie. There’s a depth, in part because it’s much longer. It’s different, of course. Movies have their own thing. Frances McDormand’s character, Krementz, comes from Mavis Gallant, but Lillian Ross also gets mixed into that character, too — and, I think, a bit of Frances herself. I once heard her say to a very snooty French waiter, “Kindly leave me my dignity.”
As Morrison then noted, it would be very cool if every movie came with a suggested reading list. The French Dispatch is set for release in the US in late October and An Editor’s Burial will be out September 14 and is available for preorder.
The YouTube channel In Depth Cine has been looking at how directors like Spike Lee, Alfonso Cuarón, Martin Scorsese, and Wes Anderson shoot films at three different budget levels, from the on-a-shoestring films early in their careers to later blockbusters, to see the similarities and differences in their approaches. For instance, Wes Anderson made Bottle Rocket for $5 million, Rushmore for $10 million, and Grand Budapest Hotel for $25 million:
Steven Spielberg shot Duel for $450,000, Raiders of the Lost Ark for $20 million, and Saving Private Ryan for $70 million:
Christopher Nolan did Following for $6,000, Memento for $9 million, and Inception for $160 million:
Love it or hate it, we all know what Wes Anderson movies look like by now — the vibrant color palette, use of symmetry, lateral tracking shots, slow motion, etc. etc. In this video, Thomas Flight explores why Anderson uses these stylistic elements to tell affective and entertaining stories.
But what is at the core of those individual stylistic decisions? Why does Anderson choose those things? Why do all those things seem to form a very specific unified whole? And what function, if any, do they serve in telling the kinds of stories Wes wants to tell?
Inspired by the symmetry and color palettes of Wes Anderson's movies, the Instagram account Accidentally Wes Anderson has been collecting and featuring photos from folks all over the world that wouldn't look out of place in The Royal Tenenbaums or The Grand Budapest Hotel. The creators have turned it into a new book called Accidentally Wes Anderson, which features many of the best contributions from the account. It sounds like it's kind of a travel book, a visually oriented Atlas Obscura.
Now, inspired by a community of more than one million Adventurers, Accidentally Wes Anderson tells the stories behind more than 200 of the most beautiful, idiosyncratic, and interesting places on Earth. This book, authorized by Wes Anderson himself, travels to every continent and into your own backyard to identify quirky landmarks and undiscovered gems: places you may have passed by, some you always wanted to explore, and many you never knew existed.
And while we're here, I picked out a few of my recent favorites from their Instagram:
Characters in Wes Anderson’s films are often misfits, outcasts, or are estranged from one another for various reasons. That apartness is often depicted cinematically using physical distance between individuals onscreen, with the aesthetic side effect of using all of that gorgeous 1.85:1 or even 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Luis Azevedo made a short supercut of moments in Anderson’s movies where the characters are practicing good social distancing techniques.
Trailer ↑. Well, if you like Wes Anderson this looks terrific. And if you don’t, well, perhaps not. The French Dispatch is about a weekly literary magazine in the style of the New Yorker. From the actual New Yorker:
Wes Anderson’s new movie, “The French Dispatch,” which will open this summer, is about the doings of a fictional weekly magazine that looks an awful lot like — and was, in fact, inspired by — The New Yorker. The editor and writers of this fictional magazine, and the stories it publishes — three of which are dramatized in the film — are also loosely inspired by The New Yorker. Anderson has been a New Yorker devotee since he was a teen-ager, and has even amassed a vast collection of bound volumes of the magazine, going back to the nineteen-forties. That he has placed his fictional magazine in a made-up French metropolis (it’s called Ennui-sur-Blasé), at some point midway through the last century, only makes connecting the dots between “The French Dispatch” and The New Yorker that much more delightful.
Amazing…he basically made a movie about the New Yorker archives. And btw, writing “teen-ager” instead of “teenager” is the most New Yorker thing ever — but at least it wasn’t “teën-ager.”
Back to the movie, it’s got a cracking cast: Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Jeffrey Wright, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson all star and then the supporting cast includes Liev Schreiber, Elisabeth Moss, Willem Defoe, Saoirse Ronan, Christoph Waltz, Jason Schwartzman, Anjelica Huston, and even the Fonz, Henry Winkler. The poster is quite something as well:
For their series The Director’s Chair, Studio Binder pulls together interviews with notable filmmakers to shine some light on how they make their films. In the latest installment, Wes Anderson explains how he writes and directs his uniquely stylistic movies.
The video covers five main points about his approach:
1. Pull from your past.
2. Build a world.
3. Focus on precision & symmetry.
4. Find your spark.
5. Just go shoot.
(#5 is a bit of a head-scratcher. Anderson is pretty much the opposite of a “just go shoot” filmmaker. But I suppose he did have to start somewhere…)
It features people, places, and objects from many of Anderson’s films (I didn’t see any Bottle Rocket references): B is for Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, N is for Ned Plimpton, and T is for Margot and Richie Tenenbaum.
From a visual design standpoint, Isle of Dogs might be my favorite Wes Anderson movie yet. Each frame of the film is its own little work of art — I could have watched a good 20 minutes of this guy making sushi:
Through the course of several in-depth interviews with film critic Lauren Wilford, writer and director Wes Anderson shares the story behind Isle of Dogs’s conception and production, and Anderson and his collaborators reveal entertaining anecdotes about the making of the film, their sources of inspiration, the ins and outs of stop-motion animation, and many other insights into their moviemaking process. Previously unpublished behind-the-scenes photographs, concept artwork, and hand-written notes and storyboards accompany the text.
When you’re watching a Wes Anderson movie, you are never not aware that you’re watching a Wes Anderson movie. In this video, ScreenPrism examines the 13 aspects common to most of the director’s films. There’s the art-directed microworlds (the sub in The Life Aquatic, the house on Archer Avenue in Tenenbaums), the distinctive camera language (wide-angle shots, symmetry), the extensive use of musical deep cuts from the 60s and 70s (These Days by Nico in Tenenbaums), performances within the films (the plays in Rushmore, Tenenbaums, and Moonrise Kingdom), the exacting & deadpan dialogue, and children who act like adults and adults who act like children (which Anderson got from Charles Schulz).
As Isle of Dogs prepares to enter theaters,1 Honest Trailers created a bitingly truthful trailer for all of Wes Anderson’s films, in which they ding the director for symmetry, nostalgia, whimsey, whip pans, the overwhelming maleness of his ennui-suffering & disaffected protagonists, and Bill Murray on a tiny motorcycle in a profile shot. The description of his films as “meticulously crafted awkward family fables that make you kinda happy, kinda sad, and kinda unsure when you’re supposed to laugh or not” is pretty much spot-on and the reason I like them so much.
In 2012, before the release of Moonrise Kingdom, Anderson talked about his approach to movies on NPR’s Fresh Air:
I have a way of filming things and staging them and designing sets. There were times when I thought I should change my approach, but in fact, this is what I like to do. It’s sort of like my handwriting as a movie director. And somewhere along the way, I think I’ve made the decision: I’m going to write in my own handwriting. That’s just sort of my way.
And that’s why he’s “your barista’s favorite director”.
But only in a limited release, as I found out this morning. 27 theaters this weekend and not in wide release until April 13. I’d have to drive to fricking Boston to see it earlier than that. :(↩
As a promo for Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, snippets from the cast interviews were animated using the dog characters played by Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Bob Balaban, and others. It’s amazing how much some of the dogs’ features & expressions mirror those of the actors who provide the voices. The bit starting at 2:30 with Jeff Goldblum is just straight flames.
Here’s the first real look at Wes Anderson’s new stop motion animated movie, Isle of Dogs, out in March 2018.
Isle of Dogs tells the story of Atari Kobayashi, 12-year-old ward to corrupt Mayor Kobayashi. When, by Executive Decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.
Prediction: Anderson is going to get some criticism on the cultural context of this movie. (via trailer town)
Taking pictures gave Lartigue a hobby and a purpose. His immediate surroundings and leisure class milieu provided the subject matter and Lartigue, a native user, wielded his camera with technical mastery almost from the beginning. He also brought a child’s whimsy to photography’s staid practice of posing and composing. Lartigue had a low vantage, a wandering eye, and a loose frame that was far ahead of his time. He also had the resources and time to experiment. Lartigue continued photographing prolifically into his teens and early adulthood, finding muses in his wives and mistresses and the diversions of prolonged adolescence.
Lartigue’s photography was an influence on director Wes Anderson, particularly in Rushmore and The Life Aquatic. If you can’t see Rushmore’s Max Fischer in the top photo of the homemade go-kart, you certainly can in this one:
And the kid in the tire boat in the other photo? That is Lartigue’s older brother, Maurice. Everyone called him Zissou. (Curiously, none of this is in The Wes Anderson Collection. Come on! The photo of Zissou’s mentor Lord Mandrake in The Life Aquatic? That’s a self portrait of Jacques Henri Lartigue!)
We’ve known for awhile that Wes Anderson is doing another stop-motion animated movie, but in this video, Anderson himself shares the name of the film — Isle of Dogs — and shows a very tiny clip of the character played by Edward Norton.
Also appearing in the film are Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Yoko Ono, Scarlett Johansson, and possibly you. Anderson is doing a fundraiser for a favorite charity and if you donate, you’re entered to win a trip to London to meet Wes, get a tour of the production, and record the voice of a character for the movie (“barking, howling & whimpering may be required”).