srAug2014

A Wes Anderson Transatlantic

Confession: there’s no one I’d rather have a cup of tea with more than American filmmaker and screenwriter Wes Anderson. King of corduroy jackets and mates with Bill Murray, Wes Anderson has directed some of the most fanciful films of the past two decades.

Since the debut of his short film, Bottle Rocket (1992), Anderson’s films have become a cornerstone of American cinema. Subsequent feature films such as The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Grand Budapest Hotel have continued to demonstrate his distinctive visual and narrative style, earning him widespread critical praise and awards season glory.

To me, what makes Wes Anderson’s films click is the way he brings together a multitude of elements with a Kubrick-like focus on detail. From the lavish set designs to the technical precision of each and every shot, Anderson approaches filmmaking in a way that can only be described as pure craftsmanship. While his feature films have achieved increasing audience popularity, what I personally fan-girl over the most are his short films.

In this edition of the Screening Room, I will be sharing two short films and one promotional video from Wes Anderson’s filmography; Hotel Chevalier, Castello Cavalcanti, and Prada: Candy.

Castello Cavalcanti (2013)

A Prada-financed, Anderson-directed, Schwartzman-starred film, Castello Cavalcanti tells the story of a race car driver who crashes in a small Italian village during a race. Upon realising that Castello Cavalcanti is his ancestral village, the driver, played by the ever-charming Jason Schwartzman, is introduced to a host of off-beat characters. The film explores death and family dysfunction, weaving together a series of precocious quips with Anderson’s trademark wit. There are also some interesting discussions online about the possibility that Schwartzman’s character actually dies at the start of the film – what do you think?

Hotel Chevalier (2007)

Created as a prologue to Anderson’s 2007 feature film The Darjeeling Limited, Hotel Chevalier follows the reunion of two former lovers, played by Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman. Set entirely in a luxurious Parisian hotel room, Hotel Chevalier offers beautiful commentary on the cycle of connection and disconnection between two individuals. Every time I watch this film, I’m absolutely floored by how poignant and thoughtful the screenplay is. Even through the briefest exchange of dialogue, Anderson manages to encompass so much of what it means to be vulnerable with someone who feels familiar, and melancholic in a city that feels foreign.

Prada: Candy (2013)

Mirroring the glamour and mystique of Prada, Wes Anderson’s film Candy is an undoubted visual gem. Featuring French actress Lea Seydoux, Candy is a three-part story that delves into the world of an absolutely relentless, sharp-witted woman who finds herself at the attention of two competing admirers. While it is essentially an advertisement, I love the fact that you can tell with a single glance that it’s a work of Wes Anderson’s. It has his telltale symmetrical precision, snappy one-liners that you could only dream of coming up with yourself, and a truly intriguing portrayal of idolization.

While continuing to create immensely successful feature films, Wes Anderson’s knack for story-telling is one hundred percent on display in his short film repertoire. Showcasing a style that has been gradually honed over a two decade career, I think it’s fair to say that Wes Anderson is one of the few auteurs of our generation.