Shorts are in many ways a rite of passage for budding filmmakers. They’re made of mistakes, charm and life—and with the realities of cost, time and effort. And some directors break through to showcase at Sundance Film Festival, where they have the chance of catching the eye of the person (or company) that will fund their next project. These are 10 Sundance shorts by directors who went on to make names for themselves–and as an added bonus, you can watch them all right now online. Enjoy!
Wes Anderson has been making feature films since the ’90s (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore) so needless to say his influences date further back than that. It’s a testament to this auteur’s considerable talent that although he’s supremely nostalgic, he’s by no means derivative. He doesn’t rob his predecessors. He nods to them. So to begin… (Cue the Futura title card bearing the words Chapter 1:)
It’s a dream pairing, one that’s almost hard to believe hasn’t happened before. Leading man Johnny Depp will return to his indie roots (WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE?, ED WOOD, BENNY & JOON) to star in auteur Wes Anderson’s next project, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL.
A friend texted me this week asking if I wanted to go see MOONRISE KINGDOM (obvious answer is “YES”) which is the perfect segue here to discuss this amazing bingo card generator created by Slate. Captain Obvious would argue that Wes Anderson, the film’s director has certain signature motifs and techniques that he likes to incorporate in his films to the point of parody. All of these elements (and players), each “appeared in at least three of his movies, and some elements appear in all of them,” add up for a perfect game of Bingo.
Going to the movies should never, ever be stressful (unless, of course, you’re planning on seeing the latest Lars von Trier flick). You want to see something new and relevant so that you can talk it up with your know-it-all friends. But you don’t want to sit through the one film that everyone thought would be great, but…isn’t. So here is our formula, simplifying the should-you-see-it conundrum: 5 new releases x 2 critical samplings = what you should go see. Simple enough, right? This week we have precocious tween lovers, some boyz in black, a bunch of radioactive Ukrainians, a wronged woman or two and a severely depressed Norwegian guy.
If you’re not at Cannes (and if you are, stop reading this and go do something fabulous), then you’re probably tired of hearing about the new Wes Anderson joint MOONRISE KINGDOM. You’re tired of it because you know you won’t be able to see Bruce Willis rock highwaters and spectacles until Friday (if you’re lucky enough to live NY or LA…if not, then who knows). But, because Bill Murray loves you, he’s got a hilarious tour of the film’s set.
Not that sequels prequels, slapstick comedies, superhero flicks, and action/adventure thrillers can’t be intelligent, lol. But still, can we expect anything a cut above? Yes! Some warm-weather flicks are filtering in made by actual artistes with real aspirations, at least judging from the heady descriptions. Some of them are even coming before summer’s official start date. Here are some of the most promising looking options for your summer cinema plans:
Every week there are dozens of film news stories. Every week, we read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]). This week: the south of France, a bus in the Bronx, and heavy competition for Jobs.
Director Satyajit Ray separated himself from mainstream Indian cinema with PATHER PANCHALI, which premiered at Cannes (at midnight, during a party for Akira Kurosawa) in 1956. Still, several influential critics made it to the screening and championed the film’s originality and vision. It was completely unlike other Indian films in that there was no melodramatic…
WATCH THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS TONIGHT AT 10PM
“I get criticized for style over substance and for details that get in the way of the characters, but every decision I make is how to bring those characters forward.” Wes Anderson said this in 2007 after the less than glowing reviews THE DARJEELING LIMITED received, but just six years earlier when THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS was released, style trumping substance wasn’t something he had to worry about. In fact, the hyper-stylized aspects of the film helped give it substance. Wardrobe wasn’t just a quirky touch, it was an extension of the characters themselves. But Anderson’s attention to detail went well beyond clothing. Every choice, including the music, set design and the overall color palette has had a profound and long-lasting effect. Fans and designers alike have been inspired by or flat out mimicked the Tenenbaum house with its brightly painted walls and artful arrangements of pictures, taxidermy and framed ephemera, but its the clothing that has had the most pervasive influence on a broader cultural level.
When Wes Anderson’s fifth film, THE DARJEELING LIMITED, came out in 2007, it was called a “precious…flawed, but nonetheless beautiful handmade object as apt to win affection as to provoke annoyance” (The New York Times). Critic A.O. Scott was talking about Anderson’s meticulously orchestrated compositions, a trademark that has steadily grown in complexity over the span of his career, just compare any shot of the train in India to the motel scenes in BOTTLE ROCKET. Every color, every piece of fabric, every accessory is exactly in its place. This obsessive attention to detail is what led many critics, like Scott, to doubt whether Anderson had a real story to tell, or whether the story was too weighed down by the trappings of an overactive art department. “Humanism lies either beyond his grasp or outside the range of his interests.”
THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX is Wes Anderson’s best movie since BOTTLE ROCKET. (Read Perrin Drumm’s previous coverage of this film.) And boy is that fox foxy. Scoring George Clooney and Meryl Streep was truly a coup, as their interactions subtly and richly mine the dynamics of marriage, life expectations, and negotiating “bad” behavior in a relationship.
How did Wes arrive at this place? My response to most of his films has been that they certainly are fun to look at, but waaaaaaay less satisfying story-wise, a cotton-candy sugary disappearance from the consciousness almost instantly after viewing. (My husband always says, “He should have been a graphic designer.” Ouch.) The magic bullet here, the big difference, seems to be Noah Baumbach, co-writer, who is clearly bringing additional nuance to the table.
Finally, a film that lives up to the hype. Not only is FANTASTIC MR. FOX thrilling to simply look at, I think even hard-core Roald Dahl fans will appreciate the liberties Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach (SQUID AND THE WHALE, MARGOT AT THE WEDDING) took with the story. While it’s not clear what they invented and what they took from Dahl’s original notes, the events in the book occupy the middle of the film with added backstory in the beginning and a more involved and complete ending.
(Photo from The New Yorker’s “Wild Wild Wes”)
Expectations are high for Wes Anderson’s Friday release of FANTASTIC MR. FOX. At last night’s Q&A at the 92nd Street Y in Tribeca, neither Anderson nor Jason Schwartzman brought up the critically indecisive response THE DARJEELING LIMITED received two years ago, but why would they with a promising new film due out in mere days? Moderator Dave Karger from Entertainment Weekly Magazine (I heard they tried to get Richard Brody, who recently profiled Anderson for The New Yorker) was certainly comfortable in front of a crowd, but his questions hardly brought up anything Anderson fans didn’t already know, like the charming but much-visited story of how Shwartzman and Anderson met at a RUSHMORE audition.
While it’s not out until November 13th, there have been plenty of teasers and trailers and behind-the-scenes sneak peaks to keep us satiated until the much-aniticpated release of FANTASTIC MR. FOX. This one, courtesy of Wired, is appropriately tech-heavy and shows the intricate system of cameras and computers that allow production units in various locations to…
That’s right, the new Spoon record Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga’s not even out yet – but he stabbing piano of “The Ghost Of You Lingers” [stereogum.com] was the first we heard of the rather excellent album [stereogum.com]. Now the new Jon Brion-produced track “The Underdog” that Spoon is unleashing to the masses, and running…