Bottle Rocket, a review, or how to besmirch Wes Anderson (and his fans)

"The principle that the more we produce the better is in itself a value judgment."
-Erich Fromm

This is my first posting ever on a blog. I may offend your taste in film, judge you and others silently, and even at times find myself in a passive aggressive mood when writing my reviews. This very well may be my first and last posting on this blog.

I've just recently came to realize that Wes Anderson films are like Pringles, "once you pop you can't stop", and Gen-X&Y'ers are eating his films up like 2 Girls with 1 Cup. Did I just say you enjoy eating shit? Well yes, and no, and strictly in a cinematic sense. Today's climate for independent cinema, with the advent of Netflix, has turned the entire nation into "film lovers", true appreciators and purveyors of cinema, but half of them have never read a theorist like Benjamin or had the pleasure of licking 16mm film to tell the difference between base and emulsion side. It's true we're all critics, but are we all experts as well?

Today, I'll be discussing Mr. Anderson's Bottle Rocket and other stuff about his films and his fans. Quite profound, huh? I don't think so either.

Where do I begin? With his first film, one would say, but it's not even in the Criterion collection! That's a hell of a start, based on that mere fact alone, and also that some of Mr. Anderson's fans still think his first film is Rushmore. Perhaps not, thanks to the internet, but it is likely that most will claim Bottle Rocket as their least favorite film. It must also be noted, that I will never purchase a film from the Criterion collection. Hell, I own less than ten films, half of which are on VHS, and the other two are films my friends produced. Does the size of my collection, or lack thereof reflect so deeply on my comprehension and love of film? I think not. In fact, I sold all of the films I owned when I graduated from film school, and my television and VCR too. I probably couldn't even tell you the cinematographer of my favorite film, so I guess you should stop reading this right now and put back on that episode of Heroes your watching online.

Another blog was so bold to call Mr. Anderson polarizing. Is he our generation's Woody Allen? Maybe, though not quite as brilliant as Woody in my opinion, and his films indeed do divide his fans from non-fans on
quantifiable socio-cultural levels of "hipster" proportions in regards to one's taste in film. Let me count the ways.

Mr. Anderson admits when speaking with Charlie Rose that his films are probably viewed most by misfits and "outsiders." That lunatic fringe who are so detached that they're probably the only ones who'll get his work. It seems he's trying desperately to identify with his fans, but is that so Mr. Anderson? Then why would you be so solicitous as to appear in an AMEX ad? I know Scorcese did it, but how many misfits and "outsiders" do you know that have an AMEX? I'll tell you. Not fucking many! Define that paradox for yourself, and you might stand a chance of swallowing down the rest of this piece. I'm not truly without pathos in regards to this matter, as one of my favorite directors (Kevin Smith) whored himself out to Samsung several years ago, but at least Smith admits he's a a publicity whore. He released a two disc set on his college speaking tours for crap's sake. There's no shame in that, at least not when you admit you're a press whore, so kudos to you Mr. Smith. Filmmakers, though often commercialized based on the success of their films in the box office, should refrain from such banality, and keep some semblance of integrity by saving their whoreish solicitation to their DVD commentaries. Unless you're Kevin Smith that is.

Back to Mr. Anderson. You either "get" his films, or you don't. It's just that simple. I'm sure he would agree. There is no middle ground, and in essence they're all the same film. Hell, he even welcomes it, and might I say on a highly pretentious note. Wes, you can't think of any directors who are capable of having their characters traverse into other films they have directed. Really? Let me help you with that one. Woody Allen, Kevin Smith, David Cronenberg, and John Hughes are just a few directors you could start with.

Yet, his fans continue to be smitten with his work, but I guess they don't mind or perhaps see the plasticity of it all if there's some brilliant dolly or crane shot with at least one of the Wilson brothers in it.
The fandom that follows is quite sickening. These Fanderson's, as I'll call them from here on out, pretentiously flaunt their bogus trendy fashions on the web, and lay claim to having a cine-savvy mind capable of dissecting and truly appreciating his films from a perspective of artistic sensibility you obviously don't have. Save me the retort. I must continue. Relying heavily upon a contentious and mainstream mind to debate, they will question your taste in film, and will probably bring up Amelie, Broken Flowers, and films by PT Anderson to bring home their point. So be warned of their felonious rhetoric, feel no shame in not "getting or liking Wes Anderson films, and try not to indulge your desire to twist their heads from their necks like a dandelion in summer. They're misfits after all, and will be expecting this type of behavior.

As for my review of Bottle Rocket, I'll be brief in my summation, and will try and be eloquent. This is by far the film I most identify with, and is the first film that sensationalizes characters and story lines. Dignan's 75-year plan, his sophmoric criminal mind, and Anthony's love interest with the hispanic motel maid is only just the beginning. Anderson fans had no idea they'd soon be meeting a misguided savant teen, Max is based heavily on Wes's youth, a family of geniuses in his next film, and a quirky oceanographer in his fourth film. I've yet to see The Darjeeling Limited, and still am hesitant in doing so. Regardless, Bottle Rocket is poetically cinematic, many of the scenes are constituted with long master shots that grind that narratives pace to a crawl. The film does not rely heavily upon dolly, crane or jib shots to move the plot line like his other films, and I miss that in his later films. If only we could keep Wes from big budgets and fancy equipment, we might have had another Jarmusch on our hands, but then Jarmusch is much better are breathing life into stereotypical archetypes. Watch Night on Earth or Down by Law, and you might begin to see where I'm coming from.

I've just grown tired of Owen and Wes creating the same formulaic film, the cartoonish characters no longer speak to me, and I can only imagine the three-ring-circus that will be his movie adaptation of Roald Dahl's "The Fantastic Mr. Fox."

1 comment:

Joaquin said...

Yes, I would agree full-heartedly that Fandersons can be extremely annoying. But then again, I'm an enormous fan of The Royal Tenenbaums, which means I'm probably annoying you with this comment.

My 7-year old insists on watching the aforementioned film over and over again, and I hardly think she has any comprehension of striving for hipster misfit status. Does this mean Fandersons share her same childlike intellect? Perhaps. But I like to think my child and the Fandersons show potential in appreciating past/future film as art. She obviously sees something worth watching, even if it's only for the bright colors, Gwyneth Paltrow and dalmatian mice.

My point is I respect any contemporary filmmaker who can grab the attention of my kid without using violence, advertising, fart humor (a la Kevin Smith), or a singing and dancing Zac Efron. That's hard to do these days. Is Wes Anderson the greatest American filmmaker of today? Heavens no. That title belongs to the other Anderson, Mr. Paul Thomas.

Now I bet I'm one of those Netflix cineastes you wanna rip apart like a dandelion, huh?