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Who hasn’t seen the film The Royal Tenenbaums? The story of a family man - played by Gene Hackman - who, now in an elderly state, tries to win back the members of his bizarre, colourful and nostalgic family. The poster is remarkable: Ben Stiller and his two children, all dressed in matching red track suits. The rest of the cast is also exceptional, featuring Gwyneth Paltrow.
And how about The Grand Budapest Hotel, the latest film set in a beautiful and magical hotel in Europe during World War II and starring Bill Murray?
If this film doesn’t ring a bell either, it’s time to spend next weekend on the couch discovering the imaginative and quirky director Wes Anderson.
Wes Anderson is an American film director with a friendly face, shoulder-length hair and a flashy smile of someone who’s made it big. It all started at the University of Texas, where Anderson met his future co-workers as well as actor obsessions, the Wilson brothers.
With these two by his side he created his first short film, Bottle Rocket, which was a big hit at the Sundance Film Festival and allowed him to find the funds to create the feature-length film, released in 1996. 20 years later Anderson has his place cut out for him at the top of the film industry, where we hope he stays for good.
When watching a Wes Anderson movie, you’re paraded with settings where no detail is left to chance. And, like any self-respecting painting, colour steals the show. Pastel tones, always at odds with each other, give off the feeling of a fairy-tale world. The director also pays particular attention to furnishing the set of his films. The house, the hotel and the train cabin are small worlds made of objects, textures and patterns perfectly matching one other, and they remain etched into the audience’s mind. All of it accompanied by an unparalleled soundtrack.
For all these reasons, if tonight you decide to watch one of his films and the next day someone asks for your opinion, you’ll vividly remember the set’s design, its colours and its music, rather than the plot in detail.
So what’s The Grand Budapest Hotel like? A beautiful pink hotel with a blue and purple backdrop.
Wes Anderson’s characters are almost always desirable stereotypes, though meticulously developed. For starters, you’ll notice the clothing, makeup and extravagant detail that distinguishes each one of them. It might be a hat, a haircut, a birthmark in the shape of Mexico on the cheek, anything at all. And they’re all topped off with a colour palette that even the finest artists around will be blown away by. The minds of the protagonists of Anderson’s great films are always a bit twisted, but don’t be fooled into judging them, just learn to appreciate them as the director intends.
Much like any self-respecting Hollywood director, Wes Anderson has his favourite actors, leading to them being casted in his many films. There are seven films made with Bill Murray, Owen Wilson in six, five including Jason Schwartzman and three with Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe and Anjelica Huston.
His major films include The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel.
So, what are you up to tonight?