Via AK, I stumbled across this old-ish profile of Wes Anderson. So much to love about the article, starting with the opening photo and corresponding caption.
I love the role of qualifiers and punctuation in the caption...various readings can yield different results: he has many preferred taxidermy shops in Paris, but this is his favorite; there are many shops he loves in Paris, but this taxidermy shop is his favorite; he loves to browse taxidermy shops around the world, but when in Paris, he always visits his favorite: this one; etc. And, needless to say, the idea that of the many different kinds of shop that one might be able to rank (shoe, hat, bread, etc.), Wes Anderson has ranked even the taxidermists...hilarious and pitch-perfect.
This is fantastic:
"You may be tempted to shake your head and simply say that Anderson has been incredibly lucky, which is true, but that doesn't give enough credit to his talents—not just as a director, but more generally as someone who has constructed a life almost preposterously conducive to the pursuit of fantastical whims."
"preposterously conducive," indeed! Then there's this:
At the time he made it he was living in the Paris apartment recently vacated by Kirsten Dunst, who had been renting it while filming Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. It was a decadent and exorbitantly expensive place that Anderson converted to an editing suite, with AmEx paying the rent.
His talent, in other words, has become his trust fund.
And probably the most concise summary of The Life Aquatic... I've seen:
Then came The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, a Jacques Cousteau–inspired fantasia that left even some of Anderson's most loyal fans impatient. There was a sense that the director had become pickled in a world of his own creation.Novelty has a shelf life. Aquatic was seen as a beautiful failure, a study in style stripped of substance.
And we close with the following insight into Wes' unique genius. It's not just what he knows and does, it's how he does it:
"Mind if I hold the paper?" Anderson asks, setting the crossword in his lap, pulling an erasable pen from his pocket, and casually taking control of the situation. He gives the sense that everyone is participating, working together, and yet—as he fills in one answer after another—it becomes clear that the end result would be the same if Anderson were sitting there alone.
"I think we're just being entertained," jokes Coppola.
"Oh, no—I couldn't do this without you guys," says Anderson, a statement that comes across as both true and false.
The story implies what I've always assumed to be true: that many people saw Bottle Rocket after realizing the brilliance of Rushmore. And this further validates my theory that we tend to sort our favorite Wes Anderson movies into the chronological order in which we actually saw them. This is true for me, anyway, and seems to hold up for the people I've asked over the years. I didn't read much about it at the time, but I guess I'm also not the only one who could leave or take The Life Aquatic. And, come to think of it, my order of favorites now diverges from the chronological order. It's now something like: Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Darjeeling / Tennenbaums (tie), The Life Aquatic.