To celebrate the director’s 44th birthday, we take a look at Wes Anderson’s best cinematic moments…

Director Wes Anderson turns 44 today, and we took the opportunity to look back at some of Anderson’s best cinematic moments… Any excuse!

George Clooney in FANTASTIC MR FOX

Casting George Clooney in anything seems to be a fairly safe bet, but the role of Fantastic Mr Fox seems to particularly suit Mr Clooney. Anderson took on the task of filming an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s kids book, and since the film was stop motion animated, the performances relied on some clever and effective voice work. Meryl Streep was also fantastic as Mrs. Fox, but George Clooney’s suave, deadpan delivery worked wonderfully for Mr. Fox, and his comic timing was as strong as ever. Of course, it helped that Anderson’s eye for the visual played through the film, as did Dahl’s gleeful examination of the darker side of life.

Richie Tenenbaum cuts his hair (THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS)

Richie Tenenbaum was once the toast of the professional tennis scene, but his glory days are long behind him and his long held love for his adopted sister Margot is, he believes, not reciprocated. On hearing that Margot has had a long life of sexual promiscuity, Richie retreats to the bathroom and after telling the mirror he is going to kill himself tomorrow, he shaves off his long hair and beard, before slitting his wrists. He survives, of course, but the scene is one of the clearest examinations of helplessness that Anderson has ever done in his films – and he has done many.
The camera work for this scene was brilliantly done and choosing Elliott Smith’s beautiful song NEEDLE IN THE HAY was a touch of genius, although the poignancy of using the song was only made clear after the singer’s suicide.

Bill Murray in… Everything

During the 1980s, Bill Murray was a comic hero from turns in movies including GHOSTBUSTERS, CADDYSHACK and GROUNDHOG DAY. Murray’s relationship with Anderson began with the love triangle college film, RUSHMORE. This film served to establish Murray’s so called ‘second career’ as an actor in indie flicks, and reminded audiences of Murray’s characteristic and brilliant deadpan humour.
Since RUSHMORE, Murray has appeared in every Anderson film, even coming out of his self-imposed ‘break from acting’ to appear in a cameo role in THE DARJEELING LIMITED.
Murray has become an audience favourite in Anderson films, and manages to encapsulate the sense of the surreal in the director’s work.

HOTEL CHEVALIER

In this prologue to THE DARJEELING LIMITED, Anderson examines the relationship between Jack Whitman (Jason Schwartzman) and his girlfriend, played by Natalie Portman. We learn just enough about Jack to know why he sets out on the trip across India in THE DARJEELING LIMITED, but we never learn quite enough about his relationship with his girlfriend, and why he felt the need to run away from her, but that’s part of the charm.
HOTEL CHEVALIER was one of 2007’s most talked about short films – not least because of Natalie Portman’s nude scene – and, although the film was to be promoted as a competitor for Live Action Short Film at the Academy Awards, it did not end up among the nominations, which is also part of the charm.

The Music

From RUSHMORE to MOONRISE KINGDOM, music is always a huge part of Wes Anderson’s films, and he has brought us some wonderful soundtracks over the years. Perhaps the most memorable soundtrack is to THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU, which included several cover versions of David Bowie songs in Portugese by Seu Jorge.
As well as this turn of genius, Anderson has also re-introduced us to THESE DAYS by Nico, ME AND JULIO DOWN BY THE SCHOOLYARD by Paul Simon, 2000 MAN by the Rolling Stones, THIS TIME TOMORROW by the Kinks and WHERE DO YOU GO TO (MY LOVELY?) by Peter Sarstedt and many, many others. Anderson’s use of music is often surprising, anachronistic and contrary to the mood of the scene, but this is why it stands out.

Wes Anderson manages to capture the surreal nature of every day life on screen and, while his films often polarise audiences, we think that’s part of the draw; after all, what’s the use of a film if we can’t talk about it afterwards?

Thanks for everything, Wes Anderson, and Happy Birthday!

Let us know your favourite Wes Anderson moments in the comments below… 

Words: Brogen Hayes