“That’s the kind of movie that I like to make, where there is an invented reality and the audience is going to go someplace where hopefully they’ve never been before.”
Whenever someone says Wes Anderson, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? Is it a detailed scene with an implosion of bright colours? Is it a person dressed in corduroy pants? Do you hear hilarious yet poignant dialogues amidst a quirky backdrop? If your answer is yes to all these questions, then congratulations, you are officially a Wes Anderson fan. With truckloads of accolades and critical acclaim and analyses to his name, Anderson is the drug that cinephiles love to take when they want to embark on a journey to discover the surreal. Envied and admired by all, his oeuvre is easily discernible with signature touch and styles which have been studied and interpreted by film scholars and critics alike.
Wes Anderson grew up in a broken family and to nurse his wounds, discovered his passion for filmmaking at a very early age, where his brothers and friends were his audiences. This hobby of his later culminated into a full-time career, making him one of the most distinguished figures in cinema and filmmaking. Known for brilliant films like Grand Budapest Hotel, The Darjeeling Limited, Moonrise Kingdom, The French Dispatch and more, Anderson has a distinct style that is unique to him.
Celebrated for his quirky and idiosyncratic style, Anderson is known to animate every scene before shooting it. He is a master of employing slow-motion in his scenes, intricately blending those in to give the film an otherworldly effect. His films, thanks to the use of brilliant colours, often seem very dream-like and lucid. Anderson’s use of stylised symmetrical shots is something that sets him apart from other filmmakers. No matter what the shot it, whether it is aerial or not, everything is in perfect symmetry. His creative use of colour palettes has inspired filmmakers and designers alike who are in awe of his innate eye for colour. Anderson’s aesthetics are characteristic in all his films as is the music score. The soundtracks which are supervised by Randall Poster are always in sync with the characters. Anderson has a clear font style in all his films as well. The distinctive costumes, storyline, hilarious plotlines, wordy dialogues as well as a recurrent theme of love, loss, loneliness and happiness triumphing over materialism is noticeable in his films.
Having inspired many young filmmakers, the Anderson oeuvre can be well-recognised in many such films. If you are a die-hard fan of Wes Anderson and are looking for films to appease your taste for all things bright, colourful and quirky, here are the 10 best films that all Wes Anderson fans shall enjoy.
Let’s get to it!
Amélie Poulain is a Parisian whose childhood is traumatic, having lost her mother to a suicidal Canadian tourist and growing up with a recluse father. She develops a vivid imagination and is mischievous. A waitress, she starts deriving pleasures from the simplest things in life. One day, she helps the old tenant in her apartment reunite with his childhood memorabilia. Seeing the happiness on his face, Amélie decides to embark on this quest to help others find happiness while grappling with her growing isolation.
Eccentric and whimsical, the film is a beautiful representation of growing loneliness and isolation with Paris as the backdrop. Amélie is a delightful presence in the film and it is heartbreaking at times to see her push relentlessly to help others find happiness. Seeking happiness for others seems to be her way of coping with her own loneliness. When she finally finds a dollop of happiness, in the end, it is purely joyous. With numerous accolades to its name, the film is enchantingly funny with a burst of colours and will appeal to the senses of mainstream film lovers as well as arthouse ones. Watch out for Yann Tiersen’s brilliant music score on a piano-accordion.
“Without you, today’s emotions would be the scurf of yesterday’s.”
Trapped in an unhappy marriage and having lost his job, Ferdinand Griffon is bored of his life and desperately craves an escape. He soon elopes with his ex-girlfriend in whose apartment he discovers a dead body. Thus begins an intense cat-and-mouse chase where they are persecuted by gangsters. In a set of wonderful adventures, they travel in the dead man’s car from Paris to the Mediterranean before experiencing an eventual decay in their relationship. Ferdinand earns the title of Pierrot which translated to sad clown.
Wes Anderson had been heavily inspired by the French New Wave, especially Godard. The film boasts of a lurid primary colour-palette and employs the dominant features of the pop art movement. Ferdinand’s predicament is set against an aesthetically pleasing backdrop. With the character breaking the fourth wall in this subversive and vivid film, it sees Godard at his best.
“I can never have a real conversation with you. You never have ideas, only feelings.“That’s not true. There are ideas in feelings.”
Ricky Baker is a juvenile errant who is relocated to live with his foster aunt-uncle Bella Faulkner and her husband, the distant Hec. Although Ricky forms a connection with Bella, after her sudden death, he becomes convinced that the welfare services shall take him away. He stages his suicide and is on the run in the wilderness with his dog and is quickly discovered by Hec. Meanwhile, the authorities are convinced that the mentally unstable Hec must have been abusing Ricky and begin a wide manhunt. The two forms an inseparable bond as they devise tactics to evade being discovered thus growing closer by the minute.
With infectious yet simple music scores in the background, the film’s poignance and beauty lie in the message being conveyed in a hilarious and heartwarming manner. It is beautiful and heart-rendering to see their bond culminate on-screen. The film feels like a ridiculous revelation, the wet and rugged wilderness seems to tease the characters who are charming and funny and hang on to each other for survival.
“Uncle, you’re basically a criminal now. But on the bright side, you’re famous.”
A delicate film dabbling in the struggles and suspicions of the adolescent mind, Submarine feels like a dream sequence in more than one way. With symmetrical shots, elusive love interest, depressed teen and wordy self-aware narration galore, it lives and breathes like a Wes Anderson film. Devoid of cheap comedy and teen sex, it instead focuses on the insecurities and disillusionment that come rent-free with adolescence as well as the growing doubts and battle with love and self-worth. Wonderful acting performances which are natural and breezy, help accentuate the overall cinematic experience.
Oliver is somewhat of a loner and in love with Jordana who kisses him to maker her boyfriend jealous. After he gets assaulted by her boyfriend, Oliver and Jordana start dating. Meanwhile, Oliver’s parents’ relationship grows increasingly strained, with his father seeping into depression. His mother’s flirtatious ex-boyfriend moves in next door which fuels his anxiety and suspicion. Jordana’s mother is terminally ill and Oliver feels that he is taking advantage of a vulnerable Jordana. Trapped in his own mind, he makes a few choices which are redeemable unless it is too late.
“You’re too good for me, you’re too good for anyone.”
Based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim and set in Toronto, the film revolves around an indie bassist named Scott Pilgrim who, despite dating Knives Chau, falls head-over-heels in love with a delivery girl named Ramona Flowers, whom he first encounters in a dream sequence. While pursuing Ramona, after getting attacked by her ex-boyfriend during a band performance, Scott quickly realises that to woo Ramona, he must defeat her seven evil exes; after Matthew Patel, he still has six exes to fight.
The film is not only special due to its employment of colours but also because it retains the aesthetic of a video game and comic book, often bringing the two distinctly different media together. Edgar Wright flaunts his innate directorial eye by constructing comic panels within the scene thus making the film nearly seem like a comic being read. Quirky and hilarious characters with stylized dialogue and an incredibly surreal premise, as well as the indie rock music, complement the film. Amidst a brilliant ensemble, Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim stands out; aesthetically pleasing, the film is an entertaining watch.
“If I peed my pants, would you pretend that I just got wet from the rain?”
Spike Jonze’s brilliant 2014 film Her leaves a profound impact on the audience, irrespective of whether they enjoy the romantic genre or not. The film is a blend of the sci-fi and rom-com genres, bringing with it the best of both worlds. Theodore Twombly is lonely and depressed and he is a recluse who composes letters on behalf of people who cannot find the right words to articulate their emotions. Struggling to come to terms with reality and heartbreak, he escapes it completely when he befriends (and later falls in love with) an artificial intelligence who prefers to call herself Samantha.
Though intangible, Samantha leaves an everlasting impact on Theodore’s mind, helping him cope with his feelings. Surreal and bizarre, this love story takes an interesting turn when Theodore attempts to get physically intimate with a woman embodying Samantha yet fails as he realises how unbridgeable the gap is. Her, which is both an insightful and unsettling take on the near future, addresses a very important question “How to be Human?” This peculiar human-AI relationship is quite convincing and it puts forward the popular notion that falling in love would lead to inevitable heartbreaks which in turn could be beautiful and magical. This film is a tear-jerker; the audience would oddly be at peace once they immerse themselves in this story, yet quickly snap out of it in fear, dreading the reality that is right around the corner.
“You know what’s Interesting? I used to be..so worried about not having a body, but now I… I truly love it. You know, I’m growing in a way I couldn’t if I had a physical form. I mean, I’m not limited. I can be anywhere and everywhere simultaneously. I’m not tethered to time and space in a way that I would be if I was stuck in a body that’s inevitably gonna die.”
Set in 1958 Japan, two young girls, Satsuki and Mei, move into an old house with their father, Tatsuo Kusakabe, while their ailing mother is in the hospital. The girls encounter a mystic creature, an adorable and fuzzy susuwatari, named Totoro, who exists as their guardian angel, watching over them and helping them in times of distress. Considered as Miyazaki’s breakthrough film, My Neighbour Totoro has amassed a great cult following all over the world after its release. Totoro, now a pop-cultural phenomenon, has also been the Studio Ghibli mascot for the longest time.
The heartwarming movie is set in a “modern and nostalgic” world. The film creates an extremely believable world where humans and the supernatural coexist in harmony. The evocative backgrounds and the overall vibrance and colours gift a rich and luxurious cinematic experience to the viewers. Miyazaki hand-crafted the design of Totoro, a fictitious spirit; however, he drew inspiration from the Shinto religion by infusing the traits of the kami (holy powers) into the watchful eyes of Totoro who exists as a guardian angel to the sisters. It is an enchanting and immersive experience; instead of trying to find logic in this film which is a clever blend of scary, sappy and moving, one must indulge their imagination with this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
“Everybody, try laughing. Then whatever scares you will go away!”
A trained architect but now a writer at a greeting card company, Tom Hansen, meets and falls in love with his boss’s assistant Summer Finn. they fall in love and start dating and then suddenly breaks up with him, catching him off-guard. This causes Tom to reevaluate his life by taking the last 500 days with her into consideration and finally finds his true calling in life.
A wise and energetic journey presents a very honest view of a doomed romance as well as a man trying to find his way back by gripping on to his passion. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s soulful performance as the lovesick Tom moves the audience; his further character development is charming and sweet. One cannot help but fall head over heels in love with the wide-eyed girl with pixie bangs- Zooey Deschanel as Summer wins our hearts despite being considered villainous by some as it is told through Tom’s perspective. The burst of colours against a gooey backdrop of romance and angst is the epitome of a boy “falling in love with the idea of a person, not the actual person.”
“You think back on the times you had with someone, replay it in your head over and over again and you look for those first signs of trouble.”
Sofia Coppola’s film brings about a fuzzy feeling in your heart while breaking it at the same time. The main characters share a “romantic melancholy” that permeates through the screen. A middle-aged American actor Bob Harris, having faced marital problems and the anxieties of being at the waning phase of his career, goes to Tokyo to promote Suntory whiskey. Charlotte, a Yale University graduate, accompanies her photographer husband to Japan. While her husband pursues his dreams, Charlotte grows more disillusioned, till she stumbles upon Bob, and together, they form a beautiful bond of poetic conversations and shared sadness.
The title of the film is apt and sets a melancholy mood. The shared whisper at the end of the film is not discernible; somehow, it is reflective of the hushed and intimate affair the two hapless souls shared. The juxtaposition of their crises which work in tandem due to shared loneliness and disillusionment is quite interesting as they are quite similar yet different.
“I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be.”
Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski meet each other during a train ride at Montauk Station, fall in love and spend a good time before their wonderful time comes to an end. Instead of communicating with each other, Clementine erases her memories of the relationship. The film is about Joel’s erasure of memories while the viewers relieve the relationship in his head before complications arise forcing the star-struck lovers to meet again.
A wonderful take on fate and predestination, the film basks in the brilliance of its main leads, Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, as well as the beautiful wordy dialogues. With seamless visuals and whimsical music, the film leaves an everlasting impression on the viewers’ mind. Winslet’s hair colour changes following her moods. A timeless masterpiece that revels in the poetic nature of love and sorrow, “The formidable Gondry/Kaufman/Carrey axis works marvel after marvel in expressing the bewildering beauty and existential horror of being trapped inside one’s addled mind, and in allegorising the self-preserving amnesia of a broken but hopeful heart.”
“Too many guys think I’m a concept, or I complete them, or I’m gonna make them alive. But I’m just a fucked-up girl who’s lookin’ for my own peace of mind; don’t assign me yours.”
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