Wes Anderson : why his movies matter /

Main Author: Browning, Mark, 1966-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Santa Barbara, Calif. : Praeger, 2011.
Series: Modern filmmakers
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Review by Choice Review

This auterurist study starts with close readings--each a chapter--of Anderson's feature films. Bottle Rocket is a heist comedy spun out of film/TV allusions, Rushmore reveals persistent oneiric wish fulfillment, the literary framework of The Royal Tenenbaums opens into the film's roots in J. D. Salinger, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou balloons Anderson's typically dysfunctional hero, the India backdrop of The Darjeeling Limited emphasizes the American family's self-obsession, and Fantastic Mr. Fox Americanizes the British original. In the remaining four chapters, the author surveys Anderson's film sources, his problematic portrayal of race and class, and his use of framing within the frame. Unfortunately, Browning's special pleading and loss of focus in these chapters weakens his arguments. Surely Luis Bunuel's distinctive influence would be his irreverence more than his use of movement within wide shots, and Anderson's comic stereotypy cannot be explained away by fact that the characters are fictitious (p. 130). The "auteur" chapter examines Anderson's use of music, his respect for auteurs, and his metatextuality. Anderson's heroes are uniquely human because they are solipsistic and compulsively fantasist. A rigorous editor would have tightened the diction and dumped the tangents (for example, Roald Dahl's film career), flaws that undermine the book's insights. Summing Up: Optional. Comprehensive film collections. M. Yacowar emeritus, University of Calgary

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.