starring Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Edward Norton, Tony Revolori
written and directed by Wes Anderson
by Walter Chaw I'd be hard-pressed to think of many sequences in the movies better than the two minutes from Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums where Richie gets picked up at the Green Line Bus by his adopted sister Margot following a lengthy absence. It's beautifully composed, emotionally weighted, and punctuated with the best use of Nico in a sentence, ever. There's a rub there--my favourite Wes Anderson films are the ones that use music in this way; I ally him in my mind with artists like Sofia Coppola and, sure, Quentin Tarantino. I think the full potential of film is only really reached when all the elements that go into a movie--the seven arts, as it were--are used in concert. Wes Anderson, as he utilizes fewer and fewer pop songs in his films (his latest, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is his first without any), is losing emotional complexity as his hermetically-sealed, obsessive-compulsive dreamscapes become increasingly complex. Consider the moment from Django Unchained where our heroes ride into act two to Jim Croce's "I Got a Name." It's iconic, transformative; the scene has a quarter of its power without the agency of that song. Tarantino truly gets it. When Anderson opens The Darjeeling Limited with The Kinks' "This Time Tomorrow," letting the scene play in slow-motion as Adrien Brody's character tries to outrun the ghost of his father, wow. I remember hearing about the introductory tracking shot of the research vessel in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, how Anderson was possibly planning on scoring it with a Radiohead song ("How to Disappear Completely," if memory serves) and how that potential marriage gave me a shiver of anticipation. The farther Anderson falls into his navel, the clearer it is that he no longer gets what he used to get, swallowed whole by the grey beast solipsism.