CATHERINE KRUMMEY: The wonderful world of Wes Anderson
I saw my first Wes Anderson film when I was 15. His third feature, “The Royal Tenenbaums,” was playing at a local theater, and I convinced my parents that it would be the one to see. With a cast that included Ben Stiller, Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Murray, Danny Glover and Anjelica Huston, how could it not be?
I was right. It definitely was the one to see. I fell in love with the movie and Anderson’s storytelling style.
Hackman stars as Royal, the estranged patriarch of the Tenenbaum clan, which includes Huston as matriarch Etheline and their three children, Richie (Luke Wilson), Chas (Stiller) and Margot (Paltrow).
Also populated by a cast of supporting characters that includes Murray as Margot’s neurologist husband, Glover as Etheline’s love interest and Owen Wilson — who co-wrote the script with Anderson — as Richie’s childhood best friend, the world of the Tenenbaums is all at once comedic and tragic.
Luke Wilson is absolutely devastating as Richie, a washed-out tennis player suffering from unrequited love. Hackman gives the performance of his career (or at least the latter half) as Royal, who may have his flaws but is always there at the right moment to help his children and grandchildren shake things up.
“The Royal Tenenbaums” made me laugh, cry and have all the emotional and visceral reactions any good film should invoke.
After seeing “The Royal Tenenbaums,” I made a point to track down Anderson’s first two feature films, “Bottle Rocket and “Rushmore.” While “Bottle Rocket” is a solid film, I found “Rushmore” to be just about as perfect as “Tenenbaums.”
Jason Schwartzman — a frequent collaborator with Anderson both as an actor and a writer — stars in “Rushmore” as Max Fischer, the extra-curricular king of the titular prep school who falls for one of his teachers (Olivia Williams) and befriends a wealthy businessman (Bill Murray).
After catching up with Anderson’s older films, I have seen every film he released since “The Royal Tenenbaums,” right up to “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which is now available to rent or own on disc and online.
The film centers on M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), the concierge of the titular hotel who has a particular predilection for the older female guests, including one played by a nearly unrecognizable Tilda Swinton.
One of the key things I love about Anderson’s films is that he gets people to play roles that are a little out of their comfort zones — and the casting is always impeccable.
Fiennes, who is probably best known for playing Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” films and more poised characters in films such as “The English Patient,” is able to let a little loose in “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
M. Gustave’s lobby boy, Zero (Tony Revolori), plays the straight man to all of his antics, and their unexpected chemistry makes for a rather entertaining way to spend two hours.
With Anderson’s films, the details are always important, from the font on a title screen to the minute details of a character’s backstory. That factor makes all of Anderson’s films extremely rewatchable, which is something I’ve definitely capitalized on, as I have seen all of his movies at least twice —some in the double digits (“The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Rushmore” and “The Darjeeling Limited”).