Tag Archives: Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson Films Ranked

Wes Anderson Ranked

With his latest movie The French Dispatch out now, I thought it was the best time to rank director Wes Anderson’s filmography.

No one makes movies like Wes Anderson, very few directors’ works are as instantly recognisable as his. From the symmetrical framing, colour palette, eccentric sense of humour, blending melancholy and humour, and large casts full of A list acting talents, he is undeniably distinct as a filmmaker, and one of the most compelling working today. Even in his weakest efforts, there’s something to love in each of them.

Here’s a ranking of his 10 feature films, from worst to best.

10. Bottle Rocket

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I think I’m confident in saying that most people who’ve seen Bottle Rocket would consider it one of if not the weakest movie from Wes Anderson, and I’m in this group of people. It is his first movie and feels the least like his other movies. With that said, I do think that it is worth watching, it’s interesting to see how it started, and it’s a good movie in itself.

Much of the movie isn’t what you’d expect from a Wes Anderson film (the dialogue for instance). However, if you’ve seen any of his other movies you can pick up on certain elements that would evolve into his trademarks, with the comedy, quirky characters, and even the use of colour. The character driven story is decent for what it is and is mostly paced well, but the plot probably the weakest part of the movie as it’s only mildly interesting. Despite some of the flaws, like the slower second act, there’s good stuff here. The movie is reasonably entertaining and funny throughout, and the cast are good, especially Luke and Owen Wilson. Wes Anderson hadn’t figured out his style at this point, but from this movie it still clear that he’s talented, and his work here is pretty solid for a first time filmmaker. Really good directorial debut overall.

My review of Bottle Rocket

9. The Darjeeling Limited

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The Darjeeling Limited is likely Wes Anderson’s simplest movie, it was okay, but by the end I felt like it was really missing something from it. While it does contain some of the familiar Anderson aspects including the quirky dialogue and the comedy, they don’t work quite as well in this movie. I do appreciate the smaller and more personal scale that the movie takes, but it does feel a bit bland in portions. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I was outright bored while watching, but I was close to it. The writing and story were the weakest parts for me, which is quite unfortunate really since its usually pretty strong in Anderson’s movies. I was paying attention to what was happening with the story and characters, but I didn’t feel particularly engaged or invested.

Not to say that this movie is bad by any means. The movie is about three brothers with grief travelling with baggage (both physical and emotional), it was heartwarming in parts and there are some moments that are strong. The acting is also great from Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman, all delivering on their parts. The direction is also pretty good from Wes, even though it is definitely more scaled back compared to his other movies. The cinematography and use of colour particularly makes it a stunning movie to watch. I think The Darjeeling Limited is still decent enough, and it has some solid moments. However, I still think it’s one of his worst movies, and it’s not one that I’m particularly inclined to revisit.

My review of The Darjeeling Limited

8. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

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The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is one of Wes Anderson’s more unusual movies, one which initially was a box office flop and gathered a mixed response, but now is viewed more positively by critics and audiences. I do feel mixed on some parts of the movie, there was something that prevented me from being fully invested in what was happening. The script could’ve been tighter, the plot being loose isn’t a problem but it really only works if I’m invested in what was happening. Unfortunately I just wasn’t, and it wasn’t helped by the slow pacing. I also felt that something felt quite empty to the characters and story, at least on this first viewing. There are definitely some moments of the story which worked greatly but I wouldn’t say that it worked on the whole.

Despite all that, I really do admire the ambition on display. Wes Anderson went wild with the budget and put it to great use, especially with the production design. It does have Anderson’s familiar style and strengths, it was eccentric, quirky and visually pleasing, and the dialogue is good. The cast is massive, and while some of them aren’t seen as much as you’d like, Bill Murray and Willem Dafoe stand out as being particularly great at the very least. There are some entertaining moments and again some character and story moments which genuinely work. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is a bit of a mess at times, but when it’s great, it’s really great. I don’t feel inclined to watch it again, but I get the feeling that I might ease into the movie more upon repeat viewings.

My review of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

7. Moonrise Kingdom

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While it wasn’t the first Wes Anderson movie I watched, Moonrise Kingdom was the first movie I watched from him when I was aware of him as a director. It’s pretty good, even if I do have some issues with it. It is a straightforward and simplistic coming of age story, and I was generally entertained, though I wouldn’t say I was invested with the story or characters. Tonally its inconsistent (not in a good way), and the pacing is all over the place. I find that I’m really only invested with the story and characters in half of Anderson’s filmography, and I just couldn’t get into them with Moonrise Kingdom.

As expected, it has all the Wes Anderson aspects, quirky, funny, and deadpan dialogue, and unusual characters. Clearly though, there was a lot of passion put into it, even if I didn’t care much for the story or characters. The large cast are all great, including the child actors who do a good job in their parts. The highlights of the cast for me were Edward Norton and Bruce Willis, both unexpected yet fantastic fits for a Wes Anderson movie. The movie is shot well and is visually stunning, with vibrant colours, and familiar shot compositions for the director. The lower budget adds a lot to the feeling of being a relatively smaller movie. I do think Moonrise Kingdom is worth watching, it is pretty good. I just don’t have much to say about it, and I don’t love it as much as other people. I will say that if you’re looking to get into Wes Anderson as a filmmaker, I wouldn’t recommend watching this first.

My review of Moonrise Kingdom

6. Isle of Dogs

The second of Wes Anderson’s animated movies is Isle of Dogs released in 2018, which was really good. There were some slight issues I had, there were an overuse of flashbacks, and a lot of the side storylines and supporting characters, which the movie occasionally focused on, weren’t nearly as interesting as the main storyline and characters. On the whole though, I enjoyed watching it.

Once again, Isle of Dogs is an original and unique story from Wes Anderson, filled with quirky characters and deadpan humour and dialogue. The story itself surprisingly gets dark at some points, despite being a kids animated movie, and one involving dogs. There’s a great voice cast in Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murry, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig and more. Of course another highlight of the movie is that of the animation, which manages to be even better than Anderson’s work on Fantastic Mr. Fox. Like that other movie, despite being an animated film, it still felt like something made by Wes Anderson, even just looking at the direction from the framing, editing, shot composition and the like. Overall, a very good time.

My review of Isle of Dogs

5. Fantastic Mr. Fox

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It’s rare that live action filmmakers who make the shift to an animated movie make said animated movies with the exact same style. Anderson pulls it off however, and in fact delivers one of his best movies.

A common theme amongst most of these movies in this list is that they are distinctly Wes Anderson movie, and Fantastic Mr. Fox is no exception. There’s a great cast involved (including George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Willem Dafoe), who give their respective characters distinct personalities and traits with their perfect voice performances and comedic timing. The story is fast paced and full of energy, it’s witty, charming, funny and all-around entertaining. And of course, the movie is incredibly well animated, with Anderson’s style perfectly translating into stop motion animation. Even though Isle of Dogs from an animation standpoint is better, FMF’s animation still holds up pretty well over a decade later. Fantastic Mr. Fox is also a movie that both children and adults can like but honestly, I think that adults would like it more and get more out of it. I might be stretching a bit, but I think this might be among my favourite animated movies.

My review of Fantastic Mr. Fox

4. Rushmore

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Rushmore is Wes Anderson’s second movie, and it put him on the map as someone to pay attention to. While he’s still forming his own style with this coming-of-age movie, he is more confident in his direction over his last movie. As someone who never saw it until somewhat recently, I really liked it.

The script is finely tuned to near perfection. It is funny and entertaining yet deeper than it initially appears. It jumps between being comedic, pessimistic, hopeful, sad and more, and it is all balanced out well. The characters are eccentric and quirky, yet endearing and memorable. Jason Schwartzman shines in the lead role, and Bill Murray is also great in his supporting role. Anderson’s directing style is still finding itself, but you can definitely recognise some of the elements which would go on to evolve to that point, very well made. As far as coming of age movies go, Rushmore is probably among my favourites in that subgenre.

My review of Rushmore

3. The French Dispatch

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Wes Anderson’s latest film made it into the top 3 of this list. This is quite possibly the most Wes Anderson movie ever and that’s saying a lot. While it might be on the more divisive end of his filmography, I honestly think he delivers some of his finest work here.

An anthology movie made up of shorter stories, I found all of them compelling to watch. It is messy and disjointed especially in tone, but that’s to be expected of an anthology movie. The French Dispatch is very delightful to watch with some great humour. Not only that but it feels very passionate, and it’s also very tender and heartfelt across all these stories. The movie also has by far Anderson’s largest cast yet, and while some of the actors like Christoph Waltz and Saoirse Ronan are regulated to mere cameos, they are all welcome additions. All the actors (especially Benicio del Toro and Jeffrey Wright) are great, with not a single weak link. The direction from Anderson is so much his style that it almost borders on self parody. He even does things that he hasn’t done before playing around with looks and filmmaking styles (including aspect ratio changes and switching between animation and live action). All in all, The French Dispatch is firmly one of my favourite Wes Anderson films, and was even better than I was expecting.

My review of The French Dispatch

2. The Royal Tenenbaums

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The Royal Tenenbaums has often been called one of Anderson’s best movies, and for very good reason. This family drama was one that hooked me as soon as it started, and I was consistently entertained and invested in it from beginning to end.

The Royal Tenenbaums has one of Wes Anderson’s best scripts, and it features a lot of his trademarks. It is quite entertaining and funny at times, however it is more of a drama than a comedy, and in fact was sadder than expected. The most surprising aspect was that it works really well on an emotional level, with there being an underlying feeling of sadness amongst most of the characters, and it even touches on some serious themes and topics. There is a great tonal balance between comedy and drama. You are engaged with what’s going on with the plot, as well as with the very well realised characters. The ensemble cast as expected are all great, from Gwyneth Paltrow to Luke Wilson and especially Gene Hackman. Wes Anderson directed the movie excellently with his distinct style, it’s aesthetically pleasing and with a lot of attention to detail. I thoroughly loved The Royal Tenenbaums, and I can see myself loving it more the more I come back to it.

My review of The Royal Tenenbaums

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel

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The Grand Budapest Hotel was one of the earliest movies I’ve seen from Wes Anderson, I really liked it when I got to watch it in cinemas in 2014. While I was catching up with watching Anderson’s other movies, it still seemed to remain my favourite of his. A rewatch confirmed it as being not only firmly my favourite of his films, but also one of my favourite movies of all time.

As expected, the movie feels quite original, the story is heartfelt, charming and endearing, and it features quirky and entertaining characters. It had me invested from beginning to end and was endlessly entertaining. It really gave a sense of adventure and escapism, while having melancholic and darker qualities and themes that you don’t expect at first. There is also a large and talented cast as expected from Wes Anderson, with the likes of Tony Revolori, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan and more delivering on their parts. The standout among them however is the pitch perfect acting from Ralph Fiennes, who gives one of the best performances in an Anderson movie. The direction and style are instantly recognisable and are some of Wes’s best work. It is visually stunning from the top-notch cinematography, to the beautiful and vibrant and production design, the great costume designs, and the many well filmed sequences. Wes Anderson took the best from his past movies and put it all into this one movie, I think this is his magnum opus. It honestly is a great place to start if you haven’t watched any of his past movies yet.

My review of The Grand Budapest Hotel

What do you think of Wes Anderson? How would you rank his films?

The French Dispatch (2021) Review

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The French Dispatch

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language, nudity, drug use & sexual references
Cast:
Bill Murray as Arthur Howitzer Jr.
Owen Wilson as Herbsaint Sazerac
Tilda Swinton as J.K.L. Berensen
Benicio del Toro as Moses Rosenthaler
Adrien Brody as Julien Cadazio
Léa Seydoux as Simone
Frances McDormand as Lucinda Krementz
Timothée Chalamet as Zeffirelli
Lyna Khoudri as Juliette
Jeffrey Wright as Roebuck Wright
Mathieu Amalric as The Commissaire
Stephen Park as Lt. Nescaffier
Director: Wes Anderson

A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in “The French Dispatch.”

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At the New Zealand International Film Festival, I managed to secure tickets for three movies I wanted to see. The first was Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch which I’ve been looking forward to. I had been interested in it from the cast, the trailer and of course Anderson directing, who has made a lot of movies I really liked. But I was especially looking forward to it after going through his whole filmography from beginning to end, and by the end I liked him even more as a director. So I was excited for The French Dispatch, and I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end.

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The French Dispatch’s plot is about a magazine with the same name, with the movie beginning with the death of the editor (played by Bill Murray). The story we follow is about the magazine, and the articles in it. As such, the film is essentially an anthology movie, made up of some short stories. With it being an anthology movie, it comes with the typical trappings. The tone changes with every section, and some sections are better than others. However, I liked them all. In a way it is his most messy and disjointed film, but it compliments his style. I do think that it’s a strong contender for his least accessible movie, I wouldn’t recommend this being your first Wes Anderson movie. As someone who has seen all his other movies, I really enjoyed it. It was very entertaining and delightful with some great humour. Each of his story very clearly has Anderson’s wit that we’ve come to expect from him, especially with the memorable dialogue. However it’s not only a very fun movie to watch, you really feel the passion behind it. Essentially, The French Dispatch is a love letter to journalists. I’ve seen some people say that this movie feels emotionally distant even by Wes Anderson’s standards, but I thoroughly disagree. There are some genuinely tender and heartfelt moments across the three stories. The anthology approach to the overall story made it feel like you are reading a book or magazine at times, which was for its benefit. All the stories are at the very least enjoyable to watch. There is an introduction segment following Owen Wilson, which is light hearted and fun to watch, definitely a good way to start the stories. The first of the main three stories follows Benicio Del Toro as an artist in a prison, and this is probably my favourite of three stories. The second of the stories is about a student protest, and stars Timothee Chalamet. I do like this story but its distinctly my least favourite of the three. I really didn’t know where it was going, and I don’t mean in a good way. The pacing is inconsistent across the film but this was the only case where it really started to weigh on the movie. The third of the stories follows Jeffrey Wright and its about a kidnapping. It was nearly my favourite of the three and it was a great story to end on.

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The French Dispatch has an absurdly large cast, by far the largest cast that Wes Anderson has worked with. In terms of the main actors in the stories, the first story stars Benicio Del Toro, Lea Seydoux, Adrien Brody and Tilda Swinton, the second segment has Timothee Chalamet and Frances McDormand, and the third segment has Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, and Stephen Chow. There’s also the head of the newspaper played by Bill Murray. The cast are all welcome to see and are fantastic in their parts, even though most of them are only here for brief appearances.

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Wes Anderson is the director and you can clearly feel that throughout. In fact this film is so Wes Anderson you could almost call it a self parody. It’s his most unique movie and that’s really saying a lot, with some shots in this that aren’t anything like he’s done before. It is aesthetically pleasing with fantastic visuals. We’ve come to expect this from Wes but every time he somehow surprises. It flips certain shots from black and white to colour, it even shifts aspect ratio, and even changes between live action to animation. The Alexandre Desplat perfectly fits the movie and the overall tone.

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This is the most Wes Anderson movie possible, and I’m not sure if everyone will like it. I think it’s definitely a contender for being one of the more divisive Anderson movies. However I really liked it. I loved the anthology approach with three distinct stories, with each having something to love about them. I loved the performances from the stacked cast (with Jeffrey Wright and Benicio Del Toro being among the highlights), and I loved the direction from Anderson. Definitely among my favourite films from 2021 thus far.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) Review

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language, sexual references & nudity
Cast:
Ralph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustave H.
Tony Revolori as Zero Moustafa
F. Murray Abraham as Mr. Moustafa
Adrien Brody as Dmitri
Willem Dafoe as J. G. Jopling
Saoirse Ronan as Agatha
Tilda Swinton as Madame D.
Edward Norton as Albert Henckels
Mathieu Amalric as Serge X
Jeff Goldblum as Kovacs
Harvey Keitel as Ludwig
Tom Wilkinson as Author
Jude Law as the Young Writer
Bill Murray as M. Ivan
Jason Schwartzman as M. Jean
Léa Seydoux as Clotilde
Owen Wilson as M. Chuck
Director: Wes Anderson

Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), a concierge, is wrongly framed for murder at the Grand Budapest Hotel. In the process of proving his innocence, he befriends a lobby boy (Tony Revolori).

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I remember The Grand Budapest Hotel as being one of the earlier movies I saw from Wes Anderson, and it was the first movie from him I watched in the cinema. I had previously seen Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom and while I liked them when I saw them for the first time, I wasn’t really into his work that much. I remember the experience in the cinema back in 2014 watching it because I found myself surprised at just how much I loved it. A rewatch upon watching all of Wes’s movies only confirms to me that it is his best, an unbelievably delightful and charming movie that entertains from beginning to end.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel’s screenplay is again written by Wes Anderson, and I have to say that it has to be one of his most polished and complete works, if not his most. This movie is one of the select number of films which I can say I found genuinely enthralling. Wes Anderson’s strongest movies with the likes of The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore had me interested generally throughout. However, The Grand Budapest Hotel had me invested from beginning to end and was endlessly entertaining. The movie feels completely original, and the story is heartfelt and endearing, features quirky and entertaining characters, and some unique and hilarious comedy. The dialogue was great, quick witted and memorable, and it’s perfectly paced across its 100 minute runtime. The plot itself is intricate but never confusing, and is also the largest scale movie from Wes Anderson. The Grand Budapest Hotel really gives you a sense of adventure and escapism, while also having melancholic and darker qualities and themes that you don’t expect at first.

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Wes Anderson is known for his massive and talented ensemble cast, but this may well be his biggest cast to date, and that’s saying a lot. Ralph Fiennes as Gustave H. gives not only one of his best performances of his career, but one of the best performances from a Wes Anderson movie. He’s charismatic, his line delivery is absolutely perfect, he really does handle the dry humour perfectly and fully portrays his well written and memorable character. Tony Revolori is also one of the leads and shouldn’t be overlooked, he’s really great too and shares great on screen chemistry with Fiennes. There was quite a supporting cast including Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Harvey Keitel, Tom Wilkinson, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Mathieu Amalric, Lea Seydoux and Owen Wilson. Everyone is great in their parts and make themselves stand out in their respective scenes, even if they are in just 1 or 2 scenes.

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Wes Anderson’s direction is phenomenal, even when compared to all his past work. His style is instantly recognisable once the movie begins. The cinematography is beautiful and vibrant. It is said with some movies that every shot could be framed as a painting, The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of those movies. The changing of the aspect ratios was also effective, moving to 4:3 for most of the film. The production design and costume design were outstanding too. The score by Alexandre Desplat is unique and amazing, and it really fits perfectly with the rest of the movie.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel is an enthralling and delightful adventure, perfectly written and directed by Wes Anderson, and features an outstanding ensemble of great performances. It’s like he took everything great from his past movies and put it all in here with this one. Having gone through his entire filmography, I can say with confidence that this may well be his magnum opus. It is also firmly one of my favourite movies, especially from the 2010s. It’s an essential watch for sure, and also a great place to start with Wes Anderson if you haven’t seen any of his movies before.

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) Review

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Fantastic Mr. Fox

Time: 87 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains coarse language language
Voice Cast:
George Clooney as Mr. Fox
Meryl Streep as Felicity Fox
Jason Schwartzman as Ash Fox
Bill Murray as Clive Badger
Willem Dafoe as Rat
Michael Gambon as Franklin Bean
Owen Wilson as Coach Skip
Director: Wes Anderson

Mr Fox (George Clooney), a family man, goes back to his ways of stealing, unable to resist his animal instincts. However, he finds himself trapped when three farmers decide to kill him and his kind.

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I remember watching Fantastic Mr. Fox around the same time that it was released back in 2009, I remember liking it, but it was very long ago. I wanted to watch it again for some time, especially after having caught up on the rest of Wes Anderson’s movies now. The movie actually turned out much better than I thought it would be coming back to it. It’s funny, entertaining to watch, and well made, especially when it came to the animation.

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Fantastic Mr. Fox is based off the novel of the same name by Roald Dahl (which I don’t think I’ve read myself). From what I heard though, it captures the spirit of the source material. At the same time, the writing is most certainly from Wes Anderson. The script is witty, charming, entertaining and hilarious, with some dry humour too. The dialogue is snappy and quick, again typical Wes Anderson, and the quirky characters are memorable from their writing alone. There are also some strong emotional themes and about family which are fit very well to the movie, even if that’s come to be expected from most animated kids films. Even though it’s a children’s animated movie, both kids and adults can watch and enjoy it, and in fact adults would probably get more out of the experience. Fantastic Mr. Fox is just under 90 minutes long and holds your attention from beginning to end. It really helps that the movie across its runtime is unique and fully of energy, never allowing for a dull moment.

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The voice cast like the casts in most of Wes Anderson’s other movies is large, talented, and very much an ensemble. Just some of the actors enlisted were George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon, and Owen Wilson. Each actor gave their respective character distinct personalities and traits through their perfect voice performances, and particularly had flawless comedic timing.

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Wes Anderson is the director of Fantastic Mr. Fox, and like his other movies, he has a distinct style that he added to this film. All the stylistic aspects including the shot compositions, the title cards, the montages, and the bright and striking colour pallets that he typically used in his live action movies are perfectly translated to the stop motion animation from live action. Speaking of which, over a decade later, the stop motion animation still really holds up surprisingly. It’s fast paced, the characters and locations are well designed, and the movements look great. Visually, there is so much attention to detail, including visual gags which you could end up missing if you aren’t paying attention. The soundtrack was perfect too, and the songs are utilised perfectly in their respective scenes. All of these elements were also utilised just as well (from what I remember) from Wes Anderson’s 2018 film Isle of Dogs

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Fantastic Mr. Fox is thoroughly entertaining stop motion animation movie that works well for both children and adults, with some witty and hilarious writing, a great voice cast for the memorable characters, and outstanding direction. It’s great for sure and probably among my favourite animated movies, and if you haven’t checked it out already, then it’s definitely worth watching. You’ll probably like it even more if you’re familiar with Wes Anderson’s other movies.

The Darjeeling Limited (2007) Review

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The Darjeeling Limited

Time: 91 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language & Sexual References
Cast:
Owen Wilson as Francis
Adrien Brody as Peter
Jason Schwartzman as Jack
Director: Wes Anderson

After the death of their father, three brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman) set out on a train journey across India, in an attempt to rediscover their lost bond. The experiences that they have force them to introspect.

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Of the movies from Wes Anderson that I hadn’t watched, this is the one I knew the least about. Apparently it was something like a trip movie and I recognised the main actors but that was it. Having seen it, I can say that it is one of his oddest movies, not in the sense that it’s weird and does odd things like The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou, but in the sense that I don’t really know what to feel about it. I do like the movie, it is well made and I think it is pretty good. However it didn’t really stick with me as I was hoping it would.

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The Darjeeling Limited is by far Wes Anderson’s simplest movie, and it is very short at 90 minutes long. However I can’t help but admit that I found it to be a bit bland in large portions. I wouldn’t say that it ever got to the point where I was outright bored, I was paying attention throughout, but my interest wasn’t exactly consistent and I got quite close to being bored. The movie is a lot more smaller scale (especially considering Anderson’s last film with The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) despite how far these characters travel, and it is his most grounded movie since Bottle Rocket, his debut back in the 90s. It was heartwarming in parts, and there are for sure some particularly strong parts. The film at its core is an introspective exploration of grief, it is just this trio of brothers going from place to place across India with a lot of baggage (both literal and figurative). There’s quirky dialogue, as to be expected from his movies, there was some comedy though there wasn’t a lot of it in this movie, or at least it never got hilarious or anything. The story and some parts of the writing I found to be lacking and was probably the weakest part unfortunately, I can’t entirely pin down what didn’t work for me. I can say however that it can feel a bit tonally unbalanced. There is a certain scene involving a river, which was very effective, however the abruptness of the tonal shift was jarring to say the least. I can’t tell if the tonal shift is the reason why, but a while after that moment, that’s when the film started to fizzle out for me, even though I was still on board with it.

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This is probably the first Wes Anderson movie since Rushmore where it doesn’t have a huge ensemble cast, even with the inclusion of Bill Murray in a brief cameo. The main trio are Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman, and they do very well on their parts, they are the strongest parts of the movie. The film quickly establishes these characters at the beginning of the movie, and the actors have very believable chemistry, and they are really convincing as brothers. I didn’t really connect with the characters but the performances were really good, Wilson particularly gives one of his best work here.

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Wes Anderson directs the movie very well, and the stylistic aspects that you would except from him are definitely here. Everything with the visuals is great, the cinematography by Robert Yeoman is a stunning, the use of colour was really good, and the production design is very well detailed. Additionally, the music choices were good too, and fitted the moments well.

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The Darjeeling Limited didn’t completely work for me, I wasn’t invested with the story as much as I wanted to be, and I just don’t see myself getting more out of it through rewatches. I don’t dislike it by any means, I actually still think it’s pretty good. The direction by Wes Anderson is top notch as to be expected, it has some strong moments, and the lead actors in Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman are very good. It is still worth checking out for yourself, though if you’re not a fan of Wes Anderson, you’ll probably not like this one.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) Review

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The Royal Tenenbaums

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Adult themes
Cast:
Danny Glover as Henry Herman
Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum
Anjelica Huston as Etheline Tenenbaum
Bill Murray as Raleigh St. Clair
Gwyneth Paltrow as Margot Tenenbaum
Ben Stiller as Chas Tenenbaum
Luke Wilson as Richie Tenenbaum
Owen Wilson as Eli Cash
Director: Wes Anderson

Three grown prodigies (Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson), all with a unique genius of some kind, and their mother (Anjelica Huston) are staying at the family household. Their father, Royal (Gene Hackman) had left them long ago, and comes back to make things right with his family.

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I had heard a little bit about The Royal Tenenbaums, but generally I just knew this as one of Wes Anderson’s movies, and so I knew that I would eventually get around to it. For many, The Royal Tenenbaums is considered one of his best films and having seen it, I would consider that to be the case too. The performances are all fantastic, the direction is outstanding is a joy to watch, and the script and story is really endearing. I really loved watching this movie.

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Compared to a lot of Wes Anderson’s other movies at least, it’s more of a drama than a comedy. At its core, The Royal Tenenbaums is a family drama. You get quite engaged with what is going on, so even if you don’t find the movie to be quite funny, there’s something that you’ll be interested in for this movie. I still did find the movie quite entertaining and also funny at times. It also does work very well on an emotional level, in fact there’s an underlying feeling of sadness amongst most of the characters, and touches upon some serious themes and topics at points. There is a great tonal balance throughout, transitioning between comedy and drama with ease and not taking away from the other tone. I have to say, this is one of Anderson’s best scripts, definitely one of his most complete. The movie is paced steadily across its hour and 50 minute runtime, and if you aren’t into the movie and the plot by the first 30 minutes, you might find it a bit of a drag to sit through. But the plot, quirky dialogue and especially the well realised characters all come together to make a film that I was personally invested in from beginning to end.

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There’s a massive talented ensemble cast involved in this film, and everyone is great here. If there’s a standout among them it is Gene Hackman in the lead role as Royal Tenenbaum, he’s fantastic and I think this is one of his best performances, if not his best performance. The rest of the cast are great too, including Danny Glover, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson and Owen Wilson, all of them performing their memorable characters very well, and having excellent on screen chemistry with each another (Paltrow and Luke Wilson particularly shine in this movie).

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Wes Anderson directs this so well, with his distinct style. Anderson’s attention to detail is really enthralling to watch and aesthetically pleasing, from set decoration to costume to shot composition and the colour pallet. There are some great visual gags that you can easily miss if you look away for like a second. I liked how the movie was structured in a storybook way, in fact it is divided into chapters, and it really gave it a different feeling. The soundtrack work well and is utilised perfectly, as expected from Wes Anderson at this point.

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I thoroughly loved The Royal Tenenbaums, even more than I was expecting going on. The all star cast were all great and played their memorable characters greatly, it was directed wonderfully, and it is written excellently, with an entertaining and emotionally engaging story. I think that this is going to revisit this movie quite a lot, and I see it becoming potentially one of my favourite movies. Definitely watch it if you haven’t already.

Rushmore (1998) Review

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Rushmore

Time: 93 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains low level offensive language
Cast:
Jason Schwartzman as Max Fischer
Bill Murray as Herman Blume
Olivia Williams as Rosemary Cross
Seymour Cassel as Bert Fischer
Brian Cox as Dr. Nelson Guggenheim
Mason Gamble as Dirk Calloway
Director: Wes Anderson

Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), a student at Rushmore Academy, excels at everything except academics. He meets and falls in love with a teacher, Ms Cross (Olivia Williams), but later discovers that his mentor (Bill Murray) is also in love with her.

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I’ve heard about Rushmore for a while, all I knew about it was that Wes Anderson directed it (one of his earlier movies), Bill Murray was in it, and it was meant to be great. Having watched Bottle Rocket a day earlier, I found that movie to be a pretty good start for Anderson as a director, even though it performed poorly at the box office. However, his second film with Rushmore is definitely a step above his previous movie, which was really great all round.

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Rushmore is a coming of age movie, sometimes they can be hit or miss for me, but this film really worked for me, and this probably ranks among my favourites of the subgenre. The writing is truly great, and the script has been finely tuned to near perfection, with some exceptional dialogue. The movie is very funny and entertaining, yet it’s more deeper than it initially appears, even emotionally resonant. It’s also got a good range when it comes to its tone, with it bouncing between being comedic, pessimistic, hopeful, sad, and more, and it is all balanced quite well, never feeling like a mess at all. Like with Bottle Rocket, Anderson focuses his attention more onto his eccentric characters instead of the visual style, and it does work to some great effect here. The characters are particularly a shining point in the movie, quirky but quite endearing and memorable. At an hour and half long, Rushmore is paced extremely well, with never a dull moment.

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The cast are all great on their parts. Jason Schwartzmann shines incredibly well in the lead role of Max Fischer, and he portrayed this character pretty much perfectly, couldn’t have imagined anyone else in the role. Bill Murray was also a highlight, giving probably one of his best performances, and that’s saying a lot. Having seen him in some of his other major roles, by comparison he was rather quiet and understated here, he was fantastic. The pairing of Schwartzman and Murray was particularly great, and they contrast each other perfectly. This movie would start a long running collaboration between Murray and Wes Anderson, where he would be appearing in every single one of his movies from that point forward. Olivia Williams was also great in her part. Other cast members including Brian Cox play their parts well.

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After Bottle Rocket, Wes Anderson has definitely advanced as a filmmaker since that point. He’s definitely more confident in his direction here and starting really forming his own style. From the unique aesthetic, the transitions, the use of colours, the montages, and the soundtrack, all of it works greatly. At this point of his career he hasn’t reached the style that’s present in most of his later movies, he’s still evolving and honing it, and as I said earlier, there’s still more focus on the characters than the style. Another thing I can say is that it is unique while never feeling overbearing, and so if you want to get into some of Wes Anderson’s movies but worried that his more recent movies just won’t work for you because of his style being so different than what you’re used to, Rushmore would be a perfect place to start with his filmography. Back to that soundtrack, all of it was great, and each song choice was perfect.

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Rushmore is funny, sentimental, and very well written and directed by Wes Anderson. It’s quite entertaining and is greatly acted, particularly by Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray. It is definitely worth watching for sure if you haven’t checked it out already, and I get the feeling I’m going to revisit this movie a number of times.

Bottle Rocket (1996) Review

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Bottle Rocket

Time: 91 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Luke Wilson as Anthony Adams
Owen Wilson as Dignan
Robert Musgrave as Bob Mapplethorpe
James Caan as Abe Henry
Lumi Cavazos as Inez
Andrew Wilson as Jon Mapplethorpe/Future Man
Director: Wes Anderson

A group of friends hatches a plan to pull off a simple robbery and go on the run. However, their ensuing escapade turns out to be far from what anyone expected.

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I had been meaning to watch all of Wes Anderson’s films for some time, I’ve only seen about half of his filmography, and recently I decided to watch through all of it from the very beginning, starting with Bottle Rocket. Wes Anderson has one of the most distinct filmmaking styles that I’ve seen from a director, and I was interested to see how he has evolved over the years. Bottle Rocket really wasn’t what I was expected, even as his debut movie, but I really liked it. It was enjoyable, entertaining, and I’m glad that I watched it.

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The script written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson works pretty well. The story was probably the weakest part of the movie, even though it’s reasonably decent for what it is. Bottle Rocket is an hour and half minutes long, for the most part it is paced well, and does well enough to keep you invested throughout. The first and third acts are pretty strong. However, it does slow down quite a bit in the middle section, and there’s a romance subplot that it focuses on quite a lot, which didn’t have me that interested. Although the plot does involve heists, it was about the characters first and foremost, and the movie definitely benefited from that. The dialogue is well written, and definitely was partly key to making the movie work as well as it did. Much of the writing isn’t quite what you’d expect from a Wes Anderson movie, and that’s especially when it comes to the dialogue. However, you can see certain elements that would later evolve into some of his trademarks, with the comedy, quirky characters and the like. The comedy is particularly great, with perfect timing and executions, making it quite a fun movie to watch.

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The cast all worked really well in their roles, they interacted with each other really well, and had wonderful comedic timing. Luke Wilson and Owen Wilson are the main actors of the movie and they are great, with really believable on screen chemistry. Owen Wilson was particularly great, and you can clearly see why he collaborated with Wes Anderson so much (and he was even involved with the writing along with Anderson).

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Like I mentioned earlier when it comes to the writing, if you watch Wes Anderson’s other movies and then look at Bottle Rocket, they very clearly don’t seem at first that similar, and that extends to the direction too. His familiar trademarks aren’t quite on display, for example the framing and editing of the shots, and the very distinct style that he has in films like Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom isn’t quite there yet. However, you do seem some glimpses of that in this movie, such as some of the use of colour and the great music choices. With this being his first film, you can tell that Anderson is that this point still figuring his own style out, however it’s pretty great for a first film.

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I feel pretty confident in calling Bottle Rocket Wes Anderson’s weakest film even though I admittedly haven’t seen all of his movies yet. However, it’s still a pretty good movie as it is. Anderson’s writing is really good, his direction was solid and showed promise, the cast were all great in their parts, and really I had a fun time with it. It is worth watching for sure, especially if you are a fan of Wes Anderson’s films.

Isle of Dogs (2018) Review

Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence and Coarse Language
Cast:
Bryan Cranston as Chief
Koyu Rankin as Atari Kobayashi
Edward Norton as Rex
Bob Balaban as King
Bill Murray as Boss
Jeff Goldblum as Duke
Kunichi Nomura as Mayor Kobayashi
Akira Takayama as Major Domo
Greta Gerwig as Tracy Walker
Frances McDormand as Interpreter Nelson
Akira Ito as Professor Watanabe
Scarlett Johansson as Nutmeg
Harvey Keitel as Gondo
F. Murray Abraham as Jupiter
Yoko Ono as Assistant Scientist Yoko Ono
Tilda Swinton as Oracle
Ken Watanabe as Head Surgeon
Mari Natsuki as Auntie
Fisher Stevens as Scrap
Nijiro Murakami as Editor Hiroshi
Liev Schreiber as Spots
Courtney B. Vance as the narrator
Yojiro Noda as News Anchor
Frank Wood as Simul-Translate Machine
Director: Wes Anderson

When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, 12-year-old Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.

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I was looking forward to Isle of Dogs, it was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. For whatever reason, I’ve been having to wait for this film to release here when it was already released a couple months prior everywhere else, however it’s finally here. I’ve seen a few films from Wes Anderson (Grand Budapest Hotel, Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom) and I liked what I’ve seen from him. With this being the second time he stop motion animated a movie (with the first being Fantastic Mr Fox), I was confident that this would be a solid movie, and that it was. It was pretty much what I expected and maybe a little bit more.

Isle of Dogs is an hour and 40 minutes long and from start to finish I was entertained. You can tell that it is definitely a Wes Anderson story. It has a very unique and original story with quirky characters, deadpan humour which is really funny and unique and is just entertaining overall. I didn’t really have too many faults with it, though there might’ve been a slight overuse of flashbacks, which does halt the story at times. Also some places and characters that the film at times cuts to (AKA characters that aren’t the main characters) really weren’t as interesting as the main storyline/characters. Isle of Dogs is kind of a kids movie, though it does go a little unexpectedly dark at times, so if you have some kids thinking that they’re going in expecting a cute film about a bunch of talking dogs, let’s just say that it won’t be what they are expecting. Aside from some minor faults, Isle of Dogs has a pretty solid story.

There is a lot of voice actors involved (Wes Anderson always seems to have a large and talented cast in his films). Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Liev Schreiber and much more consist of the voice cast, and they all did good jobs as their characters, with Cranston being a particular standout.

As I said, this is the second time that Wes Anderson has directed a stop motion animated movie and once again he did a great job. Fantastic Mr Fox was good, but his handling of stop motion animation was even better here with Isle of Dogs, it is a great looking film. Also on top of the movie feeling like a Wes Anderson written movie, it also feels like a Wes Anderson directed movie. Everything from the framing, camera position, editing, everything here really feels like his film. Now if you’re not familiar with Wes Anderson’s style in his films, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s really difficult to describe because you can’t compare his movies to anyone else’s. If you haven’t seen any of his movies before, I do recommend giving this a go. If you can’t get into Wes Anderson’s other movies because of his style, chances are Isle of Dogs won’t win you over. There was an interesting decision made, all the dialogue from the dogs are in English, however most of the dialogue by the humans are in Japanese, and a significant amount of it isn’t translated into English. It works most of the time to show the language barrier, but I only say that it works most of the time because often times someone else has to translate what they are saying in English because some of the dialogue contains plot details that we the audience need to know. The film tries to have a mix of untranslated dialogue that we don’t hear (and yet convey the message visually so we still understand what’s going on) while having English exposition explaining everything to us and it didn’t quite work as well as I think it was intended to. I think it would’ve been better sticking with one way, whether that be all human dialogue in Japanese, Japanese dialogue with subtitles or all the dialogue in English, because it felt jarring when they kept changing their method of human dialogue. It’s not a major flaw with the movie, just something that stands out that is worth addressing.

On the whole, Isle of Dogs really worked well. It was entertaining, I could get invested in the story and I just enjoyed watching it from start to finish. If you’re a Wes Anderson fan, I think you’ll definitely dig this. If you haven’t seen any of his movies before, I’d say that Isle of Dogs is a good place to start with his movies. His films may not appeal to everyone but I recommend giving it a go at the very least.