Depending on how well you know me, you may or may not be aware of my infatuation with Wes Anderson films. I remember watching "The Royal Tenenbaums" at a young age with a sense of awe and wonder. How was this film so different from the others? Why did I like it so much? I bought a copy of it in VHS and watched it regularly. For the time, I just figured it was a one-hit-wonder. Until, several years later "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" came out. Ah ha. That’s when I clued in to the man behind the work – Wes Anderson.
Although “The Life Aquatic” didn’t get top ratings, it became one of my favorites. I had just completed four fairly strange years in college and then moved on to adult life. I was drawn to Bill Murry’s cynical character, drinking straight bitter Campari on the rocks. You could feel the pain he went through in losing his best friend and having a distant relationship with his wife. You could feel the abandonment the very pregnant, yet very stoic “bulldog” Jane felt, and you could sense the longing for a father figure from Ned. The soundtrack became one of my favorites, a mix of David Bowie, and a guy playing acoustic guitar and singing in Portuguese.
After I realized there was a certain man making these movies, I delved further into his work. This was before Google mind you, so I had to figure it out in other ways. I came up with “Rushmore,” a film several years prior to "The Royal Tenenbaum’s" starring Jason Schwartzman; a precocious high school student, vibrantly enthralled with extracurricular activities rather than academics, and attempting to woo his teacher. I also found the obscure “Bottle Rocket” which I vaguely remember, but it was memorable enough to relate to Anderson's stylistic trademark.
But then, nothing.
For a time, I forgot about my infatuation with the movies of this unique person. It wasn’t until the more publicized "Moonrise Kingdom" came out that I was re-introduced to this incredible individual. Now Google was around, and I backtracked to another film that had slipped under my radar, “The Darjeeling Limited,” about three brothers traveling around India in search of their mother, and its short film prelude “Hotel Chevalier.” Eventually, his talent seemed to capture the public eye. Next was the “Grand Budapest Hotel” where he was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture, and the animated film “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” featuring the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson. And, allow me to alert you, if you aren’t already aware, to the upcoming "Isle of Dogs," another animated film with all of your favorite voices, due to be released in early 2018.
I suppose after watching all of these films, some of them so many times I can rehearse the script, I have come to the conclusion that these movies are reflective of life; the pain, the dark sides that each of us attempt to hide from the world, the struggles with relationships, the awkwardness, the rawness. And it’s all put together with objective narrative, carefully thought out props and visuals, and really great music to make it seem more light-hearted than the scene or story might actually be. People die, but with the right song, it’s honorable. People are assholes, but with the right song it’s enduring. People even fall in love with their sibling (adopted, mind you), but with the right song, you love that they love each other (that scene where Margot Tenenbaum gets off the bus, by way of the Green Line, and Richie is waiting for her, ack, it gets me every time).
I often spend pensive moments thinking about what my life might be like if I were in a Wes Anderson film. It would be artsy for sure, a little dark, but it would have a stellar soundtrack. You might cry, you might cringe, you might even stand and applause at the end.
So here goes….My Life as a Wes Anderson Film
It was precisely four months and one day past the celebration of her 36th year that Mariah Moyle first discovered her remarkable talent, laid dormant by years of unrest, secrets, and betrayal.
At one time, filled with hope, enthusiasm and joy, the troubling years that lay behind her dulled her shine and quashed her spirits. She had spent years filled with self-doubt, depression and feelings of abandonment.
She sits on the breakwater near the side of the road. A lavender colored bus that reads "Andre’s Magical Jitney" rumbles by. Andre the driver looks straight ahead with his arm out the window.
She gazes intently at the rhythmic crashing waves. It was in that moment, that she knew that life might not be a cataclysmic black hole of uncertainty, neither a euphoric incarnation of unabandoned bliss, but somewhere, perhaps, in the middle. The throws of life had sent her high and low, challenging her to question her sanity at times, but there was glimmer of balance that lay somewhere in the midst of voices of Catholic nuns breathing a sense of guilt into everything she did, and her unapologetic accountability for actions she didn’t necessarily deem inappropriate. Why then, did she still feel forlorn? A sense that something was missing.
She knew in that instant that there was something missing. She was missing…herself.
She wasn’t a whole person anymore. She was empty. She was vacant of anything that resembled the bubbly persona of a person that existed in her youth.
She was determined though, determined to fill that vastness with purpose. Now she knew it was time. The days of unveiling were upon her. It was now her moment to shine.
She stands up and turns to leave the scene in slow motion, with an intent knowing smile on her face, and her head lifted ever so slightly as a form of stoicism.
MUSIC CUE: “Only The Wild Ones” by Dispatch
"Andre’s Magical Jitney" comes by in the other direction and stops. The door opens and she steps in, turning around briefly to look back at the ocean, which she gratefully felt gave her the answers she was looking for. She enters. The door closes and the bus drives away.
The screen fades into credits.
Ok, that was maybe I’ve indulged a little bit (I’ve never ridden in a jitney), and in all honestly, if this is going to be a full-length film, I need more music for my soundtrack. So, here’s a few extras to set the mood…for my movie at least. Keep in mind I live in a pretty technologically forgotten corner of the world, so even if all of these songs are over-played in your world, they are all still pretty new to me. Except for the last song, which is really old, but it simply had to be included in my soundtrack.