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Starred Up

We’ve seen many visually arresting films in recent years and character studies are as common as film festivals, but it’s the remarkable blend of the…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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The Wes Anderson Collection, Chapter 1: "Bottle Rocket"

You're looking at Part 1 of a video essay series based on my new book "The Wes Anderson Collection." I scripted and narrated the piece. It was edited by my friend Steven Santos, who has cut some of my favorite video essays, including "Lock & Load" and "The Takeaway." 

Care to go down the rabbit hole with me for a second? Okay, then. 

This new series is an adaptation of my book, which is itself adapted from another video essay series, "The Substance of Style," a five-parter that I wrote, narrated and edited back in the spring of 2009. The book came about because Wes contacted me in summer of 2009 to say he'd seen the video series and liked it, and then a few weeks later Eric Klopfer, my future book editor, wrote me to say he was a big Wes Anderson fan and wanted to do a book about his movies, and would it be possible to somehow adapt "The Substance of Style" to hardcover form? So I figured out a way to combine an interview with Wes and an adaptation of the video essay series, which eventually led to "The Wes Anderson Collection." 

Of course at that time, Wes hadn't released "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" yet, so I couldn't account for that in "The Substance of Style." And "Moonrise Kingdom" was barely a glimmer in his eye, probably.  

I thought it would be fun to do a "second edition" of that video series, after having seen two more Wes films and gained a lot of inside knowledge about Wes and his movies by interviewing him for the book. I originally thought about approaching this new series as I had in the first time, scrutinizing the totality of the work in a somewhat detached way, but as I started writing the narration and adding in editing suggestions for Steven, I realized that the whole process felt different. 

As Steven pointed out to me in the editing room this weekend, "The Substance of Style" was analytical, but this new series is more emotional. It also feels a bit more like a traditional documentary in places, though there are characteristic digressions into nerdy areas. This opening chapter, for instance, has a detour about the state of American independent film in the early 90s and how directors built their careers, and why "Bottle Rocket" was a break from that tradition. 

Part 2, about "Rushmore", will run Wednesday, Oct 16, "The Royal Tenenbaums" on Friday, Oct. 18, "The Life Aquatic" on Monday, Oct. 21, "The Darjeeling Limited" on Wednesday, Oct. 23, and we'll finish out the series with a double feature of "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "Moonrise Kingdom" on Friday, Oct. 25. 

Here we go! Thanks, as always, for reading and watching.


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