Well, here I go into the undiscovered country, with my first post.
They are a few things that I fell in love with instantly when I first encountered them. My wife, my children. Infinite Jest, Twin Peaks, The Diamond Age, Steve Reich's music. One of those things was definitely Rushmore. I connected with Wes Anderson's sensibility instantly. The most enjoyable art for me, without fail, conjures a world that I would love to live in.
As much as I loved Rushmore, I loved The Life Aquatic even more so. The David Bowie music in Porteguese, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, the boat, and the sea creatures. It is the perfect movie, sublime. Apparently, I was one of the few who thought this.
Suddenly, it seems as if Wes Anderson's career started to parallel the life of his character's: the talented savant who has run out of gas. At least according to MSM articles I encountered. Slate.com has numerous examples, from David Edelstein's mixed review to the Jonah Weiner's takedown of the Anderson oeuvre (BTW, I think there is space to connect the sensibility of Wes Anderson to the sensibility of indie rockers. In that fashion, the Jonah Weiner piece is reminiscent of Sasha Frere-Jones's piece in the New Yorker slagging the Arcade Fire for being too white. I don't agree for one, Haiti comes to mind as one counter-example. I don't care whether or not you like the Arcade Fire or indie rock, but is it really necessary to dream up a race-based meta-narrative that indie rock bugs you because it doesn't lift rifts from Muddy Waters? I can envision the day where Neighborhood or Intervention is sampled for a rap song. Then maybe indie rock will be released, I guess. Hey, Gary Numan and Kraftwerk are about as "white" as you can get, but they were beloved by the Hip-Hop community. The common thread with these critiques is that I am left wondering what the artists should do instead. Yes, I do agree that one could read a classic kind of racist undertone to Darjeeling Limited, but I'm not sure how the Wes Anderson movie is written that does not include upper-class white people with everyone else as a back-drop. I'm not sure what the Wes Anderson's Crash would look-like (I do know how Arcade Fire's Crash would sound, its called Rattle and Hum(in fact, U2 first three albums sound whiter than anything by Arcade Fire. U2 tried so earnestly to incorporate that American roots sound that it nearly destroyed and they become viewed as ultra-pompous. Ironically, they were revived by rediscovering themselves in Germany and the Middle East)).
Wes Anderson is too cute, too white, too self-conscious, or too un-self conscious. The consensus has been forming for awhile. It kind of hard to see someone who has such a distinct, forceful, and inventive take such a beating. Especially when I share that view and that sense of humor. But, I am cheered by some searching I did this evening, there is an idiosyncratic Life Aquatic fan-site and a great Wes Anderson fan-site with spectacular Halloween costumes. Despite the hating, I have a feeling that Wes Anderson's movies will emerge in twenty years as seminal films.
P.S. This article on Slate puzzles over Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson doing a mock Charlie Rose interview. It fails to mention that the same type of parody occurs on the Royal Tenenbaums DVD. Did Charlie Rose rub Wes Anderson the wrong way or something?