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Posts Tagged ‘Wes Anderson’

Unbelievably, Wonderfully Grand

March 6, 2014 | by

Wes Anderson, Stefan Zweig, and their sumptuous surroundings.

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A still from The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Looking at this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay, Bill Morris at The Millions grumbled that “Hollywood screenwriters need to mix more fiction into their diet.” He can at least give a pass to Wes Anderson, whose new film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is based not just on one novel but on an entire oeuvre—that of Stefan Zweig, an Austrian writer whose work Anderson has helped revive. In fact, Zweig’s influence on Anderson is so profound that the filmmaker compiled The Society of the Crossed Keys, a new anthology of Zweig’s work. Unfortunately, the collection is only available in the UK, but its constituents—Zweig’s memoir, the novel Beware of Pity, and the novella “Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman”—can be found separately in the US.

Both Zweig and Budapest find comedy and melancholy in the changing landscape of 1930s Europe, and Anderson is quick to admit his debt to Zweig. The film features two characters meant as stand-ins for the writer—there’s the hotel’s nostalgic, effete concierge, M. Gustave, and the unnamed Author, who appears throughout as a narrator and interlocutor. But Zweig’s influence on Anderson extends far beyond this latest film. Though Anderson says he came across Zweig’s books only six or seven years ago, the pair have long shared similar themes and aesthetics, even if Anderson didn’t know it.

For starters, consider their fastidious preoccupation with appearance. In an essay examining The Royal Tenenbaums against J. D. Salinger—another of Anderson’s literary influences—Matt Zoller Seitz established a concept called “material synecdoche—showcasing objects, locations, or articles of clothing that define whole personalities, relationships, or conflicts.” Anderson uses his meticulously designed mise-en-scène as visual shorthand for his characters. It’s how we understand the Tenenbaums from their wardrobe, their childhood bedrooms, and the way the opening scene itemizes the things in those rooms. It’s one of Anderson’s favorite storytelling mechanisms—think of Moonrise Kingdom, in which Sam Shakusky’s raccoon hat and glasses set him apart from the rest of the Khaki Scouts; think of Max Fischer’s red beret in Rushmore. In Anderson’s work, the exterior reliably informs the interior. Read More »

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The First-Ever Fuck, and Other News

February 12, 2014 | by

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Image via io9

  • Behold: the first written use of fuck, from 1528, inscribed by a monk who seems to have been pretty pissed off with an abbot.
  • “Kicking against the pricks becomes rather less impressive when the pricks have melted away.” Taking a hatchet to the Hatchet Job of the Year.
  • Wes Anderson’s new film, Grand Budapest Hotel, is by his own admission “more or a less a plagiarism” of the works of Stefan Zweig. Will the movie renew American interest in Zweig’s writing?
  • An “edit-a-thon” aims to close the gender gap on Wikipedia, to which far more men contribute than women. Though as the Newsweek reporter Katie Baker tweeted, “Maybe few women edit Wikipedia because they do enough thankless unpaid labor already.”
  • “Emptying the Skies,” Jonathan Franzen’s 2010 essay on the poaching of migratory songbirds, is soon to be a documentary.
  • Toby Barlow’s Write-a-House, a residency program that gives houses to writers, is still a bit shy of its fundraising goal, but there’s a week left in the campaign—help out.

 

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James Franco Is Garbo, a Novelist, and Other News

October 11, 2013 | by

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  • At the Henry Review, Joshua Cohen reads from his novel-in-progress.
  • A poetry shutdown begins, and poets and critics fail to reach a compromise.
  • “It is honest only to the degree that it builds its precise and inescapable box around its maker’s scale version of the world.” Michael Chabon on Wes Anderson.
  • Ready or not: here is the book trailer for James Franco’s novel.
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    Handsome Crooks, Crooked Reviewers

    October 2, 2012 | by

  • Meet “ridiculously photogenic 19th century NZ criminal” Daniel Tohill.
  • “Wanted — literate, artful writers who can post five-star reviews of some books on amazon.com. Pay is fifteen dollars firm for fifty to a hundred words of high praise with some specifics about the book that will appeal to potential readers.”
  • The most-challenged books of 2012: newcomer Fifty Shades of Grey joins old favorites like witchcraft-mongering Harry Potter and Slaughterhouse Five.
  • Gary Shteyngart: “You, American Airlines, should no longer be flying across the Atlantic. You do not have the know-how. You do not have the equipment. And your employees have clearly lost interest in the endeavor.”
  • Wes Anderson presents an animation of the fictional books from Moonrise Kingdom.
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    Magic Hour: An Interview with Gregory Crewdson

    September 27, 2012 | by

    Still from Beneath the Roses

    It’s difficult to quantify the strange magic of Gregory Crewdson’s photography, but here's a stab: his photos, mostly of American towns that could be any dead mill town (the colors too bright, the light too spooky) create such an evocative mood that the viewer becomes part of the story. His work has to the power to linger in the brain long after seeing it: on days when the light filters just so through the trees, when an average, mundane moment takes on the qualities of eerie, ethereal beauty, it’s very easy to identify it as a Gregory Crewdson moment, a particular alchemy of the earthbound and the spectral.

    The documentary Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters is a beautiful and contemplative look at Crewdson’s process, focusing on when he was working on Beneath the Roses, a multiyear project that brought film crews of sixty or so people to small towns in the Berkshires of Massachusetts to help produce his large-format photos. The film, a ten-years-in-the-making work directed by Ben Shapiro, is an intimate look inside Crewdson’s artistic process. Since that’s covered in the documentary, I wanted to talk to Crewdson about one of his big inspirations, the cinema. Crewdson invited me to his studio and home in the Berkshires, a former church hidden behind a fence, where we (along with another writer, Stu Sherman) had a free-ranging conversation starting with the movies and edging over into his work. We started, of course, with Mad Men, which Crewdson calls “the greatest work of sustained art in the past ten years, and I’d include any movie or book or art work, so that shows you what I think of it.”

    When it comes to Mad Men, do you like the set design and period detail?

    I think it’s perfect in so many different ways, but it’s so beautiful to look at, so exquisitely detailed and rendered. The light’s so beautiful and the decor all fits together like a complete, perfect set piece.

    It’s funny that you love Mad Men so much. I have to admit that when I watch Breaking Bad—or even just seeing stills of characters, like of the wife, Skylar, on the bed—they’re very reminiscent to me of your work.

    My pictures are very much influenced by movies, but it’s weird because now it seems like the opposite happens, and now it’s like the movies use my pictures as reference. It’s a dialogue or something. I guess it just happens.

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    Dahl, Maps, The Royal Tenenbaums

    August 14, 2012 | by

  • The new Vogue features contemporary authors as members of Edith Wharton’s circle and was shot at the Mount. Look for Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Junot Díaz as Henry James, Morton Fullerton, and Walter Van Rensselaer Berry. (Wharton herself is played by model Natalia Vodianova.)
  • Essential cartography books.
  • Bookshelf of the day: a literary staircase.
  • The hundred best-selling British books of all time. (The usual suspects, plus Eats, Shoots and Leaves.)
  • The books from The Royal Tenenbaums, actualized.
  • “For material things, we were fortunate, but it was not a happy beginning to my life.” Tessa Dahl talks about the difficulties of growing up with her famous father. Perhaps sensationalism is no shock in The Daily Mail, but we defy you not to be taken aback by Roald’s penchant for home-medicating his children.
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