21 February 2014

The Darjeeling Limited 1

"My first encounter with Wes Anderson wasn't actually through his cinematic work at all. In order to milk the internet for all its worth before the piracy laws were changed a few years ago, one of my University housemates was intent on hoovering up as much of the critically acclaimed listening and viewing content that he could while he could, in order to, presumably, expand his cultural horizons for years to come. It was whilst perusing some of the latest acquisitions to his expanding mp3 library that I came across some collections of songs in his "film soundtracks" folder and thus, through my curiosity to discover what sort of film could possibly encompass the eclectic yet brilliant mix of music on these soundtracks that my love of the Wes Anderson universe was born.  

To alleviate any fears of F.A.C.T (the copyright theft folks, not the Liverpool gallery and cinema prompting me to write this article) I must stress that I now own proper copies of all of Mr Anderson's back catalogue. I also own a pair of white Adidas Rom trainers with blue stripes and yellow laces. I own a bright red beanie hat. Oh, and I bought a Femmes de Paris compilation record almost immediately after being bewitched by Francoise Hardy's musical contribution to Moonrise Kingdom. Furthermore, you might recognise the font that The Ragamuffins have used on the artwork for our last two EPs….

So why exactly do Wes Anderson's films resonate with me so strongly? Well, to start with, the environments his characters inhabit, at once anachronistic but still truly believable, display such attention to detail in the wardrobe and set layouts that they have you coming back time and again to pick up on something you missed on first, second or third viewing (I only noticed recently that in using Search And Destroy on the soundtrack to The Life Aquatic, the David Bowie theme was beautifully continued as Iggy's Raw Power album was produced by the thin white Duke himself!).

It feels like you can reach out and touch the realms that his characters play out their tragedies in, to the sound of Mark Mothersburgh's wonderfully eccentric and charming scores. But all of these aspects, wrapped up in such gorgeous cinematography and awash with lush palettes of amber and gold can only get you so far. 

No, what truly drives his films into my heart is the gibbering, useless wrecks that most of his characters are. From the illicit love harbouring, post meltdown Richie Tenenbaum to Peter Whitman hiding from his imminent fatherhood through to Dignan's desperate pipe dream of running an Ocean's Eleven style heist, Anderson's protagonists are flawed, crisis-riddled individuals and frequently have an inherent reluctance to grow up. Failure in films shouldn't just be the mid-feature, montage-strewn snapshot where Tom Cruise's hero has a crisis of confidence and temporarily questions his ability as a fighter-pilot, racing car driver or cocktail waiter before resuming his awesomeness.

In reality, our fleeting successes stand out as the marked contrast to the relative mundanity of our everyday lives, no matter how hard our Twitter accounts try to suggest otherwise. This is true of so many of Anderson's characters and films, and witnessing the attempts to manage their respective falls from relative grace is far more entertaining and engaging than an inevitable and predictable march to a climactic triumph. The old cliche reads that you learn more from failure than success, but similarly you discover more and warm to the characters more in Anderson's world through witnessing, even enjoying, their often spectacular failures. From a brief viewing of the The Grand Budapest Hotel trailer this theme looks set to be wonderfully continued through Ralph Fiennes' role as an octogenarian-bedding hotel owner schooling his young disciple in the ways of his trade. I imagine that given the frankly glorious cast lists that continually turn up to work on his projects I'm far from alone in my admiration of our Wes."

The We <3 Wes Anderson Season continues every Monday throughout February and March. Up next, on Monday 24 February is The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Tickets are available now from the Box Office, online and by phone on 0871 902 5737.