If there's one director that divides opinion more dramatically than Moses divided the Red Sea, it's Wes Anderson. Like a walking, talking, film directing Twiglet, you either love him or you hate him.
The advent of yet another colour coded, emotionally ambiguous, fashion fest of an Anderson film will either make you want to grow a celebratory moustache, or jump in a cab to Hoxton for a killing spree. Anderson's latest oeuvre, Moonrise Kingdom, lurks ominously on the horizon, and with the potential to invoke such grisly controversy, it's time to choose which side you're on...
The Case For- Charlotte Skeoch
Wes Anderson: Prince of the Pedantic, Magnate of Minutiae, Hero of Hipsters and Oligarch of OCD. A man so utterly self involved, almost all of his films are autobiographical in some sense, ranging from the struggles of the white middle class boy, to the white middle class adult, and occasionally even drifting to the (probably white) middle class fox. But Wes, witty Wes, oh dearest arty-pants Anderson, how I love thee.
The world of cinema has become stagnated with bulky cash cows, fuelled not on repugnant stenches of methane, but farting sheer, unadulterated testosterone. Somewhere in between the heave of a pumped-up bimbo's gargantuan protrusions, and the sixth bad ass gratuitous bullet shower, we're occasionally treated to a limping excuse of a plot; yet more often than not, the initial seedling of concept is lost in a mountain of celluloid spunk.
The blissful antidote to this cocksure filmmaking is Wes Anderson. What many perceive as quirk over substance, I believe to be an absolute reverence for concept. Anderson studies his films' minutiae minutely: he places the seedling in his palm, and turns it over and over in intimate inspection. The all-encompassing nature of this style becomes almost other-worldly: an escape from irregular, ugly reality, and what is cinema if not a door into another realm? It can be stilted, awkward and no, it doesn't move at the pace of Usain Bolt with a rocket up his arse, but if that's what you're after, go watch some Michael Bay and stop reading my lovingly-crafted words you ninny-brained cretin.
Of course, this particular brand of Anderson realm is achingly hip, colour coded, and not unlike the lovechild of IKEA and Vice magazine, but shoot me if I'm wrong for loving a good brogue and a bushy moustache.
Hipsters have come under a lot of scrutiny recently, as Anderson's mumblecore cousins have successfully ruined the reputation of hipster filmmakers everywhere. Anderson's writing partner, Noah Baumbach, spawned the almost criminally dull Greenberg, showing the world that you can lead the idiot hipster to water, but you can't make it drink. Not even if it were laced with the spit of Agyness Deyn. The big difference is that mumblecore, by definition, makes no effort. It's the filmic version of bed head, of a hangover, of Boris Johnson. Anderson's breed of hipster filmmaking is like a comb-over, lucid tee-totalism, the over-zealous nitpicking of Harriet Harman. It's not actually, by hipsterism's own definition, all that hip. Despite Anderson looking like the boy Prince of Twee Town, and making movies for a hardcore fanbase of 'tache-twiddling tweed fondlers, it is entirely possible that rather than emerging the Over lord of over-thought zeitgeist, he is, perhaps, just the Peter Pan of Hollywood: a director refusing to grow up. In a world full of hos, guns and helicopters, thank goodness for Anderson's pet eagles, packed lunches and pink telephones.
The Case Against - Jack Pelling
Before I argue this case, I'm must admit that I am fond of Rushmore and The Royale Tenenbaums (although both have their problems), but I am not here to argue that Wes can't direct films, just that he is a pompous, arty-farty, lazy, hipster filmmaker who is more concerned with looking trendy and cool than telling a decent story and hasn't had an original idea in over a decade. This is a personal vendetta that has been festering for some time now, and capitulated when he and his merry band of cine-hipsters hijacked my favorite childhood book, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and transfused all of it's charm and nobility, and replaced it with smug, pseudo-intellectual Onanism.
Being a Hollywood director is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after professions on the planet. You get to travel the world; mingle with the stars; watch your artistic vision come to life; and make bucket loads of money in the process. It is therefore, incredibly frustrating that some of the most successful filmmakers in Tinsel Town couldn't direct their way out of a paper bag. But for me, there is another breed of director that is even more irritating than the likes of Messrs Bay, McG, Emmerich and Lucas etc, and that is those who clearly have talent, but for some reason, don't bother to use it; churning out the same old drivel time and time and time again, without even expressing a desire to have a crack at anything outside their comfort zone. Many are guilty of this cardinal cinematic sin, but Anderson's implacable dedication to reproducing his early successes is especially cumbersome. The Wes Anderson formula is so rigidly well-defined, it might as well be bottled and sold. So here is the recipe for a perfect, home-baked Wanderson flick...
-Before you start, pre-heat your haircut 1970
(don't worry that you're 42 years old, you can still dress like a Dalston hipster with a smack habit)
-1 x heaped table spoon of quirky, anachronistic typeface.
(Be sure to always use the same one, it will be a 'tidemark' and make you look like a retro Woody Allen)
-500g of upper middle class, over privileged family members. MUST BE WHITE.
(don't worry about developing your characters to make them interesting, you can get round this by giving them quirky, convoluted back stories, and it will give the illusion of depth. Funny tracksuits also work)
-A heavy splash of Rostrom Camera
(Rostrom cameras are outdated and obsolete, therefore cool and quirky. Also it is well known that still images in movies make you look arty and clever)
-A pinch of Bill Murray
(not the good Bill Murray from Ghostbusters, the sort of shriveled one that aged 30 years overnight (possibly as a result of being in those appalling Garfield movies))
-A sprinkle of ethnic minorities
(decorate your movie with some funny foreign people. Indians are particularly amusing. If you have to use a black person, why not make them sing a song?)
Add some indie music, a world-weary voiceover, and a quirky title (something like The Adventures of the Life and Times of Penelope Sprunt and Sons), and you're away!
Early in his career, Anderson was billed as the new Scorsese. Sadly, he has become the new Tim Burton- churning out generic, over-stylized mediocrity for far too long. He has found his niche and is wallowing in it like a lazy hippo and needs to use his privileged position and undeniable talent to make something fresh, innovative and exciting.
Also, he is called Wesley. What a tit.
Moonrise Kingdom is released 25 May.