When we lived in Annapolis, there was this wonderful shop with fun and geeky movie rentals, and it also happened to carry gifts, food, and wine. It was such a fun store, and not just for its hipster sensibilities. If you know Annapolis, you know what I’m talking about. We lived literally around the corner from this quirky place. I actually applied to work there (!!!) so now you know my dirty little secret… my other secret is that I didn’t get the job (it wasn’t in the cards, I was pregnant, etc), but hey, I did work at Great Harvest Bread company at one point...(?) so, don’t fault me too badly. I’ve had some awesome jobs...ahem.
One thing I will confess is that I am a little bit controlling, (I don't want to say controlling, but something like controlling) when it comes to watching movies, or ahem, films with my husband. We used to geek out together over all the foreign films, especially when we were dating… and I miss those days, to be honest. Ever since we tried opening our tastes to less “MUST BE AWESOME AND FOREIGN AT ALL TIMES,” I think we just started fighting more about what to watch. Which is something I hate admitting, but whatcha gonna do? It’s the truth. When you have kids, it’s kinda like…. Ok, we just watched The Fiddler on the Roof again, why bother trying to watch something else? Let's just clean instead. :)
But we always agree on Wes Anderson. A long time ago, a Bible teacher of mine- yep, in the Bible Belt - showed one of Anderson's very first films, the movie Rushmore, in class. At the time, I wanted to like Wes Anderson, but I found his movies so quirky and odd that I honestly felt like they weren’t accessible enough. It was a little over my head. But over time, I became used to his dead pan humor, and the world became accustomed to his genius through actors who went on to become box office success famous- such as Luke and Owen Wilson, for example. Since then, I’ve seen commercials and box office hit movies imitate his style … and you can see it a mile away.
Wes Anderson’s films are not explicitly Christian or faith driven. He’s not a Christian, and I’m pretty sure not Catholic, that I know of, but I don’t really know one way or the other. His films are not considered very spiritual. Yet despite that, I still think that his movies are hypnotizing. They're so beautiful. They make us better people, even if they contain murder or bad words. And I still think that he should have won best director (Although I did not see Birdman, and Richard Linklater would have been my second pick). There are five reasons that I’m still his fangirl, even though the Academy didn’t agree that he deserved more accolades. (And, according to my husband, it might very well be because he’s young and he might yet win best director or best screenplay).
(1) First of all, Wes Anderson has not only influenced, but changed the film industry. Before you criticize a little cuss word here or some violence there— and yes, that stuff matters, deeply- try to remember that few people could ever pull off a movie with the quality and caliber that he has accomplished. His cast and crew gave him so much credit when they won those awards for costume, and make-up. It’s because he’s meticulous and careful with his decisions and tastes. It’s because he’s doing really good work, and he has earned the respect of those in the film industry. Every detail of every room is planned, orchestrated, and pulled together in The Royal Tenenbaums, for example, and every character is complex and funny in a really original way.
(2) Second, he is contributing to the film industry with films that are good, beautiful, and true. Now, I will contend that even though Grand Budapest Hotel won more awards than his previous films, it was far too violent for my taste, and I actually walked out of the room and didn’t finish watching it. However, that was a first for me. For someone who is dabbling in his films, I would say to start with some of his earlier stuff. However, no one could contest that the costumes were beautiful. The characterization was masterful. The set was genius.
(3) Third, while some of us scratch our heads or scoff at the things we disagree with, remember that while we’re sitting on our butts in front of a screen, he is working his butt off. He might be changing and/or making history with good, albeit eccentric, films. With the influence he has had and the people he has turned into accomplished, gifted actors, he’s inspiring a new generation of movie lovers. He’s making us set a higher standard for film in general. Even though we all respect Sigur Ros and Coldplay (actually, I’m not sure if any of his films incorporate Coldplay)- not because it’s Christian but because it’s just so good, yet we are offended or turned off by his films…… but, why? We like their music, not because it’s full of holiness,* necessarily, but because it affects us, it’s beautiful, and it isn’t painfully cheesy.
(4) Fourth, Wes Anderson makes us think about the world differently through his excellent storytelling. What do you like about a good film when you see it? If it aligns with your faith perspective, but it’s horribly cheesy or the music is bad, or the dialogue is unrealistic or stilted, well… then, who cares about it. (I mean, right?) We might have a good temporary takeaway, but our artistic sensibilities remain mediocre at best. Liken it to your favorite book. A complex plot, interesting characters, and a complicated setting interwoven throughout might be just your thing. Then add an ironic character like Owen Wilson's character in The Royal Tenenbaums...? I'm hooked. His movies aren't moralistic, yet they have a heavy impact by showing us what happens to messed up people in the world, interacting with other messed up people in the world. And all while laughing out loud... or at least chuckling to ourselves.
(5) Wes Anderson may not be Catholic (I don't know), but he is making me a better person through his movies. One of my favorite scenes is at the beginning of Moonrise Kingdom, the camera goes through the house, showing us the family listening to music together in their big, New England estate. It is moving and beautiful. I thought he should have received what was coming to him. He should have gotten the credit that obviously he deserved and has earned. Maybe in the future, more people will come to like him and see the light. :0) His most recent film, Grand Budapest Hotel, was violent, but it had a clear message and I liked it.
*Honestly, when we're throwing around the word Holy, I think it would be better for us to be set apart and to keep our children set apart as much as possible, and I’ll be the first to say that I’m not a fan of exposing my children to things that are inappropriate. I think sheltering them and watching The Fiddler on the Roof over and over again is actually a really awesome idea. ;) But we're here... in the world....just not of the world, ok? There is a difference between smut and a good movie that has some unquality spice. But it does matter, deeply, and I have been to confession at least once after seeing a movie that really conflicted with my conscience.
I am going to lay on you all of my geeky, funny, silly, romantic, smart, etc etc etc movies that I love. I wouldn’t say I’m a connoisseur of movies (at least not lately with kiddos, because like I've said, I’ve put other things before going to the movie theatre), but I would say that I think I have decent taste— because I LOVED that little shop with the movies, gifts, and wine back when we lived in Maryland. So go check out my Movies Worth Watching (these are not "all the movies I've ever seen"... I've excluded MANY) board on Pinterest, and you can follow me there if you want! If I had had some foresight, I would have added some categories in my descriptions, such as 1 Warning for Adult Content, 2 Some Adult Content, 3 Family Friendly. But you know. You can always just ask me.