Much ballyhoo is blogged and bluffed about Wes Anderson’s design. You have to say “design” like you are saying “Venus,” or “ethereal” to prove that you really read that one book. Anderson’s des-aye-enne, his writing, and his tonal style seem to get the most praise from the nascent Netflix and mkv. Cinephiles who were as lucky to get blessed with Wes as hip Americans were to get the Coens & Quentin & Jarmusch & Lynch & Linklater in decades prior.
The quintessence of what makes Wes Anderson such a masterful film director: he makes magical worlds that seem real, in which marvelous characters say and do things that are both amazing and natural. There is a humanity in his magic. Even in the singular and esoteric diarama of his…ahem…design…we feel that this world could have existed, even if our only concrete reference is in one of his Touchstone Pictures.
Wes Anderson is as good at casting as anyone alive. From his leads down to his Sturgesesque touch with bit parts, he puts the right actor in the right role. Just look at Bob Balaban as the concierge of a European hotel, an actor who is a fastidious, uptight, funny little man. Bill Murray as a seafaring documentarian, the whole cast of the Belafonte, Michael Gambon everytime, Brian Cox in Rushmore, Royal Tenenbaum, the list goes on, and the actors deserve more credit than they get, bit this is the understanding when they get into the mess with Wes. You are all a part of an ensemble that becomes known under simply one banner. Even Anderson himself fades away, infusing every image, as opposed to feeling present behind the camera. The movies are so well made that they play like a train set he has built, not a montage of comedic and dramatic filmings he has spliced together over years.
Wes Anderson makes his films meticulously, yet they are so well cast and written, generously supported, and singularly envisioned. It feels that the triumphs are less due to the high stakes gamble of contemporary studio filmmaking, and more like it was according to some kind of, design.