My Life, My Card
Joining the likes of Martin Scorsese and M. Night Shyamalan, Wes Anderson directed his own advert for American Express in 2006.
What did he choose to shoot? During the two minute ad, we follow Anderson between takes on his latest (fictional) movie (naturally, starring Jason Schwartzman). Wandering through the set for a single take, he whips out his AmEx card to pay for some on-the-spot purchases and somehow emerges looking really awesome.
How many celebs who make commercials can attest to that, eh?
Tin Cans - Bottle Rocket (1996)
An early scene in this 'dumb guys try to be robbers' comedy sees Dignan (Owen Wilson) and his crew going shopping for guns and meeting with a salesman away from town in order to cut a deal.
What happens next? They spend the rest of the day shooting up tin cans. It's a brief little moment in the film that's massively important because it sets up the fact that Dignan just wants to be a robber because he thinks it'd be, um, cool…
With his distinct visual style, an Anderson film is pretty difficult to miss. "I have a way of filming things and staging them and designing sets," the director has admitted.
"There were times when I thought I should change my approach, but in fact, this is what I like to do. It's sort of like my handwriting as a movie director. And somewhere along the way, I think I've made the decision: I'm going to write in my own handwriting."
Co-directed with Roman Coppola, Anderson's advert for the Belgian beer is about a guy who takes a girl back to his gadget-infested apartment, only for things to go a bit wrong.
Yes, the colour scheme is yellow, yes, it's got a sixties aesthetic and yes, it's all about the music. You can take the boy out of the cinema…
Inventory - Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Having run away together, Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) take inventory of their possessions - which includes Suzy's library books (they're all about aliens and fantasy lands).
"Do you steal?" Sam asks Suzy. "Are you depressed?" To which she shows him another book that her parents have - Coping With The Very Troubled Child .
It's the kind of offbeat little moment that Anderson excels at, focussing on character and the important little details.
Feathers - The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
The three Whitman brothers have been kicked off the train and their fighting is reaching volcanic levels, so Francis (Luke Wilson) suggests performing a feather ritual that should end their quarrelling.
They do the ritual around a campfire, learn they've done it wrong and finally decide it's time to talk out their feelings.
Anderson excels at taking something ridiculous and finding the honest emotion in the situation, and this is just one of those moments.
"As a kid, I loved the Pink Panther movies, and I loved Star Wars and Indiana Jones and Spielberg, in general," Anderson has revealed of his surprisingly mainstream influences.
"And then also there was a revival theatre in Houston, where I’m from, and that’s where I saw the Pink Panther movies and also Hitchcock, and I loved some of those.
"You know, Hitchcock and Spielberg were kind of the first two filmmakers where I was really aware, 'There is a guy who was behind of all of this who we’re not seeing.'”
Comparing - Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
Mr Fox's oldest son Ash (Schwartzman) is suffering from a crippling lack of confidence that's only worsened when his cousin Kristofferson visits.
Looking for reassurance, Ash asks his coach (Owen Wilson) if he'll ever be as good as his dad. Coach Skip's reply? “You don’t want to have to compare yourself to that.” Great.
Train Lunch - The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Francis (Owen Wilson) has convinced his brothers to let him go on the trip with them, and as they all sit down to lunch, he explains just why it is that he's all bandaged up.
The story's not the main point - the main point is that Francis wants to guilt his brothers into letting him carry out his own nutso plans for the trip.
This being a Wes Anderson film, Francis gets his wish and chaos ensues…
Though Anderson's films often have an old-fashioned aesthetic, that doesn't mean Anderson himself doesn't embrace thoroughly modern technology.
Perfect example? During production of Fantastic Mr. Fox , he filmed himself acting out scenes from the script (using his iPhone) to send to the animators when he couldn't describe what he wanted in words. We'd pay to see these…
Anderson often creates his own storyboards for his films. "Once the script is finished, I have always done little storyboards," he's said. "I have found over the years that I make more mistakes if I don't plan it out."
The above is just one example of Anderson's storyboarding - a scene from Fantastic Mr Fox. (We love that he did it in blue pen.)
Fireworks - Bottle Rocket (1996)
Oliver Onions' 'Zorro Is Black' plays over an upbeat scene in which Anthony (Luke Wilson) and Dignan (Owen Wilson) speed off down the highway, letting off fireworks as they go.
Despite the fact that Anthony's annoyed at Dignan for not telling him the truth about Mr Henry (James Caan), this is a vibrant scene made all the more vibrant by Anderson's clever song choice. It won't be his last…
Anderson has a set of actors he collaborates with on just about every movie. Why? Well, he just sort of likes making films with his friends.
Says he: "I sort of have some unusual methods of working that have developed - you know, that we sort of stumbled into - over the years that I like, and we all are kind of in sync with them, and, you know, I like having a reunion of a lot of cast members on each film. It’s also nice to bring in some new voices. But there’s something kind of more free about having friends on a movie together."
Rat - Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
Willem Dafoe provides a sultry voice cameo in Anderson's Roald Dahl adaptation, appearing as the slinky, wily Rat. Sipping from Farmer Bean's cider stock, he's like a jail inmate crossed with a red-eyed serial killer.
In other words, he's the perfect foil for Mr Fox (George Clooney), and he gets a great death scene. Yes, this is a 'kids' film with a death scene. How very Anderson.
Again teaming up with Roman Coppola, Anderson directs a kooky French advert for Prada, starring Blue Is The Warmest Colour actress Léa Seydoux.
A three-episode advert series, it follows Seydoux's character Candy (named after the Prada perfume) as she goes on a date with a guy and his friend. It's just as polished and kooky as Anderson's cinematic work.
Basically, Bitesize Anderson.
Maddox Hill Cemetery - The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
A gorgeous beat in-between the chapters that make up Anderson's film, this sequence follows the Tenenbaum family as they visit Maddox Hill Cemetery.
As we see them interacting with each other, it becomes clear just how much of a dysfunctional family they really are, and we're given hints that they wish they weren't that way.
Between Anderson's careful framing and the elegant editing, this is a perfect summation of the family's awkward existence.
Bidding Farewell - The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Anderson employs the slow-mo to moving effect as The Darjeeling Limited takes a moment to mourn the death of a young boy that the Whitman brothers failed to save from drowning in a river.
Typically for Anderson, the song's spot on for a resolutely sombre affair, with 'Strangers' by The Kinks a perfect fit thanks to its lyrics about the meaning of life. Just beautiful.
Sonny - The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)
As you'd expect from Anderson, another perfect musical cue - here, David Bowie's 'Life On Mars' - brings this scene to dramatic life in a way that Anderson does so well.
The scene itself has Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) realising that Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson) is actually his son. The former's reaction? Go grab a cigarette while Bowie's song plays.
Yeah, critics - who needs em? Anderson understands their place. "People respond strongly to my work, one way or another," he says. "I care about critics in the sense that if you have a good review, it's nice to hear about it, and if you have a bad review, it's quite nice not to hear about it.
"When I am making a movie, I try to put all of that out of my mind and think just about the world I am creating. When people criticise my work, they often seem to say either that my worldview is too specific or, 'Who needs your world?' Those are not criticisms that resonate with me, because what fictional world do you actually need?"
Dafoe Comedy - The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)
Anderson did the unthinkable with Life Aquatic when he cast 'dramatic actor' Willem Dafoe in a comedy role, and drew a fantastically funny performance from the one-time Green Goblin.
There are too many standout moments for Dafoe in the film to count, so the entire film stands as one great moment in both men's careers. Dafoe as a teenager stuck in a 50-year-old man's body? Perfect.
The Bees - Rushmore (1998)
Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) steps up his battle against Herman Blume (Bill Murray) for the heart of Miss Cross (Olivia Williams) by unleashing a swarm of bees into his hotel room.
It's just the first nasty trick in a game of one-upmanship that gradually spirals out of control to the tune of The Who's 'A Quick One While He's Away'. It's as darkly humorous as anything Anderson's ever done.
Crack Team - Bottle Rocket (1996)
Dignan (Owen Wilson) embarks on Rocket Bottle 's central heist, only to discover that his "crack team" of bank robbers is actually more of a "crap team".
Things come to a chaotic head when Kumar (Kumar Pallana) admits he's lost his touch ("man") having failed to bust open the safe, and The Rolling Stones' '2000 Man' adds a touch of class to an already resolutely classy affair.
In The Bedroom - Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
"I've had it up to here with the 'sad house guest' routine!" yells angry teen fox Ash when his cousin Kristofferson asks if his bed could be put somewhere slightly more comfortable.
The two end up sitting watching a train on the play track in the dark. It's basically the kind of scene that could have appeared in any of Anderson's live-action films, except acted out by stop-motion foxes, which is why it's so awesome.
Faking Cancer - The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) comes up with a dastardly scheme to win back his wife and children by turning up at their home and reporting he's suffering from cancer - and he'll be dead in six weeks.
The jig's up, though, when his wife's fiancé (Danny Glover) discovers Royal's cancer medication, which turns out to be a bottle of tic-tacs…
Despite becoming a much-loved filmmaker, Anderson originally studied philosophy. "I chose philosophy because it sounded like something I ought to be interested in," he's said.
"I didn't know anything about it, I didn't even know what it was talking about. What I really spent my time doing in those years was writing short stories. There were all sorts of interesting courses, but what I really wanted to do was make stories one way or another." And thank goodness that's what he's ended up doing.
Working With Wes
“I’ve never worked on a set where I felt so much like the director realised the film he envisioned," Willem Dafoe has said of working with Anderson.
"While Wes is totally consumed by what he does, he is sweetly demanding, tenacious and insistent. The making of The Life Aquatic was half like a vacation with a dysfunctional family, half like a kids’ party. It changed my life – while shooting in Rome I met my wife!”
Jarvis Cocker - Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
Clearly getting in touch with Brit culture on his stop-motion marvel (well, Roald Dahl was a Brit, after all), Anderson offered Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker a cameo role in Fantastic Mr Fox.
It's a brief musical moment that's also really funny, as 'Petey' sings a song by the campfire before being reprimanded: "You wrote a bad song, Petey!"
Deep Sea Diving - The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)
Ned (Owen Wilson) chooses the most awkward moment ever to ask Steve (Bill Murray) if he can call him 'Dad'. They're all scuba-suited up and in the water investigating a strange signal when Ned makes the request over the radio.
Steve says no, which is awkward enough without the rest of the crew all listening in on the conversation as well. Talk about being in deep water.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Anderson's latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel , opens in the UK on 7 March 2014, but it's already got us bewitched and bedazzled.
The film's beautiful trailer landed in October 2013, ahead of the film's premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2014, where it won the Grand Jury Prize.
Set in the titular town, this short film from 2013 was directed by Anderson as a loving ode to Italian cinema (which explains why it was distributed by Prada).
Jason Schwartzman (who else?) stars as a 1950s race driver who crashes his car mid-race and ends up having a few drinks with his ancestors. Like all Anderson films, this is all about family - and just how annoying family can be.
Beach Dance - Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
"I love you, but you don't know what you're talking about," Sam (Jared Gilman) tells Suzy (Kara Hayward) when she expresses a desire to be an orphan just like him.
It's a line that, in and of itself, is magnificent, but the scene that follows is just as fantastic as Sam and Suzy dance on the beach to 'Le Temps De l'Amour'. Both in their underwear, both goofy as, well, Goofy, it's a Nouvelle Vague homage that's ridiculous, uncomfortable and hilarious.
Heaven And Hell - Rushmore (1998)
At the end of Rushmore , we finally get to see Max's play, Heaven And Hell, a suitably OTT story set during the Vietnam War.
There are explosions, teenagers wielding flame-throwers and a love story that'll make your heart bleed (alongside the gore on screen). If Anderson ever wants to turn Heaven And Hell into a movie proper, we'd totally watch it.
(In fact, we like to imagine that's something Anderson would be up for…)
Anderson's career reached a pinnacle in 2012 when Moonrise Kingdom opened the Cannes Film Festival.
Though it didn't go on to win the Palme D'Or (Amour got that, perhaps justifiably), the fact that Anderson had become so renowned that his film opened the festival was a huge win for the director.
Meeting Richie - The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
In one of Anderson's most iconic sequences, the director uses slow-mo and Nico's 'These Days' to haunting effect as Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) steps off the bus and meets up with Richie (Luke Wilson).
Everything about it is perfect, from the styling (THAT fur coat), to the slow walk across tarmac, to the narration provided by Alec Baldwin. If we could eat this scene, we would.
Boggis, Bunce & Bean - Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
If we expect anything from Anderson, it's song and dance numbers like no other filmmaker could possibly compose (or compete with).
That much is true even for his Roald Dahl adaptation as Anderson introduces us to evil farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean - and the musical score details each farmer's specific maladies.
(That they're all English and Mr Fox is American is just another wonderful Anderson quirk.)
The Tenenbaums - The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
We're introduced to the family Tenenbaums in no uncertain terms as Alec Baldwin provides a dry-as-the-Sahara narration.
We quickly realise the Tenenbaums are a miserable lot - and Anderson uses The Beatles' 'Hey Jude' to brilliant effect. Highlight? The bit with the BB gun…
Train Tracks - The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Anderson opens The Darjeeling Limited against a gorgeous, sunny backdrop as Peter Whitman (Adrien Brody) desperately chases a speeding train, lobbing his suitcase at the moving loco before attempting to crawl aboard himself.
The slow-mo adds serious style and drama, ratcheting up the tension as we wonder if Whitman's ever going to make it onto the locomotive.
Despite some of his arty contemporaries going from small indie projects to big blockbusters (uh, Michel Gondry), Anderson's not interested in that in the slightest.
"I have been asked why I don't make a big-budget movie or what's considered a Hollywood movie," he's mused. "I don't feel particularly compelled to do that sort of thing. The more economical you can be, the more fun you are going to have. I find it all slows down when it gets really big. The process can be so much more light on its feet and inspiring when you are nimble."
Dinner - Rushmore (1998)
Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) goes for dinner with Herman Blume (Bill Murray) and their joint crush Rosemary (Olivia Williams). Things get supremely awkward when insults Dr Flynn (Owen Wilson).
Blume finds it funny, but Rosemary reprimands him for giving Max a whiskey. "I can write a hit play, why can't I have a little drink to unwind myself?" asks Max, who won't stop going on about his "hit play".
Badger - Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
Bill Murray has appeared in every Wes Anderson film since Rushmore , and Fantastic Mr Fox is no different.
Naturally, everybody's favourite curmudgeon turns up to voice Badger, who gets into a fight with Mr Fox. The two end up having a swipe-off with their paws, growling like the wild animals that they are.
Let Me Tell You - The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)
"Let me tell you about my boat," says Steve Zissou (Bill Murray), taking us on a guided tour of his research vessel, the Belafonte.
In a single take (mostly), we make our way through the entire boat, a huge set in which people get on with their daily chores. Murray's dry narration is to die for, and Anderson lets the set do the rest of the talking.
Mr Wolf - Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
A random little interlude (because that's what Anderson does best) in this gorgeous stop-motion marvel sees Mr Fox (voiced by George Clooney) spotting a mysterious black wolf on the horizon and attempting to communicate with it.
Trying out English, Latin and French, he gets no reply. Until, that is, he raises a fist as a sign of solidarity, and the wolf raises his fist back. "Wish him luck, boys," says Mr Fox. It's weird. It's beautiful. We love it.
Though Anderson has a distinct style and voice, he's admitted that he does try "not to repeat" himself. "But then I seem to do it continuously in my films," he's admitted. "It's not something I make any effort to do. I just want to make films that are personal, but interesting to an audience.
"I feel I get criticised for style over substance, and for details that get in the way of the characters. But every decision I make is how to bring those characters forward." We couldn't put it better ourselves.
Pirates - The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)
Captain Phillips this ain't. Anderson unleashes Iggy Pop (singing 'Search And Destroy') and a gun-toting Bill Murray (wearing a lovely blue dressing gown) as Zissou takes on Filipino pirates.
They've taken his boat hostage, see, and Zissou's finally had enough, taking on his unwanted visitors by unleashing a torrent of bullets. It's outrageous and explosive, and Anderson milks every crowd-pleasing second of it dry.
Anderson's films often deal with characters who are crippled with anxiety and problems with their self-confidence. According to the director, he sort of thinks those things are funny.
"I guess when I think about it, one of the things I like to dramatise, and what is sometimes funny, is someone coming unglued," he's said. "I don't consider myself someone who is making the argument that I support these choices. I just think it can be funny."
Age 12 Starts Smoking - The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Raleigh St Clair (Bill Murray) finally discovers just how barmy his wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) is when he reads her case file.
Anderson chucks in his signature title cards, and with The Ramones' 'Judy Is A Punk' livening up the soundtrack, this is one of those unforgettable montages that is simply perfection in motion.
Herman - Rushmore (1998)
Herman Blume (Bill Murray) is attending a birthday party for his son where, having downed a few too many drinks, he decides to alleviate his boredom by doing a cannonball into the pool.
Anderson assures the scene is spectacularly funny by using The Kinks' 'Nothin' In The World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl', which lends the scene a melancholy edge.
Jaguar Shark - The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)
If Anderson loves anything more than slow-mo, music and an oddball sense of humour, it's using puppets instead of CGI. Which is, presumably, why he chose to use a creaky, eight-foot stop-motion puppet for the jaguar shark in this stand out moment from Life Aquatic.
As the crew finally come across the slinky beast, you can't help feeling just as much wonder as Zissou and co - not least when each of the crew members places a hand on Zissou's shoulders in a moment of emotional outpouring.
Hair-Raising - The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson) goes into a hair-stripping meltdown when he realises that he's a total loser. Over the sink, he finally removes his sweats and cuts off his hair before slitting his wrists…
Anderson's decision to shoot from Richie's POV (as he stares down at the hair and gushing blood) adds serious wallop to an already heavy-as-a-ton scene.
Dance Floor - Rushmore (1998)
"I wish I knew what I knew now, when I was younger," croon The Faces (in track 'Oooh La La'), as Max (Schwartzman) finally gets to dance with Miss Cross (Williams) in the final scene of Rushmore.
Not only is this wish-fulfilment to the (ahem) max, it's also a gorgeous ending to one of Anderson's early triumphs, wrapping up all the film's loose ends in one elegant scene. Glorious.