Like all Wes Anderson films, I both love and feel hemmed in by Castello Cavalcanti. On one hand I love (as always) the Andersonian style…that feeling of dry but immaculate control of each and every element. And of wry humor. Every time you watch any kind of Wessy flick (commercial, short, feature) this element sinks right the fuck in. That’s a very cool and extremely valuable thing, but you can’t let the old “stamp and imprimatur” concept run the whole show. Or is this inevitable once you’ve found them and vice versa? And yet I love the tiny Italian village vibe (I’ve hung in places like this and there’s nothing better when you’re in the mood for quiet soul-soothings), and I like the race-car metaphor and Anderson’s benevolent notion that life can sometimes nudge you away from that vaguely unsettled or anguished element. It’s all good, all serene.
I also love how Wes has created a particular kind of Wes woman (“vibey”, solemn, quietly earthy, gently mysterious…Inez in Bottle Rocket) in the same way Howard Hawks created “the Hawks woman.”
But at the same time…aahh, the hell with it. I’ve been suggesting for years that Wes needs to somehow break out of the Andersonville attitude but the chances of that happening are slim or none — let’s face it. But six years ago I came up with a solution anyway. I thought it was a pretty good idea then; it’s an even better one today.
“It is widely agreed by movie cognescenti” — I should have written qualified or modified that with “most” — “that Anderson has allowed his films to be consumed by a deadpan mannerist attitude along with a certain style-and-design mania, which Esquire‘s David Walters believes has devolved from a signature into ‘schtick,'” I wrote on 10.20.07. “By making movies about ‘world-weary fellows’ with money ‘who hurl non-sequiturs and charm with endearing peccadilloes and aberrant behavior’ in a world-apart realm, Anderson has painted himself into a corner.
“What Anderson needs to do more than anything else right now is to blow up ‘Andersonville,’ that specially styled, ultra-hermetic world that his films and characters reside in. Being Wes, he naturally needs to do it with style. And the best way to do this, I’m convinced, is to make an arty black comedy about the world coming to an end on the rural two-lane blacktops, highways and freeways of America.
“Anderson, in short, needs to reimagine and then remake Jean-Luc Godard‘s Weekend.
“The original 1967 film, an allegory about the breakdown of civilization illustrated by traffic jams, random violence and bloody car crashes, is regarded by some as Godard’s finest.
“I saw shots from Anderson’s Weekend in the dream, and that carefully choreographed, super-manicured visual quality he brings to each and every scene in his films would, I believe, work perfectly with a vision of death, anarchy and twisted metal on the road. The film was fully completed in the dream (I saw it in a small red screening room in Paris, sitting in a large velvet armchair), and it was great viewing.
“As I watched Anderson’s camera track along the highway and gaze at the flaming SUVs and scooters and bodies of Bill Murray, Natalie Portman, Anjelica Huston and Jason Schwartzman lying every which way I knew I was seeing a kind of genius. I was awestruck. Only a madman would have made such a film in the wake of The Darjeeling Limited, and I was filled with respect for Anderson’s artistic courage.
“I’m not saying Anderson’s Weekend would be commercial or even critically hailed. But after making such a film, Anderson would be free. He would no longer be the guy with the Dalmatian mice and the pet cobras and the velvet curtains and the characters lugging around specially-designed suitcases with all the Kinks and Rolling Stones and Nico songs on the soundtrack.”
Note: The earlier version of Castello Cavalcanti suffered from a flawed sound mix of some kind. The new version, updated an hour or two ago, corrects the flaw.