Thank you for the emails. And the cards. And the well wishes. And the sympathy. And the flowers. And the balloons. And the pies. And the vats of chili. And the…
22 teams have gone up 2 games to 0 in a best of five series in National League history. The first 21 teams to do so all went on to win their respective series. The 22nd team? My beloved Cincinnati Reds? Not so much.
But I’ve moved on with my life. Sure, it took a while. There may or may not have been a few days where I spent the majority of the time in sweatpants on my couch drinking orange juice straight out of the carton. That’s not important. What’s important is that I made it through. I’ve accepted my fate. And my anxiety levels have returned to normal. (I was a mess during the NLDS and I can’t imagine what I would have been like during the NLCS or World Series. That’s the thing about being a Reds fan, years of losing do not emotionally prepare you for meaningful baseball games.)
The end of the baseball season signifies the start of the television and movie season for me. I swear off sports until Opening Day and gorge myself on all the programs and films that I’ve missed over the last six months. I have a long list of things to catch up on and the fates were kind – first up on the docket was Moonrise Kingdom, the new Wes Anderson movie that was released last Tuesday.
One problem – evidently I’m not the only huge Wes Anderson fan in St. Joseph County. I couldn’t get my hands on a copy of Moonrise Kingdom. No! Back to the sweatpants and the couch and the orange juice! (Tropicana is going to have some pretty impressive South Bend sales in the month of October.)
Instead I decided to re-watch Anderson’s other films – from 1998’s Bottle Rocket to 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox – and rank them from 1 to 6. I know, I know. I make top fives, not top sixes. But cut me some slack. I’m wounded! I need this! As always, click on any of the movie titles to check on their availability at SJCPL.
6. The Life Aquatic w/ Steve Zissou (2004)
The word I most often hear when referring to The Life Aquatic is “whimsical.” I prefer the word “boring.” I want to like it. I really, really do. And when the movie is over and I’ve slept through the last thirty or so minutes I always feel ashamed. “It’s not you Life Aquatic, it’s me. Maybe we should just see other people.” There are some funny parts and some of the cinematography and set designs are bizarrely beautiful, but all in all the movie is the Wes Anderson equivalent of swinging through a hanging breaking ball with two on and two out in the 9th to end a hypothetical NLDS – or what I like to call, “Pulling a Scott Rolen.”
5. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Just about every other big Wes Anderson fan I know rates Tenenbaums as their favorite. When I tell them that it barely cracks my top five they usually throw fruit and vegetables at me. (Note to self: Stop telling people that I don’t really care for Tenenbaums while at the farmers market.)
While I never was a big Tenebaums fan (Wrong place? Wrong time? Again, I immediately assume that it’s something wrong with me. Maybe my expectations too high after Rushmore.), I would like to take a moment and recognize Owen Wilson. Wilson co-wrote The Royal Tenenbaums. He also co-wrote Rushmore and Bottle Rocket. That begs the question: Is Owen Wilson underappreciated? Yes, he’s made some truly awful films (I’m looking at you You, Me, and Dupree. And don’t run off Drillbit Taylor. You’re next.) But he’s also made several great films. Quick, off the top of my head Top Five Owen Wilson Non-Wes Anderson Directed Movies:
- Midnight in Paris (Great performance. Great movie.)
- Cars (I know it’s just a voice, but Lightning McQueen was the best talking car since Kit.)
- Anaconda (You know you secretly love it too.)
- Meet the Parents (Lost in the schlock of the remakes, the first one is pretty funny.)
- Zoolander (Not a cult fave for me but it has some very funny moments.)
Not bad, right? And I almost – almost – put Armageddon at 6. Have we reached the point where, as a society, we can formally recognize the awesomeness of Armageddon yet? Or am I just a bit too early?
4. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
The most common knock on Anderson is that his movies are all the same. Darjeeling was the tipping point for most critics (and a lot of fans) who complained that the movie was just filled with Anderson clichés. Family problems. Songs from 1960’s British bands. Fancy hats. The man had a schtick and he stuck to it. But is that a problem? No one criticizes Scorcese for making crime dramas. No one knocks Malick for making three hour exercises in tediousness. And what’s the magic number for that tipping point anyway? Is it five? So Life Aquatic was still “whimsical” but Limited was just lazy? Personally, I think Limited is an incredibly warm film that approaches the normal Anderson clichés from a different angle. There’s more tenderness. More heart. And that last scene stays with you for a long, long time.
3. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
You have to watch Fantastic Mr. Fox twice – once for the story and then a second time for the sheer beauty of the film.
2. Bottle Rocket (1996)
I can vividly remember my friend Jay (aka the French folk hero Louis Jamon) stopping by my house unannounced one summer evening with a copy of Bottle Rocket and insisting that I stop whatever I was doing and watch it. I did and when it was over we rewound the tape (that’s right – tape!) and watched it again. Re-watching films these days just isn’t as dramatic as it was 15 years ago. Re-watching VCR tapes took effort! It took commitment! You had to wait 5 minutes for the thing to rewind. That’s plenty of time to change your mind. Nowadays you just hit a button and you’re good to go. Where’s the glory in that?
1. Rushmore (1998)
There is scene in Rushmore where Max (Jason Shwartzman) and Herman (Bill Murray) are riding in an elevator at a hospital, making small talk after not speaking to each other for weeks. Herman looks miserable. His life has fallen apart. He smokes two cigarettes at once, shotguns a diet coke can filled with whiskey, and then, as he’s walking out of the elevator, Max asks if he’s okay. Herman pauses, thinks for a second, and then deadpans, “Hmmmm…I’m a little bit lonely these days.” It’s an acting tour de force by Murray and my favorite scene in one of my favorite movies of all time.
I’m planning on watching Moonrise Kingdom tonight. I’ll let you know where it fits in the ranking soon. Until then, agree? Disagree? Let’s hear it.