Katie Rife: I’m already ducking from all the tomatoes that are going to be thrown my way for this, but I fell out of love with Wes Anderson after The Life Aquatic. I’m not saying he’s not a good director—the artistry is obviously there—or that he hasn’t created a signature visual style. But where many find his genteel quirkiness endlessly charming, I find it irritating, mostly because the novelty of his visual motifs wore off for me a while ago. (Another fetishistic tableau of perfectly symmetrical everyday objects? How whimsical.) And yes, I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Ralph Fiennes was really good in that movie, and it did deserve to win the Oscar for production design. Like I said, I appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into it. But can you imagine sharing an office with Wes Anderson? He’d spend half the day sharpening the pencils on his desk so they lined up just so. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
Mike Vago took on a similarly beloved director:
In 2007, cineastes everywhere were in a heated debate over which great American filmmaker(s) had delivered the bigger masterpiece: No Country For Old Men, or There Will Be Blood? For me, the choice was easy. I’ll go see anything the Coen brothers do as long as they’re making movies, but for the life of me, I can’t stand Paul Thomas Anderson. I did like Boogie Nights, but not as much as the critical consensus. It was a collection of scenes—some of them fantastic, mind you—but it never quite held together as a whole. And then there’s Magnolia. He opens the film with a meditation on stunning coincidences, to prime us for a film without a single coincidence. There’s no one to root for, as Anderson seems to hate all of his characters. Every single woman in the film is shrill and hysterical in every scene, as if he decided coked-up Julianne Moore from Boogie Nights was how all women act all the time. And the plague of frogs was just plain stupid. I did intend to give the director another chance, but then he cast Adam Sandler in his next movie, and he lost me for good.
I don’t completely disagree with either of them. My favorite Paul Thomas Anderson movie is easily Boogie Nights, but I understand someone describing it as feeling more like a collection of brilliant scenes than a complete movie. And I always watch and intellectually appreciate Wes Anderson movies without actually engaging with any of it. I can still laugh at George Clooney in The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel, but Wes Anderson’s signature visual flourishes are always off-putting for me.
What about you? Are there are any giants of cinema you just don’t get? Or super popular, critical beloved film/shows? Are you a Mad Men hater? Do you not get why everyone seems to have gradually agreed that The Shawshank Redemption is a classic? If so, I’ll tell you why – it’s because it’s awesome, and I won’t hear anyone who says otherwise. For shame! Andy + Red forever!
Well, that got out of hand really fast. I’ll be more civil in the comments if you let me know which pop culture golden goose you just can’t get into.