- Wes Anderson’s much ballyhooed debut is neither a top 10 film of the decade (I don’t even have it in the top 10 of 1996) like Scorsese picked it as, nor is it the unarchivable yet admirable miss Ebert says it is (though he admitted in 1996 he was excited for what Anderson would be doing next)
- It feels off-handed yet confident—full of what would come to be Anderson’s deadpan humor (though his visual style and work in mise-en-scene would steadily increase in future decades). It’s charming and light
- Great one-liners galore like “Bob gets the spirit award” and “the Lawn Wranglers” that fit fine in some broader comedy
- It’s nowhere near as rigorous as future films but even here Anderson shows characters possessions in one by one close-up montage instead of adorned on them in action like a normal film
- Anderson is all about plans, structure, organization and formal order- here- even in the first 4 minutes we have Owen Wilson’s character with a notebook outlining a fastidiously detailed 5 year to 50 year plan
- Upon this viewing (probably my 7th) a quick moment where Luke Wilson notices his old toy soldiers and how one is out of order and he fixes it—this caught my eye- especially with Anderson having another stop-motion film coming soon
- The yellow jumpsuits are great and would lead to more detailed (and beautiful) costume work- clearly part of Anderson’s strong suit which goes beyond twee and quirky into crucial elements of mise-en-scene and film décor
- The foiled robbery finale is uproarious
- Anderson here is clearly experimenting with slow-motion photography. The finale at the jail is great with Wilson but just before that there is a really choppy use of it on Caan
- Great shot of the 4 men shooting guns layered throughout the frame
- The “2000 Man” by Rolling Stones usage is great. You combine that with the slow-motion work we have some clear markers of Scorsese/Mean Streets in particular
- Recommend but not in the top 10 of 1996
Roger Ebert’s reviews can’t be trusted.He gave Bottle Rocket 2 stars,A Bridge Too Far 2 stars,The Countdown(1967) 2 stars three films that you have in the archives.He gave reflections in a golden eye 4 stars a film that you don’t have in the archives.Do you think Reflections in a Golden Eye is better than these three films?Certainly I don’t think so.Jeffrey M Anderson is a better critic.
Roger Ebert is one of the greatest mainstream American film critics of all time. No one gets everything right, but let’s not be ridiculous.
@anderson. I agree with Matt Harris. Roger Ebert is THE greatest film critic of all time (I don’t think it’s close either)and one of the best film writers/reviewers too. He was always willing to re watch films to form a better opinion and he changed a lot of his reviews and opinions too.
There is no other critic who rated movies as accurately as Roger Ebert did. There’s a reason why Ebert is the only critic to receive a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.
He is the most well known that’s why he got awards.He gave so many good films bad reviews.Batman(1989) 2 stars,A Few Good Men 2 and half stars,The Crucible 2 stars,Reservoir Dogs 2 and half stars,Fight Club 2 stars,Cinderella Liberty 2 stars,A bridge too far 2 stars,Gardens of stone 2 and half stars,Bottle Rocket 2 stars,Countdown(1967) 2 stars,Color of money 2 and half stars,Romeo Juliet(1996) 2 stars and so on.He is a great critic but there is plenty of times he got it wrong.The reviews on Fight Club and Reservoir Dogs sucks.Meanwhile I have never seen Jeffrey M Anderson give a bad review to a good movie.He is the better critic for me.
Ebert also correctly ranked so many movies (much more than he ranked wrongly).
@Anderson– https://www.combustiblecelluloid.com/classic/seventhseal.shtml 2.5 stars from Jeffrey Anderson on The Seventh Seal
everybody misses. Ebert whiffed on Blue Velvet too. I do love that Ebert would go back and reevaluate when he got it wrong. It is inspiring. I try not to let my own stubbornness get in the way when I whiff on a movie or filmmaker.
Well the reason I put in those qualifiers is that it depends how you define your terms. For instance, I think Andre Bazin is the most important critic of all time and wrote better than anyone about what cinema is and how it functions as an artform. And then strictly on the basis of evaluation I’d say Peter Travers is more accurate than Ebert (though he isn’t half the writer). Still, as a weekly reviewer in the popular press, no one has a career that can stand up to Ebert’s.
@Matt Harris I agree.
What do you think about the Siskel and Ebert show? I love reading Ebert’s reviews (he was a brilliant writer) and I also love watching episodes of the Siskel and Ebert show because Ebert was so passionate about film.
@Matt Harris As someone who has only encountered Bazin’s work through second-hand references, do you have any suggestions for starting points on his writing? Does he have a seminal essay, review or book worth highlighting?
Has Owen Wilson ever been better than he is here?
I think Owen is in 5 Wes Anderson films and Inherent Vice as well. Of all of his archivable films is this his best ever performance?
@Malith- I believe I have nine Owen Wilson films in the archives not counting vocal work- below— if forced to pick I’m not sure he’s been better than he is as Eli Cash in Tenenbaums
1996- Bottle Rocket
1997- As Good As It Gets
2001- The Royal Tenenbaums
2004- The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
2005- Wedding Crashers
2007- The Darjeeling Limited
2011- Midnight in Paris
2014- Inherent Vice
2014- The Grand Budapest Hotel
But he isn’t in As Good As It Gets I believe. So doesn’t his photograph appearance in Rushmore count?
@Malith- strange- you’re right- I’ll remove As Good As It Gets- producer it looks like, I thought it was some tiny role I didn’t remember. I do not believe he is in Rushmore, no.
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