This weekend at the Joseph Gross Gallery in New York City: the sixth in an apparently annual series of art exhibitions in tribute to director Wes Anderson. The show’s subtitle is “Bad Dads”:
Comprised of original painting and sculpture as well as a multitude of limited edition prints, ‘Bad Dads VI’ is a wide-ranging display of artistry from all over the world. Exhibiting a host of different styles and talents, each artist approaches their work with the same meticulous detail that Anderson approaches his. Drawing upon the stylized world that Anderson has set forth, each artist was free to choose their own film for subject matter, resulting in a spectacular range of character portraits, highly detailed environments and iconic themes and motifs, prominent in each of Anderson’s films.
Three years ago, before his most recent film, I wrote about Anderson’s previous release, “Moonrise Kingdom” in this blog post. In it, I lamented how paper thin its characters were, and I worried that Anderson had lost his way:
[‘Moonrise Kingdom’ is] ninety-four minutes of starvation if you’re hungry for any kind of substantial character development. The protagonists (and by the end, nearly everyone is a protagonist, undermining any real dramatic tension the plot had going for it) are little more than inventories of their scripted eccentricities…
This is perhaps how we should think of Anderson’s films from here on out: technical marvels engineered to show off endless quirk. That’s a legitimate credential; it’s just not the one I would have hoped for right after I saw [his breakthrough film] ‘Rushmore.’
I still can’t be bothered with “Moonrise Kingdom,” but I was pleasantly surprised by Anderson’s return to form with last year’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Where the former seemed to lack for even one fully rendered character, the latter is full of an almost electric comedic energy courtesy of the amazing Ralph Fiennes’s warm portrayal of M. Gustave, a creation worthy of “Rushmore”’s Max Fischer. “Grand Budapest” is as wonderful, thoughtful and rewarding film as “Moonrise” (and before it, “The Darjeeling Limited”) were not. I’ve watched it twice and I look forward to watching it again.