[Guest Blogger Mitch has a few things to say about the new Wes Anderson trailer.]
I'm always trying to tell people precisely what it is I like about Wes Anderson's movies and my friend Carla hit the nail on the head earlier today, when I posted the trailer for his new (stop-motion!) movie The Fantastic Mr. Fox on Facebook. There is a little scene where the Jason Schwartzman fox is getting ready for the caper and says, "I don't have a bandit hat, but I modified this tube sock."
The vocabulary of that one line alone perfectly sums Anderson up. First, there's the purposely-banal choice of "bandit hat" over the more exciting, but overused term "mask." To say he "modified" it implies a much funnier, more methodical process than simply cutting eye and mouth holes. This over-sophisticated phraseology, when paired with the image of the actually crudely cut sock tells us a lot of about how seriously Schwartman's character takes himself. (A fair criticism of Anderson would be that most of his characters speak in the same self-important jargon.) The joke obviously hangs on it being a "tube sock," because "sock" alone wouldn't be enough to hammer this dichotomy home.
The Meryl Streep fox also has a great, overly verbose line: "If what I think is happening is happening... it better not be." This is one of Anderson's favorite tricks -- telegraphing a familiar, cliche line structure and then sabotaging it with something far more potent. Another example of this is Dennis the Menace's line in Rushmore: "With friends like you, Max... who needs friends?"
I'm still looking for the perfect phrase to characterize Anderson's style, though. "Surprising Banality?" "Poetic Banality?" Any ideas?
[And as someone commenting on your facebook pointed out, the tube sock line is followed by "You look good" -- "Yeah. I do." That is kind of wonderful because it is delivered with a childlike unconsciousness of ego, just a statement of fact, which is adorable.]