The Movie Bloggers Roundtable is a new feature where I join up with four esteemed movie bloggers and we share our thoughts on a certain subject. Everyone on the panel will share their thoughts and feelings on the topic of the day and then we share them with you. The panel may change from post to post and hopefully we will get a wide range of opinions and perspectives.
Today’s roundtable discussion is a simple one but also one that I find very intriguing. Both Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson have movies due out in 2014. Both have received praise for their very unique styles of storytelling. So today we are going to focus on these two top-tier filmmakers. Joining this roundtable is Charles from Cinematic Film Blog, Caitlin from Heart of Cinema, Josh from J.James Reviews, and Nostra from MyFilmviews. Now I can easily say that I LOVE THESE BLOGGERS and if you haven’t been frequenting their sites you should. So this week’s question is a simple one:
Paul Thomas Anderson or Wes Anderson?
Keith (Keith & the Movies)
There were many things that drew me to asking the question. For me, both Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson are clearly and unquestionably talented filmmakers. They each know their craft and whenever their names are attached to a project it deserves attention. That being said, the two couldn’t have more different styles. PT Anderson takes a more salty, unflinching, and sometimes downright dirty approach to storytelling. Many of his films combine a rawness and eloquence – a combination that would otherwise seem impossible. Characters play a big role in a PT Anderson film and while I don’t always care for them, he has a way of making them compelling. Unfortunately for me not all of PTA’s pictures work in every regard. Take his highly praised “The Master”. It is a film featuring three entrancing performances but the story itself sputters under the director’s indulgence. I see that in other PTA films as well.
Then there is Wes Anderson, a gutsy filmmaker with a dedication to his unique style that could be perceived as overindulgent itself. Personally I find Wes Anderson’s style and method of storytelling to not only be unique but refreshing. He is a rare filmmaker who can actually make funny movies, something that has become a rarity these days. But there are always reocurring themes, some of them fairly dark, that Wes Anderson is able to poetically meld with his offbeat humor. Then there is his visual style which shows itself in odd period designs, a fascinating color palette, and careful attention to detail. All of these things come together to form truly satisfying cinematic experiences that I look forward to each time they hit the big screen.
So Paul Thomas or Wes? The funny thing is my favorite movie from either of their filmographies is unquestionably the brilliant “There Will Be Blood”. But when it comes to the films they have made and their individual cinematic styles the choice for me is an easy one. Wes Anderson makes me laugh, he makes me think, and he always makes me love being a movie fan. He may never direct a $800 million summer blockbuster but that is fine with me. He makes movies that I care about and I’m always wondering what he has in store for us next.
Over the past two decades, few directors have created the impact in the movie world as the two Andersons (Paul Thomas and Wes). Both Andersons emerged in the mid-90s with big dreams set on filmmaking. Paul Thomas Anderson had gone to New York University to leave only after a few days after finding disgust with his film professors, deciding it was best to learn by himself. Wes attended the University of Texas where he met Owen Wilson, who co-wrote and starred in many of Wes’ projects. Paul and Wes’ first theatrical releases (Hard Eight and Bottle Rocket) came out around the same time (1996, though Hard Eight debuted at Cannes that year and entered screens in 1997). While neither picture was a box office hit, they helped launch both directors to greater funding for their sophomore projects. Paul Thomas Anderson’s follow-up to Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, a Martin Scorsese-Robert Altman-ish look at the adult film industry back in the 70s and 80s, brought the director to the film spotlight, with comparisons being made to GoodFellas and Short Cuts. Wes Anderson’s second picture, Rushmore, a coming of age story based on Wes’ and Wilson’s high school experiences, took a quirky look at teenage adolescence and became the template for the director’s future projects.
Since then, the two Andersons are certainly among the most influential people in contemporary cinema. Their style is so unique and just about impossible to imitate (how many filmmakers could make a picture in the same vein as There Will Be Blood or Moonrise Kingdom). While neither Anderson has received wide mainstream acceptance, both have proven themselves to be master directors.
While I’m a big fan of Wes Anderson and love the wildly idiosyncratic worlds he constructs, Paul Thomas Anderson would get my vote as the best filmmaker working today. Paul hasn’t made a single movie short of greatness and ambition. Even if you don’t like the unexpected climax of Magnolia or the dream-like pace of The Master, there’s no denial that Paul Thomas Anderson has put a hell lot of effort into his work. Wes has always been consistent as well and I will defend him to the edge (even The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which I think is criminally underrated), but his movies don’t quite stir me up emotionally as Paul Thomas Anderson’s work.
Caitlin (Heart of Cinema)
Josh (J.James Reviews)
So what is the consensus?
4 of 5 chose Wes Anderson over Paul Thomas Anderson
I want to thank Charles, Caitlin, Josh, and Nostra for participating in this second Movie Bloggers Roundtable. You have heard our thoughts, now we want to hear yours. Do you like the feature? More importantly, which of these two fantastic filmmakers do you prefer and why? I’m a bit surprised at the outcome. How about you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.