The Northwest Film Center will be hosting a Wes Anderson screening series from July 12 to August 31 at the Whitsell Auditorium. The series, Wes’s World, will afford a rare glimpse into the expansive and realized worlds of Anderson’s films, paired with the opportunity to examine the films that have inspired his body of work.
Though never quite inaugurated into the mainstream film industry, Anderson has been capturing the imagination of moviegoers for years with his nose for nostalgia, passion for palettes and human stories. Anderson’s fan base is especially widespread in Portland, evidenced by the success of his latest film The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), which frequently sold out at Cinema 21.
“There are some pretty big Wes Anderson fans kicking around the Northwest Film Center,” said Nick Bruno, publicity and promotions manager for the NWFC. “We knew that, if we wanted to draw people into a dark theater during the nicest months of the year, it was going to take something really spectacular to entice crowds.”
Each of Anderson’s films will be introduced by a guest critic from local Portland publications. Screenings of Anderson’s films will be paired with an “influence” film, films that inspired their creation, for five dollars more.
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004) will be introduced by Marc Mohan, film critic at The Oregonian, and screened alongside Jacques-Yves Costeau’s Voyage to the Edge of the World (1976) on August 8, and Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo (1982) on August 9.
Costeau may be an obvious choice; he was the inspiration for the character Steve Zissou and many of the events in Anderson’s film echo what ultimately transpires in Voyage to the Edge of the World. But how were the rest of the films included in the Wes’s World series deemed influential to specific entries in Anderson’s body of work?
“We did more than a small amount of research while programming the series,” Bruno said. “Many of the films were specifically mentioned by Wes in the many interviews that he’s given over the years.”
Bruno said other titles, like The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) or Brewster McCloud (1970), were picked to indicate Anderson’s debt to movements and particular makers from the past. Film critic Matt Zoller Seitz, whose book The Wes Anderson Collection was published last year, helped connect the dots when it came to King Kong’s (1933) influence on The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009).
Seitz, film critic and editor-in-chief of RogerEbert.com, will be introducing The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) on August 25. Diehard fans of Anderson’s work will not want to miss the opportunity to hear Seitz speak on what makes the acclaimed director tick and his lasting effects on the film world.
The NWFC also wants to explore Anderson’s methods, as well as what makes him such a skilled and cherished filmmaker.
“Like in all of his best work,” Bruno said, “Anderson really knows when to pause the action and give the audience the opportunity to see the characters process what they’re going through. I think that’s one of the best things about this series.”
Bruno said Portland will have an opportunity to reassess the films and, hopefully, get turned on to a new universe of influences.
“Overall it’s an incredible opportunity for us to showcase some really incredible films in a context other than how they might usually be presented,” Bruno said. “It’s my hope that folks will come for the Wes Anderson films and, perhaps, discover something beautiful and new.”