DFS series surveys Wes Anderson films

by Marley Marius | 3/31/14 4:15pm

This term, the Dartmouth Film Society presents audiences with “The Life Cinematic with Wes Anderson,” a series that surveys all eight of the esteemed director-screenwriter’s feature-length works. Anderson is known best for the meticulous and often whimsical quality of his work, the product of what New York Times critic A. O. Scott described as an “impish, ingenious and oddly practical imagination.” Employing devices such as stop-action animation, highly specific color palettes and an arsenal of repeat collaborators including Bill Murray and Owen Wilson, Anderson occupies a singular niche in American cinema.

Society members voted Anderson as the focus of their spring series at the end of fall term, Hopkins Center film manager Sydney Stowe said. In the past, DFS has organized 20-part film series on themes that ranged from famous villains to a study of realism and surrealism. After the success of their first nine-part series last summer, a Hitchcock retrospective, Stowe and DFS director Johanna Evans were encouraged to use the shorter format as a model for series.

The shift made the Hopkins Center’s film program more flexible, Stowe said. With the Hop’s funding coming in large part from ticket sales, Stowe said it is important to be able to show new and high-profile films such as “The Monuments Men” (2014), “Lone Survivor” (2013) and “Muppets Most Wanted” (2014), which tend to be consistently popular.

“We can do something obscure and interesting [for the series], and it’s only one-third of our program,” Stowe said. “The other two nights [each] weekend are for new movies.”

Kevin Patterson ’17, a member of DFS, said he looks forward to putting Anderson’s offbeat style on more students’ radars, adding that Anderson’s distinctive style lets viewers spot his films from “miles away.”

“I’m hoping that Wes Anderson [will] challenge the taste of that portion of the student body who hasn’t really had the opportunity to branch out in their film experiences,” Patterson said. “Anderson was one of the main reasons I began to love film, [and] I hope he will be the same for other students here as well.”

DFS member Katie Kilkenny ’14 said that Anderson is “like that neurotic friend who you find really endearing,” noting the filmmaker’s quirkiness and wit.

“[Anderson’s] cinema is really interactive with the audience,” Kilkenny said. “You’re constantly identifying all of these aesthetic tropes he uses and it’s just really fun.”

Evans said that Anderson “speaks to our generation” through his recurrent themes of apathy, bemusement with society and struggling to come of age.

Kilkenny, who considers “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009) her favorite Anderson film, said that stop-motion animation suits Anderson’s style.

“Animators are always creating an entire world, and Wes Anderson tries to do that in his live-action films as well,” Kilkenny said. “It’s just a really fantastic, funny, touching and mature film that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.”

The series opened this Sunday and will conclude May 25.

Kilkenny is a former member of The Dartmouth staff.