Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater –prominent writer/directors, Texas natives (both have roots in Houston) and coincidentally my two favorite humans. Their latest films were nominated for Best Motion Picture this year and, delving further, their careers have evolved at very similar rates, humbly paving the quaint dirt road that was the indie film scene in the ‘90s with Slacker and Bottle Rocket. Onward, they transitioned to tastemakers, acquiring cult followings with Dazed and Confused and The Royal Tenenbaums. With each film Anderson and Linklater make, their toolbox gets a little bigger without compromising their eclectic and pridefully offbeat styles, one vastly different from the other, yet hauntingly similar. Which leads to the question, who does it better?
In past Face/Offs, we’ve pitted directors Anderson and Linklater against each other, comparing their very best films, their tried-and-true indie gems. This week we’re taking a slight departure from the directors’ most known work, to their little known work, or at least less known. In this final installment to pit Anderson against Linklater, we ask “Who does other stuff better?”
Battle 5: Their Other Stuff
Bar Luce, Milan
Austin Film Society Founder
Although both directors got their start in Texas, is seemed clear from each of their film styles, over time, who would expand their whimsy to other culturally rich, beautiful locations, and who would keep it close to home. Anderson’s cinematic symmetry and artful aesthetic have been topics discussed by film students incessantly, so it only seems natural that he go on to design a Milan cafe, Bar Luce, located inside the new Fondazione Prada complex. Fancy, very fancy. On the other hand, Linklater founded the Austin Film Society in 1985 as a way to root independent filmmaking into the city he’s used as a background to so many of his films. Today, Linklater continues to offer the Austin Film Society support, and frequently introduces films prior to screenings.
Winner: Linklater/ Austin Film Society
Hotel Chevalier, short film
Up to Speed, TV series
Starring Natalie Portman and Jason Schwartzman as f-ed up lovers, Hotel Chevalier is a short preface to Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited. Up to Speed is a biographical series on Hulu created by Linklater, in which tour guide Timothy Levitch visits little known monuments and artifacts. While Anderson’s short delves into the backstories of prominent characters in Darjeeling, Linklater’s knack for extracting oddities from the most interesting of persons can’t be overlooked.
Winner: Linklater/ Up to Speed
Stop-motion animation, Fantastic Mr. Fox
Rotoscope animation, Waking Life
Animation is not particularly either director’s forte, however both Anderson and Linklater have tried and succeeded in creating truly unique animated films. Anderson utilized retro stop-motion animation in Fantastic Mr. Fox, which complimented his trademark quirkiness pretty perfectly. In the existential Waking Life, Linklater uses rotoscoping to make for a trippy, talky jaunt through dreams and consciousness and pretty much everything that has to do with the meaning of life as we know it.
Winner: Anderson/ Fantastic Mr. Fox
Subjective Winner: Linklater Does Other Stuff Better
Join us next week for the next series of director showdowns and check out prior segments: