Wes Anderson (left) and Quentin Tarantino (right) are two of Hollywood's
half-dozen or so auteurs under 50.
It’s odd to say because of how vastly different their output is, but it occurred to me recently that Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino have had eerily similar career archs.
If you count the Kill Bill saga as one film, both writer/directors have made seven full-length features that have defined them as modern day auteurs with idiosyncratic approaches that countless filmmakers have unsuccessfully tried to emulate.
Both emerged with ’90s indies and gained increasing acceptance through their first three films before backlash hit in the middle of their oeuvres. Many critics and fans took issue with the likes of Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, Death Proof, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and The Darjeeling Limited, basically inferring they were derivative “style over substance” trifles, while decrying each man for growing stagnant in their all-consuming quirks.
DiCaprio and Jackson also are afforded larger-than-life characters and they more than make their mark in transformative roles, despite being absent for the first two-thirds of the film. DiCaprio shows a different, more flamboyant side of his range, while
manages to keep Waltz at bay for the title of greatest Tarantino collaborator based on the sheer diversity of their collaborations alone. Jackson
By design, Foxx is given less to work with, as Django is rejiggered version of the badass of few words made famous by western luminaries like Clint Eastwood. He’s solid and projects the right amount of attitude, but it’s hard to deny that the life begins seeping out of the film once Schultz is out of the picture and Django takes center stage. A lot of that has to do with the minimal amount of investment put into his relationship with Broomhilda. She barely registers as more than a plot device, and the heart of the film is the bromance between Schultz and Django (Foxx’s delivery of expertly set up “Auf Wiedersehen” is a sweet coda to the relationship).
I greatly enjoyed the tone and pulpy aspects of Django but I felt it didn’t have half the momentum or development of Inglorious Basterds, and so it plays like a lesser version of a similar movie. That said, there’s so much to like here that it hardly matters it fails to reach such lofty heights.
Overall, I’m glad to see both Anderson and Tarantino back on top. I never understood the backlash against them, because I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want these men to make films that weren’t personal and drenched in their own eccentricities. While I admire filmmakers like Ron Howard who are almost invisible in their ability to craft diverse, four-quadrant movies with minimal overlapping distinctiveness, I don’t think we should be forcing specialists like
and Tarantino to stifle their artistic identifies. To me, it’d be like forcing Picasso or Salvador Dahli to paint classical art – an utter waste of individuality and talent. Anderson
Fortunately, that’s not the case with these two great filmmakers. Moonrise Kingdom A-, Django Unchained B+