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Wes Anderson's 5 Best Commercials

by Jessica Kiang
May 1, 2013 12:13 PM
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There are, apparently, people in the world who don't like the movies of Wes Anderson, who turns 44 today. Of course that's fine and everyone's entitled their opinions blah blah blah, but we're unapologetic apologists for the quirky formalism of the director, even if we end up inevitably having to use one of our most despised words -- "quirky" -- to describe it. But there are other words we use, like "charming" and "stylised," which are constantly countered by detractors with things like "precious" and "twee." And yes, his style is so mannered that it walks that line, but to our mind generally the surprise of Anderson's films is, despite the fetishizable costuming and set design and despite the controlled palettes and contorted dialogue, just how deeply felt they can be -- this never more in evidence than with last year's winning and winsome "Moonrise Kingdom."

So of course we're eagerly anticipating Anderson's next feature, "The Grand Budapest Hotel," which may still be in the frame for a possible Oscar-qualifying late-2013 release. But for those who find the meticulous frame compositions and retro styling just too much over the course of a two-hour film, there is still a way to get a little Anderson in your day. While hardly as prolific in this regard as frequent collaborator Roman Coppola, Anderson does occasionally turn his hand to commercials with usually unmistakably Anderson-ian results -- but over the course of just 30 seconds to a couple of minutes max. To celebrate the director's birthday, we've picked out five of his best, which serve as a good primer for anyone not familiar with the director's work or anyone thinking of coming over from the hater darkside.

Naysayers, get ready to roll your eyes and snark "hipster" under your breath repeatedly. The rest of us are gonna slick on some black eyeliner and make sure our socks are pulled up spirit-level-even to just below the knee and dive into Wes Anderson's 5 best commercials.

5. Stella Artois "Apartomatic" (2010)
Co-directed with Roman Coppola and heavily influenced by his peccadillo for 60s retro-futurism, this Stella ad does not, perhaps, have quite the soul that Anderson can bring nor that other Stella ads have achieved. What it does have, though, is a girl who looks very like a grown up version of Suzy from "Moonrise Kingdom" getting trapped in a super-mechanized, droolworthy apartment and being apparently instantly forgotten about once the bachelor whose pad it is claps eyes on his Stella Artois.

4. Hyundai Azera "Modern Life" (2012)
Anderson directed two commercials for the Hyundai Azera, and despite the loving nods to "The Life Aquatic" and "Fantastic Mr Fox" in the "Talk To Your Car" execution (see below), we're actually giving the coveted number 4 spot to "Modern Life." Aside from it being a nice, simple idea for a commercial, it features one of our favorite things: when Wes Anderson, whose instinct is for aesthetic control and symmetry, does "chaos." And so the kitchen scene is a wonderful tableau of odd, frenetic details, like the baby in the cupboard, the robot in the fridge, the flying helicopter and the kid in the Maurice Sendak-esque headgear playing drums.

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More: Wes Anderson, Features, Feature

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  • B.S. Wise | July 1, 2013 6:12 PMReply

    Gee whiz, I had not seen that amex commercial, and it was indeed a swell treat. I'll say, if you enjoy movies about fond and skewed looks at filmmaking itself, that are simultaneously a send-up and a celebration of the process, and you've never seen François Truffaut's masterpiece Day for Night / La Nuit Américaine, on which this riffs, an even greater treat awaits you.

  • B.S. Wise | July 1, 2013 6:18 PM

    hmm... that didn't come out quite right- once more without the accents:

    Francois Truffaut's "Day for Night" / "La nuit americaine"

  • Sancar Seckiner | June 15, 2013 12:23 AMReply

    Anderson is real talent in the independent American cinema.

  • Me | May 13, 2013 5:31 PMReply

    The word surprise needed translating?

  • Wes Anderson | May 10, 2013 1:24 PMReply

    You said 5 best commercials and there were like 25.

  • Stephen B | May 4, 2013 12:35 AMReply

    The American Express one is so good because it's highly reminiscent of Rushmore (still Anderson's best, IMHO).

  • James | May 1, 2013 3:42 PMReply

    He's not a one-trick pony or a hack, but my god they dude have zero range. You know exactly what to expect each time out, not unlike Marvel.

  • ok | May 3, 2013 5:28 PM


  • Christian | May 1, 2013 1:11 PMReply

    This was awesome! You need to do a Spike Jonze one, or a Fincher one.

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