Ever since I saw The Royal Tenenbaums in a deserted cinema on opening weekend, I have been to see every Wes Anderson movie whenever it opened – it is my Christmas morning. I’ve owned the Team Zissou red cap and intern t-shirt, the hardback Wes Anderson art work books and frequently wax lyrical about his use of colour schemes. So when I found myself in London with a night to spare, I discovered the geek mecca that is The Prince Charles Cinema was doing a Wes Ander-thon on September 30th.
Blowing off getting a hotel for the night, I opted to pack a pair of sweatpants, Pringles and my toothbrush into my backpack and sit down to watch all eight Wes Anderson movies from 9pm on a Saturday to 11:50am the next day. So here are my diary recollections of a remarkable evening…
It’s about 8:20pm in Central London and having been up since 5:00 to travel down to London to attend Casino Royale in Concert, I’m getting in line for the event feeling shattered and like I’ve already sat through the whole thing! I’m surprised how many people are giving up their Saturday night, many of them on their own or as couples, to take on the challenge.
When we get into the huge Screen One, I move around three or four times trying to work out the best tactical spot for my neck, my comfort and my viewing position – I must’ve looked like I had ants in my pants! I changed into my sweatpants and bunkered down for the night ahead. The cinema was packed, there was a buzz around the screen and we were good to go!
Bottle Rocket (9:10pm)
Before diving into our Wes Anderson odyssey, we watched the original black and white short by Owen Wilson and Anderson that laid the groundwork for Bottle Rocket, his first feature, and it certainly gave us a ground zero for the journey through his career we were embarking upon.
Bottle Rocket is one of the Anderson’s movies I’ve watched least and I enjoyed finally seeing it on a big screen, finding it to be one of his most underrated movies. It certainly feels more like a generic quirky indie comedy of the 90’s than the refined Wes Anderson movies to come but Owen Wilson delivers such a strong and at times touching comedy performance.
Wes Anderson Begins as Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman join the Anderson players and here begins his focus on character movies, from working class Texans to the East Coast elite characters that will become a staple of his movies to come.
Rushmore kickstarts the run of three five star movies for me and I’m getting my second wind for the day, ready for the six hour high that’ll keep me wide awake as I watch some of my favourite movies back to back. The laughs keep coming in Rushmore and the cringe inducing Max Fisher played perfectly by Schwartzman, who is one of the best characters that Wes Anderson has ever created.
The Royal Tenenbaums (00:50am)
My favourite Wes Anderson movie and what feels like the purest of his vision and style, featuring more actors that will become regulars of his pictures. The Royal Tenenbaums was an absolute joy to watch again, especially on the big screen.
My long day is starting to catch up with me and I find myself dozing off for a few minutes. I watched this movie back in 2002 in an empty cinema and to be here fifteen years later surrounded by so many fans and at this special event felt significant to me. It felt like physical proof of how far his popularity and appeal has come since. Three movies in and the crowd thins out a lot after this one – let’s face it, for £20 and those three movies it’s still good value!
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (02:55)
After watching a ten minute reel of adverts by Wes Anderson, then it’s into my most anticipated movie of the the night, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. This is the last of his movies that I haven’t seen in the cinema before, and immediately I’m struck with how well the design and so many of the scenes lend themselves to a big screen.
I remember getting The Life Aquatic on import DVD and being disappointed on first watch, but repeat viewings have turned that over time to love. Sadly, amidst my watch, tragedy strikes! I fall asleep for nearly the final hour of the movie and only wake to catch the cast walking along the pier to David Bowie’s ‘Queen Bitch’ as the cast credits roll. I was so excited to see the Jaguar Shark encounter on a cinema screen as Sigur Ros beautifully played, but my long day and lack of sleep has caught up with me and sadly denied me this moment.
The Darjeeling Limited & Hotel Chevalier (04:55)
This was the movie I had hoped to catch some tactical sleep during. I have only ever watched The Darjeeling Limited once and that was opening weekend in 2007. I just could never find the enthusiasm to watch this one again after being so bored and disappointed.
The Lucozade running through my blood and the hours worth of sleep I sadly got during The Life Aquatic has given me a bounce of energy that’ll see me through until the end but it doesn’t extend to excitement for this movie. Despite some nice moments, this one never connects and ultimately I think it comes down to just very bland characters – unthinkable for a Wes Anderson feature.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (06:45)
When this stop-motion movie was announced, I was so convinced that it would be perfect, that the world of Roald Dahl with a Wes Anderson infusion would magically come to life – and I wasn’t disappointed!
Fantastic Mr Fox was one of my favourite books as a child, I got it for free with a bag of tea as a kid and to see Anderson bring it to life with such beautiful attention to detail, a great voice cast and all the staples of his movies led to one of the best family movies in decades. I’ve rarely spent the early hours of a Sunday morning happier and it’s the perfect way to kick off the home run into the final stretch of the marathon.
Moonrise Kingdom (08:18)
I have an awkward history with Moonrise Kingdom and I was happy to watch it again for only the second time at this sort of event – it’s felt a long time coming!
Before I went to see this on opening weekend in 2012, I had received a phone call from my mother than my grandmother had suffered from a stroke. I lived on the other side of the country and asked if i needed to return home to be with my family or help but there was nothing I could do. I was just encouraged to go have some fun and carry on as usual. I spent most of the movie crying in the darkness thinking about my grandmother and rarely focused on the movie. I came out of the movie sad and not having connected with what proved to be Wes Anderson’s most accessible movie to date.
I owned the Blu-Ray but just couldn’t find it in myself to watch it, always thinking of that day. When the lights went down again on Sunday morning, I was able to enjoy the movie and the sorrow was far from my head, whether through time or fatigue. I was happy to watch the movie and think about it objectively. My feelings didn’t really wildly change on this one – I respect it due to the strength of performance of the child actors, Edward Norton is a perfect fit in the Wes Anderson players and it holds some really good moments and laughs, but it’s not one that connects like much of his other work.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (10:08)
There was a buzz around the cinema by this point – we were at the final movie of the night/day/whatever by this point and it was a real high to go out on! The Grand Budapest Hotel is a return to the Wes Anderson creative choices and tropes that we all associate with him and, if you’re a fan, love!
I felt tired, my body smelled stale and my skin felt pretty awful – all that chocolate to keep me awake and the chronic lack of sleep probably meant a bottle of Clearsil was needed. The Grand Budapest Hotel was fresh in my mind and it remains such a heartwarming tale. Ralph Fiennes as Gustave was the perfect mix of comedy and pathos, topping off a film of pure sugar that was the perfect boost to get through the final two hours. Fiennes’ performance delivers one of the best characters Anderson has ever written and in time will surely be recognised as one of the greats in cinema.
It was just shy of 12:00pm and the fresh air and blinding light of London after the event was just perfect – it felt like I was leaving a long haul flight and I just savoured the moment. The Prince Charles Cinema always take a survivor photo after their all nighters but when I heard it was going to be 10 minute wait, I just couldn’t wait. The idea of a brunch and a big cup of tea nearby had got me through the last few hours and was my priority.
It really was the perfect way watch one of your favourite filmmakers works, seeing them all on the screen, picking up all the small nuances that passed you by and watching someone grow and develop like Wes Anderson – a marathon like this is the perfect way to do it. The PCC and their staff who work through the night to put on these smooth running and perfect events deserve all the plaudits, they deliver every time and once again provided me and many others with a truly special night.
Are you a fan of Wes Anderson? Ever been to one of the Prince Charles Cinema all nighters in London? Let us know!