Imaginary soundtrack for a Wes Anderson movie.

Photo still: Hotel Chevalier

Wes Anderson’s long withstanding obsession with mellow, baroque pop and british invasion bands is fascinating to me. I keep uncovering my new, old favorite song every time I see one of his movies. I even have a playlist dedicated to his films, filled with songs and artists I discovered thanks to him and a few more songs that I think would fit in his next hypothetical movie. I’ve no idea what his next movie will be about but I’ve been thinking that his mostly muted, awkward characters would develop grandly in a fast-paced environment. It could be an interesting contrast. How about a movie about a speed racer? Or better yet, a road movie? A film about the life of a motorcycle drifter and his dreams of finding someone and settling down. Keep that thought while listening to this playlist. Hope you enjoy.

It seems film directors are returning to the truths all pop music devotees have long tattoed to their heart: the collision of medium and man matters not, if it don’t sound good. In a recurring series tracing the links between movies and the pop music scores to which they owe so much, we’ll look at Wes Anderson’s ultra-stylized The Royal Tenenbaums and its mastery of the perfect pop music score. Film and cinema. Consider it a two-fer and settle in nice and close.

Pop culture fans tend to be self-mythologizers, building an odd nest out of the twigs and scraps of the movies and albums around them and claiming a place beyond themselves from the miasma that evolves. We force the arts into defining elements of ourselves, and copy and paste the way we might live up to them. Wes Anderson’s film is a masterwork of just this self-mythologizing. The grandiose characters—part cartoon-script and part Shakesperean tragedy—, the exaggerated costumes—from Mr. Sherman’s almost neon-blue jacket to Chas’s funereal black Adidas jumpsuit—and even Anderson’s Hitchcockian auteurism and its use of the same actors in widely-divergent roles links each movie to a larger awareness than any single film can lay claim to. Hints are given and fingers are pointed, but the links are there for the audience to follow at their choosing. Anderson rubs things smooth with his hyperstylized sets and costumes, but ultimately the film depends on pop music to connect itself to a world beyond its own colorful walls, and thus to blend the myth with the movie until there’s no longer any differentiating between the two.

- A kiss after supper: The Royal Tenenbaums by Derek Miller.

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Category: Folk, Pop, Rock

17 Responses

  1. Joel Shaver says:

    I don’t know how many friends I’ve lost by repeatedly quoting “Turtles Have Short Legs.”

  2. Moka says:

    It’s a song about how turtles have short regs that are not suitable for the walking. How can you not love that?

  3. melkur says:

    i’ve always thought that penguins are really uncomfortable. Felt sorry for them too.

  4. Moka says:

    “melkur says:
    March 1, 2012 at 3:37 am

    i’ve always thought that penguins are really uncomfortable. Felt sorry for them too.”


  5. amy says:

    This is a spot on playlist, now it makes me want to watch one of his films. Thanks for keeping the blog alive man. Much appreciated. <3

  6. man from another place says:

    you’ve come back.

  7. Gary says:

    In your post you say you have no idea about the next Wes Anderson film will be about… it’s already been announced. It’s called “Moonrise Kingdom” and there’s a trailer online:


  8. marnie says:

    Fantastic playlist, thank you!

  9. Joel Shaver says:

    There are two kinds of people in the world. Some appreciate well-formed and melodic observations on the limitations of turtles’ limbs, and some just don’t.

  10. jimmy moose says:

    brilliant list, spot on, perfect Anderson

  11. Gavin says:

    “Imaginary girl” makes me melancholic despite its upbeat sound.

  12. Gavin says:

    New ads (for Hyundai) directed by Wes Anderson.

  13. Tieme says:

    thanks a lot for this post!

  14. Kara says:

    Superb playlist!

  15. Ferdinand says:

    Great Mix Man! MoteldeMoka is living up….


  16. Same than you. And after I watched the short “Hotel Chevalier” I run to my guitar, and try something like that:

The song makes its imprint
in the air, making itself felt,
a felt world. Here, there,
the stunned silence

of knowing I will not remember
what I heard;

futures that will never happen,
a fluidity we cannot achieve
except as a child
creating possibility.

This is the untranslatable song
hidden in the earth.

-Untranslatable Song [1]