P.S. Subtract 5 views from the view count because that was just me checking for views (because there weren’t any). Also, I liked my own video because of course I did.

The Wacky & Wonderful Worlds of Wes Anderson

Oh, hi. I didn’t see you there. I still don’t because that would be creepy.

For this assignment I had to pick a topic of passion and research it on an online database (which had a lot of technical issues by the way). I wanted to talk about something to do with movies, but many topics were way too broad, and the sources covering them were way too long to read. I couldn’t find much information on some directors, but eventually I decided to talk about director Wes Anderson (in full: Wesley Wales Anderson) in celebration of the release of his latest movie, The French Dispatch, after its prolonged postponement due to the pandemic. 

Inside the music of Wes Anderson's 'The French Dispatch' - Los Angeles Times
Timothée Chalamet and Lyna Khoudri in “The French Dispatch.”

In total, Anderson has directed, written, and mostly produced 10 films, including 2 stop-motion animated features (Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs). He’s done a few commercials on the side as well. He was born in 1969 in Houston, Texas.

Wes Anderson is Reportedly Shooting a New Film in Spain This Summer
Pretty good for 52, I’d say.

His movies are known for their immaculate and unique visual style revolving around colours and symmetry (and the font Futura). They have been described as looking like dollhouses. 

Film Masters: Wes Anderson - Tricyclical
The Belafonte from “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” really is like a giant doll house.

It makes you wonder what’s going inside his head to come up with these films. Luckily, an interview for Time Magazine tells us a bit about this thought process.  

Wes Anderson movies tend to have a vintage look. Anderson likes to shoot on film, and a lot of his movies are set in time periods. He changes around aspect ratios based on the era and uses classic hit songs. And though Anderson’s films aren’t all for kids, they are often seen as having a sort of childlike whimsy and fun, contributing to a sense of nostalgia. Isle of Dogs feels nostalgic, and it’s literally set in the future. 

Otok pasa' Wes Anderson ne voli mačke, a izgleda ni Japance - tportal
One of many masterfully crafted shots in “Isle of Dogs.”

In this interview we learn a bit about why Anderson’s films contain this aspect. 

When location-scouting for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson saw many grand hotels that he eventually used as inspiration for his set built upon an abandoned German department store. Looking back on all of the once grand buildings of the 30s, he says “It’s hard not to sometimes feel like, what a drag. We had something great here. Most places have changed radically. It is usually for the worse, a bit.”

Behind the Scenes: Grand Budapest Hotel - Dwell
Inside the Grand Budapest Hotel.

In the end though, Wes Anderson’s style doesn’t come from hard rules. He’s just doing what he likes by instinct. Production designer and frequent collaborator Adam Stockhausen says “In a funny way, I still don’t really know what a Wes Anderson movie looks like. It really is from scratch each time. There are no magic decoder rings. It’s not a formula.” 

Wes Anderson may not always know exactly what he’s doing, but he always knows exactly how to do it. Owen Wilson (Anderson’s friend and collaborator for over 30 years [and the voice of Lightning McQueen]) compares him to a ship’s captain. He says “with Wes, you know he’s definitely steering the ship and doing exactly what he thinks is best for the movie.” 

Speaking of Owen Wilson, aside from the incredible visuals, Wes Anderson’s films are worth a watch for their star-studded casts. Despite Anderson having seemingly very specific visions for his works, he is very much a team worker. “It’s a collaboration,” he says. “[Costume designer] Milena Canonero and [composer] Alexandre Desplat and these actors and all these voices … You cannot end up with the same thing if you change those names and keep mine.” This is likely why Anderson attracts so many A-listers to come back to his movies and has a large group of frequent collaborators.

The Grand Budapest Hotel Trailer and Poster
Just some of the cast of “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Also of note is cinematographer Robert Yeoman and screenwriters Roman Coppola and Noah Baumbach (Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman also co-wrote a few movies). 

Tony Revolori, whose debut was in Grand Budapest, says working with Anderson is “a bit like he makes a tailored suit, and he makes it exactly the way he would like it, then finds someone to fit it. When you put it on, you’re able to walk wherever you want with this great suit.” 

Ultimately, while Wes Anderson’s films aren’t for everyone, he’s undeniably a very talented, precise man, and a good coworker, and I would certainly recommend you give his movies a watch. 

The Grand Budapest Hotel – film review | Financial Times
Tony Revolori and Saoirse Ronan in “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” (I seem to use this film as an example a lot, but it really is one of Anderson’s most beautiful works.)

Break the Fake Part 2: Detective Boogaloo

Are mermaids real!!?? (Of course they aren’t; don’t be ridiculous.)

It was snowing. The kind of snow which reminded you that Christmas was coming. But I, Edgar, private eye, wasn’t feeling very merry. The only present I was getting was the present, and presently I was clueless on my latest case. It’s not that I couldn’t find any clues, but I had a bad case of not finding a case.

The clock was ticking like a bomb. A single lunch period was all I had left to finish my assignment, and I was wasting it on pretending to be a detective.

I did technically have one case, but alas, the case required me to find another case. A case within a case. I’ll cut to the chase.

My assignment? To break the fake. I was asked to shine a little more truth on this world of shadows and deceit by finding an article or video which needed to be verified as true or false.

I searched around for a long while, and finally, after perusing random piles of posts everywhere I could look, I found a Reddit post asking about whether a video on YouTube about mermaids was real or not. I had my case at last, and I was going to crack it better than my eggs in foods class (but really, egg shells are a good source of calcium, so I don’t think it was that big a deal).

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.

The video showed a submarine in the Greenland Sea bumping into a supposed mermaid’s hand, and it claimed that the government halted new oil drilling licenses in Greenland because of this. It was an excerpt from the documentary Mermaids: The New Evidence, posted by the Animal Planet YouTube channel in 2013. (I am aware that this content isn’t current, but the repost was recent, and the top comments on the video were almost all no older than a year. Often, this is how misinformation circulates; rehashing and recycling old content with a new coat of paint.)

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.Animal Planet is part of Discovery, which is quite well known. The YouTube channel was indeed verified and had 5.25 million subscribers. The video itself had nearly 8.5 million views and 60,000 likes. From my experience, 60,000 likes is a smaller number for a video with so many millions of views, so if there were many dislikes, it could be a clue that something was wrong with the video. Too bad YouTube just decided to remove dislikes from every video in existence. Anyway, I took a look at the comments instead. I scrolled through for quite a length of time, but I couldn’t find anything suggesting the video to be fake.

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.
Yes, I am using dark mode for the internet. I also use it for all Microsoft applications. For some reason that seems to offend some people.

I did a Google search of the Discovery Channel, and it turns out that though they make real nature documentaries, they also make many fake documentaries, using their public image as leverage for views.

I wanted to dive deeper into this documentary, so I went and checked Snopes, a well-regarded fact-checking website, to see what they had to say. Mermaids: The New Evidence was not on Snopes, but I learned it was a follow-up to Mermaids: The Body Found (2011). This documentary was deemed false.

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.Looking again at the Animal Planet Channel, there was an excerpt from the first (and much less grounded) documentary with CGI mermaids attacked by a CGI shark, and most of the comments acknowledged it was nothing but a mockumentary; not meant to be taken seriously, but it was taken so by some nonetheless. It seemed doubtful that the creators of a fake documentary would suddenly decide to do everything for real in its sequel.

Oh. You can't see the image. Lucky you.
Don’t look into the mermaid’s eyes . . . You looked, didn’t you? Now this image will be forever burned into your brain. Why does it haunt you? Why does it send shivers through your scared soul? And if you aren’t scared, oh, you should be. You should be.

Still, I wanted solid evidence against this particular documentary. So, I did a Google search, using keywords like “Animal Planet,” “mermaid,” and “fake.”

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.

The articles I saw all addressed both documentaries as being fake, and many of them were by reliable sources like the L.A. Times.

Furthermore, I looked at the IMDb (International Movie Database) page for the documentary, and it led me to learn that the supposed Dr. Paul Robertson was actually played by an actor by the name of David Evans.

Oh. You can't see the image. Well, this is awkward.

And with that, the case was closed, and the case within the case as well. But the case was also cracked, so when I tried to close it, it kind of crumpled into a mess.