• Bottle Rocket

    By Martin Scorsese

    A couple of years ago, I watched a film called Bottle Rocket. I knew nothing about it, and the movie really took me by surprise. Here was a picture without a trace of cynicism, that obviously grew out of its director’s affection for his char­acters in particular and for people in general. A rarity. And the central idea of the film is so delicate, so human: a group of young guys think that their lives have to be filled with risk and danger in order to  be real. They don’t know that it’s okay simply to be who they are.

    Wes Anderson, at age thirty, has a very special kind of talent: he knows how to convey the simple joys and interactions between people so well and with such richness. This kind of sensibility is rare in movies. Leo McCarey, the director of Make Way for Tomorrow and The Awful Truth, comes to mind. And so does Jean Renoir. I remember seeing Renoir’s films as a child and immediately feeling connected to the characters through his love for them. It’s the same with Anderson. I’ve found myself going back and watching Bottle Rocket several times. I’m also very fond of his second film, Rushmore (1998)—it has the same tenderness, the same kind of grace. Both of them are very funny, but also very moving.

    Anderson has a fine sense of how music works against an image. There’s the beautiful ending of Rushmore, when Miss Cross removes Max Fischer’s glasses and gazes into the boy’s eyes—really the eyes of her dead husband—as the Faces’ “Ooh La La” plays on the soundtrack. And I also love the scene in Bottle Rocket when Owen Wilson’s character, Dignan, says, “They’ll never catch me, man, ’cause I’m fuckin’ innocent.” Then he runs off to save one of his partners in crime and gets captured by the police, over “2000 Man” by the Rolling Stones. He—and the music—are proclaiming who he really is: he’s not innocent in the eyes of the law, but he’s truly an innocent. For me, it’s a transcendent moment. And transcendent moments are in short supply these days.

    This tribute originally appeared in the March 2000 issue of Esquire.

2 comments

  • By Guy Budziak
    November 25, 2008
    09:50 PM

    I'm not a person who's much into comedies per se, but I love Wes Anderson's films. I'm glad that Scorsese finds Anderson's films moving, because unlike many if not most contemporary comedies his films have a special kind of heart. I can think of two other comedies I love for the same reason, Muriel's Wedding and Little Miss Sunshine. And I was delighted when I watched Bottle Rocket for the first time and heard those first few notes of acoustic guitar that open The Stones' "2000 Man", just as I got a thrill and a charge the first time I watched Mean Streets and heard the strumming of guitar that opened The Stones' "Tell Me". Both Wes and Marty have that in common, the way they use this wonderful music that has meant so much to us and weave it into their films.
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  • By Abishai Gangulee
    July 21, 2009
    05:34 PM

    Movies are motion pictures that stimulate and inspire. Movie posters invite us into the movie experience and remind us of it. "The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001) is a cross between Orson Welles' "The Magnificent Ambersons" (1942) and Billy Wilder's "Some Like it Hot" (1959). I like this review of the movie and the director Wes Anderson by the great Martin Scorsese ("Gangs of New York" - 2002). In some ways Anderson and Scorsese are similar, and I love movies, so it's fun watching the evolution of talent. We can't all be Orson Welles or Tim Burton, but perhaps we all have a little bit of "The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001) in us, a dramatic comedy about a family of geniuses.
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