Wes Anderson signatures – precocious children, stylish neckwear, period settings, canary yellow, cute epistolary – have seeped into the work of a new spate of up-and-coming directors. It may not be always intended, but his influence isn’t difficult to spot. That’s not to call these relative newbies derivative. No, their work is wholly original; it stands on its own. And who are we kidding, Wes Anderson can never be replaced. These five new talents are still somewhat poised at Hollywood’s starting line – many with their debut features – but with their stylish cues, they already warrant comparison to the master of choreographed aesthetic, the man who pioneered visual elegance.
ALFONSO GOMEZ-REJON – ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL (2015)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is good. It’s good because it was made in Pittsburgh, because it surveys the high school experience in an original way and because it gives every other sentimentalist cancer film the cold shoulder (I’m looking at you TFIOS). This one’s hilarious – something you might not expect from the director who brought you genre horror The Town That Dreaded Sundown. Under-the-radar high schooler Greg (Thomas Mann) is forced to hang out with Rachel, a family friend who has just been diagnosed with cancer. They strike up an unlikely friendship which blossoms into cancer-mance. So where is the Anderson connection? Rachel’s attic room, with its birds-on-a-wire wallpaper and random tchotchkes, looks much like the Homebase version of The Grand Budapest Hotel.
JOHN MACLEAN – SLOW WEST (2015)
I went to see period neo-Western Slow West with a post-screening Q&A and, after the film was over, asked director John Maclean what he made of the comparisons to Wes Anderson. His reply? Something along the lines of an eye-roll and “I can’t see it myself.” So there’s one outlaw on this list who would rather dodge the Anderson parallels, thank you very much. But hey, when you describe your film as a “European road movie” with “fairytale” inflections that is “mostly about young love”, it’s difficult not to draw paralells between his debut feature and the entire catalogue of a director who makes that shit his bread and butter. Still, Maclean’s idea of a Western is seriously fun, with an amazing soundtrack by indie band Django Django.
BERTIE GILBERT – ROCKS THAT BLEED (2015)
Without question the freshest entry in the long line of potential Anderson successors, 18-year-old filmmaker Bertie Gilbert has already clocked some heavy accolades in his brief career. Namely, his latest short Rocks That Bleed was selected to take part in the BFI Future Film Festival. His gorgeously shot works call to mind the technicolor palettes of Anderson. Gilbert has already penned and directed six short features and his next –Blue Sushi – is due to release soon. Feeling a bit Margot from The Royal Tenenbaums?
MARIELLE HELLER – THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL (2015)
We can only hypothesise at how Anderson would treat the story of a teenager with a ravenous libido. The Diary of a Teenage Girl places underage sex under a magnifying glass for a potent look at how 15-year-old artist Minnie loses her virginity to her mum’s hot boyfriend in between scribbling comics. Her and her friend even violate an Iggy Pop poster by licking his privates. Through superimposed screen cameos throughout the film, Minnie’s art elevates the film’s narrative, something akin to Anderson’s typographic boner. The Diary of a Teenage Girl got an 18 rating in the UK, but the directorial debut of Marielle Heller has both style and substance in spades.
ROSE MCGOWAN – DAWN (2014)
As a mouthpiece for female filmmakers, McGowan isn’t afraid to plant a stake in the heart of patriarchy. That same energy envelopes her directorial debut, Dawn. The 17-minute short is about a young girl in the 60s, whose prudish mum stifles her budding sexuality. So when she invites her crush and his peer-pressuring friends over, the summer night heats up and Dawn struggles to keep cool. It may be down to the Kennedy-era pastels and décor, but the colouring and music make Dawn a spiritual, higher-stakes sequel to Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. This one, however, doesn’t end so well for all involved.
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