I love movies. There is nothing like escaping for a few hours into a completely different visual world filled with excitement, surprise, and intrigue. Wes Anderson’s films are a striking visual delight, which goes without saying. Anderson’s attention to detail coupled with his commitment to his art is unparalleled, with every film seeming to consistently outdo the last. Between the disaffected and equally whimsical characters, their complicated familial relationships, symmetrical shots, occasional stop-motion animated feature films, and the darkly comedic witty dialogue, what’s not to love?
However, you may have found yourself in the mood to treat yourself to a Wes Anderson-styled film without actually having a movie in mind after having exhausted all the available options to you at the present time. Which in itself is a real bummer! If you need a break from revisiting the familiar storylines and their familiar protagonists, while simultaneously craving that non-conforming, quirky Wes Anderson-like feel, fortunately, there are some alternative films out there worth considering. Sit back and enjoy!
The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (R)
Created in 2004, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a poignant, emotional drama that explores themes of grief, love, and loss, all while asking viewers to consider the following: Is it truly better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.
And if there was a way to banish all heartache and subsequent pain forever, would you? Or would you rather live with both the joys and sorrows of life and love often present?
The film is done in an exquisite, hyper-realistic style that adds a heightened reality as well as a charming nostalgia to the story. This film appeals to the hopeless romantic that arguably resides within all of us. And the stylish cinematography is an extra bonus!
Jojo Rabbit (PG-13)
Jojo Rabbit is a 2019 comedy-drama that has been characterized as “an anti-hate satire” (Brody, 2019). The story follows a young boy named Johannes Betzler, or Jojo, as he navigates boyhood and growing up in Nazi Germany. Jojo starts the film as a proud member of the Hitler Youth, eager to demonstrate his loyalty and personal devotion to the cause. Guided by his imaginary friend, Hitler, Jojo navigates trying to fit in with the Hitler Youth and break out of their narrow, disparaging view of him as nothing more than a weak coward. A “rabbit.”
Over time, certain key events and developments force him to examine the culture around him. We see Jojo begin to question who he really is and whether or not Nazism is in line with the person he wants to be. This film is touching beyond belief. Watching the journey this young boy undergoes while he is embroiled in a culture of hate, looking for answers and meaning, just tugs at the heartstrings. It is a story of love, hope, truth, and friendship that reminds us how we choose who we are and who we are becoming every single day.
Due to the sensitive subject matter, Jojo Rabbit may not be for everyone. I encourage you all to do what feels right for you personally and to respect any boundaries or limitations you have when it comes to viewing material.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg by Jacques Demy is an incredible piece of cinematic history that I believe every cinephile should experience. The exquisite, rich colors used in the set design, and the iconic scenes, paired with the unforgettable, lilting music that truly captures those all-consuming feelings of first love. It makes for a truly unique viewing experience. Every single line of dialogue in the film is sung and just blends perfectly with the music. Musicals are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I highly encourage even those who are skeptical to give this film a try.
It is the age-old story of love won and lost set during the time of the Algerian war of the 1950s and 60s. Almost everyone can recall the fresh pains and joys of first love. The unimaginable joys of being in love and the unavoidable pitfalls and disappointments when that love is thwarted by the nature of reality.
I believe there are very few films that paint as vivid, dare I say, as accurate a picture of what that experience feels like emotionally. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a modern masterpiece that demands to be seen again and again. No matter how much it hurts.
Blood Tea and Red String (Not Rated)
If you are a fan of stop-motion animation, I highly recommend you watch this hidden gem! Blood Tea and Red String is a creative piece by Christiane Cegavske, that tells the story of a group of craftsmen who are commissioned to create a beautiful doll for the aristocratic white mice. However, upon completing the doll, the artisans find themselves unable to part with her, having grown fond of the doll’s presence and her princess-like beauty. Conflict ensues and soon the craftsmen must travel to recover the doll. This film is an absolute wonder and a delight to watch.
If you love Tim Burton films as well, or if you enjoy fairy tales, this might be a new addition to your list of favorites. Cegavske is currently working on completing a new film and you can watch her progress as well as tune in for updates through her Instagram, @christianecegavske. If you are interested in Blood Tea and Red String, it is available to stream for free through Tubi.
Delicatessen is a post-apocalyptic black comedy as well as a romance. In a world where food is scarce and the outside world has been ravaged by toxins and pollutants, those who remain continue living by coming to a grisly arrangement with one another. The inhabitants of this dilapidated apartment building agree to keep one another safe, so long as the leader of the group, the butcher and landlord, is able to lure in new victims.
A young man named Louison finds his way into the condemnable space after answering a work ad he found in the paper. Eager to leave his painful past behind and start anew, he quickly settles into his new role and finds company in the landlord’s daughter, Julie. But unbeknownst to Louison, the bizarre inhabitants are not as harmless as he thinks. By agreeing to work there, he has walked straight into their trap.
Delicatessen was directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet in his directorial debut. Jeunet is commonly attributed to the success of his worldwide celebrated film, Amélie; however, I personally found Delicatessen more intriguing and engaging than Amélie. In fact, it is my hands down favorite film. I love the haunting music and the dark comedy that was used throughout. The two main characters are very likable.
As a viewer, you are rooting for them from start to finish. There is just something about the atmosphere of the film, the dialogue, the hazy colors, and that trademark green and red combination Jeunet uses in several of his works, that transports you to an entirely new world, equipped with its own particular rules.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya
The Tale of Princess Kaguya is an enchantingly animated historical fantasy film that follows the life of a young girl of mysterious origins. One day while harvesting bamboo in the forest, an elderly woodsman has a bizarre vision of a girl being born of a bamboo stalk. He takes the child into his home and raises her alongside his wife. They are immediately overjoyed at this unexpected blessing, having given up on ever having children of their own, but things soon take a head when the woodsman decides that they must all leave their provincial hometown behind in order for the young girl to fully realize her divine and royal nature.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya is my absolute favorite Studio Ghibli film. It is heartwarming, impactful, and fundamentally tragic. This film is sure to tug at your heartstrings. In the interest of maintaining the mystery of the film, I will say no more and allow you lovely readers to discover the film’s magic for yourself.
I trust you enjoyed this special piece on some of my favorite Wes Anderson-like pictures and I hope you will find some delightful new movies to enjoy. Happy film screening!
Brody, R. (2019, Oct. 22). Springtime for Nazis: How the satire of “Jojo rabbit” backfires. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/springtime-for-nazis-how-the-satire-of-jojo-rabbit-backfires#:~:text=The%20film%20is%20being%20marketed,expressions%20and%20politics%20of%20hatred
Cegavske, C. (Director). (2006). Blood tea and red string. [Film].
Demy, J. (Director). (1964). The umbrellas of Cherbourg. [Film]. Parc Film.
Gondry, M. (Director.) (2004). The eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. [Film]. Focus Features.
Jeunet, J. & Caro, M. (1991). Delicatessen. [Film]. Miramax.
Taika, W. (Director). (2019). Jojo Rabbit. [Film]. Searchlight Pictures.
Takahata, I. (Director). (2013). The tale of the Princess Kaguya. [Film]. Studio Ghibli.