RUSHMORE is at the top and The Darjeeling Limited is at the bottom, or so the thinking goes, with the rest jockeying for spots in the middle. Ask people to rank Wes Anderson's movies and you'll find their answers reliable indicators of whether you should keep talking to them, ignore them forever, sleep with them, or feed them to a jaguar shark.
For what it's worth, Darjeeling is better than people remember, and more than a few of Anderson's other films give Rushmore a run for its money. And there's no better chance to reevaluate—and enjoy—Anderson's work than at the NW Film Center's "Wes' World: Wes Anderson and His Influences" series, which pairs all of Anderson's films (with the exception of his latest, The Grand Budapest Hotel) with films that influenced Anderson and his co-creators, including works from Hal Ashby, François Truffaut, Robert Altman, and Werner Herzog. Anderson is famous for his polished, fully formed clockworks; here's a chance to see how the gears fit together.
Bottle Rocket (1996; screens July 31)—Anderson's charmingly lo-fi debut is grounded, funny, sweet, and criminally under-seen. Accompanying Bottle Rocket are Ashby's The Last Detail (1973; Aug 1) and Truffaut's The 400 Blows (1959; Aug 2). Bottle Rocket is also part of the NW Film Center's "Top Down" series, screening outdoors on the top of Hotel deLuxe.
Rushmore (1998; July 12-13)—Max Fischer maintains his stranglehold on people's hearts for good reason: Rushmore somehow gets both funnier and sadder every time you watch it. Accompanying Rushmore are Ashby's Harold and Maude (1971; July 12) and Truffaut's Jules and Jim (1962; July 13). Rushmore's July 12 screening will be introduced by KGW film critic Shawn Levy.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001, screens July 25-26)—Thankfully presented in its original version, not Anderson's "special edition" that culminates with a musical number set to Sister Sledge's "We Are Family." Accompanying Tenenbaums are Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons (1942; July 25) and Altman's Brewster McCloud (1970; July 26), which stars Harold and Maude's Bud Cort—who'd go on to play The Life Aquatic's bond company stooge. Introducing the July 25 screening of Tenenbaums will be the guy who literally wrote the book on Anderson: Matt Zoller Seitz, author of the great The Wes Anderson Collection.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004, screens Aug 8-9)—Bill Murray, hallucinogenic sea creatures, pirates, a villainous Jeff Goldblum, and David Bowie in Portuguese. Accompanying Zissou are Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Philippe Cousteau, and Marshall Flaum's Voyage to the Edge of the World (1976; Aug 8) and Herzog's Fitzcarraldo (1982; Aug 9). Zissou's Aug 8 screening will be introduced by Oregonian film critic Marc Mohan.
The Darjeeling Limited (2007, screens Aug 15-16)—If any of Anderson's films deserve a reassessment, it's this one—for those with the patience, it has much more to offer than its naysayers insist. And good news for completists and/or creepy Natalie Portman fans: Darjeeling will be preceded by its 13-minute prologue, Hotel Chevalier. Accompanying Darjeeling are Jean Renoir's The River (1951; Aug 15-16) and Bob Rafelson's The King of Marvin Gardens (1972; Aug 17); Darjeeling's Aug 15 screening will be introduced by Oregonian film critic Jamie S. Rich.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009, screens Aug 22-23)—In which stop-motion animation's fastidious precision serves as the perfect medium for Anderson—and one he brings to life with phenomenal humor and an unexpected melancholy. Accompanying Fox are Irene and Wladyslaw Starewicz's The Tale of the Fox (1930, 1937; Aug 22) and Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack's King Kong (1933; Aug 23).
Moonrise Kingdom (2012, screens Aug 30-31)—Part romance and part adventure, Moonrise Kingdom will make you want to run out of the theater as soon as it's over and go live in the woods. Accompanying Moonrise are Ken Loach's Black Jack (1979; Aug 30) and Truffaut's Small Change (1976; Aug 31); Moonrise's Aug 30 screening will be introduced by the greatest film critic of them all, Erik Henriksen.