WES ANDERSON'S BRAND is pretty secure. Moonrise Kingdom, his seventh film, was one of the best of 2012, and it couldn't have been more "Wes Anderson." Unlike any other current filmmaker, this buttoned-down auteur has such a fully realized and easily identifiable style that he's often parod-ied, misunderstood, and pigeonholed: twee music, retro clothes, daddy issues, and sad-eyed girls and the boys who love them are all tell-tale signs you've crossed into the Wes Anderson Universe.
Things weren't always so obvious, however. While Anderson's 1996 debut Bottle Rocket is a cult favorite now, at the time it merely hinted at what was to come, and the seeds of the Anderson aesthetic were only just taking root. This should be especially evident for those who partake of all three films at Cinema 21's "A Very Wes Anderson Christmas." Watch them in order—Bottle Rocket, Rushmore (1998), and The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)—and observe the evolution of a filmmaker learning to walk on his own two feet. (Wearing carefully chosen, artistically pleasing boots that he designed, no less.) Plus, they're in 35mm, which a film fetishist like Wes Anderson would likely insist is the most proper viewing method.
Anderson fans could spend hours obsessing over the details in these pictures, and many more arguing over which is their favorite. Are you the sneering indie kid who insists Wes was never better than his first release? Are you a cynical young lady who uses Margot Tenenbaum as a fashion template? Or perhaps a hopeless dreamer who wishes his high school experience had been like Max Fischer's? Whether you have watched any of these films recently, or haven't seen them in a while, you'll find they get better with age. That's another signifier of Wes Anderson films: Their impact only increases with repeat viewings.