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In preparation for the release of Wes Anderson’s latest film THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, the Brattle Theatre has been screening most of his previous films.  Tonight, Anderson’s feature debut BOTTLE ROCKET graces the screen and gives us a look into the early stages of the auteur’s career. The story follows three friends who try to get in with a minor crime boss, pulling small robberies and pretending to be tougher thugs than they are.  This film also happens to be the big screen debut of all three Wilson brothers (yeah! there is a third Wilson). Owen, who co-wrote the film with Wes Anderson steals the show here as the most interesting of the characters, while Luke Wilson’s character may have been the one getting out of a mental health clinic in the opening sequence, its pretty clear from the get go that it’s Owen Wilson’s Dignan who needs some help.

The 90’s was a time when heist flicks and gangster films were continually being redefined by new filmmakers, but with BOTTLE ROCKET Wes Anderson gave us some of the most dim-witted and sympathetic criminals yet.  One of the best things about this film is that it brought together so much talent that proceeded to crank out great work ever since. Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson, Cinematographer Robert Yeoman, and, of course, Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh worked together over the course of the Anderson’s next several films and Robert Yeoman continues to shoot Anderson’s movies today.

The film bombed upon release, but luckily for us the major forces at play here liked working together and continued to create memorable films. This certainly isn’t any of their best work, but it is actually one of my favorite Owen Wilson roles. BOTTLE ROCKET has gained some cult status thanks to the success of Anderson’s later works and a Criterion DVD re-release. Throughout the film, you can see the groundwork being laid for what will become the usual Wes Anderson tropes: the use of classic rock like The Rolling Stones, tracking shots, symmetrically framed shots of the characters and landscapes, a warm yet fairly neutral palette, understated characters dealing with mania and depression, and the use of at least one Wilson brother.

3/5 — 5PM & 9PM
Brattle Theater
40 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138


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