An alligator is on the loose, and it’s halfway through July, which means we’ve only got six movies left in this month’s Late Night at The Logan—two a piece from three contemporary writer-directors, each of whom’s cisgendered, first world white, and named Anderson.
If you’re a glass-is-half-empty kind of reader, then you’ve already missed Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 “There Will Be Blood,” Paul W.S. Anderson’s 1995 “Mortal Kombat” and Wes Anderson’s 1996 “Bottle Rocket.”
I’m not usually a fan of The Logan’s late night programming. There’s a whole lot of predictable. Horror Movie Madness in October. Musical May in May. Next month’s films don’t even seem to have a link at all (unless, of course, “The Lord of the Flies” has a strong female protagonist I’m forgetting, or “Yojimbo’s” got a friendly space robot), but I like what they’ve got going this month. It’s such an arbitrary commonality, these present day directors with the same name, that it’s kind of fun seeing them on the same poster.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of fellow-Texan Wes Anderson is the amount of detail he’s able to get onto the screen, sound-tracked movement that’s balanced, symmetrical, and colorful as the story. But there’s also his cast of regulars playing characters like Vladimir Wolodarsky, Raleigh St. Clair, and Jack’s Girlfriend with such a strong vibe of backyard fun that Anderson’s Anderson films sometimes feel like high school productions by Max Fischer.
His two left at The Logan are 2012’s “Moonrise Kingdom” and multi-award-winning “The Grand Budapest Hotel” from 2014. I have good memories seeing both (the first with a woman I loved who’s now a mom; the second while traveling through Hungary), but “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” is my all-out favorite blend of creative silliness, theatrical set design, seafaring color-schemes, father-son-friendship themes, and wild-what’s-next-plot. Plus, there’s a lot of Bowie in there, too.
On the other end of the spectrum, on the other side of taste and genre but still an Anderson, is Paul W.S. Anderson. Next year, he’ll release his sixth feature film based on a video game, “Monster Hunter.” IMDB sets up the plot like this: “When Lt. Artemis and her loyal soldiers are transported to a new world, they engage in a desperate battle for survival against enormous enemies with incredible powers.” Anderson’s partner Mila Jovovich stars, per usual, as the badass-in-chief.
At The Logan, they’re showing 2002’s “Resident Evil” and a sci-fi fantasy from 1997 about a black hole and a very scary Dr. Allen Grant.
And then finally, thankfully, there’s Paul Thomas Anderson. This is a man we are lucky to have. “Hard Eight,” “Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia,” “Punch-Drunk Love,” “There Will Be Blood,” “The Master,” “Inherent Vice,” and “The Phantom Thread”—sheesh.
A few weeks ago, Netflix put out “Anima,” a long-for-a-music-video collaboration between Anderson and Thom Yorke that’s less a cutting-edge musical than a silent film with Yorke as Buster Keaton and present day romance as an indelible possibility through the monochromatic minefield of 21st century isolation. I grew up watching Wes Anderson movies, but it’s P.T.’s work that’s got me glad to be in the here and now.
Back then, though, hot summer days in Dallas were spent A) at the pool, B) inside watching something from Blockbuster, or C) sneaking into three for the price of one at the closest Cinemark. When I got a little older, I’d go to midnight movies at the Inwood Theatre almost weekly. Trapped in that American highway-land between being able to drive at 16 with nowhere to go until 18 (or even 21), my friends and I went to a lot of late night features. We’d stand outside in the cool breeze heat and laugh. We’d talk, we’d get pie, and mostly going to movies back then made me feel very adult, very alive and grateful to be a part of the same thing as the rest. Now I’m just sort of aware that Tarantino’s got something coming out next week.
Which, it’s always nice having something to look forward to. My kind’s a glass-half-full. The way I see it, we’ve got a little less than two months of the best place to live a summer, and I’m going to live it on my way to something else. I’m going to play tennis with my roommate, ride my bike at night, go to the beach (maybe), and try and capture that alligator.