“The Andersons know violence and vengeance and they know love and compassion, and they know how to render these strange, often scary states of being honestly and gorgeously in ways that consistently surprise and confound. Think about how a viewer, after watching Rushmore and Magnolia back-to-back, would likely be hard-pressed to say with any real confidence whether Max Fischer loves his teacher Rosemary Cross any more than Quiz Kid Donnie Smith loves Brad, the bartender with the braces on his teeth. These mad and needy and bonkers-in-love relationships, among countless others that appear throughout each Anderson’s oeuvre, are never weighed or measured—rather, they’re rendered patiently and honestly, with compassion and complete openness in equal measure.
We connect deeply to the Andersons’ films because each envelops us in a world that has been built for us from the ground up—and as each film starts to make sense to us, it becomes a sort of touchstone that aligns aesthetic and emotion. The world of Boogie Nights looks and sounds like this; watching Fantastic Mr. Fox makes me feel like that. Together, their films begin to offer us comfort and structure and familiarity (doesn’t watching the opening sequence of The Royal Tenenbaums feel rather a lot like listening to a favorite bedtime story?). The deeper reason, however, that we respond to these films in the ways we do, is that they let us see a hidden sliver of ourselves and of those around us. They let us flirt with danger, speed-date the scarier parts of our personalities, and then emerge with a larger, fuller understanding of the real ranges of our emotional lives. They let us try on the skins of people who are murderous or meek or desperately in love (or just desperate) and see how we feel about it. See what fits us best.”
—Alexandra Tanner, "I Just Wanna Feel Everything" (Bright Wall/Dark Room magazine, April 2014)