Reading and flipping through The Wes Anderson Collection, which is one of the most purely beautiful films books to be released in recent memory, one is immediately struck by the rightness of the subject/author pairing of director Wes Anderson with critic and House Next Door founder Matt Zoller Seitz. Both have misleadingly delicate sensibilities as artists, as they both produce work that’s characterized by a guiding benevolence that’s bracing, but dangerously prone to distracting the inattentive eye away from the underlying toughness of their respective worldviews. In Anderson’s films, as well as Seitz’s writing, human life is a great bruising, relentless, terrifying entity, and all the more precious for it.
The Wes Anderson Collection is organized in a fashion that’s as rigorously and deceptively straightforward as either artist’s work. A poignant introduction by author Michael Chabon kicks things off, with Seitz then proceeding to address each of Anderson’s seven films in chronological order. Each film merits its own section of the book, all of which are more or less of equal length, and each of those sections opens with an essay by Seitz that follows with a long interview in which he and Anderson discuss the director’s working methods as well as a few tellingly stray personal anecdotes that provide social and practical context. Interspersed throughout is an exhaustive collection of pictures, footnotes, annotations, asides, illustrations, and storyboards that collectively capture the intricate personal obsessiveness of the world as offered in Anderson’s films.