Celebrated filmmaker Wes Anderson, a native Houstonian, shot his debut feature, Bottle Rocket, 20 years ago … in Dallas. But we don’t hold that against him, even if that led a Big D film critic—Matt Zoller Seitz, then with the Dallas Observer—to form an early bond with Anderson, instead of one of our own.
“I had only been a professional critic for about two years, and Wes had never made a movie at that point,” says Seitz, now the TV critic for New York magazine, the editor-in-chief of RogerEbert.com, and the author of The Wes Anderson Collection (Abrams), the first comprehensive guide to the celebrated filmmaker’s work, out this month. “So, we were both young guys, and we were both about the same age…. So, yeah, there was an affinity there. I guess it would be like, you know, he’s Bruce Springsteen and I’m the guy from the Asbury Park Press who wrote about his first concert.”
Since then, Anderson has lived in New York and set his quirky films in striking, exotic locales like India and Italy, and also Dallas. But Houston is never far away from his work. Diehard fans of Rushmore (1998) know he shot much of the film on the St. John’s School campus, and Anderson’s Houston upbringing surfaces in movies as recent as last year’s Moonrise Kingdom, whose soundtrack includes a Benjamin Britten opera the filmmaker first discovered as a child while attending St. Francis Episcopal Day School. If the latter example sounds like a stretch, so what? “Wes’s Texan-ness, I think, is never far from his mind,” says Seitz, and we agree with him, although we’re pretty sure he meant to say “Houston-ness.” Yes, we’re certain of it.