15. “Street Fighting Man”
by The Rolling Stones from Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Anderson has been known to dive into the exceptional depths of The Rolling Stones’ B-side catalogue, but here he opted for a hit, giving some amusing momentum to scene in which the Fox family digs frantically to avoid being captured.
by The Kinks from The Darjeeling Limited
The Brothers Whitman are invited to attend the funeral of a boy they tried to save, and The Kinks’ track croons over the soundtrack, solidifying the melancholia.
13. “2000 Man”
by The Rolling Stones from Bottle Rocket
After botching a factory heist by locking themselves out of the getaway van, Dignan (Owen Wilson) and Anthony (Luke Wilson) argue who should go back and help their accomplice, Applejack, who is stuck inside the factory. Dignan stays to help, the cops arrive, and the Stones’ “2000 Man” blares away as Dignan flees. A great song that enunciates Dignan’s silly lust for crime.
12. “A Quick One While He’s Away”
by The Who from Rushmore
As Herman Blume (Bill Murray) notices bees buzzing around his hotel room, he pauses, smiles, and The Who kick in to let us know that This. Means. War.
“You are forgiven, you are forgiiiiiiiiven.”
11. “Where Do You Go to My Lovely”
by Peter Sarstedt from Hotel Chevalier & The Darjeeling Limited
We first hear Sarstedt’s pleasant track in Hotel Chevalier, the perfect short film that precedes The Darjeeling Limited. Jack (Jason Schwartzman) gets word that his ex (Natalie Portman) is stopping by, so he washes up and begins to play this song just as his ex arrives. And then, humorously, he does the same exact thing later in Darjeeling to impress a lovely train stewardess. Humor through music, something Anderson executes so well.
by The Kinks from Rushmore
Really, is there a better song to help makes sense of Herman Blume’s uniquely pathetic plight?
by Van Morrison from The Royal Tenenbaums
I can’t imagine The Royal Tenenbaums ending with any other song. “Everyone” is big, but not cumbersome; it’s fitting, but not too spot on. A perfect way to end a perfect film.
8. “Making Time”
by The Creation from Rushmore
Just as Brian Cox bellows, “He’s one of the worst student’s we’ve got,” the opening bars of “Making Time” blast on, and we’re introduced to the overachieving world of Max Fischer. One of my all-time favorite character introductions.
by Sigur Rós from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
I’m far from The Life Aquatic’s biggest fan, but the spotting of the Jaguar Shark remains one of Anderson’s most effective screen moments. This is thanks much in part to Sigur Rós’ beautiful “Staralfur,” reminding all of us that Sigur Rós really do make everything better.
6. “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard”
Paul Simon from The Royal Tenenbaums
“I’m talkin’ about puttin’ a brick through the other guy’s windshield. I’m talkin’ about takin’ it out and choppin’ it up.”
What better song could accompany such a line? “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” is the soundtrack to one of my favorite sequences in The Royal Tenenbaums. Royal and his grandsons, takin’ it out and choppin’ it up. That’s damn right.
5. “Play with Fire”
by The Rolling Stones from The Darjeeling Limited
“Play with Fire” begins as the Whitman family shares a silent moment of reflection. But then Anderson does something interesting and shows us every major character from the film by tracking down a long train corridor. Each one of their rooms is set in a way we’d expect: Francis’ assistant is on a plane, Jack’s ex is in a hotel, Peter’s pregnant wife is in the hospital, yet they are all obviously on the train. It’s a surreal method to cap off a handful of narratives at once, executed in a way only Anderson could get away with.
4. “Ruby Tuesday”
by The Rolling Stones from The Royal Tenenbaums
After Richie (Luke Wilson) has tried to kill himself, his adopted sister, Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) visits him in a small tent, and asks if he’ll try to hurt himself again. He impassively replies with “I doubt it,” and she starts to break down. “Ruby Tuesday” gently kicks in, and we watch one of Anderson’s most moving scenes unfold.
“I think we’re just gonna have to be secretly in love with each other and leave it at that.” Swoon.
3. “This Time Tomorrow”
by The Kinks from The Darjeeling Limited
The scene in which Peter Whitman (Adrien Brody) outruns a frantic Bill Murray to make it onto the Darjeeling Limited is one of my favorite uses of Wes Anderson’s signature slow motion shot. And with The Kinks helping to punctuate the moment, it really couldn’t play out any better.
2. “These Days”
by Nico from The Royal Tenenbaums
Of course, the very finest use of slow motion from Wes Anderson’s career is Margot Tenenbaum getting off a bus and walking to greet her brother, Ritchie. Words can’t describe the true magic of this moment, but the lyrics to Nico’s “These Days” surely do help.
1. “Needle in the Hay”
by Elliot Smith from The Royal Tenenbaums
It’s my favorite scene of Wes Anderson’s career. An honest, unflinching look at depression getting the better of someone. The way the film suddenly takes on a deeply cold look could play as obvious, and the way Ritchie quotes a Louis Malle film seconds before slitting his wrists could play as trite. But Anderson knows what he’s doing here, and there isn’t a false step to be found. I’ve always considered Elliot Smith’s “Needle in the Hay” a dangerous song. Maybe that’s because of this scene, or maybe it’s because two years after the release of The Royal Tenenbaums, Smith himself died from stab wounds (which were, presumably, self-inflicted). The bravest, most dangerous film moment Wes Anderson has attempted.
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