An excitement was brewing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox early in the morning of Saturday, February 13th, 2016. Stepping out from the frosty streets of downtown Toronto and into this cinema multiplex, we were greeted by pleasant volunteers and staff who were buzzing around the main auditorium preparing for what was to be a very busy weekend. Tables were set up, volunteers answered questions with programs in hand, rush lines began to form. A few camera crewmen yawned in the corner while waiting for the festivities to begin. The calm before the storm. Day 2 of the TIFF Next Wave Film Festival was about to begin.
The TIFF Next Wave Film Festival is a 3 day festival programmed entirely by a team of film-loving high school students. This year, the program featured an "Awkward + Angsty Movie Marathon" in the hopes of appealing to a younger audience. TIFF graciously gave CINSSU two tickets to see the first film in this marathon, allowing me the pleasure to watch Wes Anderson's first feature film, BOTTLE ROCKET.
Released in 1996, BOTTLE ROCKET not only features the wonderful 90's charm of vibrant, offbeat fashion and decor, it also marks the beginning of Wes Anderson's feature film career, and allows for a perfect glance into how the auteur's now well-recognized style began. Starring the Wilson brothers, Owen and Luke, the film follows the wacky relationship between friends turned criminals who quickly realize they know nothing about crime. BOTTLE ROCKET originally began as a short film which was released at the Sundance film festival in 1994.
The infantile stages of the style that Anderson fans have come to love are showcased in this film. Audiences are treated to Anderson's love of the colour yellow, his use of slow motion and tracking shots, and a soundtrack composed of 70s classics. Thematic reoccurrences in his current films are here as well, including awkward love affairs, and complicated family ties. Shot mainly on location, BOTTLE ROCKET is much more natural in comparison to Anderson's current films which rely heavily on symmetry and detailed set design. Overall, the film is thematically darker then Anderson's more recent work, such as FANTASTIC MR.FOX or MOONRISE KINGDOM, as it deals with the consequences of a life of crime.
As Wes Anderson's first claim to fame and a start to the Wilson brothers' careers, BOTTLE ROCKET gives viewers the opportunity to watch an auteur grow into his talent, and attempt new styles which will later define his fame. Illustrating relatable themes for teens, and highlighting a director's first steps in filmmaking, BOTTLE ROCKET is both awkward and angsty, and overall the perfect start to the 2016 TIFF Next Wave Film Festival.