Monday, October 26, 2009

Wes Anderson Week: 'Bottle Rocket'

Wes Anderson's first feature film, released in 1996, has an interesting history. The filmmaker first shot a black-and-white, 13-minute short version (see below) in 1992 that hit the film-festival circuit in 1994. It was picked up by a studio for a feature-length version that opened in 1996. It went on to critical acclaim (but a small audience) and even made Martin Scorsese's Top 10 Films of the '90s list.

The soundtrack was released in early 1997 and was almost completely the work of Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh. It wouldn't be the last time the genius would score an Anderson film. The best songs from the movie, in my opinion, were the ones that didn't make the soundtrack. When I think of the film, the three scenes that come to mind are the ones accompanied by the music of Love and The Rolling Stones. My guess is they didn't make the soundtrack because of licensing fees. As I mentioned yesterday, early Stones almost always show up in an Anderson film, but the songs never appear on the soundtrack... that is, before the upcoming 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' record. So, how did Anderson finally snag a Stones song? I noticed yesterday while writing that his new soundtrack is on Abkco Records. Hmm, isn't that the label of '60s and early '70s Stones? If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

With the commercial success of his next film, 'Rushmore', 'Bottle Rocket' got a second life as audiences went back to look at Anderson's earlier work. Then, last year, 'Bottle Rocket' got a third life as the fabulous Criterion Collection folks repackaged the film on DVD, complete with several deleted scenes, the 1992 short version and much more. As someone who owns the first go around of this movie on DVD, the Criterion Collection edition is much better and worth the extra bucks. If you own any of the other Anderson films available on Criterion, you already know that.

Another surprise from 2008 was the digital release of the short version soundtrack. Although only eight songs, this jazz compilation is much different than the feature soundtrack. The Vince Guaraldi Trio and Zoot Sims Quartet make their first -- but not last -- appearance in an Anderson film. It's such a big smile to hear the piano from a Charlie Brown Christmas special while our protagonists are trying out and then purchasing firearms in the short. You could tell from this great film and soundtrack that Anderson would be a director to watch.

'Bottle Rocket' Songs Not on the Soundtrack
Love - Alone Again Or (mp3)
Love - 7 and 7 Is (mp3)
Rolling Stones - 2000 Man (mp3)

From the 'Bottle Rocket' Short Film Soundtrack
Vince Guaraldi Trio - Skating (mp3)

Film Score Piece From 'Bottle Rocket' and 'Rushmore'
Mark Mothersbaugh - Snowflake Music (mp3)

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