Gorey’s Kafka

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Some Stories That Wes Anderson Should Adapt

Last month, I kinda sorta reviewed the trailer for Moonrise Kingdom, the new film from Wes Anderson. Moonrise Kingdom has all the hallmarks  of an Anderson joint: an idealistically romantic protagonist who strives to fit the world to his skewed view of it; an overtly hermetic setting (crammed like a Russian nesting doll with even more hermetic settings); a fetish for staginess; a fetish for once useful objects that are now obsolete; the usual cast of characters; etc.

Anyway, one commenter on that post suggested that Anderson adapt V.C. Andrews’s lurid gothic incest romance Flowers in the Attic—and I couldn’t agree more. Andrews’s story grotesquely enshrines the hermetic world of forbidden love that Anderson repeatedly engages in (see the incestuous, or at least Oedipally-displaced romances of The Royal Tennenbaums and Rushmore). The Flowers suggestion (and another comment suggesting a DeLillo adaptation) got me to thinking about other stories I’d love to see Anderson take on.

(Those who hate to see a silly, ridiculous, fanboyish, and entirely hypothetical post should exit anon).

(Oh, and let’s get this one out of the way too: Matt Bucher has already linked Tennenbaums to David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest).

While Anderson has authored most of his own scripts (with cowriters like Owen Wilson or Roman Coppola), he showed he could do fine work with people’s stories on Roald Dahl’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox. I’d love to see him do something with Shel Silverstein or Edward Gorey as well, perhaps as a series of animated shorts of some kind. Like Dahl, Silverstein and Gorey deftly explore the dark undercurrent of childhood in a way that’s simultaneously charming and meaningful.

I’d probably be happy with any Wes Anderson superhero movie, but I’d love to see him do a big screen live action version of The New Mutants, a title that ran in the 1980s that focused on teens who were basically X-Men junior. Anderson would be right at home in Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, and the types of missions these teenagers took on were not nearly as intense as the X-Men’s, allowing for a smaller, more emotional film, than, say, Bryan Singer’s bombastic nonsense. Bill Murray for Professor X?

While I’m on big-budget franchise type characters: James Bond. A Bond film would give Anderson plenty of opportunity to play with design and style, as well as humor; Anderson also showed a sense for old-fashioned adventure and action in The Life Aquatic. Owen Wilson as Bond? (As a side note, I should point out that in general I’d love to see the Bond franchise branch out to a series of stylized one-offs, featuring different actors playing Bond, and  helmed by different directors like Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino).

How about Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (not Huck Finn, people)? Maybe as a mini-series on HBO?

Anderson has always been deeply entrenched in J.D. Salinger territory, and although he arguably already did so in Tennenbaums, a film that somehow organizes the lives of the Glass family would be pretty cool.

Harold Brodkey’s overlooked masterpiece First Love and Other Sorrows may be a collection of short stories, but they share a common theme that resonates with Anderson’s aesthetic. Brodkey’s decaying families (which all seem to share a misplaced sense of privilege) would be fertile ground for Anderson (and their midcentury settings would make for some snappy outfits).

Also: Heller’s Catch-22.

Maybe Anderson could highlight some of the humor in Bret Easton Ellis’s Less Than Zero. (Okay, maybe not, but I’d love to see what he’d do with that milieu. And speaking of that milieu—).

I’d love to see the failure that would be Anderson’s take on Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (suggestion: use Jim Henson-style puppets).

And: A Nabokov biopic, preferably one that focuses on his lepidoptery. Could Bill Murray play Nabokov? This question is rhetorical.

Anderson’s films have been repeatedly criticized for their racial insensitivity, but in spite of this (or, perhaps, because of this), I’d like to see his take on Kipling’s The Jungle Book

Speaking of imperialism: Another Tintin film. And while he’s at it: Lil’ Orphan Annie.

Faulkner’s a bit too gritty, too dirty (not to mention too Southern) for Anderson, but he would probably do a great feature length adaptation of “A Rose for Emily.” Decay, incest, the crumbling of an old value system.

And: It’s about time someone made that Night Court movie, right? Okay, maybe not.

Other suggestions?