Why does the holiday season no longer feel complete without a Wes Anderson movie? Several of his features have opened in late fall or early winter, surely the most Andersonian time of year. Some have come out right around Christmas (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou on the day itself), and some, most notably The Royal Tenenbaums, take place partially in the season. While it looks as if we’ll have to do without a full-length Anderson production this Christmas, since the past year has reportedly seen him in pre-production on an as yet untitled stop-motion animated movie, the auteur of poignant and funny anachronism has nevertheless found time to direct Come Together, a brand new not-quite-commercial for “fast fashion” retailer H&M.
Anderson’s unusual niche in the world of filmmaking allows him to both work as perhaps the most meticulous cinematic visionary alive, and also to make ads with impunity. We’ve featured the pair of commercials for the Hyundai Azera he did in 2012, and more recently the less overt Castello Cavalcanti, a seven-minute short sponsored by Prada. These are in addition to spots for the likes of Stella Artois and American Express, the latter of which starred the director parodying himself.
This time regular collaborator Adrien Brody, previously seen in The Darjeeling Limited and The Grand Budapest Hotel and heard in The Fantastic Mr. Fox, takes the lead role of Conductor Ralph, the man in charge of a train that has fallen far behind its schedule as Christmas Eve becomes Christmas Day. Still, displaying the same attitude most of Anderson’s characters take toward matters of aesthetics and tradition, he takes seriously indeed the job of making Christmas special for his passengers. We glimpse these passengers one at a time through their cabin windows from outside the train, a sequence reminiscent of the cross-section shots of The Life Aquatic‘s R/V Belafonte.
What will enliven the pale greens and matte grays of this slightly forlorn but still doggedly rolling conveyance? It takes less than four minutes, during which Ralph, and Anderson, summon all the resources of this unspecified, dreamlike past at their disposal, to find out. Afterward, Come Together leaves only one lingering question. The famously meticulous Anderson who appears to demand a certain vintage yet timeless solidity in everything from his settings to his devices to his cuisine to his wardrobe — he can’t possibly be into fast fashion. Can he?
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.