In Which You, My Dear Friend, Are A Damn Fool

Dynamite, Pole Vaulting, Laughing Gas, Choppers

by Molly Lambert

Let us travel back in time to a milder, gentler, more lackadaisical time. A time when the internet hadn’t seeped so deep into our pores that we electrically learnabrate in our sleep at night. When the only website I read on a regular basis was Ain’t It Cool News and only Bjork fans knew who Michel Gondry was.

Ah yes, I was talking about 1999. It doesn’t sound too long ago, does it? That pre-9/11 world way back when. But it was before that even, back even further to 1996 when Bottle Rocket came out and I first fell in love with Dignan. Or was it Owen Wilson?

Or was I in love with Wes Anderson and his aesthetics? It was hard to tell, we were all so young. I was in love with the movie and the characters and the dialogue and the soundtrack. Oh god, the soundtrack! Before Graduate-y indie and Scorsese seventies rock tunes permeated down into every last Garden State and Juno.

Anthony: Which part of Mexico are you from?
Inez: Paraguay.

All the stylistic markers were already there; the symmetry, the tracking and two shots, the fastidious attention to detail. The easy rapport between all three Wilson brothers had yet to be frayed by time and fame. Wes Anderson’s weird colonialist fetish for ethnic girls could still be somewhat more easily explained away.

Just a beautiful film with a cinematic vocabulary of cleanliness saturated in color. Bottle Rocket rambled and breathed while remaining tight as a drum. As Anderson’s films have moved increasingly away from depicting naturalism, I can’t help but feel something has been lost. With bigger sets and budgets, he widened his geographic scope each time to be more spectacular.

A lot of what I loved so much about Bottle Rocket was how it dazzled with the mundane. How Wes wore his references (French New Wave! The Seventies!) on his too short sleeves while seemingly proving Godard’s theory that to make a film all you needed was a girl and a gun, and barely even that.

I loved how he made Texas mini-mall parking lots look so beautiful. How he transformed a suburban neighborhood (granted an upscale one in Dallas) into a weird American paradise. How he made normal touchstones look painterly and landscapes perfect.

It recalled the work of American artists like Edward Hopper, Walker Evans, and Ansel Adams. And writers, especially poets like Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsburg and William Carlos Williams. Specifically, of W.C.W.’s poem The Red Wheelbarrow.

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

If you think that is corny or a stretch, may I direct you to the exit in the top left hand corner of This Recording.

I would love it if Wes made a Western. I know the Coen Brothers and P.T. Anderson threw down the gauntlet pretty hard this year but there’s no reason he couldn’t pick it up. But I don’t think Wes will do it, at least not for a while yet. I do wish he would embrace the place he came from. There are way more than enough movies already about rich people from New York and their issues.

Hey look, I found a perfect project for Wes Anderson’s Western. It’s a Larry McMurtry book called Sin Killer:

A wild comedic ride with the Berrybender family in 1832. They’ve come over from England and are on a boat making its way up the Missouri River. There’s Lord Berrybender, his wife, his mistress, 6 of his 14 legitimate children, servants, guides, tutors, artists and a couple of Indian chiefs traveling home from Washington. The family is rich and spoiled and totally clueless. They meet a variety of tragedies but the writer presents it all as a farce.

Diner Scenes were de rigeur in 90s Indie Films

Sounds ideal, huh? It has all the earmarks of an Anderson joint plus and Wes could maybe help get himself off the hook for worshipping rich white people so much if they’re all killed off for transgressing borders. Kinda like Life Aquatic x Mark Twain x Aguirre The Wrath Of God = Swiss Family Tenenbaums.

Owen as Dignan, not drinking his milkshake. Awww bb.

Twenty one years earlier James Caan (Mr. Henry) and Tak Kubota (Rowboat) were both in the Sam Peckinpah film, The Killer Elite (1975).

Bottle Rocket scored the worst test screening points in the history of Columbia Pictures at the time.

Where’s Bob Mapplethorpe? Why, he was in Drillbit Taylor.

Oh and how bout Inez? She’s in a coming-of-age movie called El Brassier de Emma. Sounds coming of agey.

We’ll get him. We’ll get him. Man, dont worry about that, we’ll get him. And when we do, we’ll blow up his car, do something. I can guarantee you that. What makes me furious is thinking about the look on Bob’s fat face, thinking he pulled one over on us. I tell you another thing. If our paths cross again, you’re gonna see a side of Dignan that you havent seen before. A sick, sadistic side, cause I’m furious at Bob.

Why so melancholy Owen love? Premonitions of Drillbit Taylor?

When’s that Criterion Collection edition coming out guys? I imagine the Marrakesh Express backlash will be over by then. Maybe there’ll be a little to-do if Owen feels like coming out of his mole-hole. I feel about Owen Wilson the way I feel about kittens.

I love how Bob totally rolled right out of Reservoir Dogs.


Dear Julia Reed,
What about that dude who said he’d gone to Vietnam? Did he say if he was in the shit?

Dear Julia Allison’s Grandmother,
Thank you for telling Julia to chill the fuck out and stop being so boy crazy.

Dear Liz Smith,
Contrary to what quack pscientist David Barish may have told you, cheating is in no way bred specifically into male animals. In fact, Nature favors a broad variety of sex roles.

Cain chasing after his brother Abel in the fields East of Eden

Particularly, there are a lot of bird species with aggressively cuckolding females. Check out our recent Science Corner to learn more about slutty females of the natural world here and then read up further with the fabulous Jennie Duscheck, who tells us about how Extra Pair Copulation is rampant in both male and female animals.

Little Banana, the best Bottle Rocket fansite, where all these screen caps came from. They have the original screenplay for the Bottle Rocket short, side by side comparison with the shooting script, and a transcript of Dignan’s notebook.

Bonus Surreal Link: Steve Malkmus on FOX news’s Red Eye.

Bottle Rocket Shooting Locations.

Help me buy Philip Marlowe’s apartment!

Molly Lambert is the senior editor of This Recording.


Rockets Fall On Rocket Falls – Godspeed You Black Emperor: mp3

Six Days At The Bottom Of The Ocean – Explosions In The Sky: mp3

Underwater Explosions – Guided By Voices: mp3

The 400 Blows? Is that like a sequel to The 300? It’s bad?


The Cheerful Insanity Of Malkmus, Eno, and Fripp

Wes Anderson’s Vague Paralyzing Leisure Class Malaisure

Molly’s proposed Harry Nilsson biopic Gosling Schmosling

“They’ll never catch me……..Because I’m fucking innocent!”

4 thoughts on “In Which You, My Dear Friend, Are A Damn Fool

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