Short? Commercial? Sellout?
April 26, 2006 7:14 PM   Subscribe

Wes Anderson does a 2-minute commercial for American Express. (YouTube link). As you might expect from Wes Anderson, the results are "quirky" to say the least. Another bigshot director, M. Night Shayamalan, has made one as well. This certainly isn't the first time big companies have hired A-list directors. I wonder who's next?
posted by zardoz (68 comments total)
that's pretty good except for the part where IT IS AN AMERICAN EXPRESS COMMERCIAL.
posted by damehex at 7:20 PM on April 26, 2006

There's a better version on the webpage, but you'll have to navigate a bit.
posted by 235w103 at 7:25 PM on April 26, 2006

I can see how that would be enjoyable if you like his movies.
posted by smackfu at 7:28 PM on April 26, 2006

how much is integrity going for these days?
posted by ori at 7:29 PM on April 26, 2006

Awesome! I love Wes Anderson.
posted by hjo3 at 7:31 PM on April 26, 2006

A few observations from my Wes Anderson-geek friend:

-"Is that true" is a Tenenbaums reference.
-Meeting the guy's daughter who let them borrow the car is a reference to Rushmore, they got the Bently for letting the guy's daughter play the usher at Max's final play.
-Barry Mandel plays the producer / tennis raquet guy
-Triangular sandwich is of course from Eli.
-"It looks fake" is similar to Dirk's line during the play, when he references the blood.
-I think when he lists things he's done at the beginning of the spot he includes "blown up cars," which is awesome because the only car he's blown up is in that commercial.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 7:31 PM on April 26, 2006

Lucas will make one where Karl Malden shoots first.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:33 PM on April 26, 2006

Lucas will make one that starts off surprisingly good/funny and gets progressively worse until everyone who liked it at the beginning has turned the TV off and started to make their own fan versions of the first part.
posted by JekPorkins at 7:37 PM on April 26, 2006

I actually really like both of them. American Express comercial or not, they are exceptionally well done.
posted by patr1ck at 7:37 PM on April 26, 2006

Coolness! As for AList directors and the like -- I've always liked David Lynch's PS2 commercial.
posted by undule at 7:39 PM on April 26, 2006

amex blue.
posted by crunchland at 7:45 PM on April 26, 2006

M. Night Shaymalan's commercial would've been "truer" if his AmEx card was rejected because he was over his credit limit.
posted by pruner at 7:50 PM on April 26, 2006

I thought the whole point of AmExes is that they don't have pre-set credit limits?
posted by jacquilynne at 7:55 PM on April 26, 2006

I thought the whole point of AmExes is that they don't have pre-set credit limits?

some do, and some don't.

if none of them had credit limits, what would be the point of offering more than 1 type of card?
posted by pruner at 7:58 PM on April 26, 2006

Ka-kaa! Ka-kaa!

I liked the .357 magnum with a bayonet.
posted by furtive at 8:02 PM on April 26, 2006

What a twist!
posted by puke & cry at 8:14 PM on April 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

What a narcissist. Like his movies, though.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 8:18 PM on April 26, 2006

Espy Gillespie, the "It's looks fake" line reminded me of Kubrick talking to Shelley Duvall on the making-of the shining doc (on the dvd). I am probably reading too far into it.
posted by 6am at 8:22 PM on April 26, 2006

Reminds of the early scene in Life Aquatic where Esteban gets eaten. I didn't like when Esteban got eaten.

The M. Night Shymalan one was dull. I'm not a huge fan of his movies anyways.
posted by ninjew at 8:24 PM on April 26, 2006

I enjoyed them both.
posted by dial-tone at 8:34 PM on April 26, 2006

You'd be surprised who makes commercials. And for whom commercials are made.
David Lynch and the Coen Bros. made cigarette commercials for LDM productions, for instance. But then, so did Wim Wenders and Roman Polanski.
posted by boo_radley at 8:36 PM on April 26, 2006

Gilliam's sell out
Nike Commercial was good
hate Nike although
posted by edgeways at 8:38 PM on April 26, 2006

Anderson did those commercials for Ikea too, the one's with the family fights in the display kitchens. They were pretty great. (previously mentioned here).
posted by malphigian at 8:42 PM on April 26, 2006

It's a little disturbing that they're doing commercials, these guys, but at least they're well done, especially the Anderson one.

Thanks for posting it, and don't listen to any pepsi blue type comments.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 8:46 PM on April 26, 2006

Rob Halford (Judas Priest vocals) was in an American Express commercial, mid 90's/late 80's??... clues/links/ideas?
posted by buzzman at 9:13 PM on April 26, 2006

Spike Jonze did an IKEA commercial as well.

I like Anderson's films, but I could have done without the AMEX commercial. It was full of inside references, which was fun, but in the end it is just a commercial for a giant corporation. He can't possibly need the money. It must be a prestige thing. But is it?

Amex is strange. I once encountered an annie leibovitz "show" that was made up entirely of photos of famous people with their Amex cards. I'm all for patronizing the arts, but there has got to be a line drawn somewhere, ya know.
posted by shoepal at 9:50 PM on April 26, 2006

I don't really understand why people are so bothered by "credible" directors making commercials. Does it spoil your enjoyment of their already-made films, or do you think it will spoil the quality of their yet-to-be-made films? Is there some other reason? I'm not being snarky here, I really want to know why this sort of thing irks people so.
posted by bunglin jones at 10:02 PM on April 26, 2006

I've read that David Lynch claims that he does commercials to stay current with the latest technology, since he's not generally a big-budget director and so he really needs a place to get experience with CGI and so forth. I'm guessing the other name directors do them for similar reasons (except for M. Night Shymalan who's obviously just a big fat sellout). Still, there's a clear demarcation between commercials and legitmate film, and I doubt any real filmmaker would be happy if you were to take some commercial they did as serious work.

In the end, commercials are a part of life, and if faced with the choice between endless insipid commercials or something that's fun/interesting/entertaining, I know which I would choose.
posted by zixyer at 10:06 PM on April 26, 2006

I kind of think of commercials as a kind of mental poison so when people I like make commercials it's a little disappointing.
posted by I Foody at 10:09 PM on April 26, 2006

Loved it.
posted by ColdChef at 10:16 PM on April 26, 2006

A commercial can be just as well done, just as artistic and just as interesting as any other visual medium. The fact that it wasn't produced for its own sake has nothing to do with the merit of a good commercial.

Elitism is fine, misplaced elitism is stupid and shows you to be anything but the elitist you think you are.

Those were good commercials.
posted by oddman at 10:33 PM on April 26, 2006

/agrees with oddman re: visual mediums.

Also, let us not forget BMW's 'The Hire' series, starring Clive Owen and a heap of directors and the occasional interesting guest. Seems they've pulled it from their website, but there are 14 posts of the series on youtube.
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:05 PM on April 26, 2006

That David Lynch Playstation commercial was fabulous! Thanks for sharing it.
posted by painquale at 11:15 PM on April 26, 2006

I seethe with impotent rage and contempt.

Then I move on.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:33 PM on April 26, 2006

I love the character Wes Anderson plays in this, which is completely clashes with his reputation as a very humble man.

Not that Anderson has every shyed away from irony...

I am glad this exists.
posted by motherfather at 11:39 PM on April 26, 2006

Does it spoil your enjoyment of their already-made films, or do you think it will spoil the quality of their yet-to-be-made films?

OK, that deserves an answer, I guess.

For me, it is the continued, every-intensifying invasion of advertising into ever single crevice of our modern lives. Everyone's got something to sell, everything has its price, and there is no peace and respite from the constant yammering hammering halfwit howl of the marketers after our dollars, our mindshare, our eyeballs and our very souls. It's become such an integrated part of what we call our culture(s) that we don't even mind much, any more, or question it. It seems like it's never been any different. It's hard to even remember the first time I threw a beer bottle through the TV set (metaphorically speaking) when some fucking car company used a rock song that I loved to sell their plasticandsteel pieces of shit. It's an outgrowth of that hip popculture irony that we've all gotten so adept at in the last decade and a half, where everything and anything is fodder for our mediated play, and nothing forbidden, and outmoded concepts like honour and integrity adumbrated by kitsch and pomo self-referentiality. And, to turn Raskolnikov on his head, if nothing is forbidden, then god is dead.

It's quixotic to loathe it with such pop-eyed apoplectic rage as I do, and easily co-opted by mockery -- Hicks' "yeah, he's going for that anti-marketing dollar. That's a good market..." -- and given the ouroboros taileating mobius strip that is our hipster irony it can end up being an ironic stance in and of itself, but there it is.

Wes Anderson or whoever can whore themselves out for a buck, that's fine. Perhaps they're being more honest than I give them credit for, and consciously realize (like most of us don't seem to) that they are whoring themselves out for a buck, and are at peace with themselves about that. It won't diminish my enjoyment of their movies (or whatever) if they're good and true and touch some part of me that art is meant to touch (...point on the doll to the place where the bad man touched you...). But by letting themselves get blown by the ad companies for a few bucks, they've joined forces with the Dark Ones, as far as I'm concerned, and have done their part to hasten the destruction of all that is good and right in our society.

And I mean that literally.

Now, quite probably, people who work in marketing will jump into this thread to defend themselves and what they do, all aghast at my paleohippy-esque ranting. That's what usually happens. Be my guest. I doubt that you'll change my mind, but you're welcome to try, if you're so inclined.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:55 PM on April 26, 2006

Two versions of a Spike Jonze Gap ad here and here. (The first link is contained in the Slate article; the second is direct to YouTube.)
posted by suckerpunch at 11:59 PM on April 26, 2006

I've never really been able to pin down exactly what I love about Wes Anderson movies. I think it's the self-deprecation. He said once in the commentary (I'm paraphrasing) that Rushmore was a celebration of failure. All his movies are, really. But, it's more about the spectacular and stylized crushing of completely unrealistic dreams and ambitions.

I think that's why it's OK for him to make an Amex commercial. He's never gonna really mean it.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:04 AM on April 27, 2006

stavros - I'm gonna guess that you've read Thomas de Zengotitia (a Mefi favorite). An honest question - what did you not like about his ideas?
posted by suckerpunch at 12:08 AM on April 27, 2006

stavros - I'm gonna guess that you've read Thomas de Zengotitia

Actually, I've never heard of him, but I'll go have a look at the threads you linked (I don't recall seeing them before).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:12 AM on April 27, 2006

Stavros - that was a really good answer. Thanks.
posted by bunglin jones at 12:14 AM on April 27, 2006

as parodies go, the use of Georges Delerue's Nuit Americaine theme is particularly despicable -- Anderson's wink-wink nudge-nudge attitude is a fake "hehehe look at me making fun of my own pretension", when in fact he's just flattering himself -- Anderson seens to have the crossed quite happily the fine line between hommage (heh) and cynical, uninspired ripoff.

the "look at me, I watched a bunch of French films" shtick can indeed get pretty tiresome. and it certainly is cynical. but then, Anderson is the same guy who, simply to pump up his own massive nerd ego, outed and cruelly mocked Pauline Kael's illness in the New York Times, for all the world to see.

and keep in mind that I really like Anderson's films.
posted by matteo at 12:17 AM on April 27, 2006

oh, and I hope Truffaut's ghost comes back to haunt Anderson, one of these nights. but Anderson would probably get a kick out of it, he'd be too busy asking Fran├žois if he liked Zissou more than he liked Rushmore to be actually scared
posted by matteo at 12:22 AM on April 27, 2006

You do realise that for a director making an advert can be, y'know, fun?

The amount of money used in relation to 'screen time' is absolutely ridiculous, especially with major companies like Amex or the likes. No feature film will ever have the kind of budget they throw at these things. If given creative freedom, as Anderson obviously has, it's very tempting to go for. The money probably doesn't hurt either.

On a related note, I loved the Barclays adverts by Jonathan Glazer, starring Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:10 AM on April 27, 2006

I realise I'm barking at the moon somewhat here but 'My life is about finding time to dream so my card is American Express' doesn't seem to make any sense to me. Does the card come with a time machine? Would it allow my future self to come back from 2011? If so, should I allow him to sleep with my girlfriend?
posted by biffa at 3:37 AM on April 27, 2006

I see nothing wrong with enjoying quality or entertaining advertising. It doesn't mean I'm going to uncut my amex card. I'm perfectly content watching people set a high bar for ads instead of spewing more of the drivel that pervades most advertising. The truth remains that you can shout "Pepsi Blue" a million times but I'm still drinking water after all these years. I'd say the only time advertising has any real influence on me is when it introduces me to a new product. Damn you Pepsi New!
posted by furtive at 4:45 AM on April 27, 2006

M. Night Shayamalan hates his fans, apparently.

posted by thirteenkiller at 4:57 AM on April 27, 2006

M. Night Shayamalan has fans? Did they see Signs? Really?
posted by Skorgu at 5:15 AM on April 27, 2006

"Night" has made us all simply sit through his films, waiting impatiently for the twist. "Where's the twist? C'mon, let's see the twist so I can move on with my life." Which, of course is the wrong way to go about it. The clever thing about twists in film is that they're supposed to be a complete surprise. Night's films are not.

As for the topic originally brought up: Wes Anderson kicks ass.
posted by grubi at 5:33 AM on April 27, 2006

I have no problem with the commercial. I saw it recently in theatres. However, I am aware that many fans of Anderson revere him in part because he is so anti-commerciality and anti-establishment. My first reaction when I saw it was: How are the Wes Anderson fans going to justify this?

Obviously this cannot be proven, but I suspect that if there was a discussion on here as to whether Anderson should make a commercial for a large corporation that the Anderson fans would have responded with a resounding "no!" I also imagine that some would have vowed to disown him if he ever did such a thing.

Personally, I don't think any less of him. Some of my heroes are Spike Lee and Bob Dylan, and they have certainly made money from doing commercials. There is art, and there is money. As long as they give me the former, I don't care who gives them the latter.
posted by flarbuse at 6:09 AM on April 27, 2006

It's a little disturbing that they're doing commercials


They make money from making movies, which many will refer to as their art. What's wrong with doing commercials? Is film somehow a higher art form?
posted by poppo at 6:25 AM on April 27, 2006

Huh. I thought the Shayamalan one would turn out to have been a MasterCard advert all along.
posted by Grangousier at 7:32 AM on April 27, 2006

Did any of you complain about BMW Films? Big name directors, pimping cars. So what! They were good.

Screw M. Night. Could he have done a more visible eye-roll when the waitress recognizes him? What a twist, indeed.
posted by ninjew at 7:47 AM on April 27, 2006

Better than Life Aquatic, at least.
posted by Dean King at 8:11 AM on April 27, 2006

I'm just sad that Russ Meyer isn't around to make one.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:35 AM on April 27, 2006

I want to see a Jerry Bruckheimer version.
posted by stumcg at 8:54 AM on April 27, 2006

I saw this ad in the theaters last week, and thought it was great. Won't compel me to get an Amex card, no, but I was thoroughly entertained.
posted by Spatch at 9:22 AM on April 27, 2006

Geez, some people need a history lesson. Advertising has been around for a very long time. It's just that, with advances in technology, advertisers need more creative ways to get your attention other than door-to-door salesmen and newspaper sellers screaming from the corner.

I suppose those who lament directors for "whoring themselves" out to corporations would prefer their directors to play it safe in their assigned art medium and want to go back to trucks with loudspeakers driving down their streets blaring ads.

Don't like ads? Don't watch. YOU HAVE THE POWER!
posted by Dantien at 9:25 AM on April 27, 2006

Needs more futura.
posted by signal at 10:32 AM on April 27, 2006

You do realise that for a director making an advert can be, y'know, fun?

the problem is that the resulting advert should be, y'know, fun for the audience, too?
posted by matteo at 11:01 AM on April 27, 2006

"Night" has made us all simply sit through his films, waiting impatiently for the twist.

true. for Shayamalan, a movie must be reduced to the most effective Spielbergian formula. movies as entertainment algebra.

having said that, he was lucky enough to find Toni Collette -- a terrific actress -- who gave his ghost movie's ending what Shayamalan's work clearly lacks -- a heart (no wonder the Cahiers du Cinema kids like him so much)

M. Night Shayamalan hates his fans, apparently

---> Woody Allen, Stardust Memories, etc.
posted by matteo at 11:06 AM on April 27, 2006

"selling out" is an empty concept.
posted by kenko at 11:18 AM on April 27, 2006

I want to see a Jerry Bruckheimer version.
posted by stumcg at 10:54 AM CST on April 27

Wouldn't that just result in some sort of endless product-placement blackhole that would suck the universe into itself? Because in my life on this planet, I have never seen a more blatant product-placement shitfest excuse for a movie as Bad Boys II. I can't even believe I just admitted in a public space that I've ever seen it.
posted by ninjew at 11:48 AM on April 27, 2006

Perhaps selling out is an empty concept, but curiously, its inverse is such a rich one.
posted by verysleeping at 12:08 PM on April 27, 2006

Geez, some people need a history lesson... Don't like ads? Don't watch. YOU HAVE THE POWER!

And others need lessons in reading comprehension.

Do you honestly think it's easy to avoid advertising? Ever walked a city street or driven down a country road? Ever heard the radio while walking thru a store? Ever read a newspaper or magazine? Do you get mail delivered to your door? Ever check your email? Ever answer the phone during dinnertime?

Something worse than those who force advertising on us 24/7 are people like you who pretend it's not happening.
posted by dobbs at 12:31 PM on April 27, 2006

Selling Out is the new Buying In.
posted by spock at 2:31 PM on April 27, 2006

A lot of the big name directors like making commercials for several reasons. First, the cash, of which there is a lot. Take a commercial production budget of a million bucks for 30 seconds and multiply that up to a feature and you will see that some of these guys have a lot more to work with than some of their movies. And of course they get paid very well. And they get to be in control, no studio to deal with. And the whole process is done in about a month or so, so they get to have that fulfilling feeling of seeing their work come to life much more quickly than the year or so it takes to shoot and post a movie. So if they can do a few spots inbetween movies, it keeps the tools sharp, they make an income, can wait for/ work on their next project.
posted by percyman at 3:22 PM on April 27, 2006

Something worse than those who force advertising on us 24/7 are people like you who pretend it's not happening.

Aye. That's what I was going to say, pretty much.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:21 PM on April 27, 2006

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