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Wes Anderson: King of Empathy

"Andrew, can we talk?"

I was almost asleep. But one of the campers tugged on my shirt, his face barely visible in the darkness.

We weaved through a horde of snoring teenagers, gently cracked open the screen door, and sat down on the front porch of our cabin. Over the next hour, he poured out story after story of familial catastrophe, and I grew overwhelmed by his pain. Despite my camp counselor training, I sensed that anything I contributed at this moment would sound more like Job's friends than Jesus. All I could do was sit and mourn.

I went through the next day in a daze. Sometimes you see into the dark a little more clearly—sometimes your simplistic paradigms are shattered. It can come through a painful trauma or a near-death experience, but it can also happen between nine and ten o'clock on a cabin porch.

That evening, a few camp counselors gathered in the staff area to watch a Wes Anderson film. I walked by with just a glance. But while I couldn't have known it then, a lesson at the feet of Wes Anderson was just what I needed.

And maybe just what my camper needed as well.

Even if you haven't seen his movies, you've felt Wes Anderson's impact (his latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, releases on March 7). The writer/director's style and his actors' deadpan delivery have become familiar in the past decade or so. From The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou to The Darjeeling Limited to Moonrise Kingdom, Anderson leads audiences on hunts for mythical sharks, spiritual journeys through India, and a lone Khaki Scout's search for adulthood. No matter the story, his characters, after wrestling bravely to control the outside world, must accept the relational fracture ...

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Wes Anderson: King of Empathy
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