I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel tonight and it made me giddy. I’m a Wes Anderson fan and I don’t care if that’s not cool or uncool or whatever we’re supposed to be about movies these days. I like how stylized and formalized his films are. I mean…it’s a thing and for me it is what it is. But an Anderson defense isn’t what this is about.
Anderson’s first film made with the Wilson Bros. Owen & Luke is Bottle Rocket and is one of my favorite movies about my home state, Texas, They are all native Texans and all went to the University of Texas at Austin where I spent years and years as a graduate student. Watching Grand Budapest made me think about Bottle Rocket and what my favorite Texas movies are so I thought I’d list them. As with most of my lists, they are in no particularly ranked order.
Also, for you purists, these may not be the BEST films about Texas but they are the ones I like the most. Also, I am perfectly aware that there are numerous perfectly fine & even great films missing from this list, but again: the ones I like the most. This is it.
1. Bottle Rocket
Wes Anderson’s first film about three guys in the outskirts of Dallas, not doing much of anything, who get themselves involved wackily in a heist. For me, the sensibility was relatable and real. And it’s hilarious.
2. Lone Star
John Sayles’ murder mystery that also explores how families from different racial & socioeconomic backgrounds intersect in a South Texas military town. This was one of the few times I ever saw a black family (Joe Morton as the father) depicted centrally in a film set in Texas, much less South Texas where to have media tell it, black folks don’t exist on the Texas/Mexico border. This is clearly not true, so I appreciated Sayles’ attention to that fact.
Big oil! Big cattle! Big feuds! Big racism! Rock Hudson, Liz Taylor, James Dean. Epic.
4. No Country For Old Men
The Coens’ SECOND time in Texas which they said is a source of evil or something (paraphrase). They sure as hell dug up some evil in Javier Bardem’s Chigurh. The West Texas views are splendid.
5. Blood Simple
The Coen Brothers made their first movie in and about Texas. It’s a noir that breaks convention in many ways. Just an amazing film.
6. Dazed & Confused
This is special for lots of others in my age group, nostalgia about nostalgia as well as the way high school never stops being the same. So many great early performances and a lotta heart.
7. Paris, Texas
By Wim Wenders and yes this is an actual place that exists. It’s kinda dreamy, about family, connection, trying to find home.
Because I am old and I wrote this in the middle of the night and was nodding off, I just now realized that I actually forgot that a bunch of movies I like a lot are actually set in Texas. So I’m adding them. One list to add to the main one, and an honorable mention list. Blurbage and video to come later.
10.The Thin Blue Line (NO not the Britcom w/Rowan Atkinson silly)
11. Office Space*
*Rushmore and Office Space were judgment calls. Neither film has a specified setting, but Rushmore is clearly made in Houston and Office Space in Austin and both filmmakers are Texans so they count.