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Sundance ’11: ‘Submarine’ Director Richard Ayoade Responds To Wes Anderson Comparisons

Sundance '11: 'Submarine' Director Richard Ayoade Responds To Wes Anderson Comparisons

Cites ‘The Ice Storm,’ ‘Flirting’ & ‘Show Me Love’ As Influences

We promised you’d be seeing a lot more about Richard Ayoade’s debut “Submarine” on the site. Over the weekend the poster for the film was released and while we’re still waiting on that trailer, the director has been busy at the Sundance Film Festival doing press for the film where it screens all week. The film, a coming-of-age tale of an awkward Welsh teenager trying to save his parents’ marriage while falling for his pyromaniac girlfriend, has been picking up pretty stellar reviews. Despite our excitement for the project, one of the things that has us a slight bit worried are the comparisons to Wes Anderson. We love Wes but generally only when he’s the one making the films. In an interview with Gordon and The Whale (full video below), Ayoade addresses some of these comparisons.

“I love Wes Anderson films. I think he’s great. I think the more likely reality is that I imagine the films we both like are similar. I think there are certain things that are in the cultural rolodex at one time and so no one would particularly talk about ‘The Ice Storm‘ which to me is as big an influence on this. Or even ‘Flirting‘ with Noah Taylor or ‘Show Me Love‘ the Lukas Moodysson film. And I think because there are so few filmmakers with a very distinctive style, which he has, he has become a very easily name dropped thing for a certain sensibility. In a way that people no longer say ‘Oh, this is like Mike Nichols,’ which it clearly is. Wes Anderson is pretty clearly an admirer of Mike Nichols, but no one will say ‘Oh, that’s really very like ‘The Heartbreak Kid‘, that’s very like how Charles Grodin is in that” because it’s no longer in the cultural rolodex. And so it’s weird like when My Bloody Valentine came out, everyone said they were really like The Jesus and Mary Chain because they use feedback and clearly now you know, they’re so dissimilar. And I remember reading an interview about them saying that it becomes like “so what” you end up trying to distance yourself from a band that you really like. So it becomes very hard to know what to do with this information.”

Ayoade went on to say that he felt his film had more in common with “Billy Liar,” the 1963 film by John Schlesinger (director of classics like “Midnight Cowboy” and “Marathon Man” among others) but because his name isn’t as much a part of the cultural conversation, its influence has been undetected. “As a director, John Schlesinger doesn’t really get mentioned very much anymore. I don’t know why. I suppose it’s because he’s not an adjective yet and in a way, Wes Anderson, he’s amazing, but he has become an adjective. Which is a very simple way to denote a certain type of thing. It’s like films being described as “Lynchian” just because it’s an adjectival term now. You can say ‘It’s like Cecil B. DeMille‘ because people know what that denotes but you can’t really say ‘It’s Lindsay Anderson-like’ because it just isn’t an adjective yet. Despite that, who can have a stronger voice than Lindsay Anderson?”

Ayoade admits that while he thinks “Rushmore” is “a completely perfect film,” that it’s really more about friendship “like a great male love story between [Jason] Schwartzman and Bill Murray.” Even though ‘Submarine’ is a straightforward boy/girl love story, Ayoade doesn’t mind the comparisons. “In a way for me, it’s quite good being compared to Wes Anderson because people who like Wes Anderson I imagine, or I think people who like Wes Anderson have good taste. So you hope if people like Wes Anderson at least that’s one good thing they like. But in a way it’s good that people are saying Wes Anderson because it’s probably disguising how much it’s ripped off ‘The Squid and The Whale.'” You can watch the entire interview with the self-deprecating director below.

“Submarine” is still screening this week at the Sundance Film Festival and will open in the U.K. on March 18 and in North America this summer.

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