life aquatic

I am an unapologetic Wes Anderson fan. Some are calling him the "next Scorsese." I'm not sure that's true, and it's not why I like him, but he is a more than competent filmmaker. His most recent, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (nee The Life Aqautic), is a more than competent film.

Usually, I don't go for more cerebral films, though my all time favorite may be the most cerebral film ever made. Anyway, what I liked most about this film was not the imossibility of genrifying it, the subtle humor (there are almost no overt jokes in the movie), the unexpected moments of pathos, or the impeccable cast (Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Angelica Huston, Willem DaFoe, Cate Blanchett...), but the way the film looks and feels.

The art direction is terrific, especially the cut away boat set which is something you might see in a play. This excellent set allows the camera to move through walls in more than one scene, following action from room to room in one continuous take.

The story-- well, there isn't one. What I mean is, there is not only one story here, there are many. The film's narrative shows us the intersection of each of the main characters' stories with those of the others; sort of like life. This is a common feature of Wes Anderson's movies, which I think causes some to love and some to really not love his work. Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tannenbaum's, and now TLAWSZ all are ensemble pieces in which each character is allowed to have their own story, they are not simply there to focus attention on the main character. It requires an relational, emotional investment from the viewer, and so if one is in the mood for, say, action, horror, or comedy one should not see this film (though this film has lots of comedy and interestingly, a fair amount of both action and even horror). Anderson's is a style of filmmaking we're not seeing much anymore and I think that's our loss.

Mark Mothersbaugh (the brains behind Devo) did the original music, including one piece which we first hear in completely electronic form and again much later with a quite dramatic full orchestra. Very creative.

So I'm still a Wes Anderson fan, and at least one other blogger I know is onto the whole subtle way his films work on your emotions-though at least one of her commenters is decidedly not.

And I could write a whole post about Bill Murray; when are they finally gonna give this guy the Oscar he should have won at least twice already?

Oh, and I forgot to mention! The long tracking shot over the closing credits, where Bill Murray is joined by the whole cast, one at a time, as they walk together toward their ship seemed to me an obvious nod to another great movie: The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension and which also features Jeff Golblum, who woulda thunkit?

Jannotti tag: movies
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Cowtown Pattie said...

I haven't seen it yet, don't know why not. I was wanting to when it hit the big screen, but just never got to it.

Jim said...

Gosh, missed your comment here... I've been too busy humming Nowhere Man to myself.

I missed it in the theatre too. It's harder and harder to make time for a trip to the movies, especially at the current prices. I think it would have been fun to see it on a large screen, especially the shots of the boat set.