Hey folks, Harry here... and man oh man am I glad that blowhard Moriarty and Mr (Thesaurus) Beaks didn't get to see THE LIFE AQUATIC. After Mori saw SPIDER-MAN 2 first, I couldn't stand the jealousy if he managed to see THE LIFE AQUATIC first. And luckily, now that it has already screened, with his time machine decommissioned he has no chance of seeing it early. (How do I know his Time Machine isn't functional? - Well how would he be so consistently late with his DVD SHELF reports if it was working... unless he just doesn't care about us all?) That all said... seems that Wes Anderson knocked this one across the sun... many claim that's Venus, but we know the truth, that shadow on the surface of the sun, that's Wes Anderson's homerun... clear enough the Universe can see! Beware of SPOILERS - the short and sweet is that the film is genius...
Just saw a screening of the new Wes Anderson film THE LIFE AQUATIC at the arclight, here in Los angeles. Apparently, they have now changed the name to THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU. no real spoilers below
the huge crowd was packed with young LA hipsters, knowing full well and greatly anticipating the new film by the great young director, Wes Anderson. Let me be the first to say it; they sure as hell weren't dissapointed. I can't remember watching a movie with such an explosive audience response. It got a long round of applause at the end and endless laughter throughout. This will be big.
I loved THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS and embarassingly enough have never seen RUSHMORE or BOTTLEROCKET. well i saw 20 minutes of BOTTLEROCKET if that counts. probably not.
The first thing you will notice with THE LIFE AQUATIC is how much it resembles THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS. Its art style, direction, camera work, music, oddness, are seem in the vein of THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS. There are so many little connections between the two films here and there, there will probably be websites up connecting to the two.
but THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS and THE LIFE AQUATIC are two very different films. If THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS was "funny, strange, unique, bizzare, wild" then THE LIFE AQUATIC makes it seem like a bad episode of the cosby show. THE LIFE AQUATIC is so wild, so ingeniously twisted and strange its like nothing you have ever seen before. From the brilliant art direction, to the great cast and everything in between, its one of the best film's i've seen in a long, long time.
THE STORY: Bill murray plays steven zissou, a pot smoking documentary filmmaker who makes films on the ocean with the help of his trusty crew. When one of his crew members is killed by a huge shark, Steve, vows to capture and kill this shark and give his carrer the boost it needs
best ensemble cast i have ever seen in a movie period.
BILL MURRAY will get another oscar nod. Its a sure bet. Without a doubt the greatest comic performance I have ever seen. Bill managed to be hilarious even without saying anything. oddly enough, his character in this film is rather similar to his one in LOS IN TRANSLATION, but in this film it works even better. Whereas the material in LOST IN TRANSLATION was elevated by his perfomrnace, here its the other way around. THe wackiness of everything in the film beautifully plays on Murray. The role fits him like a glove. Murray is in every single scene in the movie. He rules it all. And when he goes ape shit on a bunch of pirates..... just you wait.
OWEN WILSON, an actor I normally don't care for was also very good in a large, very important role
the beautiful CATE BLANCHET, a pregnant journalist writing an article on Steve Zissou is fantastic in a more dramatic role. She is one of the finest actress we have around, and this is easily one of her best performances. SHe looks so vastly different from anything she has been in I couldn't recognize her for a good while. She is perfect for the role.
WILLEM DAFOE plays a deckhand with a thick german(?) accent. He is in the movie for slapstick jokes and he is greatly used. He had the crowd roaring throughout. Very silly, wonderfully hilarious.
the return OF JEFF GOLDBLUM!!!! proving what a kick ass actor he has been, Goldblum steals the show as the "villian" of the picture. Not a big role, but its perfect. Very funny.
THE ART DIRECTION & CINEMATOGRAPHY both deserve oscars. Simply put, the greatest art direction i have seen in years in a film. the equpitment of the ship, the rooms on the ship were jaw dropping. The film looked like nothing i have seen before. Everything on the ship seems to be a cartoon, but at the same time totally real. Its pure fantasy fluff, but not enough to not be beliavable. I don't want to spoil anything, but when you see the film you will see what im talking about.
DIRECTION/SCREENPLAY fantastic. just fantastic. probably evern shaper and more visually arresting than ROYAL TENENBAUMS
I was thinking about explain the look of the creatures in this film, but i'll pass. Its something to see for yourselves. Once again, like nothing you've seen before.
THE LIFE AQUATIC is simply great. Constantly hilarious. If you are not laughing out loud, you are smiling non stop. The film runs a perfect 2 hours and will be rated R for brief nudity, language, violence and drug use. Pretty mild R. I dunno if we were the first screening audience for this film, but it seemed perfect now. Except for a few color problems that will be fixed, this version was PERFECT. Nothing dragged, all the effects seemed in order. This film could be releaed in a week.
If you liked THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS you will love this. If you didn't love THE ROYAL TENEBAUMS stay clear away from this. It's not for everyone, but THE AQUATIC LIFE is one hell of a film.
i probably did a real bad job at explaining the look of the film. Its something i just can't describe. Its part 50's b movie science fiction, part SEA QUEST and part ROYAL TENENBAUMS. I wish i could describe it in more detail, but i just can't...its so strange, so different...it will hit you like a ton of bricks.
and now someone with a very different opinion...
Hey Harry, I got tickets to a screening of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (as it was called on the "screening opinion card") at the Archlight theater in Hollywood tonight and you'll have to excuse my ability, or lack thereof, to write a proper review, but here goes....
the film was absolutely amazing!!! And I found out when it was too late that Wes Anderson himself was in attendance...damn...Anyway let me assure you i'm a HUGE Wes Anderson fan! Loved Bottle Rocket, Rushmore was fucking amazing, and Tenenbaums was fantastic. But folks let me tell you something, The Life Aquatic blows ALL THREE out of the water (pun intended!). I'm gonna start off by saying BILL MURRAY IS GOD!!! I didn't particularly enjoy Lost in Translation, but i'm telling you He's getting another oscar with this one!! His character Steve Zissou was just amazing! He's a dick, but you can't help but love him for it!! I won't go too deep into the plot because, well, there's just too much to get into, It's funny, exciting, and dramatic, which makes the flow of the film perfect. I never found myself looking at my watch, or wondering how it would end, because you just don't have time to!! There's so much going on, and it just grabs you from the get-go! Anyway let me dive into some of the characters a little bit for you:
Owen Wilson as Ned Plympton: MAGNIFICO!! His best performance yet!! Though, he sports a Southern accent that, at times, seems to come and go, but it's not distracting. He's no Dignan, but he's still damn good!
Willem Dafoe as Klaus Daimler: OH MY SHIT PANTS!! Ok whatever you're thinking, if you like him or not, if you think he's super creepy looking, well your right about one thing, he is goddamn creepy looking, but HOLY SHIT is his character just PERFECT!! He's plays a person that you will absolutley not expect him to play, and goddamn is he good at it...My second favorite performance next to Bill Murray. Funny as hell!! I think it's ok that Kumar Pallana isnt in this one, as long as we have Klaus Daimler to fill the void of clueless foriegn characters that Wes Anderson loves so much.
Cate Blanchett as Jane Winslett-Richardson: GREAT! just GREAT! She plays the Rosemary Cross from Rushmore type character in this one. Both Bill Murray and Owen Wilson's characters have a thing for her. Which adds to some tension later on in the film....But i won't give any of it away...But she becomes a member of the "crew" as a reporter getting the scoop on Bill Murray's going-ons.
Anjelica Huston as Eleanor Zissou: She plays Bill Murray's sister, she's a bit unsupportive of Steve, but you'll see why when you see it. She just keeps getting better, she's like fine wine!!
Jeff Goldblum as Hennessey: Steve Zissou's nemesis!! GODDAMN I LOVE GOLDBLUM!! He's PERFECT!! PERFECT!! ok, seriously though, I won't say another word about his performance, you'll have to see him in action for yourselves!!!
ok and now on to some of the technical aspects of the film:
HENRY SELICK!!! OH MAN OH MAN OH MAN!!! OK the print we saw was a "rough cut" but MAN OH MAN THE EFFECTS WERE SOOO DAMN COOL!! I'm telling you guys, this stuff is great!! It's all stop motion animation, no CGI here, well, maybe there was some CGI...but for the most part ALL of the underwater creatures were stop motion animated puppets!! Very cool looking indeed!! I'm glad he went with stop motion, and not CGI for the creatures!! Three cheers for Henry Selick! HIP HIP HOORAY!!! I think this definately makes up for Monkey Bone......well....i dunno we'll see about that....
Oh and one more thing, they sure as hell used some original music from Mark Mothersbaugh!! And if what i heard was final score, then folks, your in for some damn good stuff!! I can't wait to pick up this soundtrack!!! And I know how strongly some of you feel about Wes Anderson soundtracks!! It's different from his other scores, you'll notice right away, but holy shit its soooo good!! Well i will say this, i didnt hear any Rolling Stones, but my ears did perk up when i heard Radiohead's Everything in it's Right Place, in one of the most AMAZING shots i've EVER seen on film!! Ok, i'll let this one slip: The scene is Steve Zissou's HUGE boat cut in half with a side view of all the rooms, and gadgets it sports! Sort of like when we see all of the clubs Max belongs to in Rushmore, we're treated to a cool montage of all the rooms and special areas of the boat...just stunning work....all of it. And the score, absolutely amazing...shit is that some sort of record for saying "amazing" in a review? whatever.....
Alright so, maybe this isnt the best review you've read, no plot outline, no intelligent babble about character development, or camera angles.....just go see it when it comes out. I assure you, it won't be dissapointing. Oh and my only complaint? I have to wait till December 25th to see it again, which is the official release date, according to someone who was "close" to Wes Anderson.
you can call me, Mistersh0w.
And the flip flopping continues with this review...
At the end of my questionaire after seeing Wes Anderson's THE LIFE AQUATIC tonight at the Arclight, one of the questions to answer was "What was your favorite thing about the film?" I started thinking at first that there were too many wonderful things about the film to list on a questionaire only providing me four lines to answer the question.
Would it be Wes Anderson's direction or writing? Anderson has surely become one of the, for lack of a better word, winningest directors or auteurs, if you will, in the game today. Every story similar, but very different from the last. All of his plays are stagey (and I'll get more into that later), but they still feel like a film. All of his films have an incredible ensemble cast that propel the film, but still manage to be led by a main character, who we learn the most about, and who evenly affects every character in the film. And every time, that main character turns out to be a real son of a bitch, but we see the human behind him. That's the beauty of Wes Anderson, is that we watch his films, and realize that each of us, is kind of an asshole, but that assholes are human too. And even when he takes his main protagonists to that over the edge asshole level, we still manage to build an empathy, a caring, and an understanding of their plight. It's like his films have the recurring theme of teaching a lesson in the art of forgiveness. You never hate Royal Tenenbaum by the end of each film.
Much of this film looks like its shot on a stage, and it actually works very well. However, this film uses quite a bit of animation in it, a first for Anderson, that works beautifully in the film. The animation is very surreal, but so is much of the film. Even the all human parts of this film go into the incredibly surreal zone (especially the gunfights), but it works for the film. It's interesting that he used the mysterious ocean as the backdrop for this film because the real journey we are going into is the mystery behind the heart of Steve Zissou, ocean adventurer and filmmaker.
Is it Bill Murray's performance that wins the film? Well, it certainly helps. This is a much different character than the guy we fell in love with in Lost in Translation. He's very similar to Royal Tenenbaum in that he's very self serving, egomaniacal, and often crass. The film begins with his film having just premiered, and everyone thinking that he has lost his touch. He's washed up. His nemesis played brilliantly by Jeff Goldblum, is ready to completely own the throne they have both shared in their careers. His wife, Eleanor, gloriously played by Angelica Huston, who knows of his insecurities, and his infidelities, wants to leave him. His financing seems to be falling through for his 'part 2 cliffhanger', which is a mission to capture the "jaguar shark", an elusive giant shark that ate Steve's best friend during filming of the first movie, but who many believe might not actually exist. And when all seems to be drying up, arrives Ned Plympton (Owen Wilson, also brilliant), pilot for Air Kentucky, who quite possibly could be Steve's long lost son. As part of their 'bonding project', Ned invests an inheritance he has received in Steve's film, possibly Steve's swan song. And so it begins.
Willem Dafoe, playing 180 degrees against type, is incredible as Klaus Daimler, Steve's assistant for many years who adores him. Dafoe, who I've always seen as a guy who plays either tough guys, or Jesus, plays a softie with a complete undying loyalty to Steve. He sees his new bonding with Ned as a threat, and struggles to maintain in Steve's good graces throughout, eventually forming a bond with Ned in the process. Cate Blanchett comes aboard the ship as a reporter doing a piece on Steve and his career. She looks incredibly yummy and tan in this film, and is even pregnant throughout, yet maintaining her yummyness. Steve of course, is looking to just nail her, while Ned falls in love with her, causing a riff between the father and son bond throughout the film.
The beauty of Steve's character is that he seems (much like Royal Tenenbaum) to be a character who has always had a great deal of success in his life. So he's never really had to play by the rules, and never really had to adhere to the norms of society i.e. politeness, sharing, or doing anything for the purpose of anything other than benefitting himself. He sleeps around. He takes his shipmates for granted. He neglects his wife. He does these things because as a success he has never had any consequences from these actions. Once his star starts to dim, he has to learn these life lessons, and most of them he learns from Ned, a guy who has never been a star. Kobe Bryant, take note.
Knowing any more about this story doesn't do the film any justice, so I don't want to spoil any more if it for you. I will say that knowing that Noah Baumbach worked on the script, I was surprised that the dialogue still sounded completely like a Wes Anderson film, and not the quirky talkieness of a "Mr. Jealousy' or a 'Kicking and Screaming'. It's still a Wes movie.
The answer I finally wrote on my questionaire was that what I liked best about the film is that it lived up to it's expectations. Something I hope Wes Anderson continues to do for the rest of his career, and something that is a true rarity these days.
Thirteen corpses. Two breasts, though repeatedly. Shark Fu. Glock Fu. Gun shot wound to the neck. Gratuitous Q&A. Machete to the shoulder. Gunshot to the chest. Sunken boat. Intern Fu. Rock N Roll Detective Nominations for Willem Dafoe for saying "Now we're even." Gratuitous "Steve-sie" and "Kingsley" Pirate takeovers. Rock N Roll Detective Nomination for Jeff Goldblum for saying "Supposively, I'm gay", and "Is this my cappucino machine?", AND "It's an estimate." Looting. Pillaging. Hostage taking. Exploding hotel lobby. Harpoon Gun Fu. Animated Fish. Moustache Fu. Deliberate Pregnant Cate Blanchett. Pistol Whip to the head. Bond Company Stooge Fu. "I'm a Pepper" t-shirt. Rock N Roll Detective Nomination for Bill Murray, the first two time recipient, for saying "Tell them to get off my boat, or there's gonna be a shitstorm."
Ford says this one floats.
So I guess (SHOCK) that this movie rocks?