Monday, December 13, 2004

Aquatic, round 2.

I was going to write a lengthy essay about my second go-round with Mr. Zissou, but it's... well, it's depressing and not really worth it. Guys, I hate to say it, but it's just not a very good movie. Even after the second viewing. (Sorry, Thighmaster.)
Sure, it's got some nice composition, a great Mothersbaugh electo-number, and a few chuckles. But it has no heart. The other three Wes movies work becuase, for all their quirky characters and bouts of whimsey, there's an anchor of humanism and empathy there. Not so with ze Zissou, where we get a solid two hours of masturbatory precociousness that's schtick-coma-inducing. I think what's most telling is that I'm not alone on this one. My friends are a group of Wes-fanatics and none of them liked the film and none of them will even remotely stick up for it.
Anyway, here's hoping for the best when Wes meets the Fantastic Mr. Fox in 2006.


At 12:23 AM, Blogger Ben said...

Ben, this is strike two. One more time and I might actually have to believe you that Wes made a bad movie. So, please, for the sake of all of us out there who treasure Rushmore so much, perhaps you could go easy on it the next time. Say you like the hats, or the shoes or where Bill Murray punches Owen in the face. SOMETHING!

At 7:40 AM, Blogger Ben said...


Trust me, Rushmore means a lot to me and Tenenbaums is, in my mind, one of the best films I've seen in the past decade.
Aquatic positives: I would kill for a pair of Zissou Addidas. Willem Dafoe is great. There are some nice magical touches with the boat. Mothersbaugh's main musical piece (that electro- groove thing from the trailer-- that they pipe into their scuba helmets), that rules. But, um.... This one will make you hold Rushmore and the other two that much closer.


At 10:30 AM, Blogger r_mike_c said...

I agree to a certain extent. I think "Life" is to us die hard Wes Anderson fans what "Pinkerton" was to us die hard Weezer fans. There was a formula that worked, we loved it, we were disappointed and even hurt when it was not used again.

But after time and other albums were released, we grew to understand it as part of Rivers Cuomo's musical growth, and in that, found that it was more like the first album than anything else since.

Aside from being terribly pretentious and perhaps a bit depressing in my analogy (if not fairly obscure), what I am trying to say is that I'm going to give Zissou some time before I make any judgements.

I remember going to see the Royal Tenenbaums and being slightly let down. It was a wonderful and touching film. It was the apex of the Anderson/Wilson forumla. But it was a formula. Still one of the best films I've ever seen - but I remember thinking "this is the last time he can do this - what can he do next that he hasn't already done?"

I think we got the answer to that question.

In that respect I am happy. I thought it was a great and ambitious film. But I do think the writing and story suffered somewhat for lack of accessibility / some of the character development (especially Zissou). If I had to name one thing that caused this, I'd say it was the absence of Wilson in the writing team, but then I'd be speculating.

That and Jason Schwartzman. Joking.

So I definitely loved it. Definitely expect it to be one of the best major studio films of the year. But as yet I don't think it hit the same mark as the other three. But I have a feeling I will not feel that way in a few years.

Unfortunately Bill Murray will probably get the Oscar for what is a ultimately a non-memorable character and performance compared to some of this other work (Herman Blume primarily) as the rest of the world finally agrees to 'get' Wes Anderson.


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