Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
The deeper you go, the weirder life gets.
Wes Anderson’s incisive quirky comedy build up stars complex characters like in ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ with Bill Murray on in the leading role. An ocean adventure documentary film maker Zissou is put in all imaginable life situations and a tough life crisis as he attempts to make a new film about capturing the creature that caused him pain.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is Wes Anderson in a nutshell: strange, funny, bittersweet, droll, adventurous, wonderful and able to perfectly pack a strong emotional punch into an otherwise quirky romp. He creates his own sense of bubbling and irresistible artificiality - this time, essentially playing with toy boats - but in it all injects so much more in the ways of emotion that his playful dioramas unveil humanity, hilarity and that burning and wondrous sensation to cry and laugh all at once.
The story, as straight as it can, follows an oceanographer/adventurer and his crew on what may be a simple revenge mission - kill the shark that ate my friend - or, and most likely is so,…
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou is a film which takes its time to divulge all of its dimensions. First comes the blunt, black humour which Wes Anderson typically keeps measured. It's a hilarious film which chronicles Steve Zissou's unprecedented adventure which moves between kidnappings, gunfights and deep sea diving escapades with the typical quirkiness and fluidity. Then comes the scope and spirit. It covers such vast ground in its two hours - sailing the high seas with a crew that is as colourful as can be. But after some thought, then the drama begins to manifest. A story of a man traversing a mid-life crisis, a conflicted conscience and a vehement revenge mission. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou…
Sunday Morning Review!
I wonder if it remembers me...
God that line and that scene are great. Wes Anderson is great at leaving the climax of his films to one, powerful sentence. It was the same with the "I've had a rough year, dad." line from Tenenbaums, which never fails to turn my face into the Mississippi River.
I think the reason Life Aquatic failed to bring the waterworks might subconsciously be the films biggest "problem." It really is a plethora of misguided emotions. But with that being said, Life Aquatic has always been a Wes Anderson film that I've had a strange fondness for. I love the concept, I like the cheesy but charming deep sea creature effects, I…
"In 10 days I'm going to set out to find the shark that ate my friend and destroy it. Anyone who wants to tag along is more than welcome."
Wes Anderson is one of those few directors whose style and quirky sense of humor is so unique that you could tell what films he's directed only by catching a few seconds of any scene from his movies. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou is perhaps his most divisive film, and I can understand why considering it is heavily stylized (the set pieces in this film are gorgeous), but it isn't really as funny as most of his other films. I stand in the middle with The Life Aquatic, I don't…
Needed something to wash Asian School Girls out of my brain, and I recently picked up the Life Aquatic Criterion so I decided to check out the Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach commentary track. This will therefore not be a review of the film itself but rather of the commentary, although since it's my favorite Wes Anderson film I'm sure I'll get around to writing about it eventually.
The commentary track is pretty great overall, although they decided to record it in the cafe where the duo did the majority of the writing for the film and as a result there's a lot of background noise. They stay on topic for the most part and generally discuss their inspiration for…
A work of genius. This film is all over the place but I love it for that. It's also one of the funniest films I've seen. I've owned this for years and have no idea why it took me so long to watch it. It's also got some perfect David Bowie covers on an acoustic guitar with portuguese singing. Seriously, what's not to love.
The style that all of Wes Anderson possess is what makes his movies so special, they are simply like no others. This one easily slots in as his third best outing, as only The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Royal Tenenbaums overcome it.
The performance of Bill Murray is one of his best, and that's saying a lot, and he carries this movie, even though Cate Blanchett, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston and Willem Defoe all deliver fantastic supporting roles.
What was I doing rating this film only three stars ???? How barbaric.
Rewatching this film made my think more highly of it. I came to look at it from another perspective, a more surreal one. After watching the grand budapest hotel and loving the crap out of it, I familiarised with Wes Anderson's way of showing pictures. Somewhat weird, always flavorful, and with a touch of surrealism.
The crappy cgi turned into a dream world.
The confusing storytelling was actually touching and flavorful.
Omg what was I thinking... I'm so ashamed of myself...
When viewing a film that you have previously professed to be one of your all time favorites (I even have Steve Zissou's hat tattooed on my forearm), you sometimes go in with a slight sense of trepidation. What if the film doesn't live up to my memory of it? What if I've watched it too many times and the novelty has worn off? What if my expectations are just too high?
If you're lucky though, you'll find that you enjoy the first scene again. Then the second and the third. And by the time Bill Murray tells you about his boat, you've forgotten that you were ever worried. And in the end, when they see that Jaguar Shark and everyone puts there hands on Steve, you fully remember why you loved it so much to begin with.
For me, this might be Anderson's funniest film laugh for laugh. Maybe because he seems to be going for broke in terms of comedic style. As with other Anderson films, a rewatch (or two) is key to tuning into its emotional wavelength.
Zissou's transformation is vintage Anderson and I buy everything that Murray's selling. Even more than in RUSHMORE, Anderson is toying with Murray's image here. Steve Zissou is an older, even more embittered sibling of Peter Venkman, John Winger*, and Phil Connors. He eschews responsibility, berates those around him, yet age and waning has left him in dire emotional territory. He's a real asshole, but Murray plays him with enough color and dimension to allow an audience to care about him anyways.
* "You can't go! Who's gonna tell us the Latin names of all the fishes and everything? You know I can't remember all that shit." versus "You can't go! All the plants are gonna die."
Wes Anderson gets messier and messier, piling on pathos and sadness in this, as if he created this beautiful world without cause and effect. Granted, it's a gorgeous world, maybe his most appealing to date. But emotionally, this movie is all over the place, hard to follow. Like the "reveal" that Ned isn't Steve's son, it changes absolutely nothing about what came before or what comes after. A lot of the drama in this feels more like Anderson and Baumbach colliding these characters they've created together in different ways to pass the time than a coherent narrative.
It's too bad that Anderson's Bill Murray-focused film had to be so messy. There's nothing Murray does here that he doesn't do better in Rushmore. B-
Bill Murray is good and so is his character Steve Zissou. He's interesting and well-written and frequently hilarious and all 3 stars are for him. The rest of the characters aren't interesting at all which sucks.
In retrospect, this movie represents a turning point in Wes Anderson's career. His movies have always been distinctively his own, with certain recurring visual motifs and storytelling themes, but this represents a major step in the direction of the fantastic, with set design that doesn't seem at all based in reality, and a cluttered emotional arc that veers from dry humor to wistfulness to incredible sadness within moments.
I love Tenenbaums and Rushmore as well (not a huge Bottle Rocket fan, but I ought to rewatch it), but for me, this is the movie where Anderson really came into his own. Somewhat paradoxically, the more artificial Anderson's movies get, the more emotionally affecting they get as well.
This one gets better every time I watch it. Feels less sluggish. "I wonder if it remembers me" is a fucking fantastic line.
It's absolutely bananas and yet somehow it's still perfectly tender and ultimately human.
Wes Anderson is able to form truly animated characters and immerse them in an even further fantastical world whilst keeping a firm grasp on emotion and naturalism. It is an unfathomable skill which is why he is truly one of cinema's most unique voices.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is crammed with wonderful performances, spectacular music and eye-popping cinematography. Anderson's uses of mise-en-scene enable key moments here to look like motion paintings; snapshots of candy-coloured bizarre beauty.
As always the dialogue is amazing too - even the simplest of lines can pack tons of punch.
- Only God Forgives
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
- Spring Breakers
- A Field in England
- Eyes Wide Shut
- Speed Racer
- Marie Antoinette
- Spring Breakers
Peeping Tom, Night of the Hunter and a whole host of older films were ignored or given bad reviews upon…
- Grand Illusion
- Seven Samurai
- The Lady Vanishes
- The 400 Blows
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 160/739