1.12.2005

Is It Me, or Is Wes Anderson Boring?

Just saw Life Aquatic. Loved Rushmore, Royal Tannenbaums left me lukewarm, and this new one didn't make me laugh once. The characters speak past each other, everyone wears a stiff , dour expression, and every shot is like a tableau. The straight-faced goofiness wore thin, again, after about five minutes. It was creative, but it just bounced right off me. Didn't care about the characters at all. The dog Cody was my favorite -- the only one who seemed real and warm.

12 comments:

dunkeys said...

What about Cate Blanchett, who was great as a pregnant Katherine Hepburn, and George Clooney's cameo as the jaguar shark? How can you criticize such a fine film?

Grendel said...

Cate was good, I have to admit. And Clooney's interpretation of a jaguar shark was spot on and impressive. The whole movie, I would have to say, is "good" in that in its individual elements it was good filmmaking. But it felt too stylized the whole time, too Wes Anderson-y, too tongue-in-cheek, too "let's have every scene be a series of straight-faced goofy interactions that aren't really interactions." I went in with every expectation of loving it... but love was hard to find that evening.

Charlemagne said...

As one who has not seen Life Aquatic yet I must ask what the music was like. I am a big fan of the way Wes Anderson uses music in his movies. I've heard accounts of much David Bowie, but I don't know much more about it. The use of the Nico songs in Tennenbaums was achingly beautiful for this old Frankish monarch.

Brando said...

Rushmore is one of my favorite films, and The Royal Tannenbaums was a very entertaining mess (too many ideas, not enough time to flesh them all out). Haven't seen Life Aquatic yet, but I do remember being highly unimpressed with Bottle Rocket, his first movie. I have heard many of Corbin's criticisms echoed in other reviews, but Rushmore is so good that Anderson gets a lifetime pass from me.

Grendel said...

As for the music in Aquatic, it consists mostly of the ship's wheel man, the guy at the tiller, who takes a break about 55 minutes out of every hour to sing David Bowie songs in French whilst strumming along. The songs are great -- it might be worth it get the soundtrack just for those. He's a kind of Chorus, like the mice in Babe, appearing every so oftenas a microinterlude. And the final Bowie song, sung by the man himself, is a nice rocker I'd never heard before, but then I'm not a huge Bowie fan.

dunkeys said...

Tenenbaums is great -- I believe El Gordo has correctly pointed it's resemblance to the tales of the Glass children (has anyone else read Raise High the Roof beam, Carpenters, by the way? aMAzing!) -- and Bottle Rocket was lame, and Rushmore was good, and Life Aquatic is weird, yet good. It's supposed to be plasticky, I think . . . or at least, I'm more than willing to listen to an effective argument as to why it is the way it is (by listen to, I mean "read"):

http://www.tucsonweekly.com/gbase/cinema/Content?oid=oid:64054

Color me somewhat convinced.

And the Bowie songs are in Portugese, dude. And while I know this is a Wes Anderson thing, did anyone else notice that Frances has a story in the O.Henry 2005? Kick ass, girl.

Grendel said...

Portuguese, French, oh yeah, big diff! Sheez. Besides, Edwin Portugal, from whom whence the "language" of said name is derived, was French, or at least his mother was.

Did not know that about Frances. That fucking rocks. Anyone have her email address so we can get a real writer to post on this blog?

Grendel said...

That article argues well for the film's innovative technical surrealism, and God knows I'm all for that, but if the characters don't grab me, all the clever techniques in the world aren't worth $6.50. I loved the glowing jellyfish, the CG lizards and fish, the jaguar shark, the cutaway fake boat, and the fact that every species mentioned in the film doesn't exist. But that's not enough for me it turns out. To be good, a film has to tell a good story through interesting characters, and this one didn't do that for me.

TLB said...

Ms. Frances was available, last I heard, at frances589@uol.com.br I don't know if she will appreciate me posting this on the internet but I'm sure she'd love to hear from y'all

She is the goddess, after all.

P.S. Did anyone see Jennifer Haigh, alas not of the class of 2003 but merely 2002, on the Today show last Friday morning?

El Gordo de Amore said...

While Wes Anderson movies are dreamy, plastic, and a bit incoherent at times, I love them unreservedly because, for whatever reason, they make me feel good and hopeful about myself. Not in a "God-those-people-on-Road-Rules-are-so-desperate-to-be-on-TV-I'm-so-glad-I'm-not-them" kind of way, but in a "hey-life-is-actually-quite-cool" way. Very few artistic endeavors do that (Guided by Voices "Official Ironmen's Rally Song" and George Saunders's "CivilWarLand in Bad Decline" are notable exceptions).

Does anyone else feel this with Anderson's films, or do I just have some deep emotional bonds to fellow Texians?

Except for President Jackass, who is from Connecticut.

dunkeys said...

I feel the same way, Gordo. But I just had an essay on that Saunders book accepted, and it isn't very positive.

Anderson: thumbs up.
Saunders: thumbs down.

(is that going to get me kicked off this site?)

Danii Curry said...

wes anderson is unconditionally amazing.
this film was completely up to par with his other ones, and to criticize it as "boring" demonstrates...a complete and utter jadedness to all that is worth while.

end of story.

he is great. the movie had a few flaws yes, but overall it's the best movie i've seen since garden state.