Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Life Aquatic

So, I just saw The Life Aquatic, the new movie from Wes Anderson. I completely loved The Royal Tenenbaums, the opening sequence, with 'Hey Jude,' is similar in scope and genius to the 'One' sequence in Magnolia. It tells the whole story of the family, and introduces all the characters in five or so minutes, with astonishingly inventive visual tropes. The end where the falcon flies off just left me in awe. But, I'm not as big a fan of Rushmore and Bottle Rocket. They were definitely quirky, but sometimes too self consciously so.

Where does Life Aquatic fall? It's not as good as Tenenbaums, but it's definitely better than his first two films. Bill Murray is so relaxed in his performance, he's almost catatonic and it works perfectly for the character. He is Steve Zissou, and serves as the anchor of the movie, no pun intended. The visual style of the movie is really interesting. The sea creatures are CG, and are incorporated seamlessly with the live action stuff. The underwater photography is great, and the pastiche documentaries are hilarious.

I love the relationship between Jane and Ned, it develops naturally and is really sweet. Klaus is a great character, and was interesting to watch whenever he was on. The way the movie moved between mostly light comedy, and some heavy drama was really interesting to watch, and the death at the end is completely unexpected, and seems almost unbelievable. It doesn't belong in the world of the film.

Some of the stuff in the film strays into the overly quirky. Also, Steve's whole situation is rather muddled, and what he wants and where he's going isn't exactly clear. This isn't necessarily a negative, but it makes it tough to really get involved with the characters. He sort of drifts through the film, and as a result, the film doesn't have a real feeling of forward momentum. This doesn't stop it from being a good film, but it may prevent it from being a great film.

However, there is one incredible sequence that pretty much makes up for any of the problems, and that's when they go undersea in the submarine and confront the jaguar shark. Sigur Ros' Starl Fur is the soundtrack, and the jaguar shark is an astonishing thing. It's a perfect combination of music and image, and a transcendent movie moment. See the movie for that alone.

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