Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
who has even seven brain cells functioning and reads this column knows
that film these days is in serious and dire trouble. Unnecessary sequels,
redundant storylines, drab remakes, and otherwise undesirable ways to
spend tens of millions of dollars are pushed upon us by repulsive stuffed
shirts and seedy popcorn salesmen every year. At least those fucking
Old Navy Christmas commercials stopped after December 25th,
but these pricks never let up.
options are getting more and more narrow and even more limited by the
week, at least if we want to see a genuinely great film. It seems like
at least 90% of those who direct movies couldnít give a ratís ass about
their craft anymore. They make movies for the sole purpose of buying
a third house, supporting the granddaddy of all coke habits, or just
being able to know what it would be like to own four cars for every
day of the week
brings up to that other 10%. That rare breed that isnít afraid to give
us something new, fresh, and every once in a while, beautiful. And one
name that springs to mind in that department is Wes Anderson. Heís the
man behind such underground latter-day classics as Rushmore and
The Royal Tenenbaums.
fourth film is The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. He brings
back Bill Murray for a third time around, as Steve Zissou, a Jacques
Cousteau-type oceanographer whoís ten years into a professional slump.
He just lost his best friend and collaborator of nearly thirty years
to a shark accident, his marriage is failing, and a man who may or not
be his son has just popped into his life.†
traditional quirky fashion, Anderson shows us this world through an
outdated junior high filmstrip view, tainted with bizarreness and coated
with plenty of eccentricity. The filmís music consists of a score by
former Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh and a soundtrack comprised mostly
of acoustic Brazilian jazz covers of early David Bowie songs by one
of the shipís crew. Angelica Houston, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, and
Cate Blanchett round out the cast of peculiar characters, all impeccably
Life Aquatic also features some really great stop-still animation courtesy
of Henry Selick, who worked previously on Tim Burtonís a Nightmare
canít think of one thing wrong with Life Aquatic. It has everything
a great movie should and in all the right amounts. Itís also going to
have you listening to David Bowieís Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust
albums nonstop for weeks on end.
can never come up with a top ten list for movies of the year, at least
not without the ďin no particular orderĒ label placed upon it. 2004
has been a pretty weak year for movies, but if nothing else, I can say
that I have a favorite movie of the year for the first time in many
here we are, dead center in the season of the biopic. Weíve had to get
a fictitious gander into the lives of J.M. Barrie, Alfred Kinsey, Alexander
the Great, and now, the legendary nut Howard Hughes.
Aviator recounts Hughesí rise to success and fame up until the late
Ď40s; before he became the reclusive, full blown obsessive-compulsive
lunatic who tried to buy Las Vegas as his Mormon staff fed him shots
of morphine while he watched Ice Station Zebra on television.
Aviator is a cut above the rest of the biopics that have come out
this year. The legendary Martin Scorsese helms the directorís chair.
Scorsese does such a great job that you really forget that the story
is for the most part meaningless; youíre engaged and dazzled by the
world heís created.
excels to the point that you donít mind Leonardo DiCaprio for nearly
three hours as Hughes. Gwen Stefani has a brief role as Jean Harlow.
Thankfully, she doesnít sing and serves her purpose as the platinum
blonde eye/arm candy. Cate Blanchet is spectacular as the legendary
Katherine Hepburn. Jude Law does a brief stint as the rakish Errol Flynn,
and Kate Beckinsale begins to make up for every toilet-destined project
sheís done in the last three years as Ava Gardner.
Aviator is good, but not great. Much like Alexander, it overstays
its welcome at certain points, but for the most part makes reparations
within a scene or two. Unfortunately, we donít get to see the later,
vampiric Hughes, who has been a character in so many of James Ellroyís
hard-boiled novels. But I guess we all have to have something to hope
the ďFat AlbertĒ cartoon when youíre nine years old at an obscenely
gross hour on a Saturday morning is one thing, but paying cash money
to see a live action version of a just-okay cartoon from the Ď70s is
through the basement for old TV shows to rip off for the sake of making
a few bucks was okay for a while, but this movie just proves that the
basementís been cleaned out and anything worth grabbing was already
ganked by your older brother, who would have beaten the shit out of
you and taken it from you anyway.
Thompson is way too jolly and comprehensible as Fat Albert. In the cartoon,
he always looked like he just smoked three blunts and was about to go
into a carb coma because he ate twelve subs. And the rest of the gang
doesnít look like they were shooting up in an abandoned house. The gang
from the cartoon looked like they could beat the shit out of you at
any given second if you looked at them the wrong way, especially Rudy.
just doesnít translate into real life.
learned a valuable lesson last summer. They put out the ďSpider-ManĒ
animated series from the Ď60s on DVD. I was really excited, because
I hadnít seen an episode in a good fifteen years, so I shelled out for
it and popped the first disc in. It sucked, of course. It just showed
me that your mind can play tricks on you and you should just leave the
past in the past. Unless youíre talking about ďRen and Stimpy.Ē
Staged. Forced. Deflated. Cliched.
were some of the words that I heard when walking out of the theater
after seeing The Darkness. I personally was thankful that it
had nothing to do with that terrible novelty band that may or may not
know that itís a novelty.
fact of the matter is that The Darkness has a sensibility that
comes directly from weekend afternoon programming seen only on the likes
of channels such as UPN and PAX. Itís got so many irrelevant things
going on that you can be narcoleptic, pass out for ten minutes at a
time, and wake up having missed nothing pertinent to the storyline.
is what any radio station that plays latter-day punk would translate
into if it were made into a movie. Sorry and weak PG-13 material that
thinks itís gritty and cutting edge. Itís like listening to a boy band
doing death metal-style Radiohead covers. If it sounds interesting in
theory, thatís only because youíre blinded by the weirdness of the prospect.
And you know good and goddamned well that once you take that first bite,
youíre going to spit it out into the face of your date and get a restraining
order first thing in the morning.†
remember, after seeing Meet the Parents, how horrified I was.
I remember thinking that DeNiro canít do comedy and how uncomfortable
I was; relating to Ben Stillerís character only because Iíve
been in situations similar, back when I honestly gave a shit about impressing
a girlís parents. And I genuinely felt bad for him.
was a terrible movie, and anyone that told me how great it was instantly
lost street cred with me. So now, upon the eve of the sequel, thereís
the whole issue of meeting Ben Stillerís parents, played by Dustin
Hoffman and Barbra Streisand.
takes some of the sting out of bearing witness to this monster of a
production, but itís not enough. DeNiro still canít do comedy,
Stillerís still playing the neurotic guy, and the whole
thingsí still about as interesting as watching paint dry in a
Midwestern state. And I just love how youíre suddenly supposed to give
a damn, because Streisandís doing her first movie since the Reagan administration.
this off! Itís an even less interesting and funny sequel to a movie
that wasnít even funny and interesting to begin with. Honestly, I donít
know if everyone involved worked on this movie because they needed to
get out of the house more, wanted a free lunch, had a big bar tab to
pay off, or what.
Lloyd Webberís Phantom of the Opera
always been something about people spontaneously bursting into song
thatís disturbed me. Maybe itís the sudden, unwanted outpouring of emotion.
It could be the fact that these people canít or donít feel the need
to communicate like any other rotten person on the planet. Or maybe
the theater geeks in high school just rubbed me the wrong way.
Phantom of the Opera is a musical that goes above and beyond
on the disturbance meter. Taking a lesser horror classic and putting
it to song is a travesty in itself, but when youíre forced to sit through
it, hoping to get laid, that ups the ante. Getting Joel Schumacher,
the man who killed the Batman franchise and has churned out movies the
way that the average person churns out feces, behind the cameraóthatís
a tragedy that can only be topped by a word with a silent T at
movie is as every bit as scary as the original horror sort-of classic
with Claude Rains, but not in the same way. Picture going to Curtain
Up on a combination of acid, methamphetamines, and the shittiest, paranoia-inducing
commercial schwag weed and youíre still nowhere close to experiencing
the horror that is The Phantom of the Opera.
best friend told me that his son, who is a really cool kid in his own
right, saw this on opening day and that he loves Andrew Lloyd Webber.
My response was, ďDo you plan on visiting him in his bachelor-pad studio
apartment with his six cats?Ē The split lipís almost healed and you
canít even really notice the black eye anymore, but it was worth it.