Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou on DVD

This film has moments when it seems to have been written, but most of its moments seem to have sprung from a sense of futility and desperation. The plot is about a desperate documentary filmmaker, Steve Zissou, who shambles about in an awkward attempt to put together his current production. Zizzou, much like Wes Anderson, relies on the cooperation and commitment of his regular cast and crew members to pull his project through. When Zissou re-structures a scene to compensate for failed planning, I feel that is also the modus operandi directing Anderson's depiction of the situation.

The over-all result is Theatre of the Absurd, Black Comedy, Tragi-comedy, Warm Comedy, Pathos and Bathos. Sometimes I wish Fellini had never made 8 1/2. So many tender minds have been led to distraction in their sad attempts to emulate it. I didn't find any real point to The Life Aquatic. Like 8 1/2, it seems only to say that making the making of a movie is its only needed justification.

Yet, there are some pleasant moments. Some easy laughs. Good performances, but can it be called acting when there is no context for characterization? Though I especially like Owen Wilson's unexpectedly restrained, humane and egoless creation of a sensitive southern gentleman.

One of the great charms of DVD is that it costs so little in time and money to check out a flick. Despite my criticisms, I see no reason to dissuade any one curious about The Life Aquatic from springing for the rental fee.


At May 26, 2005 1:09 PM, Blogger Peter said...

TLAwSZ might be my favorite Anderson flick. Its pointlessness served me well. And I appreciate Wes' comfort in flaunting reality. From the moment you see that silly seahorse-like fish in the plastic bag, you realize that you've entered a fantasy world. So the stagy, theatrical scenes with the pirates later on fit perfectly. Or the shot of the 12 people in the submersible. It alll ends up working.
And, I found it funny, charming, quixotic, pretty, and just all around engaging. I went in with low expectations, and came out very pleasantly surprised.

At May 28, 2005 9:30 AM, Blogger BJMe said...

That's the nice thing about low expectations; one becomes pleased with small favors. I am not on a first name basis with him, but Anderson had set my expectations somewhat higher with RUSHMORE. He earned a lot of currency with that imaginative, intuitive and rational depiction of male behavior. I hope he doesn't fritter it away casual adventurism and gimmickry.


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