Saturday, April 19, 2014


Rarely has a franchise shifted gears so radically as Captain America. The character is, by far, the oldest in the Marvel Cinematic lineup, as testified by the decidedly retro tone of the original, a fun piece of jingoistic nonsense which saw Steve Rogers (Chris Evens) injected with super-serum and fighting rogue Nazi's. The sequel, subtitled The Winter Soldier, does away with the gee-wizz sensibility and thrusts it's boyscout hero into a much more paranoid and cynical world and even finds the time to cast the jingoism of the original in a colder light. There's still some retroness in this approach, but its 70's inspirations are carefully updated so that, until it goes completely nuts in the second half, it feels about as relevant and ripped from the headlines as any comic-book movie before it.

Part of the intrigue comes from Cap himself. Due to spending most of the last seventy years in stasis, he's about as removed from the modern world as it's possible to get. Sometimes that's adorable and winning (he keeps a running list of pop-culture to catch up on), but his rah-rah, straight arrow enthusiasm isolates him, he's almost friendless, and conflicts with his morally hazy missions for S.H.I.E.L.D., which often involve him flying into dangerous missions and busting chops of whoever he's being told is the bad guy that day. As the film starts, the once idealistic Rogers is harboring serious mistrust for his spymasters, a situation not helped when on one mission he discovers his partner Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) has a few secret objectives of her own.

For a little while, directors Joe and Anthony Russo (known mostly for their TV comedy work on Community), construct a fairly interesting social, political backdrop for Caps disillusionment that plays like a very savvy update of 70’s political thrillers. Cap's mistrust and discomfort mounts when he learns of a major operation to build a series of drone like helicarriers that can take out mass numbers of potential targets from sub orbit, completely at S.H.I.E.L.D.'s discretion. The film takes all the implications of this more seriously than previous Marvel films do, resulting in some interesting, character revealing discussions between Rogers, Fury and Johansson who all have different views of how to serve America. We also get Anthony Mackie as an ex-paratrooper suffering from PTSD who has some nifty superhero gadgets to rival Cap’s shield and, in a clear nod to the Russo's inspirations, Robert Redford as a S.H.I.E.L.D. higher up who will in no way turn out to be evil.

There's also the titular Winter Soldier, for which we should be grateful that, for once we have a compelling villain in this series. He isn’t the focal point we'd expect him to be, but he’s good for a few solid revelations (though fans already know what they are) and he gets a terrifying entrance, emerging out of a cloud of smoke after attacking Fury in broad daylight in the streets of D.C. with a cadre of mercenaries.

Action is, unfortunately, a bit of a weakness here. The Russos' smartly don’t oversaturate us with beats, but when the action scenes start, the sparse, almost minimalist aesthetic they’ve carefuly constructed falls by the wayside and we get a lot of shakycam set against bland backdrops. It’s not the worst example of the technique, but while the scenes stand in considerable contrast to classicism of the first film, they lack showmanship and the approach feels like a choice made by a second unit director rather than one that fits in with the rest of the project. The climax feeling particularly clumsy, with characters in multiple locations executing complex, partially unnecessary sounding objectives that editing refuses to make clear. The action is saved almost completely by virtue of the sense of danger the Winter Soldier brings with him as a character, which is a step in the right direction for a franchise where the stakes of action scenes are often flat.

Also, after all the enticing allegory of the first half, the film almost effortlessly jumps into la la land with a twist that attempts to further link the idea of mass surveillance to old-school fascism, and set up events for Avengers 2, but is so comically on the nose that the film looses all semblance of credibility. I suppose that is to be expected in this kind of movie, which is a slave to pulpy thrills before anything else, but with such a great setup and all that great character development, it's a shame that it moves so sharply away from the relevance it started with. The film is another missed opportunity for Marvel, but the mega-franchise is getting closer to making a meaningful film.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Alejandro Jodorowsky’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune would likely have been either been one of the greatest films in cinema history or one of its greatest follies. Likely it would have been both at once, so enormous and ambitious was the production, as chronicled in Frank Pavich’s enthralling documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, that it was likely destined to fail. It was simply too awesome to exist. 

By the mid 70’s Jodorowsky had already lead an impossibly eccentric life. He studied mime with Marcel Marceau, became a prominent theater director, his first film (made illegally) caused riots in Mexico, but his follow ups, El Topo and The Holy Mountain, turned avant-guard surrealism into box office gold despite occasionally stomach churning content. At this point he brashly decided to adapt Dune, a book he had not even read at the time.

It proved to be a good instinct. The psychedelic narrative of the book, centering around The Spice, a coveted drug used as spaceship fuel but is also a path to enlightenment, is a perfect match for Jodorowsky even as he stated throwing large parts of it out in favor of his own, deranged vision, which quickly swelled to 10 hours and featured galaxy spanning tracking shots, women being impregnated with drops of blood and other flights of fancy I'll leave the audience to discover.

To bring that vission to life he hired only artists whom he felt had the necessary passion. French comic artist Moebius doing storyboards and a great deal of the costumes, future Alien designer H.R. Gieger designing the villain’s homeworld, and British illustrator Criss Foss painting the most amazing looking space ships ever.

The documentary unfolds mostly in the increasingly old-fashion talking head format, which can be forgiven because the primary head belongs to Jodorowsky who is outrageously fascinating as he tells how he shamed Pink Floyd into doing the soundtrack, conned Orson Wells and Salvador Dalí to play key supporting parts or put his teenage son through rigorous combat training to play the lead. His passion and optimism for the project is hypnotic he comes off as history's most affable cult leader. His sales pitch to at least one collaborator consisted of: "Sell everything you own and move to Paris."

Other interviewees include Gieger, who's voice is nearly as terrifying as his art, a smattering of critics, producers, and, for some reason, Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn. The stories don't always seem completely reliable, but they've been given just the right embellishments by Jodorowsky which are indulged by Pavich because they make such a good yarn. The documentary's best moments might be when he chooses to animate key segments from the script, including the opening shot which is so amazing I had had to remind myself to breathe.

For a time it all seems achingly possible. But the film never got the green light needed to go into production. Even in the 70's, the peak of the ambitious New Hollywood movement, no studio wanted to pony up the proposed $15 million starting budget for the film with special effects that had never been tried, might last 10 hours and would probably be explicitly violent and sexual from a director with a well founded reputation for being nuts.

Jodorowsky remains understandably bitter, in a touching moment he tears up, takes the money out of his wallet and curses it, not just for Dune but for all the other projects he's been burned on. He would eventually move on to other films of varying quality, but has mostly left cinema behind for comics were he's respected and budgets aren't an issue. Lots of his ideas for Dune ended up in a series he co-authored with Moebius, The Incal. Dune eventually did reach the screen as a different debacle helmed by David Lynch and latter as a pretty decent mini-series by John Harrison. But both of those try and take the book head on, Jodorowsky wanted to change to world with his mega budget, spiritual blockbuster and was rebuffed like many filmmakers with larger than life ambition. It's sad that his Dune had to join the parathion of other great unmade films such as Kubrick's Napoleon or Del Toro's Mountains of Madness, but it's fortunate we have Pavich's spellbinding documentary to give us just a tiny peak into a film that might have changed the world.

Grade: A

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Every now and then at Screen Vistas I like to team up with Max O’Connell over at The Film Temple to tackle the work of one of our favorite directors. This time we’re looking at comedy stylist/master of whimsy Wes Anderson.
Loren Greenblatt: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is Wes Anderson’s fourth film, and not his best received. Some might view it as his One From the Heart or New York, New York. It’s heavily stylized and he had more creative freedom, but it wasn’t well liked on its initial release.

Max O’Connell: Well, people think the reviews were worse than they were. They were highly mixed with a lot of disappointment, but it wasn’t seen as a disaster by as many people as the story tends to go.

LG: I can see why this film turned some people off, though. I wasn’t crazy about it on my first viewing (a bad projection didn’t help) but it’s grown immensely for me on repeat viewings. My initial complaints do line up with what the some of the critics said at the time. The film feels very arch and removed, and as stylized as The Royal Tenenbaums was, this is so much more. I can see a lot of people viewing it as hipsterish or ironic: it starts off with a film-within-a-film of oceanographic explorer/filmmaker Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) brings his latest documentary to a festival, and the credits for the main film appear within the documentary in this 4:3 aspect ratio, with curtains on the side of the screen to emphasize that we’re in a movie. I can see how this turned some people off.

MO: Yes, but it turned off people who were previously fans, too, and of his archness. I wonder if it might be that he has a different screenwriter this time. For his first three films and his first short, Anderson co-wrote it with his longtime friend Owen Wilson. Wilson has the second biggest role in The Life Aquatic, but he was also becoming a more prominent comic actor at this point, and he didn’t have time to work as a co-screenwriter, or so I understand. Anderson instead brought aboard Noah Baumbach, a director who at that point hadn’t worked in seven years. He made a big splash with Kicking and Screaming, followed by a pair of indifferently received comedies (Highball, Mr. Jealousy), and Anderson is the one who brought him back out, first with this, then as producer for Baumbach’s best film, The Squid and the Whale. Baumbach is a much more abrasive collaborator than Wilson.

LG: It’s not like Anderson’s past characters were warm and cuddly, but Steve Zissou is by far his most prickly protagonist. In terms of archness, this is Anderson’s first big attempt at world building and on paper, the 60’s high seas adventure trappings make it look lighter and more rompish than his previous films. He’d get to making lighter films in the future, but here he actually doubles down and presents a world that under all the whimsy is darker and more bitter than anything he’d done until now. We meet Zissou, a washed up Jack Cousteau type who looses his best friend/right hand man Esteban (Seymour Cassel) when he’s eaten by a “Jaguar Shark” who Steve now hopes to track down and kill. Between the stop-motion sea creatures, rival ships and pirates, I don’t think any of us really expected to see this middle-age, hard to like control freak in the lead, even if that type of character is 100% in keeping with both Anderson’s AND Baumbach’s style.

MO: But oh, the wonderful things around him! How delighted are we by those?

LG: Pretty darn delighted! It’s telling that for Anderson, actual sea life isn’t sufficiently whimsical, so instead he invents sea life in stop motion creatures made by Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline.
MO: The stop-motion is really wonderful. It helps accentuate the fantasy of this world, they remove us from reality, the handmade quality of the whole thing, right down to the sets. They’re very lived in, but they have a dollhouse feel.

LG: He turns Zissou’s boat, the Belafonte, into an actual diorama. There’s a wonderful scene that’s maybe the most Andersonian scene ever, in which Anderson cuts the boat in half on a set so we can see all of the characters walking through the various rooms and we can see all the gadgets they have.

MO: There’s also a scene later that shows that diorama view where Steve has a fight with Ned (Wilson), the man who’s possibly his son, and there’s a long shot following the two as they argue. As they’re doing it, Steve stops the argument to address whoever he passes, and he’ll either lash out at them or, when he runs into the one intern who didn’t quit, he’ll swing to overwhelming praise and say, “Awesome, you’re getting an ‘A’,” followed by a slap on his injured shoulder. It’s a long take that shows the intricacy of the set, but also how Steve’s moods can swing from one moment to another. And it’s a case where I can’t picture it being done better than the way it was done with those dioramas.

LG: There’s a key moment in the film for me where they’re in Italy, and Steve is completely dominating Ned, the son he never wanted but now needs to micromanage. He changes his name to “Kingsley,” he orders wine for him, and he pushes away any sense of individuality Ned might express. And that’s interesting because he has this sort of Bill Nye/Jacques Cousteau profession where he’s supposed to foster individuality and imagination, but he actually stifles it.

MO: Yes, and Ned is willing to go with it for a while because he’s found a new father figure after having lost a lot personally (his mother killed herself after she found out she had terminal ovarian cancer), but after a while Steve micromanages to the point where he pushes away the one man who’s still on his side. Whenever Ned ad libs on camera, Steve is annoyed. The first time, Steve pretends to like it, and the second time he chastises Ned and demands that next time he whisper his idea in Steve’s ear so he can say it in front of the reporter, Jane (Cate Blanchett). Ned goes with it until it gets to this great scene where they’re underwater in scuba gear, and Ned asks Steve if he can call him dad. Steve quickly suggests a different nickname, “Stevesie.”

LG: And I like that it’s in scuba gear that obscures their faces and lets Wilson express his pain through his voice, his eyes and body language, and then the camera drifts away in a very expressive shot.

MO:  You talked about how Steve’s supposed to promote individuality while collecting all of these weird and wonderful misfits on his crew.

LG: That’s right, he doesn’t just do this to Ned, he has an entire crew of people to bully around. The crew of the Belafonte is like this big, dysfunctional version of the Enterprise.

MO: They’re also like a surrogate family that could fall apart at any moment, because they’re working at the whims of a very inconsiderate man. There’s Anne-Marie (Robyn Cohen), the script girl who’s casually topless, which seems to get no attention from anyone.

LG: It is Europe! But what I love about that character is that she’s kind of like the bratty yet very responsible sister, the only one who will tell Steve that his plans are going to get them hurt. Something I noticed is a dichotomy between the old and young in the crew. The young include Anne-Marie and Pelé (Seu Jorge), but then there’s the old, who in the documentary-within-the-film, are given ages that are way off. No way that Klaus (Willem Dafoe), Steve’s eternally loyal German second-in-command, is 45. Nor is the sound guy in his 40s. This is another part of Steve’s control over his world: he’s is living in the past, and not acknowledging their ageing he gets to avoid acknowledging his own. There’s a sense that these guys were once big (this is a world where oceanography and documentaries are big). In the 80s and 90s, they were big enough to have merchandising in the form of Adidas endorsements, action figures and pinball machines. But that’s halted. Steve admits, “I haven’t been at my best this past decade.”

MO: To which his estranged wife Eleanor (Anjelica Huston) plainly says, “That’s true.” It’s interesting considering Bill Murray’s background: onetime comic megastar who, in the 90s, started appearing in low-rent movies before Wes Anderson revitalized his career.

LG: And it’s easy to be on Eleanor’s side, because as they say, she’s the brains of the outfit. There’s a montage where we see everyone doing their job, and Eleanor’s crossing off things that they have planned that are too impractical, like “Skydiving into a volcano.”

MO: One of the interesting things about this movie is that it’s only Wes Anderson’s fourth movie, when he was in his 30s, yet it’s about middle-aged failure. It’s almost like he’s making a movie about not only what he could turn into, but what he could turn into soon enough following these massive successes.

LG: I don’t know how much he intended it, but there is a very meta angle to that.

MO: Owen Wilson is still there in a major role, but it’s interesting that he’s gone as the co-screenwriter in a film in which a man loses his right-hand man in the beginning. The other interesting thing is that there’s a concern about losing your touch by fakery. Steve is clearly affected by Esteban’s death, but he didn’t capture it on camera, so he restages it. That’s become a regular part of his movies, fakery, but here’s a point where it reaches its most egregious. He knows he doesn’t have it anymore, so he’s just going to fake it. And this is a point in Anderson’s career where some felt that it was a lot of fakery and not enough heart (which is absurd, but whatever).

LG: And there’s a classic Wes Anderson thing of people using fantasy to insulate themselves from the real world. Steve is dealing with tough stuff, so he uses the fact that he’s in a film to shield himself. Any time he starts to feel something, he asks if it’s being caught on film. That, for me, is him pushing away something real. That might have turned people off, too. There is a sense of remove, and Bill Murray’s performance is very minimalistic. At first glance, it seems like he’s not doing much, but he’s actually doing a lot. There are little tonalities that are very important. There’s this one moment near the end where he’s reading a letter he wrote to Ned many years ago, and the way he emphasizes, “I remember your mother…” is very subtle, pointed, and effective.

MO: Not just in emotional ways, because this is one of Anderson’s saddest movies, but Murray is also really funny in this. His timing in this is great. I love in the opening scene where he’s being interviewed by the press about his latest film, and his pauses for every answer are priceless. “What would be the scientific purpose of killing the shark?” (long pause, then very matter of fact) “Revenge.”

LG: I also love the autograph scene, where an older fan has around 20 posters that he wants Steve to sign (based on a real event Anderson saw Murray go through). After so many signatures, he just says, “Just sign the rest yourself.”

MO: To be fair to Steve, at that point, I might lose my patience as well.

LG: Let’s talk about the music. Every Wes Anderson film is somewhat anchored by one particular musician or style: British Invasion in Rushmore, mainly varying kinds of folk for The Royal Tenenbaums, etc. Here, it’s anchored by David Bowie songs, but not just the originals. Seu Jorge’s crew member plays acoustic David Bowie covers in Portuguese, and they’re wonderful. Bowie even prefers some of them to the studio versions.

MO: It’s interesting how he uses Bowie for key emotional scenes. The use of “Life on Mars?” when Steve first meets Ned, and later on the use of Seu Jorge’s version when Ned first realizes how awful Steve can be, it’s a terrific emotional standpoint.

LG: I love the use of the “Space Oddity” countdown by Jorge as a group of pirates arrive on the Belafonte in a really interesting shot as they emerge from the fog. And Anderson does have a proper rock star doing his music. This is the last score Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo did for Anderson, and the best. I hope they’ll work together again today.

MO: Now, what do you think is the major difference between Steve and his rival, Alistair Hennessey (Jeff Goldblum)? It’s interesting how there’s a bit of an Indiana Jones/Belloq thing, where neither of them are necessarily great guys, but one of them is our guy.

LG: Hennessey is the more successful one. He’s just been made a knight in Portugal! I want to become a knight in Portugal!

MO: Hennessey is much more confident than Steve, but he’s also much slimier. Steve, at least, you know where you stand with him. Goldblum pretends he doesn’t hate you.

LG: He’s also a character who isn’t a complete villain, which is something about Wes Anderson films that I love. No matter what, there’s always a moment of empathy. Even with the Jaguar shark.

MO: Yeah. It’s funny when Hennessey is kidnapped and the pirates sink his ship, but it’s also moving when they do rescue him. He does seem genuinely a little touched that Steve took the time, because he knows Steve doesn’t like him.

LG: Yeah. The pirates killed his crew, and more hurtful to him, made soup out of his research turtles. I don’t know why but the way that line is delivered, it always registers to me like they might as well have been cannibals. The character relationships in this film are very interesting. Dafoe plays Klaus beautifully against type, more childish than scary. He’s competing with Ned to have Steve as his father figure, despite the fact that they’re clearly about the same age. And the reporter, Jane, has a difficult thing with Steve, who fancies himself as a bit of a stud and hits on her, but she’s not having it. But she develops a romance with Ned. So we gotta a a weird love triangle with a father figure/son fighting over the same woman.

MO: There’s a lot of stuff with father figures. Ned has a new father figure for the first time in his life, then finds out that he’s not a very nice man. Steve never wanted to be a father because he hates fathers, which implies something painful in his past. Jane finds a surrogate father for her child in Ned after the real father essentially abandons it. And Klaus sees Steve and Esteban as father figures.

LG: Wes Anderson maintains that he and his parents have wonderful relationships, but it’s much more interesting to write bad dads. There’s actually an ongoing art instillation at Spoke Art in San Francisco covering his work that was even titled “Bad Dads.” It’s a common trope in his work that also links him to Spielberg in a lot of ways.

MO: There’s a good dad in Rushmore in Seymour Cassel’s character, but they’re very rare.

LG: I’d like to believe that’s what his dad is really like. One of the things that still doesn’t 100% work for me is the implication that Steve has faked the death of Esteban, which I think the film plays with a little too long. There are a few moments that imply that Esteban is still alive somewhere.

MO: I didn’t think that. I thought it was more a thing where he’s taking advantage of his friend’s death.

LG: Eleanor says at one point that she doesn’t want be around because one is already dead, and it’s played as if he forgot or doesn't know what she’s talking about.

MO: Yeah, no, I didn’t get that at all. For me, Esteban is conclusively dead throughout, he just restaged it because he didn’t get it on camera and that’s kind of the person he’s become.

LG: It’s one of the lingering things that doesn’t 100% work for me.

MO: There are a few things that don’t work 100% for me. It’s odd, because there aren’t too many scenes that feel like they’re not there for a reason, but this film feels a bit flabbier compared to Anderson’s previous work. It doesn't move quite as well.

LG: For me it moves very well, but I understand, it does stop for whimsy a lot.

MO: An example would be the scene where Steve points out the radios they have in their headsets. It’s a funny bit, but it’s like, “We’re gonna stop now for a joke.”

LG: For me, it’s a transition to another scene, but I understand how you might think that.

MO: It’s an awkward transition for me. There’s a handful of those. And I think Anderson has talked about this, but the shootout with the pirates is not terribly well staged. I feel like he’s trying to go for chaos and clumsiness, but accidentally makes it more trouble than it’s worth.

LG: “John Woo I ain’t,” I believe was his quote. I actually like that scene. There’s a very handmade aspect to it. Like it was made by a bunch of energetic kids who just went out and grabbed some shots. It’s a cute action scene. I also love the gag where Bill Murray uses the unpaid interns for cover.

MO: That is funny, it’s just the directing of that scene is a bit clumsier than it’s supposed to be for me.

LG: I kind of felt it was going for clumsy.

MO: It is, but the execution is off.

LG: The weird moment where they pause for the Northern Lights does bother me.

MO:…yeah, I don’t know what that’s there for.

LG: I feel it's a "tide has turned and nature is with us" thing, it's just awkwardly done.

MO: Hmm. Maybe.

LG: It’s also one of his most overtly New Wave films – oodles of jump cuts, bright, saturated colors denote this as a “movie-movie” in a very New Wave way and when Ned dies at the end, there’s flashes of red and white frames that feel straight out of a late 60s Godard film.

MO: Not just that, but it’s at a point where Steve has come to terms with being a bad father and is trying to rectify that. It comes through on the raid in the pirates’ compound, and he tells Klaus how much he means to him, and he apologizes to Ned. Ned has become a full member of Team Zissou, and he’s extended the olive branch to Klaus, effectively becoming a surrogate brother. So much of this film is about not taking for granted the things that really matter, because they could be gone at any point, and Steve connects with Ned just as he loses him. There’s this great montage of Ned’s life flashing before his eyes as he dies in the helicopter crash. And that scene is shocking, but it’s not out of nowhere, because they do mention how the helicopter wasn’t in great shape earlier.

LG: And there’s a running gag with Klaus where he’s supposed to be the guy who fixes things but never does, and just as Klaus becomes friends with Ned, he loses him because he didn’t fix the thing. There’s two things I thought about in that scene. First, there’s a moment where Jane sends him a letter to Ned’s bunk before he leaves, and for me, I feel like that’s a marriage proposal, or an invitation to be the father to her child.

MO: Oh, you know what, that sounds about right. And this is the death that Steve doesn’t exploit, and he puts it in his film respectably, and he’s changed at a terrible cost. It’s brought back emotional honesty in his work.

LG: And I love the ending, the happy 80s Buckaroo Banzai homage where, out of the ashes, a new crew has emerged to go on new, presumably happier adventures together.

MO: Here’s the thing: we talk about all of the great David Bowie songs in this, including “Queen Bitch” over the end credits with the Buckaroo Banzai homage, but my favorite use of music in this film isn’t a Bowie song. It’s the use of the Zombies’ “The Way I Feel Inside” during Ned’s funeral. That’s a moment that’s almost as moving as “The Fairest of the Seasons” for me.

LG: That one gets me every time. There’s a really interesting touch in that ending, though, where as they’re walking to “Queen Bitch,” as they finally board the ship, Ned, despite being dead, is on top of the ship as a spirit of Team Zissou. That’s a very unusual, borderline surrealistic touch. You might not notice it the first time.

MO: I didn’t notice it until this time. That’s stuck in right at the end there. I love how accepting this film is. Even Bud Cort, the prototypical Wes Anderson character in Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude, plays a bond company stooge who’s in Steve’s corner, not just a bond company stooge. “No bond company stooge would stick his neck out like that.” And everyone who’s still alive is accepted into this big family when they finally see the jaguar shark. It’s wonderful how he uses that great anamorphic framing in a small space there to get it more intimate, to use density to imply togetherness.

LG: I know when he was making the film, he wasn’t always very clear what that jaguar shark scene meant to him. I think, it is a very interesting scene. A lot of people put Moby Dick stuff on it, because of surface comparisons, but that never really held a lot of water for me.

MO: I think it is there, in that it’s a revenge story where our Ahab realizes, as Matt Zoller Seitz suggested, killing his friend was “nothing personal.” Death comes for us.

LG: I don’t think of it as “nothing personal,” I think of it as Steve staring death in the face and seeing it as something big and awe-inspiring, which is kind of what he probably got into this business for in the first place. The world is so big, and beautiful and strange and more fascinating than we think.

MO: And uncontrollable. He’s tried to control nature in his documentaries, and now he’s accepted that he can’t, and here comes the most moving moment he’ll ever be able to capture. He’s encountered this thing that’s responsible for the death of one friend and tangentially responsible for the death of his son, since they died while searching for it, and he’s able to just let it wash over him.

LG: He lost his spiritual brother and spiritual son.

MO: It’s maybe not the cleanest thing Anderson has ever done –

LG: I don’t think it needs to be. Sometimes it’s better to be messy.

MO: Sometimes it’s messy to a fault, but it’s also messy to wonderful degrees, and it’s one of his most thematically interesting and adventurous films, which is why I’m glad it has found a cult following in the years since. Its most passionate defenders stuck by it.

LG: It’s one that’s gotten better on repeat viewings. All the stuff that bothered me fell away, and all of the stuff I was missing popped up

MO: It’s struck me as much richer on each repeat viewing.


That concludes our discussion of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, if you enjoyed it, feel free to leave a comment below. You can also follow Screen Vistas on Facebook by clicking here.

Roundtable Directory:  
Bottle Rocket (short and feature)
The Royal Tenenbaums
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissiou
Hotel Chevalier / Darjeeling Limited
The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Moonrise Kingdom
Shorts and Commercials
The Grand Budapest Hotel