Posts Tagged ‘Anjelica Huston’

There are many reasons why The Royal Tenenbaums is number one on my list of favorites by Wes Anderson as well as near the top on my favorite movies of all time. We’ll dive in after you take a chance to reintroduce yourself to one of the greatest movies i’ve ever seen.

The number one reason for this being one of my favorite movies is the music. This Anderson film again employs the genius that is Mark Mothersbaugh. While the official soundtrack release for the film only offers 8 of Mothersbaugh’s melodies, they chose the right ones to include. From the opening credit theme “111 Archer Avenue” to the playful “Sparkplug Minuet” the entire soundtrack lifts you up while preparing you for the fall and then lifting you right back up again at the end. Aside from Tenenbaums being in my top movies, the soundtrack is also very near the top of my favorite albums of all time as well. It’s one of those films that utilizes the music in such a way that whenever you listen to the soundtrack you can replay parts of the movie in your head while listening.

Most notable to this point is the song “Needle in the Hay” by Elliot Smith. This song is so dark and unbelievably beautiful it’s hard not to get sucked into it completely. You’ll recognize the song from the movie because it’s the song that is playing when Richie (Luke Wilson) attempts suicide by shaving off his beard and hair and then slicing open his wrists. Every time I hear this song, I picture Richie as he slides down the wall, blood running profusely down both arms a terrible pain in his face, not from his wrists but from the loss of the love of his life.


And enough of the dark talk. The best song in this movie, in my humble opinion, is the Mutato Muzika Orchestra’s rendition of the Beatle’s “Hey Jude”. Their rendition is a glorious five and a half minutes of pure bliss. The first four being an orchestrated instrumental which continues to build and build until the iconic end of “Na, na na nanana na, nanana na Hey Jude”. This is the song that plays in the prologue of the film. The Introduction of Players would be more accurate I should say. The reason I love this so much is the way the song builds and builds throughout our introductions to the characters as we are introduced to them by our Narrator, one Mr. Alec Baldwin. The last minute and a half roar after little Richie Tenenbaum releases his pet hawk Mordecai from their roof.

Number two is the cast. You couldn’t have hoped for a better cast when you start watching this movie. Headlining the ensemble is the great Gene Hackman in the role of Royal Tenenbaum, his wife Etheline played by Anjelica Huston and the three Tenenbaum children; Richie (Luke Wilson), Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), and Chas (Ben Stiller). The rest of the cast is made up of Anderson classics, Owen Wilson as Eli Cash, Bill Murray as Raleigh St. Clair and a newcomer to the Anderson world Danny Glover as Henry Sherman.

The way the characters act together on screen translates to an amazing time on set. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves and have all embraced their roles whole heartedly. You rarely get a cast that can bring their characters to life with such vigor.

Number three is the presentation of the book within a movie concept. The opening of The Royal Tenenbaums is the presentation of a book, The Royal Tenenbaums, that is shown to us, then opened and the library card removed, stamped and reinserted. Thus we, the viewers, have just checked out a copy of the book from our local library and are now going to sit down and read it. The narrative plays out like you’re reading a book and even as new chapters are introduced we have screenshots stating “Chapter 1”, “Chapter 3”, etc. Even the narration done by Alec reads as though it’s the narration of a book.

This film always made me wonder if there was ever a real book The Royal Tenenbaums and if I were to get ahold of it, would it be just like watching the movie? Or would they be separate entities tied together through the magic of film and the proverbial fourth wall.

Number four is the writing and directing. Anderson is on his A-Game with The Royal Tenenbaums from screenplay to finished film, everything is wonderful about this movie. I’ve spent many nights since last watching this flick, trying to break it down, trying to find the weak points. I’m unable to and I hope I never do find the weak points because I enjoy this movie and I hope you do too.

MOVIE QUIZ: Mark Mothersbaugh was a member of what 80s band?


First off let me apologize for the delay. I’ve been busy packaging and finalizing my candy stuff to finally get up for sale on Etsy. Find it here at:

I also did a quick little review of a new album I received in the mail yesterday. Sleigh Bells’ Reign of Terror. Check that out as well while you peruse the blog-o-sphere.

Now, on to the review.

The second film on our journey through the filmography of Wes Anderson leads us to my number two favorite Anderson film yet, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

While still holding very much to the sadness and raw emotions that ooze from The Royal Tenenbaums, (Review up next), The Life Aquatic is a story of adventure, guilt, revenge, regret, loves lost and loves gained and the importance of friends and family.

So pretty much the same formula played out by every Wes Anderson film.

The Life Aquatic tells the tale of a seemingly washed up oceanographic documentarian Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and his crew aboard the Belefonte. The film starts with Zissou showing his latest documentary at the Loquasto International Film Festival. The film is ill fated as it shows the death of Steve’s best friend and mentor Esteban at the hand of a shark that Steve can only describe as a Jaguar Shark.

This prompts Zissou to announce his next documentary is going to be dedicated to finding the Jaguar Shark and when asked what he plans to do when he does locate it. He replies,

“I’m going to find it and I’m going to destroy it. I don’t know how yet. Possibly with dynamite.”

That night Steve is confronted by one Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson) who claims to be Steve’s son. This comes as quite a shock to Steve but being a well rounded individual, invites Ned to come along on the next journey with himself and his crew.

Steve’s dedication to killing the beast is infectious among his crew and helpful interns who are tagging along in exchange for class credit. Due to monetary issues Steve is issued an accountant (Bud Cort from Harold and Maude) to keep track of the finances while at sea.

Steve’s wife Eleanor (Anjelica Huston) is one of the bigger bankrolls behind the Zissou Society’s productions but a growing rift between Eleanor and Steve makes money a bit of an issue.

Fast-forward a ways and Steve has essentially wiped his hands of all rational thought and means of finishing his hunt for the Jaguar Shark. It’s no longer a journey as much as an obsession that keeps Steve’s mind off his duty as a captain and leader and more on absurd methods and suicidal side missions including stealing from Hennessey’s off shore base and running headfirst into a Pirate run island resort to rescue his accountant and inadvertently Hennessey.

This all ends up wrapping back around like all Wes Anderson films where Steve begins to see the error of his ways. It doesn’t help his psyche that he’s constantly bombarded with questions from reporter Jane (Cate Blanchette) about his methods of shooting documentaries as well as how smart he actually is.

One of the reason this one ranks so high in  my opinion on my favorite films is the playfulness that comes from this film. The characters are genuinely likable. Even the assholes that occasionally pop up, Jeff Goldblum’s Alistair Hennessey, is played with such vigor that you can’t help but love the fact that they’re there. The fish in the underwater scenes are vibrant, colorful and a joy to see flit across the screen.

The second main reason is the music. Again Anderson brought on the stylings of Mark Mothersbaugh to do the original score for Life Aquatic. Aside from Mothersbaugh’s great contribution to the film, most notably his songs; “We Call Them Pirates Out Here,” “Let me Tell You About My Boat,” and “Ping Island,” the other great thing about this soundtrack is the inclusion of Portuguese singer Seu Jorge. Seu plays Pele dos Santos, a member of the crew in charge of writing the music for the documentaries, but he mostly only sings David Bowie songs in Portuguese, which is a great pleasure to listen to. His takes on “Queen Bitch” and “Live on Mars” are among the greatest takes on Bowie songs I have ever heard.

Aside from the official soundtrack to the film there is also an album that you can pick up called The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions Featuring Seu Jorge which is just a collection of his Bowie covers.

There is heartache felt through this film, you can feel the emotions that the characters have for each other. Most notably Willem Dafoe’s Klaus Daimler as he struggles non-stop to show his devotion to Steve and the Belefonte in general.

While this may be a slightly different take on Anderson’s style, it fits so well in his over all character that you want the movie to keep going well after the credits begin rolling.

There is something majestic about Murray’s portrayal of Zissou. No other actor could have made his dedication and despicability  (At times) shine through the way Murray did. If you have not seen The Life Aquatic, you are missing out and should go and get it today.

This weekend I had the pleasure of watching 50/50 Directed by Jonathan Levine and starring; Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anjelica Huston, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Anna Kendrick.

For being a film about fighting cancer, the real story that comes through is the one of friendship between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen. For being a supporting actor, Rogen stole this movie completely. The film starts with Adam (Gordon-Levitt) finding out he has a rare form of spinal cancer and his initial responses and reactions leading him to tell his girlfriend Rachael (Howard) and best friend Kyle (Rogen). He then tells his mother, played by Anjelica Huston the bad news. He waits to tell her for a few days after finding out because she already has a full plate caring for her Alzheimer’s stricken husband.

As Adam begins chemotherapy to try to combat the cancer he begins seeing a therapist, Katherine (Kendrick). As his life begins to spiral out of his own control, being more or less abandoned by his girlfriend whenever he sits through his 4-5 hour chemo sessions to his best friend apparently exploiting Adam’s cancer to hook up with random girls, Adam becomes close friends with two fellow cancer patients Mitch and Alan (played by screen veterans Matt Frewer and Philip Baker Hall respectively). Mitch and Alan have a happy outlook on life bitching about the cancer and how it’s come too soon for Adam. Their happy outlook could also be due to their embracing of pot laced macaroons and smoking with Adam and Kyle while taking shots of wheat grass.

As the movie progresses we see Adam rekindle his relationship with his mother, come to terms with the disease and struggling as he does his best to fight it. Katherine doesn’t seem to play a big part of his progress as a therapist but more as a friend as the line between doctor and patient is slightly blurred. Kyle, in his own way, does his best to cheer up Adam by making him get out of the house from time to time, trying to get him laid after Rachael admits to cheating on him and even throws a party to celebrate his life at their workplace.

The film does a good job at showing what happens when you tell people you have cancer. It’s a great look at how people react without really knowing how to help or even give positive encouragement. Gordon-Levitt plays a decent cancer patient but I never really felt any pain that he would have been going through. I’ve seen enough cancer patients during the hard months of chemotherapy and I never felt that drawn into Gordon-Levitt’s portrayal.

Kendrick also fell short of her performances in Camp as well as Up in the Air. She wasn’t successful in her role as a practicing student therapist working on her doctorate. While she played up the awkwardness with fervor, her dedication to her patient as well as the rules of the profession were significantly lackluster.

As I said before, this film was stolen by Rogen’s portrayal of the best friend Kyle. Throughout the film he seems like a selfish ass, but every time Adam needed a friend to stand by him, to help him from point A to point B, Kyle was there. The scene that is portrayed on the movie poster, where Adam is shaving his head to save the embarrassment of it falling out in patches as the chemo takes its toll, Kyle is the one who is there to help, even donating his own electric razor (Which is usually used on his ass) to help his friend.

Seth Rogen’s character made me look into myself, wondering if I could be that good of a friend if one of my friends was diagnosed with the Big C. I’d like to think yes. It also made me grateful for the friends I have around me that I know would be there for me through thick and thin. I even know a few would let me borrow their ass razors to shave my head.

This isn’t a movie about fighting cancer, it’s a movie about finding friendships and developing deeper relationships with those closest to you.