Posts Tagged ‘Bill Murray’

What will you be doing May 25, 2012? If you’ve been reading my reviews the past few weeks you may be able to guess what I’ll be doing. If you guessed watching the new Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom, you’d be correct.

The story revolves around two youth Suzy and Sam played by Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman respectively (both of the young actor’s break out roles) running away from home together for what we can only assume is some sort of adventure. Sam is a pigeon scout, and Suzy is an apparent budding actress from a family of six including three younger brothers, and her parents.

The thing I’m looking forward to most in this film, other than the story which looks fantastic from the trailer, is the fresh cast for this film as compared to the past Anderson films. We’ve got fresh blood flowing this time starting with the two young leads and being backed up by; Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel, and of course Edward Norton!

Aside from Murray and Schwartzman, these are all actors that Anderson hasn’t worked with yet. I can’t wait to see how well they mesh together on screen. It seems that Anderson can get any group of actors to become a family when we see them together. There is always that deep connection that jumps from the screen and shows us something fantastic.

I am also looking forward to the return of the whimsy in this film, from the extremely tall tree house, the motorbike smoking in the tree after presumably flying off a cliff, and the fact that you’ve got Bill Murray walking through the house shirtless and holding a bottle of wine in one hand and an axe in the other informing his three boys “I’ll be out back. I’m gonna find a tree to cut down.”

This movie has the potential to come in at a new number two for me on the Anderson list. I hope it meets my own high expectations.

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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: http://www.etsy.com/shop/KarlsCandyCo

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.

“What’s his name again?”

“Max Fischer.”

“Sharp Little Guy.”

“He’s one of the worst students we’ve got.”

First up on our look at the films of Wes Anderson is Rushmore (1998) Starring; Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Brian Cox, and Olivia Williams.

Right when the movie starts you know you’re in for a Wes Anderson film. From the slow lilting tunes created by the great Mark Mothersbaugh to the block lettering exposition as we are introduced to Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), a young man attending the prestigious Rushmore academy. Captain, co-founder, or president of over a dozen extracurricular activities available at Rushmore. Many due to his diligence and insistence that they be started.

Within 10 minutes we find Max looking at a book by Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Diving for Sunken Treasure, which was also checked out by first year teacher Ms Cross (Olivia Williams). She quickly becomes the love interest for Max who gives no regard to the fact that he’s half her age. I found it interesting that Anderson would focus so much on the book by Cousteau as well as entering in a hand written quote by Cousteau that Cross had written inside the book when she’d checked it out. I associate this entrance of Cousteau by Anderson as a premonition to the great role Cousteau would play in Anderson’s Life Aquatic. But we can talk about that later this week.

Max soon gains a competitor for Ms Cross’s heart in Mr Herman Blume played by Bill Murray (Yes, I do realize I do a lot of reviews of Bill Murray things, it’s not intentional. He’s just in a lot of good movies!) who is the father of twins who also attend Rushmore Academy. Blume is also a very successful and rich business man who donates a lot of money to building new facilities at Rushmore. Max believes he can use Blume’s wealth to his own advantages by planning on building an aquarium to present as a present to Ms Cross.

There are a lot of interesting relationships that build between our trio, Max’s obsession with Ms Rosemary Cross, Rosemary and Blume’s relationship that eventually ends Blume’s current marriage, and the friendship that develops with Max and Herman. There are few times where you really feel like any of the relationships are wrong, but you know that they just aren’t quite right. Even though Herman is supposed to be an adult he’s constantly acting more like a child than Max does. The two even get into a heated battle of destruction when Blume wrecks Max’s bike, Max cuts Blume’s brake lines in his car. Then, being the president of the bee keeper’s society at Rushmore, uses said bees to infest Blume’s hotel room while he’s dining.

The battles are childish but neither realize who the child really is. Even Rosemary never does the right thing and ends whatever form of relationship she and Max do have. She is a teacher and he is a student. There are lines that should never be crossed, no pun intended.

Max is kicked out of Rushmore due to falling grades and ends up burning a lot of bridges with his classmates on his way out. He is then thrust into the world of public school where he still acts like the same person he was in Rushmore. His magnetic personality and over the top ambition soon surrounds him again with a strong group of followers. He returns to Rushmore to speak with Rosemary again saying he needs help being tutored in order to survive in public school.

Thus the path to reconciliation begins and then we’re thrust back into the drama until the point where Rosemary quits, Herman drops off the Earth, and Max gets horribly depressed. Then as we’ve all come to know and love, Anderson brings about a bittersweet ending with most everyone being happy again and headed down the right path to a brighter future.

“Well Tell that stupid Mick he just made my list of things to do today.” – Max Fischer

Last night, as I ate a healthy (ish) dinner of Crispix, a hard boiled egg, a piece of beef jerky, and pineapple, I was struck with the idea of a new old review of Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 sleeper Coffee and Cigarettes.

I call it a sleeper because it’s a great movie that didn’t get the recognition it deserved. Even now it has a small cult following as do most of Jarmusch’s other works including; Ghost Dog (1999) Dead Man (1995) and Stranger Than Paradise (1983).

Coffee and Cigarettes is a unique film in that it is a film made up of 11 short stories. All separate but connected only by the theme of Coffee and Cigarettes. Each vignette usually has two to three people sitting in a diner somewhere smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee.

Here’s the Trailer:

 

 

You’d think it would be boring, but when you’ve got the cast that C&C has, it’s really quite interesting to see. Some of the duo’s/trios are as follows;

Iggy Pop and Tom Waits, Jack and Meg White, Joie and Cinque Lee (Brother and sister of director Spike Lee) served by Steve Buscemi, Cate Blanchette in dual roles conversing with herself, Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan, and my favorite scene consisted of The RZA sitting in a diner with The GZA being served by actor Bill Murray who’s doing research for a new role.

It’s normally hard to make a vignette film that doesn’t lose steam but Jarmusch has suceeded hands down. It’s a dialogue driven film but each scene never lasts more than 10 minutes so you’ve got enough of a change up that it continually seems fresh as you’re watching.

One other thing that I really enjoy about Jim Jarmusch is the fact that he worked with analogue film and it shows in his films. The picture has a grainy quality to it, and it’s presented in black and white making contrast very important. It’s not a glossed over film like all the HD movies that come out anymore, it’s gritty and causes the viewer to listen to the dialogue even more because you aren’t distracted by something in the background.

Coffee and Cigarettes doesn’t rely on fancy sets or camera work either, most of the time the scenes are viewed from maybe three or four different angles, this makes the filming process easy and enjoyable for the actors and the director alike. I think that really shines through with this film.

The interesting thing about Coffee and Cigarettes is the fact that it was a work in progress for 17 years before the feature film was released. Jarmusch started the Coffee and Cigarettes series as three shorts, the first released in 1986, the second in 89, and the third in 95. In 2003 he finished his project which combined the first three shorts with 8 new ones. The impressive thing about this is that you can’t really tell which three are the old ones. They fit together with such precision that you are led to believe they were all shot in 2003.

I highly recommend Coffee and Cigarettes to anyone who’s a fan of well written dialogue that feels natural. Natural and awkward all at the same time. Just the way a cup of coffee and a cigarette should be.

The only thing I regret is the fact that this film could not be made today, every cafe that these scenes take place in are now smoke free. I would love to go into a small cafe like many of these duos and just have a long conversation with someone over a pack of cigarettes and four or five pots of coffee, and I’m not even a smoker.

 

This was originally going to be a review of Ghostbusters (1984) but as I began writing I knew it wasn’t going to be worth the time at this given moment. I’ve got a more important thing to discuss, and that’s the missing link of today’s film and cinema.

Some may be wondering what exactly is the missing link?

“Is it  a half man, half ape creature?”

“Is it the ghost of John Hughes?”

“Is it bacon?” 

If you guessed the ghost of John Hughes, you would be really close. The one thing that is really missing right now is the partnership of Harold Ramis and Bill Murray. 

When ever anyone hears the name Bill Murray, the first thing that comes to mind is Bill Fucking Murray, followed closely by Zombie Bill Murray (ala Zombie Land) and finally working the way down through Groundskeeper Carl (Caddyshack) to Steve Zissou and Ghostbusters.

When ever anyone hears the name Harold Ramis, the first thing that comes to mind is. . . Who?

This Guy.

Going on 30 years ago there was a man who was an incredible comedy writer who got a few of his screenplays picked up and turned into major films. Harold Ramis’ early years in comedy started with the Second City comedy troupe based out of Chicago. It can be said that SNL Wouldn’t exist without the Second City. Check out the history sometime and you’ll be shocked by the talent that flowed out of Chicago in the late 70s to early 80s. Ramis’ big break was with the film Animal House (1978) which starred a little known John Belushi amongst other great comics.

While working on the Second City Network television show he met up with Bill Murray and a friendship and partnership was born. The first to show these two working together was 1979’s Meatballs starring Murray as a camp counselor that would eventually influence my own experiences as a camp counselor.

Next was Caddyshack (1980), again it was penned by Ramis but only showcased Murray. That would change with 1981’s Stripes starring Ramis and Murray as two down on their luck guys who join up with the United States Army to get more direction in their lives. Hilarity ensues as the two work their way through basic and over to Switzerland to guard a prototype war machine.

After a three-year break the two joined forces once again in 1984’s Ghostbusters. Ramis played Dr. Egon Spengler across from Murray’s sardonic Dr. Peter Venkman. The success of which brought along the sequel in 89.

The last official time we’ve seen these comic geniuses at work together was 1993’s Groundhog Day which Ramis both Wrote and Directed.

It’s been far too long and I’ve heard too many broken promises as to when I can expect the third installment of the Ghostbusters franchise. As you can see here; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1289401/ there are a lot of rumored cast members and no specific dates and really not a lot of helpful information at all. 

I can’t remember the last comedy that really had me rolling around laughing. More so, I can’t remember the last recently made comedy that really got me going. I remember the last comedy that I watched that made me have a conniption from giggling and that was Stripes. Caddyshack never disappoints, and Ghostbusters is always easily accessible in my DVD collection because they were made when comedies were comedies, something you wanted to watch again and again. Anymore, when I see a movie I’m good seeing it that one time, I don’t feel the draw to watch it again because I know all the funny parts. That’s what’s changed, the quality and life of the jokes didn’t die when the credits started rolling in older comedies. Now we’re lucky to remember a joke by the time the credits roll in a current comedy. I’m trying to keep my eyes open to the next big thing, I’m trying but I don’t know when or where it will come or what form it will take when it finally takes full power in this world.

I’ll be thinking of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man till then. Hoping for the return of the Murray-Ramis team. 

Also, the winner from the first ever Movie Quiz from earlier today was Jeremy. He only half won though. He answered with Empire Records so he got the movie half right, but the name of the character who said the line is still up for grabs.