Posts Tagged ‘wes anderson’

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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“You’re like paper, trash.”

“I’m like trash?”

“It sounds better in Spanish.”

You know, when I watched Bottle Rocket the other night, it was my second or maybe third time watching it through. And compared to the other Anderson films I’ve reviewed thus far, it’s really not that great.

But as I watched the trailer that I embedded above, I realized how many good parts are in the movie.

Bottle Rocket was the debut film for Wes Anderson in 1996, based on a short film he did with the Wilson brothers (Luke and Owen) in 1994. It’s an interesting film to say the least. Even having just watched it, I’m really not sure what it’s about. The tag-line reads “They’re not really criminals. But everybody’s got to have a dream.” I guess that fits as good as anything.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve been working on this one review for the past two and a half days, writing and then deleting what i’d just written because every other sentence was a contradiction. The reason for this? This is NOT a Wes Anderson film in the ways we think of Wes Anderson.

I even resorted to calling a friend and fellow reviewer Josh (wasinaso.wordpress.com) whom I’ve previously worked with on a review blog; nunsonabus.blogspot.com to discuss my frustration with writing this review.

My main frustrations lie in the fact that I just stated, this is not a W.A. film in the sense of how we think of W.A. films. While still being quirky and fun, there is a lot missing. The soundtrack for Bottle Rocket, along with a lot of my favorites, was done by Mark Mothersbaugh. The only problem? It’s not the fun odd sounds that Mothersbaugh is known for. There’s something missing.

The acting? Something missing.

The characters? Something missing.

The plot? . . .

what plot?

That said, I can’t give any good reasons not to watch Bottle Rocket. It’s a fun movie that is really just great. While at the same time, being a not very good movie.

As I said before, frustrating. When I was talking to Josh about this movie, he even said, “Write about your frustration, keep it short, don’t try to convince people one way or another.”

So I’m doing my best not to convince you. Watch it or not. It doesn’t matter. Like EVERY single Wes Anderson film that has ever been released, you’ll either love it or hate it. There’s not a lot of ways to sugar coat it. I think of Wes Anderson films the way I view Tim Burton movies. Both are fantastic artists who have continued to grow throughout their careers while both having major setbacks from bad movies. But the thing about great artists is the fact that once you fall in love with their work, you’ll continually go back to see what they come up with next, even if it’s not that good.

This was Wes Anderson’s first film and it’s an amazing starting point. It introduced the world to Luke Wilson, Bob Musgrave and Anderson himself to the world. Plus it has James Caan (Godfather). That’s a pretty big name to get attached to a premier film.

So as a final closing, love it or hate it, Bottle Rocket is a fun movie. I enjoyed it.

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

As I lay awake last night doing my best to fall asleep without succumbing to vices of sleep aids or drink, i gazed across the shelving that holds a portion of my DVD collection. I’ve been in the process of getting rid of the ones I won’t watch again. The ones that remain must fit a certain set of parameters;

1. Part of a complete collection i.e. Criterion

2. An actual collector’s edition collector’s edition. i.e. The Animal House ‘House’, The Brat Pack binder, Steel Books

3. A film that I have seen a hundred times and will watch a hundred more

4. A film that evokes strong memories and emotions that I don’t want to let go of

5. An out of print DVD

6. The works of directors I hope to follow behind in my professional career i.e. The Coen Brothers, Hayao Miyazaki, Danny Boyle and Wes Anderson

Point 6 struck a chord with me and so for the next week I am going to do a review of each Wes Anderson film in no specific order. If I don’t become side tracked, tonight will start with Rushmore. By the end of this next week i’ll wrap up with doing a pre-review of Anderson’s upcoming Moonrise Kingdom.

Stay tuned, keep reading, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover over the next few days.