The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

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After seeing Bill Murray on Letterman last week and remembering how much I enjoyed Lost in Translation, I was excited to see his new flick, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which came out this week.

I went with my mom and sister in Chicago, which tends to be a better movie-watching experience for me than in Richmond, where the, um, conventions regarding sound levels and distractions during a public movie seem to follow the looser "enjoy it like it's your own living room" standard. But this time around, it seemed the movie theater gods were conspiring against me regardless of location. Not only was the Lowe's cineplex incredibly hot, but they started the movie about 7 minutes into the actual film. These Chicago moviegoers were pretty assertive, and so the manager came in (another 10 minutes later) and stopped the film. I guess with the way film distribution works they can't just rewind it, so they had to actually cut and splice the film back to the beginning. When all was said and done, we started the movie (again) about 40 minutes late. To Lowe's credit, they did give everyone who stuck around a free movie pass.

I were a professional movie critic, I would use the above as my transition to say "and that set the stage for a movie that was a little uncomfortable, weird, and spliced together." But I won't be that cheesy.

In general, the film was a lot of fun. Murray's character was sort of bland, but Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, and Willem Defoe were all fun to watch. It definitely had that same "slightly off" weirdness that reminded me of Lost in Translation or The Royal Tanenbaums, but in this case, if you let yourself fall into the weirdness a bit, it turned out to be enjoyable instead of head-scratching. Director Wes Anderson probably relies on the viewer too much to make that leap of faith, but that's his prerogative.

I think this will turn out to be a film that is not wildly popular, but that generates a lot of discussion in the backrooms of Internet forums and film clubs. I can see that it might be one of those that the DVD breathes new life into, where the creative types involved can clarify their vision and the symbolism and meaning of each scene. I probably wouldn't take the time to watch it again, but it was fun the first time around.

One thought on “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

  1. I just saw this movie two days ago - a great flick, one of the best parts about it, being a fan of Anderson's other movies (Bottlerocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tanenbaums), are the "inside" jokes - example: Owen Wilson's character is seen in a "Zissou" branded jumpsuit - even though he stated he only brought the, "Zissou" branded uniform with him (Which wasn't the jumpsuit - which may be moot...). Anyways, the inside joke is that in, Bottlerocket, there's scene with a diffrent character played by Wilson in a bright orange jumpsuit, and he's very excited about the jumpsuit indeed.

    There's also the, "Ah, a very nice specimen" comment by Zissou, when given the seahorse by the little boy, which was also a line in Rushmore between Rosemary and Max. Of course, there's Rosemary's former husband's love for the sea, as is found out by the quote he left in the book about underwater life...

    Anderson uses the same actors for his movies- almost remixed as he's appropriating the same lines. Something that makes me smile.

    And Bill Murray - well, he's just flippin' incredible as an actor.

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