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The Life Aquatic with Steve ZissouThe Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

Starring: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Wilem Dafoe, Angelica Huston, and Noah Taylor.
Directed by: Wes Anderson

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Bluntly speaking? The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou has all the elements of a great film…there's good acting, glorious originality sprinkled about, a delightfully silly script, and stellar set design accenting a finely shot film. But somehow when these delicate combinations are stitched together, its final design is less an elegant Edith Head-like masterpiece, and more like a real nice folk-artsy macramé shawl whose beautiful and intricate pieces never actually work when sewn - regardless of how pretty they looked aside each other…still, The Life Aquatic is a must see if you are, like myself, a card carrying member of the "Official Adoration Society of Wes Anderson" and his recurring cast of misfits. The film, in its slices, is really quite grand.

Story goes…Aquatic documentarian and hipster, Steve Zissou (Bill Murray), has just lost his dear life-long friend/under water colleague to some monstrous shark; a jaguar shark that is as big as a luxury liner.

Determined to get his revenge, Steve gathers his trusted team of sailors and scientists. With little fanfare, he is off to hunt down the devilish creature…

But before his ship is out of port, a young man surfaces. His name is Ned (Owen Wilson). Ned believes he is Steve's unknown son with one of Steve's old "assistants." Steve, who has no real problem with this revelation, invites the man to travel along for the revenge mission, and thusly they can get to know each other to see if there are familiar similarities.

Also joining the expedition is a reporter. A pregnant reporter (Cate Blanchett). She's a life-long fan of Steve's and hopes she can write an article on the aging legend's latest voyage. It could really assist in his come back - and future funding.

The motley crew, along with newer recruits, interns and fore-mentioned plot enablers, set forth with a whopping load of emotional baggage in stow. We'll watch as love grows, jealously spins an ugly fin, and wayward lives mingle to become a small family as it's full steam ahead as another of writer/director Wes Anderson's tasty, albeit askew, worlds springs to kaleidoscopic life! Once again he catapults us just left of the tenth dimension of reality into a realm that appears too real to be completely dismissed as fable, and too bizarre to be considered non-fiction as we know it. That's the brilliant part.

The not so brilliant part is the extended scenes, and the long edits of Bill Murray's Zissou. Painfully, the editor and director seem to think every word he ricochets is Bukowski good and they don't seem to dare to snip even a vowel - this does not a tight film make. And sadly, TLAWSZt somehow just doesn't whip up that crazy euphoria of delight as in his past endeavors

That being said, Bill Murray is still quite wonderful here as Steve - of course he usually is. Murray's deadpan comedic comfort in front of a camera, and his bully-like sarcasm, shine within the clever dialog. He's at home in these altered states of reality to be sure. But his work here, which is a bit slower than his normal crawl, plays along a signature performance by the ever-lethargic Owen Wilson as a slothish Ned. The two are basically delivering the same calm-waters character,so faster than you can recite a bit of " Rub-a-Dub-Dub", one starts to drift into Narnia.

Wilem Dafoe and Noah Taylor along with Angelica Houston however, are like moonbeams of reprise from the dull duo. And the soundtrack by Mark Motherbaugh is positively brilliant. He accents many of the more off-tilt scenes with a maestro's knowing hand.

Snack recommendation: Sashimi from Cheeba No Ho

 

 

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