Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"The Life Aquatic", Milena Canonero and other Film Ramblings

On Captain Luke's advice, I rented The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004). I should say, I finally rented it. For about two months, every time I went in the video store it was out! Grrrr. Well, here's the thing. I can't remember any other movie that I can say this about... but I can say it about The Life Acquatic: there was nothing predictable about this movie. I mean literally. There was no moment or scene or piece of dialogue I could have anticipated. It gets odder for me. I started watching and I was enjoying it fine. Then I got frustrated and actually turned it off about half an hour before the end. The next morning (Sunday) I put it back on and watched the end. And I loved it. I've thought about it a lot since then and still am, still thinking it through. I don't know yet why exactly I liked this movie so much, apart from liking things that are unpredictable. It's like seeing a movie and you don't know the actors. So there's no preconceptions, no personas that you have to get your head around.

No-one could have played Steve the way Bill Murray did. He's just magical. The whole cast - and what a cast - was a delight: Anjelica Huston, Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Noah Taylor, Michael Gambon. I love the way the director Wes Anderson has this rep company of actors he uses over and over. It's been a long time since I saw Rushmore (1998) and even longer since Barbara introduced me to Bottle Rocket (1996). Never saw The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), but I shall remedy that.

Anjelica Huston looked wonderful and I should have guessed that the costume designer was Milena Canonero. Everytime I've seen a movie and loved the costumes especially, it's Milena Canonero! She's won three Oscars (including last year's Marie Antoinette, which surprised me; I had seen pictures and it seemed busy, but I'm sure very appropriate; she also did Barry Lyndon [1975] for which she won her first Oscar; that was a stunning move: all that natural lighting.) My favourites of her costumes - in my mind - were the riding outfits for Meryl Streep in Out of Africa (1985), the red dress for Marisa Tomei in Only You (1994 - also worth watching for a travelogue love-in with Italy) and Sigourney Weaver in Death and the Maiden (1994). Now that was a movie.

Long story short: summer's day, a bunch of us were at a friend's house, and instead of being out in the sun and the water, we ended up sitting in front of the tv watching Death and the Maiden. It was an unusual choice (I think it was Dave's idea): Roman Polanski's film of an Ariel Dorfman play in which a broken and reclusive woman, a former political activist, is convinced that the man her husband has brought to their remote home (his car broke down) is her former torturer. It's set in an un-named South American country. So it's pretty grim stuff. And even though our mood had been very silly and noisy up till then, we all just clammed up. The movie was so engrossing, it drew us all right in. About half way through we paused the tape and Dave asked if we'd noticed how quiet we were being. I think we all nodded silently and restarted the tape. I never saw it again, but I think it's time to.

1 comment:

Jen Star said...

I have The Royal Tenenbaums. Remind me and I'll bring it in for you.