With his latest movie, The French Dispatch, having just hit cinemas, it’s nice to revisit some Wes Anderson classics. Throughout his career he’s moulded a visual aesthetic and storytelling style that weaves highly stylised design and melancholy comedy together in a completely unique way. And his 2004 film The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou is, for me, the movie that sees him at his most powerful.
The film is centered around a jerky, modernised version of underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau named Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) who is facing financial ruin, a marriage breakdown, and coping with the death of his best friend. He meets Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson) who claims to be his son and brings him on board his ship for a final adventure: to kill the shark who ate his buddy. Heavily pregnant and plucky reporter Jane (Cate Blanchett) is also in tow working on a profile of Steve and incidentally forming a wedge between father and son.
Check out five reasons why should be climbing aboard The Belafonte tonight, below:
Like all Wes Anderson films, the character’s clothing is so particular that it becomes firmly embedded in our minds. The sky-blue Zissou outfit with the red beanie is definitely one of the more recognisable looks from his films, but the sweater with the Z on it takes the cake for me.
Brazilian singer Seu Jorge’s life is worthy of a biopic in itself. Going from army dropout to homeless actor/musician, he finally got a break in 2002 Brazilian gangster film City Of God which led to this role as the guitar-playing crewman. Soundtracking most of the film with his David Bowie covers, sung in Portuguese, he’s become something of an underground icon. Bowie himself even sung his praises: “Had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs in Portuguese I would never have heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with,” the starman said.
Anyone who’s ever been an intern at a shitty workplace can probably relate to being a nameless slave whose only job is to say yes to everything.
In order to make us like Steve a little more, he needs a nemesis that we dislike even more than him. That person is Alistair Hennessey, played with snooty perfection by Jeff Goldblum. Funny that despite him basically blackmailing Steve and his crew, and potentially leaving him to die, it’s the part where he fucks with the dog that makes us hate him the most.
Wooooowwww. Let me preface this by saying Owen Wilson is a funny guy and I like him a lot. But his good movie to trash movie ratio has gotta be something like 1:13. It’s nice to see him playing a central role in a film that is actually worth rewatching.