Sunday, September 16, 2007

Monad's Moments of Mention

So says Monad, Shoot the Projectionist's Opinion-at-Large:

It’s a treacherous thing to single out just a few noteworthy moments from a film. Especially a film by a filmmaker such as Wes Anderson who makes every scene count. However, that’s exactly what I’m going to do today with The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Wes is the kind of filmmaker who maximizes the amount of story he is able to pack into a single frame. He constantly elaborates on the fine points of his story with set pieces and background characters. Later on in the film when Ned is demanding that he and Steve take the “whirlybird” up to look for the Jaguar shark, Klaus is lingering in the background, watching the scene from afar. When Ned puts his hand out for Steve to do the ‘go team!’, when Steve puts his hand on top of Ned’s, Klaus does the same from down the hallway, adding in his ‘go team,’ unbeknownst to Ned and Steve. I find this to be a beautiful and subtle addition to Klaus’ story arc of longing for inclusion.

The next moment I want to mention is “Day 27: Rescuing the Bond Company Stooge.” The whole Ping Island: Lightning Strike Op is brilliant, but what I’m particularly interested in pointing out is the way the score is used to add another dimension to the perspective of the story we are watching unfold. Ultimately we are watching Part Two of the film Steve is making, but we are also watching Part Two of Steve’s actual life. When Steve falls down the stairs he says, “Vikram, did you get that? Good. We’ll give them the reality this time.”

The idea that we are watching the movie that Steve and the crew of the Belafonte are making is most notably exemplified in the scene when he and Wolodarsky go over some footage. Steve asks to hear track three of the soundtrack Wolodarsky made on the keyboards he displays so proudly throughout the scene. Steve says it’s pretty good. “We’ll temp it with that anyway.” And this is exactly what they do. As the Ping Island strike gets underway, the simple bleeps and bloops of the synthesizer morph into a full-on orchestra.

Finally—in a brief fit of fanboydom—I would like to point out the moment when Stevesie pulls out his Glock and starts firing wildly before charging into a hail of bullets and a roomful of pirates. Kick Ass.

The Royal Tenenbaums go under the microscope next on Monad’s Moments of Mention. I don’t know Butchie, instead.

Ed says: I decided to throw my hat in with a list of choice moments as well. I offer the following sans commentary.

--The lights go out on the Belafonte for the first time that we have seen. Steve leans back and says to Eleanor, playing solitaire, “you can play the black jack on the red queen.”

--Steve takes Ned to the Explorers Club. The waiter approaches with the wine and Steve says, “Pour it over here please, he doesn’t know anything about wine.”

--Steve arrives on his island with Ned. Eleanor informs him that his cat is dead. He asks how it happened and she says, while lighting a clove cigarette, “A rattlesnake bit it in the throat.”

--Jane, talking on the voicemail to her editor and former lover, says, “Listen, I’m not leaving this message.”

--Jane rushes in and asks if they’ve found the shark. Steve says, “You bet your ass we have!” and puts his hand out for her to slap it. Jane reaches out and gives him the most timid of fives.

--After the pirates have gone, Steve yells after them, “You left your dog, you idiots!”

--Ned waves to Jane as he is getting into the helicopter. Bill, the bond company stooge, and Captain Hennessey, both think he is waving at them, and all three of them wave back, happy and oblivious.

(Note: I couldn’t really find any screenshots illustrating these moments, so I offer instead a bunch of moments not mentioned by either of us.)

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