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Thread: REVIEW OF THE LIFE AQUATIC by Chris Knipp

  1. #16
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    arsaib4: "However, one thing I donít consent with is his blame laying squarely on the shoulders of the filmís star: Bill Murray. (I believe Tabuno said something similar a little earlier.) Jones is a HUGE Anderson fan so I wasnít shocked to read such a piece, but he was quite explicit in his remarks."

    tabuno: What is surprising about this remark is not the remark itself, but the absence about this remark in the rest of the comment. There is very little in the way to support and explain the idea that Bill Murray is to blame of this movie's exquisite failure. Almost half araib4's comment is a description of support of completely the opposite! And the rest of the comment are reasons why the movie could be considered good without regard to Bill Murray except in one of the most controversial scenes of the movie. Not willing to say the Bill Murray was miscast but that his presence in the film required something extraordinary, which in my mind, didn't happen. For me the problem isn't about whether Murray's character projects "a glorious and heroic past" or "unrelieved absurdity, disenchantment and quiet withdrawal" except for the possibility of the role fitting into the concept of the movie itself. What worked in Lost In Translation is that Bill Murray's film persona didn't intrude significantly into the movie because he was forced to become less than Bill Murray but more of a serious personality with humorous traits. However, in Life Aquatic what is presented in is a character that is Bill Murray with a little more depth and slightly reduced comedic bent, but nevertheless, the role that is presented is Bill Murray that for me is so detracting and disruptive that it almost sours the whole movie experience for me.

    arsaib4: "I donít have a big problem with the Filipino pirates, and some of other surreal touches, as after all, the film started out with the mission to track down a "Jaguar Shark." "

    tabuno: arsaib4 immediately preceding comment is somewhat at odds with this statement in that of all the scenes that arsaib4 " once again felt that Anderson didnít quite flesh out his screenplay. The Life Aquaticís sudden shifts in mood and tone worked against the atmosphere Anderson created during various stretches" it would be the pirate scene as the best example. The scene taken in and of itself in another movie might have worked out great, but the striking difference in this scene and the rest of the movie makes this scene disturbing, jarring so much so that it almost in my mind rips out of the film, tears the fabric of the screenplay that it leaves the movie in tatters, having to be repaired by the end. And what does a mission to track down a Jaquar Shark have to do in supporting the idea about the Filipino pirates as surreal. The pirate scene wasn't surreal it was played out as bizarre where the pirates werely deadly serious while the rest of the cast, the crew of Mr. Murray acting like this was no big deal when in fact it was to the point of absurdity. Mr. Murray most likely would have died in this scene as well as most of the other crew members making this entire scene too fantastic and at odds with the rest of the more amusing and lightness of the movie. For me it was like seeing a beautiful face with a big, red blotchy boil or pimple on it.

  2. #17
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    Originally posted by tabuno
    What is surprising about this remark is not the remark itself, but the absence about this remark in the rest of the comment. There is very little in the way to support and explain the idea that Bill Murray is to blame of this movie's exquisite failure. Almost half araib4's comment is a description of support of completely the opposite!
    Huh? Please read a post carefully before responding in the future. I was quoting Kent Jones and why he felt Murray was the biggest reason the film failed. I don't feel strongly one way or the other on Bill Murray and the film.

    arsaib4 immediately preceding comment is somewhat at odds with this statement in that of all the scenes that arsaib4 " once again felt that Anderson didnít quite flesh out his screenplay. The Life Aquaticís sudden shifts in mood and tone worked against the atmosphere Anderson created during various stretches" it would be the pirate scene as the best example.

    First you assume that as soon as I mentioned "screenplay," the pirate scene automatically comes into play. I believe I mentioned "mood and tone" not structure, and even if I did, I used the words "didn't quite". As for the pirate sequence I said "I don't have a big problem..." so once again, please read carefully before going further. My mentioning of "a key event" was geared towards a death, not the pirate sequence. You also seem to be confusing yourself between "surreal" and "bizarre." In this case, please read your own statements carefully.

  3. #18
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    I did read your post carefully, three times

    Originally posted by tabuno
    What is surprising about this remark is not the remark itself, but the absence about this remark in the rest of the comment. There is very little in the way to support and explain the idea that Bill Murray is to blame of this movie's exquisite failure. Almost half araib4's comment is a description of support of completely the opposite!
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    arsaib4: Huh? Please read a post carefully before responding in the future. I was quoting Kent Jones and why he felt Murray was the biggest reason the film failed. I don't feel strongly one way or the other on Bill Murray and the film.

    response from tabuno: I had hoped that I would have avoided arsaib4's concern raised above and that is why I did carefully read his post. I was responding to arsaib4's statement, "However, one thing I donít consent with is his blame (Kent Jone's) laying squarely on the shoulders of the filmís star: Bill Murray" to mean that he took issue with laying the blame of the movie's failure on Bill Murray. And prior to replying and after re-reading arsaib4's post I came to understand that what followed arsaibr's statement above was Mr. Jone's description of supporting argument for his own statement about Mr. Murray's miscasting.

    What my post really was intended to do and I feel that I was pretty clear about it was raising the point that arsaib4 brought up the point but then dropped it. It was like saying I don't agree with Mr. Jone's and then move on without saying any about his disagreement with Mr. Jone's. If arsaib4 wanted to take the time to point out his not consenting to Mr. Jone's position, I am puzzled why he didn't feel it important enough to explain why he felt that way. In short, why bring up a topic and not talk about it? Why post it in the first place then? In fact if one doesn't "feel strongly one way or the other on Bill Murray and the film" then why even bother? What's the point?


    arsaib4: "First you assume that as soon as I mentioned "screenplay," the pirate scene automatically comes into play. I believe I mentioned "mood and tone" not structure, and even if I did, I used the words "didn't quite". As for the pirate sequence I said "I don't have a big problem..." so once again, please read carefully before going further. My mentioning of "a key event" was geared towards a death, not the pirate sequence. You also seem to be confusing yourself between "surreal" and "bizarre." In this case, please read your own statements carefully"

    tabuno: I don't think it so easy to separate the screenplay from either "structure," "mood and tone" as mentioned or even separate "mood and tone" for that matter from "stucture" - that's actually the problem I have with this movie that arsaib4 seems to want to avoid - the mood and tone of this movie was severely torn asunder briefly by the structure of the move. A screenplay is the hard copy that incorporates and is the framework of the structure of a movie and has a lot to do with developing the mood and tone of it. And as for "didn't quite" flesh out his screenplay, I am of the opinion that the movie in the section of the screenplay that I'm concerned with wasn't fleshed out sufficiently at all to smooth over the jarring disconnect in mood and tone of the movie when the structure of the movie goes from a mellow scene to a violent, serious scene.

    It is far to easy comment on a movie by saying, "I don't have a big problem" with something and feel that it adequately will address other people's more strongly felt convictions about a movie. Film discussion that becomes completely subjective and restricted to internal statements like, "I liked that," "I didn't care for that," "It was ok, but it really wasn't important," "Oh well," makes it difficult to have any substantive conversation about a film. It's like talking about the weather. "It's 65 degrees, it's a bit chilly." For Arsaib4 to imply he really doesn't feel strongly one way or another about this film and his response seems to imply that perhaps there's more to it than he's leading on. At least when I take the time to watch a movie for a second time, the movie means more to me than I don't feel strongly one way or another. If it was me and I didn't feel strongly one way or another about a film, I'd forget about it and not even think about it again or even discuss it.

    Arsaib4's response about a "key event" is odd. If one reads my response, I didn't even talk about it or discuss it. I actually deliberately skipped over Arsaib4's last paragraph because I had had so much else to comment on his earlier discussion.

  4. #19
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    Re: I did read your post carefully, three times

    Originally posted by tabuno
    And prior to replying and after re-reading arsaib4's post I came to understand that what followed arsaibr's statement above was Mr. Jone's description of supporting argument for his own statement about Mr. Murray's miscasting.
    Where is my statement about Mr. Murray's miscasting? To refresh your memory, this is what I wrote: "...one thing I donít consent with is his blame laying squarely on the shoulders of the filmís star: Bill Murray." And then I went on to mention a couple of other concerns I had.

    In fact if one doesn't "feel strongly one way or the other on Bill Murray and the film" then why even bother? What's the point?

    Unfortunately, this kind of attitude is quite prevalent in film criticism today (especially in this country). Every film is hailed by the quote-happy critics as either a "masterpiece" or is thrown aside (Tabuno would certainly enjoy reading Armond White). And that's why we need critics like Kent Jones and Jim Hoberman. They aren't afraid of making strong statements, but they also realize that most films don't qualify to be discussed in that manner.

    It is far to easy comment on a movie by saying, "I don't have a big problem" with something and feel that it adequately will address other people's more strongly felt convictions about a movie. Film discussion that becomes completely subjective and restricted to internal statements like, "I liked that," "I didn't care for that," "It was ok, but it really wasn't important," "Oh well," makes it difficult to have any substantive conversation about a film. It's like talking about the weather. "It's 65 degrees, it's a bit chilly." For Arsaib4 to imply he really doesn't feel strongly one way or another about this film and his response seems to imply that perhaps there's more to it than he's leading on. At least when I take the time to watch a movie for a second time, the movie means more to me than I don't feel strongly one way or another. If it was me and I didn't feel strongly one way or another about a film, I'd forget about it and not even think about it again or even discuss it.


    To me it's far to easy to make grand, generalized statements, which is apparently something you prefer to do. Here's one from me (although a necessary one): Film criticism is subjective, whether you like it or not. If you felt strongly about the film after watching it for the second time, then bully for you. I didn't. I found certain aspects to be quite worthy, while others, not quite so.

  5. #20
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    Thanks for not hitting over the head

    arsaib4 thanks for not placing me in a dark pool of black tar pitch and scalding me with boils.

  6. #21
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    arsaib4:

    Can you tell me where the Kent Jones article about The Life Aquatic, "Kill Bill," can be found? Is it in Film Comment? I can't locate a reference to it online. Thank you.

  7. #22
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    I wish it was available online, but I don't believe it is. It came up in my chat online with Mark Peranson (Village Voice), and he was kind enough to sent it to me. Apparently it was written for the magazine Mark publishes out of Toronto.

  8. #23
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    Would that be Cinemascope? Yes, evidently it would. http://www.cinema-scope.com/cs22/contents.htm I wonder why it was so hard to track down. Anyway, the article is not available online and I don't know where I can find the magazine. You have aroused my curiousity.

  9. #24
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    No, I don't think the mag is readily available in stores. It's not overly expensive (5 issues - $20), but enough of it is already available as you can see. It's amusing to read Rosenbaum's DVD corner (at least for me), but he does a fair job.

  10. #25
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    Film Comment

    I want to add that Film Comment is still the way to go if someone is looking for intelligent, fair-minded criticism.

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    hear hear! And it's easy on the eyes...

  12. #27
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    Oh really? I wonder why you would say that?

    "It's amusing to read Rosenbaum's DVD corner (at least for me), but he does a fair job." What do you mean by that? It's funny to read, but the quality of the content only fair? Or he's fair-minded, but also entertaining?

  13. #28
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    Originally posted by pmw
    hear hear! And it's easy on the eyes...
    I agree. Kudos to the art-director, whoever he is...

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