300 The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Fletch F. Fletch
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#326 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Thu May 11, 2006 9:08 am

Joe Buck wrote:Well, I for one thought the movie was superb. It gets better with each repeated viewing. Lots of subtle humor.
Agreed. And like all of Wes' films so much going within the frame that I end up noticing different things (in terms of set design, etc.) every time I watch it.

And if anything, Bill Murray is what made the film so good.

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#327 Post by Antoine Doinel » Mon May 29, 2006 11:04 am

I'm not sure if this has already been discussed, but has anyone else noticed how conspicuously absent Owen Wilson is from any of the extra features (the intern and Maysles documentaries in particular?). Anyone know why? I'm an Owen Wilson fan (his commentary on Rushmore is great) but I'm curious why he can't be found anywhere in the extra material. I don't think he was shooting another movie at the time....

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#328 Post by Napoleon » Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:06 am

Fletch F. Fletch wrote:And like all of Wes' films so much going within the frame that I end up noticing different things (in terms of set design, etc.) every time I watch it.
Indeed!

At the end as Steve is walking along the jetty being joined by everyone, the wall on right hand side has a jaguar (as in jaguar shark) pattern on it.

As the final members of the cast join up, the pattern on the wall reverts to plain grey/putty. So is this a deliberate device indicating that the shark has brought them closer together?

I'm not sure if this is deliberate on Anderson's part or not. Head says no, heart says maybe.

A happy coincidence if not.

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#329 Post by ben d banana » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:10 pm

If you have a chance to Seu Jorge live, take it!

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#330 Post by indiannamednobody » Tue Jun 27, 2006 11:33 am

I'm seeing him this Saturday in Madison WI for $18. Not bad, I didn't realize that he was Knockout Ned in City of God.

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#331 Post by Lino » Tue Jun 27, 2006 11:39 am


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#332 Post by Le Samouraï » Tue Oct 17, 2006 7:05 am

Just got this. I am experiencing a few glitches/ cracks on the DD soundtrack. I was wondering whether anyone else does this too or I just got a bad copy? There is one at 1:16:38-39.

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#333 Post by Anthony » Tue Oct 17, 2006 12:20 pm

You can also download the songs individually via iTunes.

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#334 Post by Steven H » Sat Mar 31, 2007 11:12 am

Redirecting from this thread on Bottle Rocket. I've been busy at work this week, or I would've replied sooner, and since you didn't enjoy the film, I don't see any reason why you'd spend much time defending your opinion, but I will give you a long drawn out reply concerning my own thoughts.
domino harvey wrote:There's never a moment in the Life Aquatic when the visual overload of set design, costuming, and other affectations on the screen don't try to overwhelm any attempt at a narrative. And this is not in itself a bad thing. Had Anderson embraced his obvious desire to create a film which would be a complete treat for the eyes and abandoned the half-cocked, astonishingly sophomoric and unconvincing storyline, the Life Aquatic might have succeeded as an interesting experiment. But the Life Aquatic keeps insisting that its story matters, when it is so far removed from anything resembling characterization (which, let me be clear, is not a bad thing in itself but it is a bad thing when the film is dependent on a story/characters, which is how the Life Aquatic is set-up. Had Anderson just made a two-hour music video, or an experimental/existentialist film, or just a non-narrative journey, this point wouldn't be a detriment to the film at all) that the nauseatingly coy flippancy becomes a bigger distraction than the visuals, and the film then fails on both levels.

But here I see I've resorted to calling it a film after all, so I guess I still lose this one. I will concede that in the film's favor, it had a fantastic trailer that gave the impression that the whole thing was going to work.
But I actually found the visuals to be more subdued in this film than in Royal Tenenbaums, which seemed to take more risks with color (i.e. the "Needle in the Hay" bathroom scene, design of the house.) Granted, the set design (boat) and costuming (including merchandised skullcaps) could be seen as obnoxious, but the former, at least during the Ladies Man bit, worked to introduce the boat, which Anderson considered a character of the film. The latter was part of the original inspiration for the film, related to the Jacques Cousteau angle. The costumes do bely a "coy flippancy", but since I can be flippantly coy myself, I wasn't bothered by it. As for the stop motion creatures, you be onto something, but I don't think real animals would have been "fun" enough for Anderson, just like in Rushmore (the schools, and locations) and Royal Tenenbaums (history, the city) he prefers to draw upon reality as filtered through his imagination, rather than attempt to recreate something real. I'm definitely willing to give that this could have hurt the film for some, however much I enjoyed it.

I'm not sure I understand how "Life Aquatic keeps insisting that its story matters, when it is so far removed from anything resembling characterization." It seems that even the film's naysayers enjoyed a character or two (as chock full as it is, it's probably hard not to), and it seems that in all of Anderson's films characterization happens between the lines. Dafoe's Klaus has only a handful of lines, and by the end I personally felt he was one of the most fleshed out. To compare, after the film was over, I was sad that, Noah Taylor, one of my favorite actors, was saddled with one of the few uninteresting roles. So if his role was uninteresting, I suppose that makes many of the others interesting (to me at least, and subjective opinion is surely from where our differences stem.)

I wouldn't call any of Anderson's storylines "convincing", either. They seem to happen on another world, and often, part of what makes his work so enjoyable is seeing people do what part of you knows no one really does. I suppose this idea of unreal idiosyncracy is extremely attractive to me, and I find it makes his films unique and entertaining. His films are meant to be fun, and he's gone on record saying he doesn't mind them being listed under the "Comedy" section.

After I read this, "a two-hour music video, or an experimental/existentialist film, or just a non-narrative journey", I was reminded of how the film does veer off into a handful of bizarre "Needle in the Hay"/Tenenbaums type moments. The pirate scene and Ned's death are odd and both catapult the film into "tragic adventure" territory, and reminds me of the great moment during Robert Enrico's Les Aventuriers where Laetitia is shot, and the following scene where her body is dumped off the coast of the Congo. What had been a fun, slightly existentialist, romp and search for treasure, turned horribly wrong. At that halfway point it begins to turn down, and ends with even more death. While the analogy isn't entirely there, what I'm trying to say is maybe the moments that don't "fit", are what really maps out the Life Aquatic.

I watched it again recently, and I am pretty sure that he took the wrong step with the Tiger Shark scene. It should have been Murray (and maybe Goldblum) alone at the bottom of the ocean. The music is wrong, and the "emotion" is overplayed, mostly by the lack of focus on Zissou. Instead you're paying attention to what everyone else is doing in submersible. It doesn't do what it should do, but I also don't believe it damages the film that much, and its surrounded by scenes that I'm very fond of.

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#335 Post by you gotta be kidding me » Mon Apr 02, 2007 6:40 am

Steven H wrote:I watched it again recently, and I am pretty sure that he took the wrong step with the Tiger Shark scene. It should have been Murray (and maybe Goldblum) alone at the bottom of the ocean. The music is wrong, and the "emotion" is overplayed, mostly by the lack of focus on Zissou. Instead you're paying attention to what everyone else is doing in submersible. It doesn't do what it should do, but I also don't believe it damages the film that much, and its surrounded by scenes that I'm very fond of.
But wasn't one of the themes of the film the power of imagination and belief?

And here was a guy - Zissou - who no one believed in anymore, and who was obviously losing faith in himself, losing the sort of light that illuminates interesting lives, about to give it all up.

So it's important that all of his friends, family, and even a detractor like Goldblum, be present to see the shark, which had not previously been caught on film. The shark - like all the animated animals in the film - seems to exist only in Steve's mind - perhaps the mind of a child, in many ways - and obviously represents the power of imagination, a sense of wonder, etc.

The shark may not even exist, but for a beautiful moment he sees it, and they all see it, and they all understand him, and are all renewed by this shared understanding.

This film has all sorts of problems, but the last thirty minutes or so is not one of them. I think it's easily Anderson's best film (admittedly I'm not much of an admirer of his work) and the most sincere. There's nothing "cool" or "hip" about these people or their circumstances. These aren't NYC bluebloods taken from the pages of The New Yorker, or a smart-ass punk kid who deserves to be kicked in the teeth by the football team, or even eccentric (if still, as Scorsese says "fragile") half-wit post-Jarmuschian criminals.

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#336 Post by Cinesimilitude » Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:09 pm

Now that is how you write a first post. Welcome to the forum, and thanks for the analysis of the shark scene, I think that's an excellent way of looking at it. I would love to hear your thoughts on the problems of the film, if you don't mind expanding on that.

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#337 Post by skuhn8 » Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:19 pm

I was impressed to find someone championing this darkhorse. I'm in the camp that feels it rewards further viewings.

Side note: A high school buddy of mine that was producing in Hollywood at the time (professional demise during the Amityville remake project) said that 'Zissou' became the big 'cautionary tale' in Hollywood for a fortnight: downward career trajecory.

Curious to see if time floats this one up again.
Last edited by skuhn8 on Mon Apr 02, 2007 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#338 Post by Steven H » Mon Apr 02, 2007 2:05 pm

you gotta be kidding me wrote:The shark may not even exist, but for a beautiful moment he sees it, and they all see it, and they all understand him, and are all renewed by this shared understanding.
This makes sense, but I still feel the moment was handled badly. Maybe it was the Sigur Ros music cue, or everyone touching Murray, but I still feel that it was overplayed. Now that I think of it, the idea of everyone being there seems ok, but I have a hard time accepting the execution.

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#339 Post by skuhn8 » Mon Apr 02, 2007 2:19 pm

Steven H wrote:
you gotta be kidding me wrote:The shark may not even exist, but for a beautiful moment he sees it, and they all see it, and they all understand him, and are all renewed by this shared understanding.
This makes sense, but I still feel the moment was handled badly. Maybe it was the Sigur Ros music cue, or everyone touching Murray, but I still feel that it was overplayed. Now that I think of it, the idea of everyone being there seems ok, but I have a hard time accepting the execution.
I thought that scene was marvelous...except for the touching part. That was totally redundant; their being there was sharing enough and confirmation enough of his conviction. But the music was wonderful IMO. However, I don't see anything to support that the shark doesn't exist or what did you mean by that exactly?

you gotta be kidding me

#340 Post by you gotta be kidding me » Mon Apr 02, 2007 7:41 pm

Well, everything in the film is realatively "realistic" except the stop-motion creatures which are (deliberately) cartoonish -- as if figments of wishfull thinking on Zissou's part. I will admit Anderson doesn't necessarily provide any definite clue as to whether they are or aren't real -- it's entirely my interpretation. I think he allows enough room for either case, though. On the other hand, the whole film is pretty much an absurd fairy tale or adventure, so...

I'll even agree that the sub scene is heavy handed emotionally (but it still moves me) -- the scene that really gets me is a few minutes later, when Zissou hoists the boy onto his shoulders, says "This is an adventure" and carries him away. Another theme of the film (all of Anderson's films, too) is Father-figures and their responsibilities, etc. In the course of the movie Zissou loses both his own father figure and his son. But that little boy is present at the beginning of the film, and shows up again at the end -- at which point I think Zissou understands that being a father isn't just about stern authority or burdensome responsibilities, but also - maybe most importantly - about inspiring the imaginations of your children as potently as they inspire yours.

I think it's important to note here why Jacques Cousteau was chosen as the model for Zissou -- this may be a generational thing (I'm only a few years younger than Anderson) but when I was a kid, people like Cousteau, Carl Sagan, etc. were my heroes. Maybe I'm a giant nerd, but so be it. I didn't care about athletes or movie stars -- it was Cousteau, et al. who inspired me. The excitement I felt at the beginning of each new Cousteau documentary shown on PBS is unforgettable... and I wonder if Anderson (or Baumbach) felt the same. I don't think this is a caricature of Cousteau -- it might not be a faultless homage, certainly, but I think it pays tribute.

And this might be the old man in me talking, but who do 11 1/2-year-olds have to admire today? Who is as charming or interesting as Cousteau or Sagan?

So that little boy that Zissou picks up isn't just a kid to inspire, but it's also a little bit of himself.

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#341 Post by Napier » Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:14 pm

After watching entirely too much football yesterday, I caught this on IFC last night.I own the DVD but haven't watched it since the street. But I was surprised at how much more I enjoyed the film than the first two or three times I watched it. A lot better Wes Anderson film than I previously thought. The performances are all great, and I was even a little saddened by Ned's premature demise by the end of the film. I'm not a very big Owen Wilson fan,but I feel his performance as Probably Zissou's son is great. Willem Defoe crossing the line to quit was one I totally missed the first time. There is a German guy I work with who does that kind of shit all the time. Great little picture.

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#342 Post by chaddoli » Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:44 pm

Glad you joined the club. I think a great film tends to get better every time you see it while merely a good or decent film doesn't have anything else to reveal to you.

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#343 Post by kaujot » Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:50 pm

Napier wrote:After watching entirely too much football yesterday, I caught this on IFC last night.I own the DVD but haven't watched it since the street. But I was surprised at how much more I enjoyed the film than the first two or three times I watched it. A lot better Wes Anderson film than I previously thought. The performances are all great, and I was even a little saddened by Ned's premature demise by the end of the film. I'm not a very big Owen Wilson fan,but I feel his performance as Probably Zissou's son is great. Willem Defoe crossing the line to quit was one I totally missed the first time. There is a German guy I work with who does that kind of shit all the time. Great little picture.
First, I'd like to say that there is NO such thing as watching too much football.

Second, I absolutely agree. I saw the film in theaters and didn't care for it. Bought the DVD because I'm a sucker and liked it. Watched it again a week later or so and really liked it. Watched it later (again) and loved it.

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Re: 300 The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

#344 Post by Venom » Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:56 am

I just got this one and there's no booklet or any insert in the case. Is there suuposed to be one? There usually is.

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Re: 300 The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

#345 Post by kaujot » Tue Aug 18, 2009 1:01 am

Yes. You can e-mail Criterion and they'll send you one.

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Re: 300 The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

#346 Post by Venom » Tue Aug 18, 2009 2:52 am

OK thanks, I'll get on that.

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Re: 300 The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

#347 Post by fiddlesticks » Thu Oct 07, 2010 1:07 pm

It seems that Steve Zissou has a new career:
New York Times wrote:Mr. Ghailani’s lawyers — Peter E. Quijano, Steve Zissou and Michael K. Bachrach — had argued that their client was tortured while in C.I.A. custody [...]

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Re: 300 The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

#348 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Aug 24, 2011 1:17 am

With all the talk of the Rushmore Blu coming out, I'd been skimming through the DVDs of Anderson's films, and watched this one again yesterday. I saw it in the theater (with my brother, who has yet to forgive me for it), and loved it right away. It's Wes at his most silliest in the first two acts, but it's still coherent enough to work as a drama when it needs to at the end. Despite this, Darjeeling is to me a vast improvement because it feels more entrenched in it's surroundings, and the comedy-drama split feels more 50/50 than any of his other films. The best example is the scene in the bus where the children come in and Francis comes back, saying they're invited to the funeral. That little moment alone provides this somber feeling that most of the jaguar shark scene lacks (mostly due to the group touch, and the music).

Bill gives a really solid performance, and this might sound pretentious, but it's almost akin to something like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven. Zissou can be seen in parallel with the guy in Ghostbusters or Stripes, the same way Will Munny could to The Man With No Name or Harry Callahan. It's not the game-changer for Bill's career that Unforgiven clearly was for Eastwood, mostly because that had already happened with Rushmore and more recently by this point, Lost In Translation. I also really liked Dafoe, it's a shame he hasn't done more comedy. If someone can correct me on this, I think his only other comedic roles were on a guest spot on The Simpsons and a role in American Dreamz as Dick Cheney.

As for the DVD itself, the image holds up good in comparison to Rushmore and Tenenbaums. Not a big surprise given the difference in time. The documentary and the Mothersbaugh interview are the highlights for me. I still got a kick out of Bill asking "are you a member?" in that wig, and spoofing one of his lines from Groundhog Day. The commentary was good too, although the slightly noisy ambiance and the edited Cousteau are certainly distractions.

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Re: 300 The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

#349 Post by The Narrator Returns » Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:41 pm

The DVD is now only available to buy from Amazon.com on Criterion's website. This message is on the film's page:
Unfortunately, we are not able to offer this product for sale on Criterion.com. Please note that it is not out of print and is available at other retailers, like Amazon.com.
Upgrade? Or are they having problems with Disney?

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Re: 300 The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

#350 Post by ianungstad » Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:56 pm

Almost certainly an upgrade. They sold out of stock and are directing customers to other online retailers. Buena Vista isn't going to order another production run. The next printing will come directly from Criterion/Image.

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