Wes Anderson and the Problem with Hipsters
January 5, 2005 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Is N+1's review of the Life Aquatic more than a bit snobbish or dead on? While I agree with much of the review, particularly how Life Aquatic seemed to lack a plot, I can't help but feel icky having read this. (Link via TMFTML)
posted by box elder (110 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

"Come to think of it, I’ve been seeing a new breed of male around Brooklyn lately. He’s put on some weight, gotten burlier, more menacing, and grown a beard. He drinks harder and he’s been stealing the pretty girls from the effete indie boys. The trucker hat is gone, and his hair’s starting to thin. He looks, well, sort of like Charles Manson."

Hey, that's me!
posted by TonyRobots at 8:08 AM on January 5, 2005

Just another hater.
posted by orange clock at 8:09 AM on January 5, 2005

Dead on. Then again, I live in the Midwest, where we've got a bit of a hipster inferiority complex anyway.
posted by 40 Watt at 8:11 AM on January 5, 2005

I think it's pretty obnoxious, but more or less correct. The movie can't simply be explained by calling it a product of Hipster Culture, but the author does address some of the major problems of this (to me) disappointing film: plotnessless, quirkiness for the sake of quirkiness, and (though I'd never thought about this before, I think the author is right) the subtle me?-I'm-not-racist racism. I hate it when directors/films try to coast on weirdness and non-clever cleverness instead of solid plot construction. (Are you listening, Mr. Tarantino?)

Anderson's bubble was bound to burst, and this is the movie, I think, that will make a lot of people go back to look at his earlier films and say, "Oh, wait. This isn't that good." Which, with the exception of Rushmore, is, I think, correct.
posted by Dr. Wu at 8:14 AM on January 5, 2005

Tannenbaum had a plot? Where? Must've had my trucker hat on too tight.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:16 AM on January 5, 2005

Cool. I've been hating on Wmsburg-Brooklyn hipsterdom from a lot of different angles for quite some time now, but this article neatly summed up what I'm not a good enough writer to say. At a bar just the other night, a friend commented about how, looking back, Wes Anderson's work is going to look pretty, and also look pretty thin. Has the backlash begun? Is it really deserved?
posted by dhoyt at 8:18 AM on January 5, 2005

Filthy's take.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:18 AM on January 5, 2005

Aside from maybe overstating the racism a bit (it's there, but that theme kind of takes over the piece at the end; that's more an editing issue than anything else, though), this New Yorker couldn't agree more with that piece.

Where Tenenbaums was a perfect little universe of fucked-up archetypes in various stages of emotional detachment (that was the plot! You couldn't see?), it's a hard style to graft into every situation without coming off as if the whole universe is one big fucking joke to you.

My vote goes to dead on.
posted by chicobangs at 8:18 AM on January 5, 2005

Haven't seen the Life Aquatic, but I do remember telling friends that, while Royal Tenenbaums was just barely tolerable, Wes Anderson's next film wouldn't be. I figured he was doomed to making Wes Anderson films, and that he was too in love with his own cuteness to get his head straight. I get some bad vibes coming off this one.
posted by argybarg at 8:20 AM on January 5, 2005

I'm getting increasingly less comfortable using 'hipster' at all, but my take on this was that it was the uber-hipster technique of being the first to declare something is no longer cool right before it breaks through to a larger audience, as wes anderson's films seem poised to do.

that being said, I think a lot of the analysis of TLA was just about dead-on: I'd been feeling vaguely uncomfortable about the weird preadolescent fetishism in this one in particular, and I think this article hit it right on the head in reference to the 'extended childhood' of his films and, while I hate saying it, "my generation." also, I'm amazed that I've never seen a critic make any sort of comment about a recurring father-issue obsession in his films.

on preview, I am always really puzzled by how much some people personally really HATE his movies. I don't understand how something that, regarless of your taste, at least aspires to be art rather than entertainment provokes more vitriol than say, a nicolas cage movie. (prediction: the word "pretensious" will appear soon)
posted by Swampjazz! at 8:32 AM on January 5, 2005

I've always wondered why film critics are film critics, if they are so knowledgeable about the trade why aren't they producers, or directors, or actors, or writers, or even "best boys"?

I'll start paying close attention to film reviews when they are written by folks who have excelled in the industry.

And...you know what they say about opinions........
posted by HuronBob at 8:32 AM on January 5, 2005

HuronBob: that's stupid. Making films and understanding films are two totally different skills. While knowledge of the one will often help you with the other, they really are two different skill sets. Speaking as someone who has done both.

If you like reading books, why don't you write a few sometime?
posted by Dr. Wu at 8:35 AM on January 5, 2005

Wow, I'd picked "The Life Acquaitc" as best movie I'd seen of this year.

But who am I kidding...Hellboy, Fat Albert, Riddick, Matrix 3, Polar Express, iRobot, Blade Trinity, Christmas with the Kranks were so much superior.
posted by Hands of Manos at 8:36 AM on January 5, 2005

I will say as a fan of Wes Anderson's three other films, that "The Life Aquatic" was a big disappointment.
posted by McBain at 8:39 AM on January 5, 2005

it's a hard style to graft into every situation without coming off as if the whole universe is one big fucking joke to you

Considering the world today, seems like this is a viable point of view.

I agree with most everyone on the thread that Tennenbaums pretty seriously missed the mark. However, Rushmore was one of the most brilliant movies I've seen in the past decade. It managed to be funny, sarcastic, sad, and very human all at the same time.

Interestingly, I saw a lot of great reviews for Tennenbaums, and Rushmore generated next-to-zero buzz. So, I'm going to cross my fingers and go see Life Aquatic with the hope that it's a Rushmore and not a Tennenbaums. At least I don't have to go see Christmas with the Kranks.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:41 AM on January 5, 2005

I dunno about The Life Aquatic - Rushmore great, Tenenbaums eh - but TMFTML is back! I wasn't expecting that. I think it's gonna be a good year.
posted by furiousthought at 8:42 AM on January 5, 2005

Dr. Wu...thanks, I had forgotten I was stupid, it always helps to have someone point it out...

Your logic doesn't hold. You acknowledge that "knowledge of the one will often help you with the other". And, being able to read and appreciate a book does not mean I can either write one with any skill or review one with any skill. However having the skill to write a fine novel would certainly add to the possibility that I could critically review another person's work with some knowledge and authority.
posted by HuronBob at 8:43 AM on January 5, 2005

I haven't seen TLA, yet, but I've always respected Andersen for being willing to look goofy in ways that just really, truly aren't hip, except as a rationalization.

I don't think he really is a hipster at all. He believes in himself far too much to be a real hipster. I think it shows through in the way he sort of "games" ironic detachment. By that I mean he let you think that's what it was all about, until he springs on you that, by gosh, these characters do actually care about something. One of my favorite parts about Rushmore -- one that I point out to people, because it's easy to miss -- is the fact that the Brian Cox character is actually not only not an asshole, but is right about just about everything, and that both Max and Bloom are able to see that instantly when it matters.

There's a great line from Year of Living Dangerously: "She was in danger of succumbing to the cynicism of the failed romantic." Andersen's characters are in danger of succumbing to the barrenness of the perpetual ironist. And they don't.
posted by lodurr at 8:44 AM on January 5, 2005

Hellboy, Fat Albert, Riddick, Matrix 3, Polar Express, iRobot, Blade Trinity, Christmas with the Kranks were so much superior.

I agree wholeheartedly. It was really great how those films really emphasized a solid, understandable plot without resorting to "quirkiness" or "whimsy."

I'd pay another $10 just to see bill murray say "johnny daydream" again.
posted by Swampjazz! at 8:45 AM on January 5, 2005

Swampjazz: Some people react with vitriol to Anderson's films because he gets a lot of hype and routinely gets called a genius. Any time you have someone this elevated by the press and by a certain section of popular of opinion, you will also have that section that just loves to tear him up and hate him. It's almost human nature.

Haven't seen Life Aquatic yet, but I think Rushmore is the best movie of the 1990s and one of my favoritest films ever. It's flawless and heartbreaking and funny and resonant. I also really enjoyed Bottle Rocket. When Owen Wilson's Dignan said, when going back in to retrieve a friend from a failed robbery, They can't catch me 'cos I'm fucking innocent I thought, here is one of the best lines in film history.

I also enjoyed Tenenbaums, but definitely saw some shift in that movie, as though he was far more concerned with forcing a style on the film than letting the characters live and breathe. It felt a little more contrived, a little more quirky for quirky's sake, and a lot less effective than his prior two films. Despite enjoying it, I really thought it was a turning point for Anderson, and worried that his next movie would just take all of the bad qualities of Tenenbaums and go with them. Sadly, most of the Life Aquatic reviews (in print and from friends) seem to verify this.

Still, I'll see it this Friday. Despite all his flaws, I'll take one Wes Anderson over eighty million Joel Schumachers.
posted by xmutex at 8:45 AM on January 5, 2005

I'll start paying close attention to film reviews when they are written by folks who have excelled in the industry.


Sorry to pile on, but this makes no sense. Why would the ability to analyze a movie's qualities well have anything to do with being a good cinematographer or, as you say, "best boy?" Some of the best writers on baseball couldn't hit a major league fastball; does that mean they should stop writing?

And as the old saying goes, you don't have to know how to cook an egg to tell if it's rotten.
posted by argybarg at 8:46 AM on January 5, 2005

Ahem. 'Anderson'. Had Hans Christian on my mind, I guess...
posted by lodurr at 8:46 AM on January 5, 2005

Rushmore was really good, but I loved Tenenbaums. Probably because I identified with every single character in the film.

(Yes, even Gwyneth.)

I can't argue with those criticisms, though.
posted by chicobangs at 8:49 AM on January 5, 2005

Blech. Blech. Blech.

The review is so muddled by the author's own biases and and eagerness to hate on Williamsburg that it's hard to take it seriously as a movie review. Sometimes films have no plot and characters are cartoonish for a reason -- and that reason isn't necessarily parody as the guy presupposes.

At the heart of it, Anderson's movies are always about the pent up emotions, neuroses, and childhood trauma's that live just beneath the surface of things, and his approach to plots, set designs (notice how the boat is like a dollhouse), wardrobe, and all that stuff on surface can often be seen as a framing device. I personally don't think what he was doing worked really well in the last flick, and would like to see him move away from father figures and love triangles as central themes, but I still respect the Anderson's attempt and don't feel the pressing need to snipe at hipster culture. If he had nuts, the guy would've attacked postmodern art instead, but to do that, he'd have to see this movie for what it actually is first.

Also, Anderson still knows how to use music, and the Portuguese Bowie was great (and incidentally, performed by Seu Jorge, the guy who plays Knockout Ned in City of God -- a movie everyone must see).
posted by drpynchon at 8:51 AM on January 5, 2005

I don't know about hipsters, but I did think that Life Aquatic was pretty awful. For some snobbish critics, take a look at the Movie Club at Slate.
posted by muckster at 8:52 AM on January 5, 2005

Man, I was hoping for another Rushmore. That was a good movie. Tennebaums was complete ass.

It now looks like Wes is well on his way to becoming the hipster Kevin Smith (or maybe Kevin Smith is the comic-book-guy Wes Anderson?).
posted by C.Batt at 8:52 AM on January 5, 2005

I think the degree to which you enjoy the Life Aquatic is based on how much you consider a lack of character strength and linear plot to be a bad thing. It's by no means his best work, but I think there is plenty else to be enjoyed about the film if you're not locked into watching it as a story.

Also, I actually thought save the bowie and the mothersbaugh, the pop song selection was really off this time.
posted by Swampjazz! at 8:58 AM on January 5, 2005

I'm of the opinion that when something is really good, some people don't get it and they hate it, and others do get it and they love it.

I really love this movie. I could try to defend it, but it's really a matter of taste, and I'm just glad it exists.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 8:58 AM on January 5, 2005

I think Jason Schwartzman deserves more credit for making Rushmore what it is. There's something really exhilarating about watching a relatively unknown actor just nail a role like that. I mean, "O. R. you?" is just a lame throwaway line on paper; what makes me still laugh (even as I'm writing this) is his delivery.

I liked The Royal Tennenbaums, but it came dangerously close to Famous Actors Slumming in places (see Ocean's Twelve for the worst example of that in recent memory).
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:00 AM on January 5, 2005

Anderson is at his best when his characters get to drama-queen across the screen in their maximum glory.

Bill Murray (and to a lesser extent Gene Hackman) understand this, and so they're perfect in these post-ironic go-big roles. Of course, most decent-to-good actors under 35 can do this instinctively, and there are a million of them slouching around Hollywood looking like Williamsburgers (and vice versa).

Anderson won't go broke making this movie over and over again. I wouldn't be surprised to see him do a James Bond flick, or a Mafia drama, or a friggin' Wallace Beery Wrestling Movie.

He's got this faux-emotional thing down to a science. It's easy to hate.
posted by chicobangs at 9:01 AM on January 5, 2005

The movie was good until the shootout. Then it just seemed to drag on forever.

The article makes good points about TLA, but it's definitely trying to be too cutesy by linking it with hipsters, who are so cliched, that the complaints about them have also become cliches.

I don't get all the attention, both positive and negative, dumped onto hipsters. The Amish are a larger subset of the population, and they're a lot more into the whole retro chic thing.
posted by BigFatWhale at 9:01 AM on January 5, 2005

I found it much more of a societal critique than a movie review, but some of the hipster descriptions rang quite true for me and my experience in the indie college world.
posted by hopeless romantique at 9:02 AM on January 5, 2005

Rushmore caught me at just the right moment and I went to the theater to see it about ten times (it had hit the cheap theater by then). And Bottle Rocket had a nice feel to it as well.

Since The Royal Tenenbaums I've felt this strange disconnect with Wes Anderson's films. Like maybe he needs to populate his movies with some new actors. As much as I love Bill Murray, he seemed to sleep his way through The Life Aquatic.

I enjoyed the movie though as it lingered in my head after seeing it, and (to paraphrase Roger Ebert's review) I can't quite recommend anyone seeing it but I wouldn't discourage anyone either.

If I'd never seen any of his other films perhaps I'd feel differently, but it's almost like there's a formula and it pays off the same way each time.

I'd gladly take Wes Anderson over 90% of the other stuff crapped out by the studios though.
posted by box elder at 9:02 AM on January 5, 2005

Mocking hipsters is so 2003.
posted by dame at 9:03 AM on January 5, 2005

The review manages to capture some of the trouble with the movie, although it is less clear that this can be generalized to a problem with a [my] generation.
posted by OmieWise at 9:04 AM on January 5, 2005

TLA was a nice little movie with a lot of character and atmosphere. I simply enjoyed it and smiled. No more, no less. Some people worry too much about entertainment products.
posted by homodigitalis at 9:05 AM on January 5, 2005

"Entertainment products?" Ugggh. Whatever happened to "art?"

(Armitage, I believe it's "O.R. they?", but your point stands.)
posted by muckster at 9:06 AM on January 5, 2005

HuronBob, you could be great at appreciating plot, narrative, mise en scene, clever use of montage, parallel editing, any of the devices of film making, and yet be useless at drawing a good performance out of an actor, or coming up with a coherent vision with your director of photography, things that the critic wouldn't have to worry about.

I've worked in film for the last ten years, both as a critic and a film maker, and they are two different (if connected) disciplines. It's always easier to find faults with a film (the critic), and I find it valuable to do this so that I can try and work out how i would have done things differently (as the film maker). The trick is to make these changes while you're shooting not after.

On TLA, I pretty much agree with the article. I thought exactly the same about Garden State, which while it had some OK parts still felt like a script where everything happened just to set up another gag (esp. the shirt scene, no more details in case you've not seen it).

On preview: His music choice really annoys me, it's so knowingly hip. Bit like Hal Hartley (even though I love his films).

Now Buffalo 66, there's a film about alienation.
posted by ciderwoman at 9:08 AM on January 5, 2005

looking like Williamsburgers

What's that, a burger made from inferior beef with government cheese on top served on a stale bun that costs you $15?
posted by jonmc at 9:10 AM on January 5, 2005

A friend of mine in college was playing Pearl Jam. I hate Pearl Jam (but I've grown to hate it less over the years) and proceeded to tell him how awful it was.

He looked at me and said "That's great! That means more Pearl Jam for me and less for you!"

I'm hoping TLA will tank because I like it and that means no "TLA Action Figure with Butt Slapping power" or the "TLA Quonsar Shark Tub-buddy (with dual RC power)" ...or even worse...a TLA Extreme for Teens Cartoon and Cereal. Or the most even worser "TLA II: directed by the same guy that did Mortal Kombat IV"
posted by Hands of Manos at 9:19 AM on January 5, 2005

I'm really surprised that so many of you think Tenenbaums was just "eh." That movie just breaks my heart in so many ways, and yeah, I think it's better than Rushmore. A little messier, but much grander in scope.

W/r/t Life Aquatic, on first viewing I was disappointed. Very disappointed. I felt no connection to the characters, thought the emotional hooks felt put-on and clumsily executed, and like the whole thing was being played too much for larfs. This, not so incidentally, was opening weekend, with a theater full of presumed Wes fanatics who laughed heartily at literally every little damn thing. I think this colored my judgment, because when I saw it a second time with a more subdued audience, I was able to connect, and see the drama in it a bit more. I still feel like it pales next to Rushmore and RT, though.

Oh, just for the record, anyone who thinks Anderson is a champion of ironic detachment missed the point of Rushmore completely. Maybe they were watching Igby Goes Down instead?

Bonus link: A good interview with Wes.

on preview: I agree with boxelder that Bill Murray was not great in this movie. Fun to watch and charismatic as always, but his performance in Lost in Translation (a crappy movie by all other counts, except, perhaps, Scarlett Johansen's ass) was far far better.
posted by TonyRobots at 9:20 AM on January 5, 2005

(Armitage, I believe it's "O.R. they?", but your point stands.)

Damn, you're right.

"I like your nurse's uniform, guy."
"These are OR scrubs."
"OR they?"
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:24 AM on January 5, 2005

Anderson seems to be more desperate to be Anderson in light of some of the recent movies that could be said to be descendants of his stuff (Lost in Translation, Napoleon Dynamite or Garden State). So he's Wes'ing It Up A Notch!

So the extra Anderson quirkiness can be akin to random Bruckheimer explosions. Not really needed, but part and parcel of the director's style.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:25 AM on January 5, 2005

homodigitalis: Damn. Some people still think of movies as art. You... philistine.

ciderwoman: Hell yes! I love Buffalo '66. And I missed that game, because that was the day Billy was born!
posted by xmutex at 9:25 AM on January 5, 2005

Armitage Shanks et. al: What makes the OR scrubs exchange so beautiful is Bill Murray choking on his drink right after.
posted by xmutex at 9:27 AM on January 5, 2005

I loved Bottle Rocket, liked Rushmore, hated Tennenbaums with a passion. Thought it was basically stolen material from a bunch of better places, thought the costume and sound design were 90% of the movie, didn't like the characters, hated the voice-over narration....

That said, I adored Life Aquatic. It was a lot of fun, highly entertaining, and a good time was had by all, especially me. I thought it was a good thing that the film has less of a faux-serious message and was basically played for fun, entertainment, and the occaisional wonder.
posted by chaz at 9:27 AM on January 5, 2005

A couple who sat behind me and off to the left laughed not just at every line of dialog, but also at every cut from one shot to the next. The rest of the almost-full theater (this was last Saturday evening) laughed at "Bulldykes can get pregnant" but very little else.
posted by mischief at 9:28 AM on January 5, 2005

In the year I lived in Brooklyn, I could never find the Williamsburg mentioned in this (and countless others) article. I mean, yes, there were ironic t-shirts and PBRs there (as there were in the E. Village, LES and Alphabet City... less so, actually), but not a society made up entirely of smirking rich kids, slumming in leisure suits.

Also, although I haven't seen TLA, the Coen Bros. seemed to face this sort of criticism ca. The Hudsucker Proxy, but I always thought it was a great movie.

Opinions vary, I guess.
posted by Human Stain at 9:28 AM on January 5, 2005

I just put The Royal Tanenbaums into the DVD player and I'm in that Wes Anderson World.

Help! Help! I'm trapped in a Wes Anderson world! Everyone thinks I'm an idiot!
posted by goodglovin77 at 9:29 AM on January 5, 2005

I see Anderson's movies in a similar way to how I look at my artist-friends' sketchbooks. Some pages are great, some, not so great, but in general I'm thrilled for having seen them. I like the way I feel like I'm being brought into a very specific world that I couldn't find anywhere else. The Life Aquatic was definitely not my favorite movie of his, but I still really enjoyed it. I like the fact that not much happens in the movie. It's very similar to Lost in Translation that way. I hope this becomes a trend in modern cinema, though I doubt it will...
posted by soplerfo at 9:40 AM on January 5, 2005

The writer nails the issue of racism, PC-ness, self-awareness, etc, in hipster culture right on.

I'm less sure about the assertion of racism in Anderson's films, and I wouldn't compare them to Lost in Translation. Coppola's film used stereotypes as part of the setting for the whole movie, as a way of making the Americans seem soooo important and soooo alienated. Anderson's minority characters simply surface on the sidelines and make us laugh and cringe a little at the same time... hey, kind of like every other character in his films. I think these characters (Margaret, Pagoda, etc) are definitely written for an audience like the one described in the article (conscientiously non-racist) and they are ever-so-low blows. Coppola's film seems to me to be made for an audience that maybe still has racist stereotypes that they're not aware of, and it takes advantage of that in a very different, and less humanist, way.

As others have said, Vincent Gallo and the Coen brothers (not similar at all!) are making "hipster" films that are more lucrative food for thought; Anderson's are more easy fodder.
posted by ism at 9:57 AM on January 5, 2005

Damn, N+1's criticism of the hipsters isn't fair. I'm assuming he's skewering a whole generation, but we are saturated in stuff that's pretty darn good a lot of the time and we're too fucking swamped in our cubicles to appreciate half of it. Fuck the baby boomers. They're too busy guilting us into skulking off into investment banker jobs our parents parents' would have been proud of. It's the only way they can sell us back the pseudo-60s Apple, Beetle and other recycled bullshit that masquerades as hip. Being jealous of a serial killer? Jeez, that IS hipster bullshit.

My girlfriend, despite being incredibly cool and smart, hates Wilco because of the 'annoying noise' between the songs. I can sit and listen to Wilco and find immeasurable beauty and thought in the songs. Same with Wes Anderson films. I loved the first three, but Rushmore and RT stand out as movies I can watch over and over again because I identify with the feel, with the characters. I went to a private school that looked almost identical to the Rushmore campus, and it has an insight into that culture that is almost eerie in its accuracy. It's beautiful to look at (as is RT, which I also loved for the same reasons).

I didn't think Aquatic was as good as his others, but it still had the same 'disappointed with adulthood' quality that the others had. I also think he was just having fun with this movie, more than the others. 'Swamp leeches! Am I the only one that got hit? Come on'. My friend from uni and I were twittering away like 9 year olds as our significant others (the Wilco haters) gazed on in bewildered amusement. I liked the movie for the same reason I liked the other ones...a visual feast of bizarre surrealism and quirky one-liners. I howled with laughter when the walkie talkie got smashed after its running out of batteries. I think me and my immature friend were the only two laughing in the entire theatre.

'What would be the scientific reason for killing the Jaguar Shark?'



That was classic...
posted by jimmythefish at 9:58 AM on January 5, 2005

Rushmore is in my top 10 movies of all time and after a few watchings I saw the glory that is Royal Tennenbaums and I loved Life Aquatic. Loved in a "can we go see it again tomorrow" kind of way. Perhaps I'm closer to the person this reviewer describes than I'd like to believe but I love Wes Anderson world. It is exactly the lens of child like wonder that makes me swoon. His movies cause me to emote in a way that makes me not care that I'm being manipulated to do so. He also does soundtracks like nobody's business.
posted by Wolfie at 10:02 AM on January 5, 2005

I can understand how people wouldn't like the Life Aquatic, and I'm sort of caught between the movie either being brilliant or terrible.


Because after seeing the movie, I spent several hours trying to figure out exactly what the filmmaker was trying to say with it. It's entirely possible that Anderson wasn't sure what he was trying to say (which would make the movie horrible), or that the message is lost on most people. I enjoyed that it made me think though.
posted by drezdn at 10:09 AM on January 5, 2005

I didn't enjoy Rushmore, feel rather fond of Tennenbaums, and adored TLA. It was funny, and sweet, and I left the theatre with a smile. If that makes it some kind of "hipster" movie to be reviled.. well, fine then. With all the crap going on in the world, two hours of whimsy seems pretty nice to me.
posted by jess at 10:11 AM on January 5, 2005

Hipsterism is a fluid thing, though, and it will survive the likes of Wes Anderson.

Hipsterism? Get fucking serious. I spilled MGD on my trust fund, and all I got was this lousy trucker cap.

There is no hipster subculture capable of producing any aesthic -- lasting or ephemeral. All there is to 'hipsterism' is a fashion sense and a fruity ennui. If you honestly feel Wes Anderson let down your generation with Life Aquatic, go rent Bande à part and see how much you're really missing out.
posted by eatitlive at 10:11 AM on January 5, 2005

That review is crap. The false conflation and subsequent Anderson take-down via Williamsburg is 10x more precious and pseudo-earnest than The Life Aquatic. I could possibly buy the bankruptcy of the hipster aesthetic (though calling it "the youth culture of the moment" reveals our reviewer's limits) but don't try to tell me that has anything to do with Anderson's films.

I like the movie more and more in the days since I saw it, and am looking forward to seeing it again. I've been reading some reviews and find that most people can be divided into two camps: those that "get" the pirate shoot-outs and those that don't. What's to get? you ask. Well, I don't know. It's just funny as hell. Anytime the characters in his films start to act macho, it's such joyful fantasy-fulfillment that I can't help but to be completely charmed. Wes Anderson is a master-film maker, totally in control of his medium and unafraid to push his highly personal, stylized art as far as he can take it. Unfortunately it seems that many people don't share his taste, but c'est la vie.

I predict this movie is going to become more and more respected in the years to come, sort of like what has happened with The Big Lebowski (or Rushmore for that matter).
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:12 AM on January 5, 2005

In the year I lived in Brooklyn, I could never find the Williamsburg mentioned in this (and countless others) article. I mean, yes, there were ironic t-shirts and PBRs there (as there were in the E. Village, LES and Alphabet City... less so, actually), but not a society made up entirely of smirking rich kids, slumming in leisure suits.

I've lived in different neighborhoods of Brooklyn and it's always seemed to me that there are more people ragging on hipsters than actual hipsters--who apparently, subsist entirely on hedonism, PBR, and their parent's money.

It's as if there's no one who lives on the Upper West Side, works an entry level job, and has parents who pay their rent.

That's apparently okay, but if you went to art school and like to wear shitty homemade T-shirts you need to be derided by every synthesist in the world disappointed by some facet of pop culture.
posted by box elder at 10:16 AM on January 5, 2005

I don't quite understand the Wes Anderson hate... Here's how I see his filmography, not that I'm trying to force it on you.

1. Bottle Rocket - Quaint, funny, slow-moving heist film. Character development is somewhat stunted, but overall it's an awesome debut.
2. Rushmore - Clearly Anderson's masterpiece. The characters are intriguing, the emotions are real, there's even a good plot for you purists out there. Most importantly, it's the first Anderson film in which the visual takes a key role. Perfect camera angles, beautiful montages (Max's extracurricular activities, his experience at public high school, Bloom's revenge), and anything quirky takes center-stage.
3. Royal Tenenbaums - Another excellent film. The fact that it was mainly a character study (a 35 minute introduction?) and had little plot turned people off immediately. But how could you miss the incredible visuals of the Tenenbaum house and the characters themselves? Again, perfect delivery from every actor and dialogue about as good as Tarantino at his best. It meanders, but again we have a flawed main character who we learn not to love, but to sympathize with.
4. The Life Aquatic - Totally bizarre, but hilarious nonetheless. Not hilarious like the image-conscious kids in the theatre who guffawed at every line for the first 20 minutes thought it was, but in Anderson's search for the bizarre. The lac k of plot this time certainly did hurt the film since the emotional content was spotty. However, I viewed this movie as a comedic-adventure type with, yet again, beautiful filmcraft and smart dialogue. (as a side note, those animated creatures were awfully annoying)

I think this guy is conflating Wes Anderson and the problem with hipsters. It's not the director's fault if the annoying half of a particular subculture flocks to him. Also, it's not really productive to throw stereotypes at a particular group of people.

As for the racism-- I was bewildered to hear that. Margaret Yang of Rushmore wasn't snubbed because she was Asian, Max was a precocious, self-obsessed student in love with his teacher from start to finish. The claims that Pagoda is a coolie stereotype and disproves his own point when he talks about him stabbing Royal. Furthermore, why would Anderson be racist for creating an asshole of a main character who calls Danny Glover's character "Coltrane"? How doesn't that fit in with his character? Finally, he doesn't even provide a reason for Seu Jorge's inclusion to be racism beyond "he's Black." How can you not dig acoustic covers of Bowie in Portuguse? It's that Wes Anderson surrealism again. As for the pirates, should they have been American businessmen?

On preview: what _sirmissalot_ said.

(sorry for the lengthy post)
posted by themadjuggler at 10:16 AM on January 5, 2005

Age of Twee is finally over in hipsterdom

hm. i've been enjoying twee since '91 or so. people still make the music.

hipsterdom : political correctness :: meaningless : perverted

i don't understand how the leap is made from "Texas student" to Williamsburg. does Anderson live there or something?

or does "quirky" = "hipster"?

if the critics' dismissal of Anderson is an indication of anything, it's the end of the nerds' reign, first ushered in by Louis Skolnick in 1984, then bolstered by Bill Gates in 95, 98, and 2000.

woohoo! it's fun to beat up the guys with glasses again!
posted by mrgrimm at 10:18 AM on January 5, 2005

OK, time to weigh in. TLA is a seriously flawed film, but it did have its moments, and I think a really skilled film editor could have really tightened it up into something much stronger. This film looks like a first draft, and it seems like they ran out of budget before they could really finish it.

BTW, The "hipster" criticism from this N+1 piece seems besides the point, and I might add, highly ironic. I mean, complaining about hipsterdom in a literary review publication - if that's not irony, I don't know what is at this point.

(That being said, Sideways is the best movie of this year. That thing RULES.)
posted by lilboo at 10:23 AM on January 5, 2005

I'd gladly take Wes Anderson over 90% of the other stuff crapped out by the studios though.

no, over 99%, even if Zissou is clearly not another Bottle Rocket or Rushmore.

I didn't care much for the confused anti-hipster rant in the main link (it must be those funny-looking Clarks shoes, Wes), the American taste for backlash is at this point notorious, but still I am baffled by the intensity of the hating. poor Anderson works with an admittedly flammable material, quirkiness. I loved Bottle Rocket, and since then he has pumped up the quirkiness factor and many people have a problem with that (Fellini -- and Calvino -- used to be crapped on by less-understanding cinemagoers/readers for the same reason, so at least Anderson's in good company). but he's doing a tough job -- he's shooting live action Peanuts stripes, with Jason Schwartzman / Gene Hackman / Bill Murray as Snoopy.

Zissou's art direction itself is worthy the ticket, and he has a thing for endings (Scorsese called Bottle Rocket's "trascendent", Rushmore's -- with the teacher looking in her dead husband's eyes -- always manages to break my heart, every time I re-watch it. and if you didn't get the sad sweetness of Stiller's kids in Adidas all black tracking suits at the funeral, well, it's your loss).

I like a movie where a scene is shot at Gore Vidal's home. where Anjelica Huston lights a cigarette and leaves without raising an eyebrow, bored as hell, as her tuxedoed 12-year-old of an husband starts a fight.
I liked the shark, and "I wonder if he's remembers me" line is in itself a masterpiece (thanks to Murray's skill, of course).
but I've never been to Williamsburg (maybe neither has Anderson, who is a Texan), so what do I know
posted by matteo at 10:25 AM on January 5, 2005

Guy can't spell Filipino. That ticks me off.

Rushmore, Life Aquatic, Bottle Rocket, Royal Tanenbaums, in that order.

What the hell is a hipster? Are we back to labeling again? Isn't that so 20th century?
posted by linux at 10:25 AM on January 5, 2005

I don't quite understand the Wes Anderson hate...
anything quirky takes center-stage.

I think you summarized it nicely. To paraphrase Lou Grant, "You've got quirk. I hate quirk."
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:28 AM on January 5, 2005

I like a movie where a scene is shot at Gore Vidal's home.

Agreed. That place is beautiful.
posted by lilboo at 10:29 AM on January 5, 2005

OK, time to weigh in. TLA is a seriously flawed film, but it did have its moments, and I think a really skilled film editor could have really tightened it up into something much stronger.
posted by lilboo at 12:23 PM CST on January 5

TLA was edited by David Moritz, who cut Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, among others, and Daniel R. Padgett, who edited Tenenbaums. Are they not skilled?
posted by jtron at 10:42 AM on January 5, 2005

Wes Anderson reminds me of people I've known who once had genuine eccentricities that, over the years, they parlayed into shtick. That little mini-stammer they had while thinking hard turns into a self-parody; their mild absentmindedness about clothing turns into fashion. They're stuck in a loop of self-congratulation and they usually have boosters around to keep them going. It's quite revolting in life and it's the same in Wes Anderson.
posted by argybarg at 10:45 AM on January 5, 2005

Human Stain: I also love Hudsucker and consider it one of the most underrated films of the past 20 years. I don't think the initial criticisms of that film and those of The Life Aquatic are at all analogous, though. Huducker was the Coens' concious attempt to break through to a wider audience with a big-budget film. Ironically it failed miserably at the box office, while Fargo, a low-budget ultra-quirky movie, ended up being their breakthrough work. Tennnenbaums, if anything, seems to be the analogous film in Anderson's oeuvre.

IMO, Anderson's career has been a straight downward curve (Kind of like the Coens since Lebowski, eh?), so I'm not surprised Aquatic is getting panned so badly.
posted by thirdparty at 10:57 AM on January 5, 2005

The review read more like a rant to me. I enjoyed the film mind you. I thought it was quite good. Also, The critics cries of racism struck me as showing his own rather then Anderson's.
posted by chunking express at 11:00 AM on January 5, 2005

I am a Bill Murry fan. Razors Edge, Groudhog Day, Rushmore, LIT, are some of my favorite movies. I left this movie satisfied. I wasn't concerned about the lack of plot because I thought it was a character driven movie.

The Bill Murry shootouts reminded me heavily of the other Ghostbuster Alums shootout scene at the end of Gross Point Blank. The ridiculiousness of it was the whole point I thought. I did think the Jurassic Park Chaostician needed to die in the rescue attempt though(g).

I thought it was a movie about the complications of life. Then again my life is fairly 'quirky' so I guess it would connect with me.

(Oh, and the part where he tells the interns he is giving them an incomplete was perfect.)
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 11:23 AM on January 5, 2005

I think it's funny that the same people who are quick to take down Anderson because his films don't have such a great "plot" or "story" would not stop to heap praise on the skill of an Altman, Fellini, Antonioni or Godard in creating films with such amazing "atmosphere", then claim that people don't make films like that anymore.

Hip indeed.
posted by billysumday at 11:28 AM on January 5, 2005

Are they not skilled?

You know what, these two aren't bad editors, but neither one of them has been in the game that long, as far as I can tell neither one of them has any awards to their credit. But, like I said, they could have run out of money before they were able to get the movie into the shape they wanted. It's been known to happen.
posted by lilboo at 11:32 AM on January 5, 2005

Wow, you know, I would have never thought that a movie like this would turn out to be "Love it or hate it." Usually, that is reserved for films such as Dancer In The Dark and Gummo, where there's just something about the movie that makes it totally unenjoyable Unless You're Into That Kind Of Thing.

As far as the hipster thing goes- I was really annoyed by hipsters when I first came to NYC, but I've since realized that their tight tee-shirt and trucker cap is my tie-dye and dreadlocks of yesteryear. To forgive them is to forgive my former self. And, to quote Pynchon,

"A former self is a fool, an insufferable ass, but he's still human, you'd no more turn him out than you'd turn out any kind of cripple, would you?"
posted by afroblanca at 11:42 AM on January 5, 2005

posted by iamck at 12:00 PM on January 5, 2005

Am I the only one who didn't really like TLA because he thought it was too similar to Royal Tenenbaums? Some of Murray's lines in the former could have come from Hackman in the latter, and vice versa. Anderson is very big on redemption and fathers & sons.
posted by kenko at 12:04 PM on January 5, 2005

"Plotless" wasn't my problem with Life Aquatic at all, so that wide strawman brush doesn't apply to everybody who disliked the film. As I said in my review, I found the plot to be utterly formula and predictable: washed-up guy sets out on redeeming quest, finds redemption, walks into the sunset to an eclectic soundtrack. We've seen that a million times before. Or did anybody expect him not to find that idiotic jaguar shark?

Formula would be fine if there were enough interesting, touching, honest, or funny things happening along the way. Granted, there are a few good jokes (I was mildly amused by the pirates), but all in all this felt too much like a retread dead end to excite me. It's basically the kind of movie Max Fisher would have made if you gave him a fat budget--and that's not a compliment.
posted by muckster at 12:24 PM on January 5, 2005

billysunday, the problem is, I think, Anderson's films don't have atmosphere. I've never felt his films possess any sort of meaningful density, never felt I was peering into a wholly separate, fantastical, new world. To me, his films are just very, very self-conscious. It comes close to watching bad Victorian theatre. Stylized to the point syrup, not quirky but (not quite?) schtick.

Also, his movies are very really similar a lot. I really don't like it when directors hide behind their "style" but Anderson even rehashes the same themes and situations.

I got conned into seeing TLA and just thought blah. I could've saved $10.50 and just gone and flipped through some old 10,000 leagues comic books.

As for hipsters, I know quite a few of them and though I don't self-identify, I get really bored of the hipster ragging. Posing the question of the historical significance of hipsters is stupid. But not even posing the question in good faith is just lame.
posted by nixerman at 12:25 PM on January 5, 2005

I don't know anything about hipsters or what they are supposed to be. Someone above mentioned trucker hats a few times. Though I am sure that there are other attributes of whatever a hipster is, I find it condescending and pathetic when rich kids spend money to look poor.
posted by flarbuse at 12:30 PM on January 5, 2005

HuronBob and Dr. Wu:

Rod Lurie is the only critic to turn director, that I know of. Deterrence and The Contender were excellent movies. The audio commentary on the former was completely facinating (I rarely like commentary tracks, and I listened to every minute of this one).

I think Lurie is an anomoly, though, and believe Dr. Wu is 99.999% correct.
posted by e40 at 12:31 PM on January 5, 2005

it was bound to happen. he made the scene. creating future quality productions would just cut into his party time. all i was thinking was 'gee, hes going to run out of classic rock soundtrack material'
posted by GleepGlop at 12:31 PM on January 5, 2005

Or did anybody expect him not to find that idiotic jaguar shark?

I pretty quickly forgot about the jaguar MacGuffin, just as I forgot about John Travolta and Sam Jackson's briefcase. it is'nt always a bad thing. but I agree that the mission took quite a long time to actually begin. but I loved the little weird details of the Pescespada Compound
posted by matteo at 12:33 PM on January 5, 2005

e40, didn't Truffaut start out writing for Cahiers du Cinema?
posted by kenko at 12:41 PM on January 5, 2005

almost all of the Nouvelle Vague directors started out as critics.

Jonathan Demme and Paul Schrader were critics, too

re the jaguar shark:

It’s a mythical creature that no one except Steve Zissou really believes in—so it needed to be something quite spectacular. Every week, the length seemed to grow as Wes wanted it to be even larger and more imposing. We ended up with 150 pounds of puppet, which might be the largest stop-motion puppet ever created.”

While stop-motion animation is typically low-tech—involving only lights, cameras and animators to slowly move the models frame-by-frame—for THE LIFE AQUATIC with Steve Zissou, Selick went further, using computer technology to amp up the process. “We used computer model movers to simulate the jaguar shark’s basic swimming motion while an animator hand created the mouth movements, the pectoral fins and all the extra things,” he explains.

posted by matteo at 12:49 PM on January 5, 2005

I thought it looked pathetic. It clearly wanted and needed to be wonderous, but only made for a terribly lame excuse of a climax. Selick's work on Nightmare Before Christmas was appealing, but I didn't think it made for a good fit with Anderson's world (which is very much 2-D). What's wrong with real sea creatures? We've seen a lot of whimsical CGI fish lately, and if you're overcrowding a film with oddball characters, why not at least make the object of their obsession real?
posted by muckster at 1:02 PM on January 5, 2005

just another reviewer succumbing to the reviewer pandemic: becoming a joyless bastard. what's wrong with a little quirkiness and whimsy? i'd had a terrible day, and that movie picked me right up.
posted by blendor at 1:26 PM on January 5, 2005

This review made me feel icky too, because I liked the movie but hipster/post-hipster/hipper-than-hipster logic is so hard to argue with. Clever, snarky, and cynical are a wicked combination.

I think Wes Anderson's movies are too nice to appeal only to hipsters, however many of their detail-obsessive traits he appropriates. I thought the review had an interesting point about the racism and I was surprised they didn't mention the homophobia of Bill Murray's character. But the review was wrong about the plot. Not all good movies have plots. For me, nice moments are so much more important and this movie had enough of them to be worthwhile (Zissou dancing with his dive helmet on, the Seu Jorge singing)
posted by mai at 1:39 PM on January 5, 2005

The reviewer puts his finger right on what I hate about contemporary art when he says that these types of movies are "parodies that aim to transcend mockery and produce the emotional affects of the genres they spoof."

I loathed The Virgin Suicides the first time I saw it because Coppola could not stop doing things like this, and it felt so cheap. To show that the main character was beautiful, Coppola would have her spin around in a field of flowers, look back at the camera, and then an animated glint would shine from her teeth. On one hand, Sofia's nudging you in the ribs: "Isn't this over-the-top ridiculous? If you saw this in a real movie that played this scene straight, you couldn't take it seriously. Those crazy cheesy 80's movies that employed techniques like this! Weren't they bad?" But the kicker is that at the same time Coppola is pointing and laughing with you, she's using that technique to show how beautiful the character is! She can get away with stupid melodrama and ditsy sloppy filmmaking by simultaneously having an ironic air about it. That's low.

I've never really linked this ironic irony to the hipster movement, even though it pervades hipster staples like Dave Eggers and The Magnetic Fields, because it also shows up in things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Maxim. Strangely enough though, I don't always get it from Wes Anderson. I feel like he plays straight more often than this article lets on, and when he does become hyper-ironic, he doesn't weasel false emotions out of his audience... it's mostly done out of pure whimsy and playfulness. I liked The Life Aquatic a lot.
posted by painquale at 1:41 PM on January 5, 2005

Hands of Manos, wtf? I mean, seriously. That was the most pretentious, substance-free bashing I've seen lately.

Oh, you don't like my movie? Well, it's better than all these critically-panned blockbusters, so nyeah!

Try comparing apples with apples. There were a lot of films by indie or new directors this year: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, . Before Sunset, Coffee and Cigarettes, I Heat Huckabees, Tarnation, The Motorcycle Diaries, Sideways... this is just a few I remember seeing this year plus some pulled from Metacritic's year end list. You also left out high-selling films that you probably enjoyed. Setting up some sort of false dichotomy isn't exactly helping your point.
posted by mikeh at 1:45 PM on January 5, 2005

I've never really linked this ironic irony to the hipster movement, even though it pervades hipster staples like Dave Eggers and The Magnetic Fields, because it also shows up in things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Maxim.

Re: the "ironic irony" - there's nothing wrong with it if done right, just like every other artistic technique. Case in point - Dave Eggers, the David Foster Wallace wannabe hack.
posted by iamck at 1:48 PM on January 5, 2005


I actually have been waiting for someone to give me a set of movies to compare it to. Thank you for these suggestions as I've been trying to find "good movies."

Everything I've seen at the big screen this year has been stinkers, TLA was one of the first ones I've said "wow! what a breath of fresh air."

If these movies you mention are even a fraction of of a percentage better than TLA, then I'll be very entertained.

The last decent movie I saw before TLA was Return of the King.
posted by Hands of Manos at 1:56 PM on January 5, 2005

Just another reviewer succumbing to the reviewer pandemic: becoming a joyless bastard.

Most of the critics I've met are anything but joyless--they're very enthusiastic about the films they love. It just so happens that they're not always the same films people who don't average a movie a day will pick for their weekend entertainment, or even seem to know about. It's a simple fact: most new movies, especially the ones with the biggest ad budget, aren't very good. You have to dig for the good stuff. That's what a reviewer's good for. So instead of just reading pans of the latest blockbuster, it pays to see which oddball or smaller movies critics recommend. Far from being joyless bastards, the ones who aren't just shills are often champions of great films that are easy to miss. (My favorite film of the year was Lucas Belvaux' Trilogy.) Good critics are people who love movies and watch a lot of them. They're worth listening to.
posted by muckster at 1:58 PM on January 5, 2005

I liked watching Life Aquatic, but I didn't particularly like the movie itself.
posted by walkathon at 1:58 PM on January 5, 2005

Right on, muckster. Critics lib!
posted by eatitlive at 2:02 PM on January 5, 2005

I agree with muckster, with one correction: most movies (leave out the "new") aren't very good. This isn't a new thing. You have to look hard for the good stuff from any era.
posted by goatdog at 2:33 PM on January 5, 2005

[M]y take on this was that it was the uber-hipster technique of being the first to declare something is no longer cool right before it breaks through to a larger audience, as wes anderson's films seem poised to do.

I have to agree with this.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:49 PM on January 5, 2005

That may be true... my friends' parents walked out of Royal Tennenbaums (they thought it was too 'fake') but loved TLA. They didn't even realize it was the same director until we told them... they just thought it was a fun, silly movie starring one of their favorites, Bill Murray. The 'hip' elements probably went right over their heads.
posted by chaz at 3:29 PM on January 5, 2005

Typical hater. I saw it last night, and I think it's one of the best I've seen since The Big Lebowski.
posted by mullingitover at 3:54 PM on January 5, 2005

As a practicing marine biologist, Zissou was funnier that most folk can truly appreciate. Anderson really did a masterful job in this beautiful piece, and hit so many nails, some hidden, some obvious, squarely on the head I can't begin to believe it. *sigh* Don't you hate it when folk just can't *wait* for someone to fail in their effete eyes.
posted by jearbear at 4:26 PM on January 5, 2005

Being a Wes Anderson fan for quite a while, a great treat was working at a video store when The Royal Tennenbaums came out on video. People would return the film and, on the whole, their reviews were extremely polarized. I had a 50-something lawyer tell me it was by far the worst film he had ever seen. At the same time a 13 year old girl said it was one becoming one of her favorites. Meanwhile most of my fellow employees (all 20-ish) were just as polarized. Is this because of what xmutex explains as people's responses to Wes Anderson as he is presented in the media (genius)? Or is it Anderson's style that either strikes a strong chord or completely misses?

What I'm trying to say is its not necesarily a hipster thing. Anderson's films have a unique quality that, as I saw in the video store, apparently does not allow for luke-warm reviews. Honestly, I haven't seen The Life Aquatic yet but in reading your comments and hearing other reviews, Anderson's apparent slip seems to be producing these luke-warmnesses.

When it comes down to it, Anderson's films seem to often strike the sentimental. And honestly, who gives a crap what reviewers think is a good, bad or plotless film. If it's personally enjoyable to you as the sole viewer, thats what counts. Same argument can be made for pop music. That fact that Britney Spears doesn't produce the most intelletually stimulating music is never argued. Yet people continue to listen to her. Marketing? Nah. People for some reason just enjoy pop music in all its thoughtlessly dancable glory for, what I'm guessing, is the chord it strikes for them. Anderson's 'strike zone' is, I guess, rather small and random. Quirky...if you will.

N+1's review? Yeah, there maybe some truth. But on the whole I think Christian Lorentzen may suffer from what Swampjazz! called "the uber-hipster technique of being the first to declare something is no longer cool right before it breaks through to a larger audience".

Maybe I missed the point of the review... maybe I'm rambling.
posted by RobertFrost at 5:53 PM on January 5, 2005

I loved the movie. Never seen anything else by the guy.
Also, what the fuck is a "hipster"?
(no, not really)
posted by nightchrome at 6:09 PM on January 5, 2005

Making films and understanding films are two totally different skills.

Which might explain all the egregious soul-destroying crap that issues from Hollywood (ciderwoman's comment aside).

Anderson is at his best when his characters get to drama-queen across the screen in their maximum glory.

Ooh, you tricksy hobbit, you!

She can get away with stupid melodrama and ditsy sloppy filmmaking by simultaneously having an ironic air about it. That's low.

No, that's postmodern. When you must use irony to refer to things ironical, the culture explodes. Or your brain. This is what is happening today.

I don't know nothin' but all this 'hipster' talk, to be honest. Some sort of north american media construct that I'm not party to because I don't consume much of that north american media.

But I do remember Kramer being referred to as a 'hipster doofus' on Seinfeld and that's a phrase I love mightily.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:55 PM on January 5, 2005

i liked this movie. i pray i'm not a hipster-freak, but i do not worship wes anderson as i guess lots have been doing for years. i saw rushmore and liked it but didn't think it was any big whoop. i bought the royal tenebaums dvd without having ever seen it just because it was the criterion 2-disc edition going for just 10 canadian bucks (that's, like, 5 american cents, well, maybe not these days. more like 2 bucks, perhaps) and it looked like it might be a funky and fun movie what with that crazy cast and all the adidas tennis wear and all. and the box was all pretty and pink with a pretty little booklet. then i watched it and i really dug it. yeah, i guess it kinda has that oh-so-precious, hipper-than-thou feel to it but the soundtrack really does kick ass. perhaps he relies a bit too heavily on the music for atmosphere. i liked that bowie's hunky-dory is featured on TLA because it be the only bowie album i own and it sure do kick ass. then he puts it through gorgeous brasileiro permutations (and brazilians know from music). plus you got all the surreal sea creatures and he really does push things almost too far at the climactic moment with the sigur ros tune. but i bought this film hook, line and sinker. there are the indulgent set pieces and mise-en-scene (no, i never was a godforsaken film student). and the costumes - what a wet dream for design students. but there is a story here, people, and it's quite obvious. there's some moby dick, captain nemo, finding nemo, jacques cousteau and james bond or something. owen wilson carrying over his orphan role from the tenenbaums and the whole father-thing. and cate blanchett just wants a father for her baby. and there is willem dafoe's lederhosen-wearing krautnik son. it's all too ludicrous to seriously consider calling it racist (how come no mention of misogyny and homophobia?). and bill murray gives us yet another all-too-human protagonist we can laugh at and feel for. and anjelica huston is amazing.
posted by yedgar at 9:15 PM on January 5, 2005

Ok, I saw the film and while I did not hate or like it all that much but I found myself enjoying it for the most part (and yeah the review above raises some points but it really smacks of bitter hipster-fanboy - and no one outside of New York cares about Williamsburg by the way). I think ultimately the film does not really work all that well as a film but despite its problems, I found lot of stuff to like in it: the hats, the large cut-away boat set, the whole Cousteau pastiche, the science lab, Cinecitta, Gore Vidal's house and the Portuguese Bowie (among other things). However, I'd like to add that I am seriously sick of Owen Wilson, as pretty as his mouth is...

And I'm with lodurr on Wes Anderson being less hip then people seem to think. Have a listen to the commentary track or watch the making-of documentary on the DVD for Royal Tennebaums (I liked Franny and Zooey better myself by the way). I think he comes off less a hipster and more a big time movie geek with some high brow pretensions. His films resonate with it - tons of scenes and styles lifted from dozens of filmmakers. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

But you know, I don't take Anderson very seriously to begin with. This guy isn't Bunuel or Godard - he's making what is ultimately entertainment. And that's OK. His films usually look good, have nice design and are mostly entertaining. But that's coming from a guy who likes Wallace Beery wrestling movies and goverment cheese. Fortunately my government's cheese is made by monks from Oka.

Who knows, maybe Anderson will mature into a journeyman director (like a Frankenheimer without the bad years) and make interesting films... His next one is based on the Roald Dahl book The Fantastic Mr. Fox - we'll see what he can do with that.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:46 PM on January 5, 2005

The jaguar shark is a mysterious creature. It can take your life or ignore you completely. He cares not what you think or what your life circumstances are. It's an odd, mystical, scary, strange, beautiful yet dangerous lifeforce. It's real and exists outside of you.
posted by jefbla at 11:11 PM on January 5, 2005

Oh, just for the record, anyone who thinks Anderson is a champion of ironic detachment missed the point of Rushmore completely. Maybe they were watching Igby Goes Down instead?

AFAIAC, anyone who thinks ironic detachment is the point of Igby Goes Down missed the point of Igby Goes Down....

To me, a movie like Rushmore, Igby, or RT is successful in more or less direct proportion to how uncomfortable you (initially) feel about laughing at it. For me, they're all much more about the perils of Ironic Detachment than about ID per se.
posted by lodurr at 6:16 AM on January 6, 2005

This is an interesting movie review, mostly in that it completely misses the point of the movie, makes a few very obscure references to pop culture icons, and ends by trying to sound smarter than it really is. Apparently, the people who hate hipsters have become hipsters.

I've always disliked hipsterism too. But Mr. Lorentzen might want to note the fact that "hipster" is just a word, and that he himself actually embodies the worst in those he's trying to hate on. So I'm a hipster because I find Portugese covers of Bowie songs fun and entertaining? Fine. But only a hipster would be stupid enough to dislike David Bowie just because someone else likes him.
posted by koeselitz at 8:35 AM on January 6, 2005

What's a hipster? Is it a "hip" person?
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:55 AM on January 6, 2005

Hipster: one for whom being "hip" or "cool" is the highest definable goal, usually to the detriment of things like "honesty" or "happiness" or "the common good."
posted by koeselitz at 9:28 AM on January 6, 2005

The “four states of being” in the cannabis society: “Cool, Groovy, Hip & Square” - in that descending order. The square is seldom if ever cool. He is "not with it," that is, he doesn't know "what's happening." But if he manages to figure it out, he moves up a notch to "hip." And if he can bring himself to approve of what's happening, he becomes "groovy." And after that, with much luck and perseverence, he can rise to the rank of "cool."
posted by Onanist at 6:08 AM on January 7, 2005

"If you don't listen closely, a lot can go by," Huston said. "It's not a movie for dumb people."
posted by matteo at 4:11 PM on January 8, 2005

« Older Custom Creature Taxidermy Arts   |   'Simple grapes, gone horribly wrong.' Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments