The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, 2004).
Archive for the ‘Wes Anderson’ Category
By Esra Roise, Norway.
“I think I’m in love with Margot.”
(Richie and Royal. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001).)
The third and final “Tim Burton” film in the 12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movie countdown is The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick, 1993). The guy has two favorite times of year and we all know what they are.
Regarding just how much of a Tim Burton film it really ended up being, Mr. Selick told Sight and Sound in 1994,
It’s as though he laid the egg, and I sat on it and hatched it. He wasn’t involved in a hands-on way, but his hand is in it. It was my job to make it look like “a Tim Burton film”, which is not so different from my own films. …
Be that as it may, Burton had conceived the project while still working for Disney back in 1980. It was originally a narrative poem. He began toying with the idea of making something of it. Disney agreed, and they discussed a short film like Vincent, or maybe a televised holiday special.
He shared his vision with friend Rick Heinrichs in the mid-1980’s, and the two worked up some concept art, storyboards, and even early character sculptures. By the time Burton actually had a budget for the movie from Disney, he was overextended across the board with Ed Wood and Batman Returns. He brought in his friend Mike McDowell, with whom he’d worked on Beetlejuice, but they couldn’t agree on a direction for the screenplay.
Burton reimagined the story as a musical and put together the bare bones of it with Danny Elfman’s help, also collaborating on most of the music and lyrisc. Then Caroline Thompson, who Burton worked with on Batman Returns, came in as a writer. She has also written The Addams Family, Edward Scissorhands, and Corpse Bride. Caroline first came to Tim Burton’s attention because of a short story she wrote in the early ’80’s called First Born, in which an abortion comes back to life.
Director Henry Selick said in that same Sight and Sound article where he dissed Burton, “there are very few lines of dialogue that are Caroline’s. She became busy on other films and we were constantly rewriting, reconfiguring and developing the film visually.” Okay, Henry. We get it. You did it all, buddy.
In all honesty, the guy is an artistic auteur, with the attendant talent that entails, and it probably sucks for him to have to rely on other people so much in a project. And he probably did do more than anyone else. Hence: director.
In vino lepidopteras.
The stop-motion animation was produced by a crew of over 200 animators in San Francisco, headed up by Joe Ranft and Paul Berry. The production yielded some cool new inventions, including a silent alarm that went off if a light failed to go on during a shot.
For just one second of film, up to 12 stop-motion moves had to be made. Can you imagine this being done today? When even the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is done with CGI? I feel like there is an aesthetic suffering accompanying the automated innovations in the direction that film has been heading. I can’t see a production like The Nightmare Before Christmas, with the meticulous labor and attention to craft it requires, being approved and given a budget by Disney today.
Although that’s not totally fair, since they’ve been doing that 3-D re-release thing. I guess I should not be quite so cynical about The Mouse Who Sold the World. I just really, really dislike that company.
On the other hand, sourpuss Mr. Selick is something of a dear and mercurial curmudgeon to me. He has continued working in stop-motion since The Nightmare Before Christmas, and I have a deep respect for the artistry in his body of work.
He has directed Coraline and James and the Giant Peach, and worked with Wes Anderson on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Although I find it curious that he seems to have had nothing to do with Fantastic Mr. Fox if Life Aquatic was Anderson’s first foray in to stop-motion (which, once you see Fantastic Mr. Fox, you feel like it should have been his exclusive genre all along: the static stiltedness of Anderson’s compositions, against which his wildly inventive dialogue is such a perfect foil, are absolutely born for stop-motion).
I’m guessing from the stories about the rest of Mr. Selick’s projects that they probably stopped seeing eye to eye on something and Anderson went his separate way.
Collaborator Joe Ranft, the one who headed up production in the City, the 415, the sparkly town where we leave our hearts, for The Nightmare Before Christmas, said that Selick “has a rock’n’roll meets Da Vinci temperament,” with bursts of brilliance and, occasionally, the passionate need for solitude.
Mr. Selick is presently working on an adaptation of the YA mystery-comedy Bunnicula, which makes me want to cry with joy. I only hope it is successful enough that they can do one of the sequels: The Celery Stalks At Midnight, which I have believed since I was seven years old to be the greatest pun ever written in my native tongue.
If you want more of the backstory on all this Nightmare Before Christmas production shenanigans, pick up a copy of the Frank Thompson book Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Film – The Art – The Vision, to read all about it.
All photos via the Pumpkin Patch.
This entry was originally posted on Jan 19, 2010 at 6:02 pm. It contains the fourth of my New Years’ Resolutions for 2010. Over the next several Flashback Fridays, I will be taking them out, dusting them off, and seeing how well I followed through. I do not anticipate it always being pleasant, but the truth can’t be.
A confession: When I was a kid, I kind of always wanted to be the Joker. The whole Catwoman thing mainly started because I knew that a girl Joker wouldn’t fly. I remember vividly that when I explained this to my older cousin, he patiently said, “Well, what about Wonder Woman?” and I threw my hands up in disgust: clearly, he was missing the point entirely. I wanted to be the guy across the street from this kid (below), staring him down from my front porch, smirking and wearing a purple suit. Maybe smoking, too. You know. For maximum badass effect. “In your face, Smarmy McSavesalot — this is what I think of The System!”
I think this career goal still haunts me and is responsible for my general dissatisfied lack of commitment as a working adult. How you going to find me dutifully plugging away in a cubicle when I promised my babyself always to rage against the machine?
So, putting that insight together with Ben Okri’s quote, I guess what this chain of thought is telling me is that I need to learn to keep my eyes open for signs and portents of a destiny that can dovetail with my dreams.
I cannot believe that I was meant to go either rudderless through this world, or chained in a galley, desperately wheeling my arms around for a ship I already hate, which is bound only to sink no matter whether I keep paddling or get consistently whipped for refusing to row. I won’t believe that. I can’t accept that that is the plan for me or for anyone.
E’s fourth resolution for 2010: Look for signs. Keep hope alive. And, really, there is no reason not to wear a trimly-tailored purple suit while I do it.
Reality Check: I did my best on this one, really far better than I did on making a joyful noise. Next year, I will just have to keep on looking for more hope and signs. I ditched the job I disliked and work now for far less financial reward, but with much more passion and satisfaction. What I think I gained back this year, particularly in the face of almost fatal illness, was some of the credulity that must predate a quest for hopeful signs. My dream has been fulfilled, as Mr. Okri suggested, in ways I did not expect. I have grudgingly begun to place more belief in miracles again. And that is encouraging.
Final note: When I originally posted this last January, Wrasseler left me this lovely poem-prose comment that I wanted to be sure to add to this post now.
Signs in Space that is not Space do not appear as the signs we Approach and Contemplate. Signs in Time become mathematical. Then signs take meanings. Our hearts and minds move mountains through History. That’s a long way.
Everybody Else lives in Time. In the Renaissance Garden of Statutes turn past your liberties. Continue on toward your Statute of Limitations. Your Limitations are not the sign. The sign is not beyond your Limitations.
Dreams making history do not lose Time. They let Time lose them. This is the sign. Woman as Joker. How natural. Natural History. Another sideline for the woman who Time lost.
The sign is not beyond my limitations. Thanks again for that, dude!
Had errands to run to help my mother and her friends with some church luncheon shenanigans in the morning, and a lot-lot-lot on my mind today, but the good news is it was a foggy-but-genial day for Grandma, which makes everything much better. She had a pretty gay time just watching traffic and neighborhood cats out the front window.
Paper doll set intended for framing by claudiavarosio on the etsy.
Margot: You probably don’t even know my middle name.
Royal: That’s a trick question; you don’t have one.
Royal: That was my mother’s name.
Margot: I know it was.
Guess what I watched today? I’m not so sure it was the greatest move.
“Margot Tenenbaum” by Jopet on the deviantart.
Raleigh: You don’t love me any more, do you?
Margot: I do. Kind of? I can’t explain it right now.
“These days I seem to think…” bytoxicdecay on the deviantart.
Raleigh: You made a cuckold of me.
Margot: I know.
Raleigh: Many times over.
Margot: So sorry.
“Old Mink Coat” by Vitamin Bee on the deviantart.
Richie: You dropped some cigarettes.
Margot: Mm? Those aren’t mine.
Richie: Th — they just fell out of your pocket.
“Margot Tenenbaum II” by cielobell on the deviantart.
Ethel: How long have you been a smoker?
Margot: Twenty-two years.
Ethel: Well. I think you should quit.
“Margot Tenenbaum” by Brett Is a Girl on the redbubble.
Richie: I think I might be in love with Margot.
Royal: … Margot Tenenbaum?
“Margot Tenenbaum” by Tussilagon on the deviantart.
“I’ll have a butterscotch sundae, I guess.”
Nancy Adams – “Love”
For me, Disney’s animated adaptation of Robin Hood (Wolfgang Reitherman, 1973) is the definitive version of the legend, but it is widely documented that I am immature and impressionable.
If the love story between cartoon fox Robin Hood and cartoon vixen Maid Marian did not absolutely melt your young heart then we have nothing to offer each other and you are furthermore a robot who has not been programmed to know love.
Hoo! The lady would like to double down, Mr. Hood. Dag. This is a vixen with some serious brass balls.
Little John: You’re burning the chow!
Robin Hood: Sorry, Johnny. I guess I was thinking about Maid Marian again. I can’t help it. I love her, Johnny.
Little John: Look, why don’t you stop moaning and moping around? Just marry the girl.
Robin Hood: Marry her? You don’t just walk up to a girl, hand her a bouquet, and say, “Hey, remember me? We were kids together. Will you marry me?” It just isn’t done that way.
Little John: Aw, come on. Climb the castle walls. Sweep her off her feet. Carry her off in style!
Robin Hood: It’s no use, Johnny. I’ve thought it all out, and it just wouldn’t work. Besides, what have I got to offer her?
Little John: Well, for one thing, you can’t cook.
Robin Hood: I’m serious, Johnny. She’s a highborn lady of quality.
Little John: So she’s got class. So what?
Robin Hood: I’m an outlaw, that’s what. That’s no life for a lovely lady, always on the run. What kind of a future is that?
Friar Tuck: Oh, for heaven’s sake, son. You’re no outlaw. Why, someday, you’ll be called a great hero.
When ABC used to have that Disney Sunday Night movies segment, I recorded this on to a VHS. Around a year later, one of the other networks ran Sixteen Candles, which, being a dutifully Molly Ringwald-worshiping young woman of the 1980’s, I naturally recorded, carefully fast-forwarding through Robin Hood to the blank remainder of the tape. Some time later that Spring were the televised Grammy awards, which I also recorded, on to that same tape, at the request of my mother because she had some kind of a PTA meeting/Tupperware presentation/murky, boring grown-up shenanigan to attend and my mom is a big Grammy guy from Way Back. She is a fan of Awards Shows in general. My mother approves of an industry’s recognition of those within it who have displayed special talents. She is a kind lady like that.
I rewatched the videotape a few years ago, beginning with Robin Hood for my kidlet, then Sixteen Candles while she napped, then all the way through to the Grammys, mainly on fast-forward with a nostalgic half-smile at the 80’s fashions, and then suddenly I stopped in awe — as a-ha performed “Take On Me” in cramazing outfits of formal ruffled tuxes and the keyboardist in mad rad white gloves.
So, to recap this little anecdote: 1. Robin Hood. 2. Sixteen Candles. 3. a-ha dressed to kill and doing “Take On Me” live at the 1986 Grammy Awards.
Best VHS I own? I think so.
Prince John: I sentence you to sudden, instant, and even immediate death!
Marian: Oh, no. Please. Please, sire. I beg of you to spare his life. Please have mercy.
Prince John: My dear, emotional lady, why should I?
Marian: Because I love him, Your Highness.
Prince John: Love him? And does this prisoner return your love?
Robin Hood: Marian, my darling, I love you more than life itself.
Oh, Robin, you’re so brave and impetuous.
There really was a King Richard the Lionheart and a younger brother named Prince John with his eye on the throne. In fact, John staged a rebellion when his older brother ascended to the throne in 1189 but it was unsuccessful and resulted in him being generally unpopular in his brother’s court, where he was called “Lackland” (because he was not the inheritor) and “Softsword” (I hope this is only a reference to being shitty at rebellions and not a veiled mockery of impotence. that happens to lots of guys and it’s nobody’s fault).
Richard and John (along with their brothers Henry and Geoffrey, all of whom attempted at one time or another to take the throne from their father) were Plantagenets, the sons of Henry II and the infamously strong-willed Eleanor of Aquitaine. This is probably why the mere mention of his mother makes John go on a thumbsucking frenzy in the animated film. Her husband Henry had her imprisoned beginning in 1173 until his death. He basically said something like, “You can’t come out ’til you stop helping our sons try to depose me,” and, indeedy, she was not released until Henry II died in 1189. (cf: The Lion in Winter.)
Eleanor was the most powerful woman in the High Middle Ages, a real force to be reckoned with, and, unusually, all sources contemporaneous to her life agree that she was not only outstandingly beautiful, but not voluptuous or blonde as was the ideal at the time — she was able to pass herself off in drag as a man even in her fifties, at a time when ladies had some pretty serious hams. (I love that the words “hams” and “cans” can mean any body part on a woman and work.)
In reality, when Richard inherited the throne in 1189 and went gallivanting off to the Third Crusade, it was Eleanor, not bonny Prince Johnny, who stood in for him. She even went to Germany and negotiated Richard’s ransom. Following his brother’s death without an heir, John ruled from 1199 to 1216 and was supposedly so dreadful as a king that the English swore never again to have a king named John.
True to their word, they haven’t.
(However, I’d like to point out that John signed the Magna Carta, a document which was in many ways the forerunner of democratic rule, while Richard started an abominable straight-up pogrom in London that killed thousands. I’m just sayin’.)
Wes Anderson recently featured this song on the soundtrack to Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is probably an homage, because he probably really liked this movie when he was a kid, too, because I did, and we’re probably going to get married someday and bang, like, all the time. Just all kinds of places, even, too. All over the house and the neighborhood, so much that they will rechristen our town Bang City. Bangsville. Bang Island. St. Bang’s Township, the jewel of Bangburg County, in sunny Bangland. Swing by and visit us at Banglots Village, elevation: banging.
People will call us all like, “What are you doing next weekend?” and we will be like, “Banging. We are emphatically not free for dinner,” and my mother will email me to sadly say in all caps, “E— WHY DO I NEVER HEAR FROM YOU ANYMORE,” to which I will reply, “It is because I am very busy doing all this banging of my husband, Wes Anderson.”
Not really. I’m not that interested in Mr. Anderson anymore. He is still a great director, but I no longer see myself banging him, certainly not all the time and definitely not while we are both married. I’d just been sitting on that little “banging” diatribe for awhile and wanted to use it.
X-Files, Season 5, Episode 12: “Bad Blood.”
While investigating a series of bizarre exsanguinations in the sleepy town of Chaney, Texas, about 50 miles south of Dallas, Mulder kills a teenage boy wearing fake vampire fangs, whom he “mistakes” for a vampire by pounding a stake through the boy’s heart.
The young man’s family is now suing the FBI for $446 million, and Mulder and Scully are brought before FBI Director Walter Skinner to tell their versions of what happened. Prior to making their reports, Mulder and Scully attempt to get their stories “straight” by relating to each other their differing versions of what happened during their investigation.
(combination of the wiki and the imdb)
Mulder: (singing) — shut yo’ mouth! I’m jus’talkin’’bout Shaft!”
(Scene shifts back to real time)
Mulder: I did not.
Guest stars were Luke Wilson (Home Fries, Legally Blonde, The Royal Tenenbaums, Old School, bloated phone commercials that remind me that age comes inevitably for us all, and that ripening is not always kind even to handsome Hollywood guys you once wanted to boff that you thought would stay hot forever) as Sheriff Lucius Hartwell and Patrick Renna (“Ham” in The Sandlot!) as Ronnie Strickland.
Gillian Anderson voted this her favorite episode of all time.
HERMAN: What’s this?
MAX: That’s the Perfect Attendance Award and the Punctuality Award. I got those at Rushmore. I thought you could choose which one you like more, and you could wear that one, and I could wear the other.
HERMAN: I’ll take Punctuality.
MAX: Okay. — Rushmore, Wes Anderson, 1998.
The Colourfield – Thinking of You
This song cropped up earlier today thanks to iTunes’ “Genius” feature, and it struck me anew with its catchiness and the dark comedy of its lyrics, written by Terry Hall (who is the cute boy in the picture below — I forgive him for being British and not Irish). I strongly urge you to give it a quick listen: it really grows on you.
The now-defunct Manchester band The Colourfield was lead by The Specials’ Terry Hall and came out with some pretty good stuff in the mid to late 1980’s. I will go in to it more some other day, unless I forget. The track features Katrina Phillips, of crazy-go-nuts O.G. gothic rockers the Skeletal Family, on backing vox, but the sound is more Burt Bacharach than Bauhaus. Anyway, here are lyrics and bonus images from Royal Tenenbaums, because the words totally remind me of the relationship between Margot and Richie in that film, and I’m that dorky that I have Royal Tenenbaums screencaps literally at my fingertips.
I guess I kind of sort of know
I ought to be thinking of you
But the friendship’s built on trust
And that’s something you never do
Well who knows maybe tomorrow?
We can share each other’s sorrow
And compare our graveside manner
As we wave our lonely banners
If you ever think of me
I’ll be thinking of you
If you decide to change your views
I’m thinking of you
You can walk away from loneliness
Anytime you choose
And you’re the sort of person
That hasn’t anything to lose
And if you ever think of me
I’ll be thinking of you
If you can spare an hour or two
You’ll know what to do
I could be the one thing there
In your hour of need
So if you decide to change your views
I’m thinking of you
Let’s roll the dice
In the fool’s paradise…
Share moonlit nights
Breathing nothing but lies
Let’s open our eyes…
We should take a bus to somewhere else
To somewhere new
Thank god we’re alive
And bite off more than we can chew
Do the things that just don’t matter
Laugh while others look in anger
Stumble over four leaf clovers
And say goodbye to lonely banners
If you ever think of me
I’ll be thinking of you
Through thick and thin I bear it and grin
And never give in
I could be the one thing there
In your hour of need
So if you decide to change your views
I’m thinking of you