Bittersweet Reminiscences of The Life Aquatic

“Gut Feeling”/Zissou

Bill Murray Hosts a Tour of Moonrise Kingdom; Drinks Spiced Rum

Bill Murray Plays FDR (Hyde Park on the Hudson Trailer)

Some Stories That Wes Anderson Should Adapt

Last month, I kinda sorta reviewed the trailer for Moonrise Kingdom, the new film from Wes Anderson. Moonrise Kingdom has all the hallmarks  of an Anderson joint: an idealistically romantic protagonist who strives to fit the world to his skewed view of it; an overtly hermetic setting (crammed like a Russian nesting doll with even more hermetic settings); a fetish for staginess; a fetish for once useful objects that are now obsolete; the usual cast of characters; etc.

Anyway, one commenter on that post suggested that Anderson adapt V.C. Andrews’s lurid gothic incest romance Flowers in the Attic—and I couldn’t agree more. Andrews’s story grotesquely enshrines the hermetic world of forbidden love that Anderson repeatedly engages in (see the incestuous, or at least Oedipally-displaced romances of The Royal Tennenbaums and Rushmore). The Flowers suggestion (and another comment suggesting a DeLillo adaptation) got me to thinking about other stories I’d love to see Anderson take on.

(Those who hate to see a silly, ridiculous, fanboyish, and entirely hypothetical post should exit anon).

(Oh, and let’s get this one out of the way too: Matt Bucher has already linked Tennenbaums to David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest).

While Anderson has authored most of his own scripts (with cowriters like Owen Wilson or Roman Coppola), he showed he could do fine work with people’s stories on Roald Dahl’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox. I’d love to see him do something with Shel Silverstein or Edward Gorey as well, perhaps as a series of animated shorts of some kind. Like Dahl, Silverstein and Gorey deftly explore the dark undercurrent of childhood in a way that’s simultaneously charming and meaningful.

I’d probably be happy with any Wes Anderson superhero movie, but I’d love to see him do a big screen live action version of The New Mutants, a title that ran in the 1980s that focused on teens who were basically X-Men junior. Anderson would be right at home in Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, and the types of missions these teenagers took on were not nearly as intense as the X-Men’s, allowing for a smaller, more emotional film, than, say, Bryan Singer’s bombastic nonsense. Bill Murray for Professor X?

While I’m on big-budget franchise type characters: James Bond. A Bond film would give Anderson plenty of opportunity to play with design and style, as well as humor; Anderson also showed a sense for old-fashioned adventure and action in The Life Aquatic. Owen Wilson as Bond? (As a side note, I should point out that in general I’d love to see the Bond franchise branch out to a series of stylized one-offs, featuring different actors playing Bond, and  helmed by different directors like Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino).

How about Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (not Huck Finn, people)? Maybe as a mini-series on HBO?

Anderson has always been deeply entrenched in J.D. Salinger territory, and although he arguably already did so in Tennenbaums, a film that somehow organizes the lives of the Glass family would be pretty cool.

Harold Brodkey’s overlooked masterpiece First Love and Other Sorrows may be a collection of short stories, but they share a common theme that resonates with Anderson’s aesthetic. Brodkey’s decaying families (which all seem to share a misplaced sense of privilege) would be fertile ground for Anderson (and their midcentury settings would make for some snappy outfits).

Also: Heller’s Catch-22.

Maybe Anderson could highlight some of the humor in Bret Easton Ellis’s Less Than Zero. (Okay, maybe not, but I’d love to see what he’d do with that milieu. And speaking of that milieu—).

I’d love to see the failure that would be Anderson’s take on Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (suggestion: use Jim Henson-style puppets).

And: A Nabokov biopic, preferably one that focuses on his lepidoptery. Could Bill Murray play Nabokov? This question is rhetorical.

Anderson’s films have been repeatedly criticized for their racial insensitivity, but in spite of this (or, perhaps, because of this), I’d like to see his take on Kipling’s The Jungle Book

Speaking of imperialism: Another Tintin film. And while he’s at it: Lil’ Orphan Annie.

Faulkner’s a bit too gritty, too dirty (not to mention too Southern) for Anderson, but he would probably do a great feature length adaptation of “A Rose for Emily.” Decay, incest, the crumbling of an old value system.

And: It’s about time someone made that Night Court movie, right? Okay, maybe not.

Other suggestions?

I (Sort of) Review the the Trailer for Wes Anderson’s New Film, Moonrise Kingdom

If you hate Wes Anderson—and hating Wes Anderson seems like a special kind of sport in 2012 (or at least it did after his last two films, The Darjeeling Limited and Fantastic Mr. Fox)—the trailer for his new film Moonrise Kingdom will surely give you fuel for that fire or arrows for your quiver or whatever you need for your particular metaphor.

I like Wes Anderson’s films: I like the strange blend of earnestness and irony, the precociousness and preciousness, the calculated soundtracks, the fussy set and costume design and faux-’70s color schemes; I like the crumbling families, the failed and failing geniuses, the narcissists and the hacks; I like the fantasy of it all. I like the sentimentality of it all. I like the tents and special societies and secret compartments and fake books. I like the depression behind the charm.

I especially like Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, which I think are the films that best navigate that special space between fantasy and reality (and theatricality) that is Andersonville. My least favorite film of his is his first, Bottle Rocket—too realistic (what a strange claim!), too naturalistic, not mannered or fussy enough.

I more or less understand why so many people hate Anderson’s fantasies, although I think it’s weak criticism to dismiss them as empty exercises in style without substance; still, watching the new trailer, I can see why anyone with a quarrel with Wes Anderson will positively hate this Wes Anderson movie before it’s even come out.

Here is that trailer:


We’ve got a charismatic young man in the Max Fischer mold.

We’ve got a never-was early 1960s (?) sleep-away-camp (?)

We’ve got Edward Norton in a scouting uniform (in shorts!) saying: “Jiminy Cricket, he flew the coop!” (this is like +100 flaming arrows in the quivers of Anderson-haters, I imagine; it made me cringe my own self).

We have a portable turntable on a Northeastern beach.

We have the kind of tracking close up shots that went out of fashion, what, thirty years ago now?


A 1960s French pop song.

A play.

A house in a tree.

Some sailing shots that somehow remind me of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons.

Old Bruce Willis.

Frances McDormand.


Well, did you watch the end? Did you see those final moments, the shirtless Bill Murray with the ax propped over one shoulder, bottle of red in the other? Well, that’s why I tend to like these films.

“I’m Sick of Being on B-Squad!”

A Graphic Representation of Bill Murray Films

Bill Murray Reads Billy Collins’s Poem “Forgetfulness”


Heroes of 2010 — Bill Murray

Sure, Bill Murray didn’t make a movie this year (not a big one anyway), and sure, he’s a hero any year, but we loved his interview with GQ this summer. From the interview–

Okay. Well, how about Garfield? Can you explain that to me? Did you just do it for the dough?

No! I didn’t make that for the dough! Well, not completely. I thought it would be kind of fun, because doing a voice is challenging, and I’d never done that. Plus, I looked at the script, and it said, “So-and-so and Joel Coen.” And I thought: Christ, well, I love those Coens! They’re funny. So I sorta read a few pages of it and thought, Yeah, I’d like to do that. I had these agents at the time, and I said, “What do they give you to do one of these things?” And they said, “Oh, they give you $50,000.” So I said, “Okay, well, I don’t even leave the fuckin’ driveway for that kind of money.”

Bill Murray also did this in 2010–

Bill Murray Reads Emily Dickinson (and Other Poets)

Bill Murray reads poems by Billy Collins, Lorine Niedecker, and Emily Dickinson to the workers who built the Poets House literary center in museum. The applause after “I dwell in possibility” is golden.