Monday, September 24, 2007

Wes Anderson: It's in the Details (Part II)

As I said in Part I, what I love most about Wes Anderson's movies is his attentiveness to the details. Often they don't have anything to do with the plot, or you only catch them the second time through, but they're what make Anderson's movies his. In The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, these details are less explicit than they were in The Royal Tenenbaums (such as a richly detailed quick flashback of Ethelline's former suitors or the infamous paintings in Eli's house). The details here are less bombastic and usually low-key, fitting in with the overall mood and story of the film.

  1. Steve Zissou's office, like that of Raleigh St. Claire in The Royal Tenenbaums, features an outrageous rotary telephone.
  2. Anne-Marie is topless when she's introduced, silently inferring that she's foreign, but she has an American accent in her later scenes.
  3. All the crew members of the Belafonte have multiple titles, except Pele, who is merely the "safety expert."
  4. Zissou's interns are from the University of North Alaska.
  5. The packed theater in the beginning is made up of French and English speakers, as half the audience starts laughing at Zissou's reply before the translator starts talking.
  6. The over-attentive assistant at the theater brings Zissou and the host an ornate crystal pitcher of water without prompt.
  7. Zissou and Alistair Hennessey (Jeff Goldblum) are both wearing a number of apparently nautical decorations on their suits at the gala, but Hennessey has more, including some sort of medal in place of a tie.
  8. Zissou's entire crew, and also Hennessey, wear a small green pin on their lapel.
  9. At the after party on the Belafonte, Zissou gives Eleanor some her game of solitaire just before the power goes out.
  10. The bar tender at the after party is one of Zissou's interns, wearing a shirt with "INTERN" boldly printed on it.
  11. The Air Kentucky uniform that Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson) wears includes a string tie in the style of Col. Sanders.
  12. The kitchen in the Belafonte includes many racks of wine.
  13. Among the books in The Steve Zissou Companion Series: Tragedy of the Red Octopus, Arctic Night Lights and Trawlers, Junks and Dinghies (Zissou later reads the latter, trying to identify the pirates' ship).
  14. The painting of Hennessey at the Explorers' Club features him sitting on a couch on the deck of a boat, like he does later in the movie.
  15. After Zissou berates the Explorers' Club waiter for trying to give wine to Ned -- who "doesn't know anything about wine" -- he throws it down like a shot.
  16. One of the artifacts at the Explorers' Club is an old space suit from a foreign country.
  17. After landing on his island with Plimpton, Zissou takes a bottle of liquor and a shot glass out of his suit jacket.
  18. Continuing the theme of pay phones from earlier Anderson movies, the Belafonte contains a strange, foreign edition with many slots for coins. Unlike the pay phones in The Royal Tenenbaums, it is not rotary.
  19. Plimpton's official correspondence stationary describes him as "Kingsley (Ned) Zissou."
  20. Co-writer Noah Baumbach plays Oseary Drakoulias' assistant in a brief scene in his office.
  21. Zissou uses the term "teamsmanship."
  22. The studio inside the Belafonte contains a pristine electric guitar, similar to a Fender Jaguar model.
  23. Among the stunts listed on the bulletin board are: Skydiving into the Volcano (crossed out by Eleanor), bottle shooting, Zodiac speed jump over rocks and cliff jumping.
  24. Klaus makes himself a cappuccino during the raid on Hennessey's compound.
  25. Hennessey has a framed picture of Lord Mandrake on his boat, just as Zissou does.
  26. A rum cannonball (which Zissou remembers fondly from the Hotel Citroen) contains rum, gin, orange juice, strawberry soda, lemon-lime soda and pineapple juice.

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