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Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Squid and the Whale

Stave It Off loves Wes Anderson. And if you're a Wes Anderson freak like we are, you're probably jonzing for the next installment of his "bad dad" dramedy series. So far he's gifted us with Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and the Life Aquatic. He has propelled Bill Murray into the spotlight as America's favorite fat old man, using him (and Gene Hackman in The Royal Tenenbaums) to riff on his pet issue: inept fathers.

So now comes The Squid and the Whale, and while Wes Anderson only produced it, it fits his formula if not his directing style. Jeff Daniels plays the obnoxious father figure, but this time the gloves are off. Unlike typical Anderson fare, he isn't a lovable screw-up trying to figure out some parenting skills 10 years too late. He's mostly just a prick. The film has a bit more edge than you might expect. This plays out as the two young boys of a recently divorced couple struggle with sex, drugs and plagiarism. They fight, they hate their parents, and they flail around trying to grow up, all the while afraid of the epic battle pitched between their parents (symbolically interpreted as a giant squid and a sperm whale.)

Beyond the substantive portion of the film, Billy Baldwin gets some laughs as an 80's tennis pro. Anna Paquin plays a convincing Lolita, and the soundtrack, always a strength of Anderson's films, mines some classic Bert Jansch material, as well as a Dean Wareham (see Galaxy500 & Luna) version of Pink Floyd's Hey You. This is a well-made, quirky little film. It's not absurdist or grandiose like Anderson-directed films and because of that, it probably packs more punch. _Cinema



At 12/10/2005 08:02:00 PM, Blogger diane said...

Everyone should see this film and reflect upon who you were at 10, or 16, what you thought about yourself, your parents (and adults in general) at that time of your life.


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