According to Chabon, the “Belafonte” could be Wes Anderson’s Cornell box.
Having just read this gorgeous essay by Michael Chabon, I had to share it with my loyal blog followers. In the New York Review of Books essay, Chabon gets at precisely what itches my artistic soul and compels me toward interdisciplinary aesthetics. Chabon gets at how artists (in this case, Wes Anderson, Joseph Cornell, and Vladimir Nabokov) can connect and transcend form. Reading Chabon’s essay, I felt a sense of more oxygen getting into my lungs, filling my spirit. Hoping it will give you the same creative uplift.
(I’ve blogged here and elsewhere about my fascination with Wes Anderson. I haven’t seen Moonlight Kingdom, but it’s high on my list.)
I wrote a post here nearly two years ago (at my yearly movie outing, so sad!) about Wes Anderson. Today, I watched “The Life Aquatic” again on DVD and though I adore it, it was as if I had never seen it before. Turns out I barely remembered the movie, though it’s my favorite of Anderson’s. I noticed things this time I either saw and forgot or never saw. I watched the background this time, allowed myself to look away from the principal humans and around the room, as it were, and linger in my tour of the Belafonte.
The film’s similarities to “Buckaroo Banzai” (another favorite film) were more beautifully apparent this time. One Banzai moment with Team Zissou was the curtain call, which some loving film geek posted here in mashup. (There’s also the Jeff Goldblum connection linking the two films. And as my husband said, TZ would have mirrored BB and the Honk Kong Cavaliers more fully had they brought back Ned for the curtain call, as W. D. Richter did with Rawhide. But not bringing Ned back does a more authentic job of continuing and closing the film’s narrative rather than opening it up, so maybe in the lineage of collective filmmaker evolution, this omission makes some sense.)
But in addition to the visual homages that Anderson paid Banzai et al, much more fundamentally, he followed the Buckaroo Banzai Principle as outlined here. It’s, briefly:
When a work of fiction is so confident in itself that the reader just enters the world and goes with it.
Applies equally to a written or cinematic world, but as I thought about it today, I realized how I’m not quite doing that with my new novel, and thought of one little way that I can follow the BBP more closely. For which I owe Mr. Anderson a card of thanks. If only I had some Kinglsey (Ned) Zissou corrsepondance stock.
(Dear Mr. Anderson, if you are reading this: Thank you. Thank you for caring enough about your audience to make something so fully realized. Thank you for following your own obsessions and idiosyncrasies with such commitment and grace. Thank you for Seu Gorge reinterpreting Bowie. Thank you for your hard work, which looks effortless as breathing in and breathing out.)
I saw “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and loved it. Though many people consider Tennenbaums the holy grail of Wes Anderson-dom, before seeing Fox, I was most fond of “The Life Aquatic.” (It’s still my favorite. Too many wonderful moments and quotable lines to be displaced, and Seu Jorge doing David Bowie is unparalleled in the world of adaptations. And Klaus! I want to watch it again right now.)
Early in “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” I recognized some music that I hear often these days: Burl Ives singing “Fooba Wooba John.” What a funny treat!
Although the adults at our house recoil at the sound of most music intended for kids, one beloved album is from my husband’s childhood–Burl Ives Sings Little White Duck and Other Children’s Favorites. It might seem unlikely, but this morning I was actually craving that album. Ives’ rendition of “The Little Engine That Could” made me a little misty-eyed over breakfast. I don’t know why. Maybe the wonder and hope of the two year old next to me, calling it the “sink I can song” or maybe just that I still believe that positive thinking is important. (“I knew I could I knew I could I knew I could…”)
As usual, Wes Anderson chose perfect music for his latest movie. There’s an earnest, post-cynical lens in that I love. I see it in the Zissou saga, as I did in “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and so now I find myself tapping a foot, humming “Buckeye Jim” around the house, and now, in addition to the warmth of Burl Ives’ voice, that tune delivers me Anderson’s glorious sunset orange hues, and lovable, heroic foxes. And I smile a silly, true smile.