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While the typical phenomenon with me and Wes Anderson films is that I am pretty sure I saw them when they hit the theatre screens, but have next to no recollection about them, the exception is “Steve Zissou”. I believe it is the only of Anderson’s films that I have never seen at all (even though… I might have seen it, just cannot for the life of me remember whether I actually did…). Everything pre-watching I find problematic: the title, the poster, the story and the trailer. So much for qualified decisions about seeing movies… but all those things have kept me from catching up with it. Maybe after my experiences with the other Anderson films I’ve seen, that can be explained: it all made me expect that what I find unattractive about Anderson’s films I would find in its most undiluted form here. A detached narrator explaining about a weird set of characters, guiding me through eccentric events while never allowing me to feel empathy.

And it’s true: Like in “Tenenbaums”, it is easy to go back to the film and talk about the funny weird things: Wiliam Dafoe’s Klaus character, the film-in-film about a murderous shark that could just as well have been directed by Ed Wood, the funny Smurf hats Team Zissou prefers, or the surprising shoot-out with a bunch of pirates. Because there is no coherent narrative, though, but rather a patchwork of scenes about human weirdness, I find it hard to remember what the film was about and where it went even just a week after seeing it. Some bits can be liked without ever feeling affection for the whole thing. And it doesn’t help that Owen Wilson again has a lead role, which I find an unnecessary feature of any movie.

The strength of Wes Anderson is that he finds a visual style that will make me want to see everything he does, no questions asked. I now have established for myself that he is great enough and interesting enough and special enough a director to make seeing his films a rewarding experience. I have also established for myself that I cannot hope to ever feel the passion for his films that I would feel for other director’s work. It’s strange, isn’t it? But strange sometimes is good… quite frequently, actually, when it comes to art, now that I think about it.

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