I have problems with Wes Anderson as a filmmaker. Early on, he gave films like Bottle Rocket and Rushmore a pleasant sheen of precocity that gave his movies a cool, quirky edge. This cleverness (bordering on, though never really crossing over into preciousness) was a new style of filmmaking: a kind of sad irreverence infused with a detached, too-cool-for-school irony. Post-everything storytelling. In movies like The Royal Tannenbaums and The Life Aquatic however, Anderson's signature quirky-coolness soured into something that felt packaged, boring, and forced. Well, he may have turned things around if his new American Express commercial is any indication. It's very funny and though all of Anderson's distinctive quirks (some might say foibles) are present and accounted for, they all come together perfectly and make for a hilarious couple minutes of filmmaking. You can read a review of the commercial here and you can view the commercial here. (All of it's funny, but a couple stand-outs to look for: the girl shrugging when asked if it's true she's a Wes Anderson fan, and Anderson's line about the birds at the very end of the spot. Brilliant.)
Also, new Superman Returns poster. View it here. I really like it. This is so going to be Shawn's movie of the summer, I just know it. Scratch that. Shawn's movie of the year.
Penultimately: has anyone seen that awful Ford commercial that's been airing incessantly for the past month or so? It features a song called "Beep Beep". (You can view a version of it that aired somewhere in the Carolinas here. It is not the one that's been airing in my area -- mine's longer and more annoying). What puzzles me about this ad, other than it's shockingly tin-eared approach to selling anyone anything, is a lyric the lead singer sings more than once during the 30-second ad:
"You like to go deep!"
What, I ask, does this line have to do with Ford automobiles? Keeping in mind the band featured in this commercial is an actual band (called 13 Stories and based in Atlanta, their website is here), and their single, "Beep Beep" is an actual song they play in concerts, I have to say I don't really know the true context for this lyric other than it's odd, contextlessness in the Ford ad/jingle. It could be a apropo of nothing reference to football perhaps (going deep for a pass?); it could mean that "you", the consumer, "like to go" for "deep" discounts when you're buying an automobile. I don't know. But the old cynical Brian can't help but think that this lyric, coupled with the image of a hot blonde "rock" singer whipping her head around in front of a long, black, cylindrical microphone is meant to subtly, perhaps even subliminally, insert the idea of, dare I say it, sex into the viewer's head while they're being force-fed images of Ford cars. Perhaps the ad agency who crafted this ad thought the subtle, R (to X)-rated aspects of this commercial would trump how mind-blowingly awful the commercial is otherwise. This could all just be my mind stewing in a gutter of filth, I admit. But I think not.
And finally, and totally unrelated to commercials, the surveillance camera video of the Pentagon strike on September 11th, 2001 was released today. Go here to view it. A conservative "watchdog group" called Judicial Watch sued the government for the release of these videos (taken from two different surveillance cameras placed at slightly different angles). Previously, the government has said the public can't see the tapes until Moussoui's trial is over. Well, his trial's over, and so here we have them. In the network news coverage both on television and on the web much verbiage was dedicated to the idea that these tapes should now, once and for all, shut up all of those conspiracy theorists who believe the silver thing that slammed into the Pentagon that morning, glimpsed only in part for a single frame released many years ago, is a missile, not a jet plane. Personally, I think the 9/11 conspiracy theorists give us regular JFK conspiracy theorists a bad name. But if these tapes are supposed to shed new light on the plane strike at the Pentagon, I don't see it. Martha Raddatz of ABC News described the tapes tonight on World News Tonight and reported that the nose of the jetliner, fuzzy and indistinct, can be seen in the lower right quadrant of the frame, for all of one frame (the cameras were "filming" at the rate of a frame per second). I couldn't see it. All I could see was a sliver of silver-white that had to be a trick of light because it sure wasn't any identifiable section of airplane, and in the next second, a massive fireball. When CNN.com reported this afternoon that these tapes were set to be released today at 1PM, I was imagining some new video of the impact no one had yet seen. But the federal government already released stills from this very same video to the public a few years back. Now they're in video form, true, but no more helpful than the stills were in showing visually what actually happened. The more information we can get about 9/11 the better, but the idea that this new frame of information is going to quiet the LIHOPs and MIHOPs (those who believe the federal government Let It Happen On Purpose and those who believe they Made It Happen on Purpose -- the two schools of 9/11 conspiracy thought), is, I think, wishful thinking.
Anyway. That's it for your Tuesday hodgepodge. More tomorrow.