***½/**** Image A Sound A+ Extras A+
starring Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston
screenplay by Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach
directed by Wes Anderson
by Walter Chaw His idiosyncrasies are by now familiar, but it still takes more than one viewing to assimilate Wes Anderson's quirk with the undercurrent of wisdom and emotionality that makes it sing. The excavation of the relationships between brothers that ultimately explains the longevity of his light debut Bottle Rocket, the exploration of loneliness and the connection between mentors and boys that buoys Rushmore, and, most affectingly, the rough bond between fathers and sons in The Royal Tenenbaums edify Anderson's work like the unexpected pockets of tenderness in the Coen Brothers' early stuff, or those flashes of intricacy that transform John Cassavetes's vérité chuff into masterworks. With The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Anderson goes back to what's familiar in his studiedly unfamiliar way: to mentors and boys, to fathers and sons, and to brothers incidentally if not in fact--casting them all adrift in a hermetic universe that is as influenced by Sixties lounge kitsch as it is by post-modern dissociative cool. And in retracing his steps, he manages to recreate a lot of the same surprising humanity of his first three films, but I do wonder about The Life Aquatic's lasting resonance.