With The Dead Don't Die, Jim Jarmusch deliberately deprives his latest film of the propulsive terrors innate to most zombie films, instead using the genre to matter-of-factly rhapsodize about consumer culture and the inevitability of the apocalypse.
Luke Wilson was in town for an MTV related New York Comic Con panel a day or two afterwards. Ben Stiller had just completed hosting Saturday Night Live the prior weekend. And Owen Wilson may have possibly been still lounging about following a New Yorker Festival appearance a few weeks back. So I presumed offhand that they would be amongst the “other members of the cast” reuniting with director Wes Anderson following the 10th anniversary screening of his most successful film The Royal Tenenbaums held at Lincoln Center as part of the NY Film Festival. As it turns out none of them were present. The actors participating in a Q&A alongside director Wes Anderson and his brother, Eric Chase Anderson, were Gwyneth Paltrow, Anjelica Huston and the show-stealer, Bill Murray. The moderators were Noah Baumbach and Antonia Monda, both collaborators with Anderson at one point or another.
Eric Anderson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Wes Anderson, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray. Photo Credit: Godlis
Aside from the aforementioned actors, the film also includes Danny Glover and Gene Hackman, who received the bulk of the attention in the discussion even though he wasn’t present. Countless laughs were shared over stories about Hackman’s powerful acting and serious, sometimes scary, demeanor. As Murray started a train of thought, “You know the word ‘cocksucker’ gets thrown around a lot”, he let the audience laugh before continuing, “But I will take that word and throw it out of this room because it doesn’t belong here. I’d hear these stories like ‘Gene tried to kill me today’. And I’d say, ‘Kill you? You’re in the union. He can’t kill you.’” Paltrow took Hackman’s side as well indicating that she “found something very sweet and sad in there.” Murray also took some shots at Luke Wilson and Kumar Pallana (Pagoda) suggesting that he preferred acting alongside Pallana since Wilson had a fascination with Paltrow.
Murray, Huston, Paltrow, Anderson. Photo Credit: Godlis
Caught up in Murray’s jokes, I could have sat for an hour laughing in hysteria. But some of the conversation proved to be informative and topical as well. One of Anderson’s regular talents, Jason Schwartzman, was not in Tenenbaums but it was not for lack of trying. Schwartzman was originally considered for the role of Mordecai (not Richie’s hawk) a boy living in an attic over an embassy. And ten years ago, Anderson originally screened a version of Tenenbaums at the NYFF whose score consisted entirely of Beatles tunes. Yet the songs were removed since he had been unable to secure the rights. Paltrow backed him up as she admitted she had been recruited by Anderson to ply Paul McCartney with bowling and a screening of the film to see if it could happen. Yet afterwards, McCartney admitted he had nothing to do with the rights.
In the end the Beatles score seems less important as Mark Mothersbaugh composed a fitting score. The Royal Tenenbaums works because of Anderson’s direction and it’s stellar ensemble. The film continues to be celebrated for the same.
Q&A Part 1:
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Q&A Part 7: