Giant Squid! And the whale

The giant squid has finally been captured on film!

Longtime readers know what a big deal this is for me. Next we need video footage of a giant squid battling a sperm whale. For me, that's the real world equivalent of Godzilla vs. King Kong.

Loosely related, Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale is playing this week at the New York Film Festival. I caught an 8 AM screening of the movie at Sundance in January. It nearly killed me to get up at the crack of dawn to drive in from Salt Lake City, especially because I was the only one of my group left at the fest, but it was worth it.

Baumbach, most known up until now as Wes Anderson's friend and frequent writing partner, based his latest movie on his childhood experience with his divorced parents. Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels play the parents suffering from marital problems, and the movie chronicles the effect of their divorce on their two sons, especially older son Walt (Jesse Eisenberg). As an added treat for New Yorkers, the movie was shot in Brooklyn, where Baumbach grew up.

Baumbach has a similar sense of humor as Anderson, wry and ironic. Lots of tannins, but a hint of fruit in a long finish. In the opening scene, each of the two sons pairs off with a parent for a doubles match. Jeff Daniels tells his son Walt, in a hushed but serious tone, to hit to his mom's backhand because it's her weaker wing. Walt does so, setting up a smash for Jeff Daniels that nearly decapitates Laura Linney. That Daniels celebrates the point sets the tone for the movie--humorous, wistful, and melancholic. The title refers to the squid and the whale at the Museum of Natural History; its significance becomes clear once you see the movie.

As to my fascination with giant squid, I'm not sure how it all started. I loved whales and other giant sea creatures as a boy, as well as 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. I love eating squid, too, though I only acquired a taste for it later in life. Mom made me eat it as a child. I should have listened to her then, not just about the squid, but about keeping up with my piano lessons.