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Oakland, CA

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Not quite a tres bien ensemble. Posted on 12/03/2001.

Tonight I went to see The Royal Tenenbaums in a special kinda-pre-release showing (the score hadn't been laid in, and there were some edits left). It's a peculiar film, quite literary in its structure (it's literally divided into chapters, and told as if read from a book), chronicling a key period in the life of the Tenenbaums, where the estranged father attempts a return to mend his reprehensible ways.

The picture is basically good, solidly entertaining, but doesn't add up to much. The storylines end up too diffuse across so many characters, so it's difficult to develop a relationship with them. If this were simply a comedy of set pieces that would be fine, but this film aspires for an emotional resonance that it simply can't achieve in this form.

Still, I don't want to discourage attendance--it's might be the best American film I've seen this past year. There are many elements that are simply great--Bill Murray cast as, essentially, Oliver Sacks; Gene Hackman; the Gypsy Cab that seems to be the only taxi in all of New York; the tennis match; etc. etc. If you go in simply expecting a pleasant and funny and at times sad diversion, you're in for a treat. Just be wary of critics snowed by the films literary aspirations who gush over it.

(As an aside, the movies official website is intriguing. In part because it's still a work in progress... you rarely see things like this launched before their ready. But what most interests me is the "commentary" link for each character. It's Owen Wilson telling you where to click on the screen for goodies. The first time, I found it a startling interface conceit. There's a weird personable-ness to it. Like Owen is talking to *you*.)

4 comments so far. Add a comment.

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You did discourage me
Posted by Frans @ 12/04/2001 10:25 AM PST [link to this comment]

I'll be interested to see what Wes Anderson's serious fans will have to say. Bottle Rocket lovers at first hated Rushmore but many of them grew to find Rushmore a more superior movie in the long run.

This seems like a film that will require multiple screenings--my favorite kind of movie, in fact.
Posted by Brittney @ 12/05/2001 10:55 AM PST [link to this comment]

I dunno what it takes to be a "serious" Wes Anderson fan. I liked Bottle Rocket, I *loved* Rushmore, and this movie looks very intriguing.

VERY cool to get into a pre-sneak screening.
Posted by Steve Portigal @ 12/08/2001 09:19 AM PST [link to this comment]

I loved Rushmore...that's my new favorite movie. Funny as hell.
Posted by Nathan Dearman @ 01/31/2002 04:50 PM PST [link to this comment]

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