Friday, April 13, 2007

The Royal Tenenbaums - Discussion (April 07)

As with the intro post, I'm posting this early so I won't miss it over the weekend. Don't read the comments til you've watched the movie!

You don't have to answer all these questions. You don't even have to answer any of them. You can just talk about your reaction to the movie. These are just some prompts to get you started. Spelling does count toward your final grade, however.

1. Like all dark comedies, this film depends on finding the humor in taboo/Not Funny subjects. When did you think they nailed it, and when did you just cringe?

2. This is pretty slow-moving for a comedy. If you were editing it, would you have paced it differently? What would you have cut or held a bit longer?

3. The conceit of the story being read from a book: distracting or crucial? How important is Alec Baldwin's narrator to the funny? Is this still pretty much the same movie without him?

4. How much of the comedy here is delivery versus writing? How crucial is this particular cast? If you read this as a script instead of seeing it performed, is it still funny?

5. There are several shots in this movie of Royal alone off to one side, with someone else walking in or out of the shot. What's the point of this and is it effective?

6. According to the grave stones in the cemetery, the story takes place in 2000-2001. What do the retro costumes and sets add? How do they reflect the story?

7. What do the particular songs chosen for the soundtrack add?

8. For Wes Anderson fans: how does this stack up with his other movies?

Bonus question for the silly: I find this to be a terribly quotable movie. Favorite lines?

35 comments:

Paula said...

1. I never cringed; I basically thought it was boring because they tried so hard to be weird. None of the characters came to life for me.

2. It was extremely slow. Did we really need all the backstory? I might have found it easier to get into some of the characters if it hadn't gone on and on and on with all that childhood crap (which I didn't find funny - not offensive, just ... yawn).

3. In general, I find narration a turn-off and very distancing. This was no exception.

4. The only thing I found funny was the faked stomach cancer stuff.

You were right when you'd said I'd hate this movie. Oh well!

Jeff K said...

I love the questions/prompters, Jen! I'll probably answer them periodically when I have time, but I'll start by generally saying that I love Wes Anderson's style. I love the slow-moving nature of his movies, and this is no different. I really love how he jumps around from character to character, and his shot framing, man, I get geekily excited over it (when Julie and I were watching, I stopped a number of times to point out framing stuff to her), but more about that later.

1. For me, the only "line" a movie can cross is the one the movie creates for itself. It all depends on the reality in which the characters live, and if their actions and the surrounding actions belong there or not. Royal was a complete asshole his whole life, and he continually crossed the line with his family, but that's where the who character (of him and of the movie) was rooted. That's the long answer to your question. The short answer -- I never cringed.

I already posted my favorite line from the movie in the initial post, but it's "Let's shag ass."

Nobody said...

You were right when you'd said I'd hate this movie.

Yeah, I thought it wasn't your kind of humor. I think your humor needs to make sense. People saying random weird things in a funny way doesn't seem like it's funny for you. Whereas for me the thing that works best about this movie is the delivery. That's why I put in the question about Baldwin. He's a huge part of why I find this movie funny. That whole part with the pointless details about Richie arranging passage home with the porter and his trunks not arriving for another eleven days has me on the floor every damn time. I have no idea why. Maybe one of our comedy experts can explain the technical details of the funny.

Don said...

I'm not sure I can answer any of the questions. Wait, yes I can, maybe.

1. I feel dumb because I saw no taboo.

2. The work of film editors is beyond my comprehension.

3. Conceit. The visible book fragments were in present tense. Narration seemed like glue to hold together a story that couldn't stand on its own, or introduce (as you say) irrelevant info. Well, now that I think, that allowed for a more complex subtext to some of the gags. Such as Royal always mentioning his daughter was adopted.

Big intentional mystery: Why was she adopted anyway? What of those relatives of hers in southern Illinois? Or Indiana? One of those I states.

4. Some of the lines were so random and senseless they only worked because of Owen Wilson's goofy delivery or Danny Glover's bewildered expression.

Royal and his Etheline's walk n talk in the park, for ex, had a lot under the surface because of the actors' interaction. Royal used comic-book phrases and didn't know how shallow that made him, and Etheline's facial expressions (smirking, "Your choice of language," something like that, which he calowly takes as a compliment) conveyed that such that we could see it, but he could not.

5. It works because he was the outsider, more even than Margot, the one looking who wants back in.

6. Retro makes people look too rich and self-absorbed. Or at least it did here.

7. I simply cannot fathom the psychology underlying this soundtrack, with a few choice exceptions. "Goodby Ruby Tuesday" seemed to fit. But it was actually playing on a phonograph thus explicitly part of the scene. I was really thrown by the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Don said...

I enjoyed it more the second time. It was telling that my son, who watched part of it, laughed his butt off at parts that were just weird to me.

All the characters were interesting but I didn't like any of them, excepting Etheline and Henry. Etheline was the only fully-realized human being in this movie, the only one with any emotional depth. Everyone else was written as being very reserved, watching the world from deep within their heads. Anjelica Huston's acting really brought that out.

Bill Murray was no less worthless here than anywhere else, but I still don't know how he manages to get work.

For some reason I can't recall any lines. "Let's shag ass" is something I've said myself in years past. Royal's occasional old-fart lingo was a plus.

K, I'm scraping, I'll stop here for now.

Nobody said...

I feel dumb because I saw no taboo

Now here's a man who's totally cool with Woody Allen, I bet. :)

None of it makes me cringe either, actually. It all fits the story, IMO. But I don't find all of it funny eihter. I think the incest/suicide storyline drags the movie in the middle. There are some funny lines that come out of it ("Of course it was dark. It was a suicide note.") but I think it goes on too long and slows things down just a tad too much.

Retro makes people look too rich and self-absorbed. Or at least it did here.

ITA about the self-absorbed. They're all frozen in the 70's, at their peak. Richie finally breaks out by cutting his hair. But then of course he tries to off himself, so maybe the change was too painful. ;) Margot is wearing the exact same outfit for pretty much the entire movie, from the third grade on, and that quitting smoking thing doesn't quite take. They can't change, though by the end they all do, whether willingly or not.

Nobody said...

Oh, and Don, I completely agree about the Charlie Brown Christmas song! So weird. Of course, it's that randomness that cracks me up, so I like it.

Paula said...

I didn't want to hog the comments, but since everyone's slacking anyway, I want to say that Jeff (not K) reminded me that we thought the dog scene was very funny. If there only had been more humor like that instead of the huge build-ups, narration, and overkilling, I would have liked the movie so much more.

Don said...

Which dog scene? What, you want a movie full of dogs getting hit by cars and buried in canvas sacks?

;/

Oh, the dalmation thing. I never got all these people hanging out on the fire engine. Just another weirdity, I guess. Wierdity is good.

Speaking of taboo, I guess I'm supposed to react to the hint of incest. But there isn't any, really. It isn't unheard of for step-siblings to have a natural attraction and for their common family unhappiness to draw them together. I think it indicates a certain immaturity, but is not in my mind verboten.

I like chicks with eyeshadow like Margot's. I know that says something unflattering about me, but there it is. Of course, it only made her look more haunted. Her poor hapless husband. What was up with that kid?

Paula said...

Where Royal took the firemen's dog to replace the dead one.

It didn't seem taboo to me cuz they weren't blood relatives, plus the incest taboo has been broken before, so it was basically a nothing.

I think you mean eyeliner.

Don said...

Eyeliner, right.

I liked Pagoda. Toward the end when he stabbed Royal with his little swiss army knife and then helped him into the cab, I was rolling.

Looney said...

Alright, I'm BUSYYYYYY!!! Ugh, but I have to get a few comments off on this one after whinging about not being able to!!

1. I don't remember cringing. I remember thinking once or twice someone was trying just a little too hard to be quirky, but it really worked for me.

2. Not slow at all. Perfect pace. Why does everything have to slambang away from gag to gag or hit to hit. Even though it's a completely different genre, that's something I love about the movies of David Lean is he's not afraid to just let you watch things develop slowly. I felt there was a sense of leisure in this movie. I can't think of anything I would have cut.

3. I thought it was very cute, and went along well with the mood. In a way you needed it to bring a little cohesion to it. What was beautiful about the narration is that it wasn't the product of an insecure writer, as those things often are. Instead the narration and the action were very complementary. You didn't get told what you just saw. You were given some subtext, and the action was like a punchline.

4. I think delivery is key in this movie. A lot of this writing, while good, really depended upon the skill of the actors. Hackman and Stiller esp.

5. Seems a basic visual of his internal state. He's stuck in his idiocy while the people around him keep moving.

6. I don't know. I just LOVED the look.

7. OMG, I thought the songs were genius. I was amazed at the clever juxtaposition of the music versus what you saw. I felt like we were getting the internal soundtrack of the people involved. Loved it.

8. I'm embarrassed to say I haven't seen them yet. Both Life Aquatic and Rushmore are on my Blockbuster list, but haven't seen them yet.

Bonus: Oh, absolutely the best line in the whole movie, to me, was when the PI relates the fact that Margot was fucking everything that moves and Bill Murray says:

"She smokes."

Beautiful. Perfect.

Summary: I loved this movie. People are screwy, in real life. People do weird things to themselves for hidden little reasons and make stupid decisions out of desperation then find their whole lives directed by those first stupid decisions. And if you can step back, it's funny. This is an over-the-top everyone's-fucked-up commentary that served to reveal the nature of our inner fears and their impact on our outer lives. Yeah, it's over the top, but it's almost like a fable that way. Loved it.

Jeff Kos said...

Getting more into technique, I have to once again say that Anderson's shot framing is beautiful, particularly in the way he balances the sides. One of my favorite shots in the whole movie is when Royal and Etheline are walking and Royal tells her he doesn't really have cancer. At that moment both characters have stopped moving (as has the camera), but Etheline has walked out of frame left. Royal stands far frame right looking at Etheline, but on the left of frame is a tree with a split trunk. Perfect balance with single person frame right, single tree frame left. Etheline then walks into frame and up to Royal, and it's still erfect balance because two people stand frame right, a split tree stands frame left. You can of course take that further into analogy of showing that Royal and Etheline are still joined.

Other than balancing people with inanimate objects on either side of the frame, Anderson breaks the shots up wonderfully by center-framing main characters in the foreground (often looking directly into the camera) and having people/objects in the background to add depth of field and balance. There's one shot that blows me away, and it's when Luke Wilson is in the hospital after the suicide attempt. You're looking at the family, and back frame right is Margot leaning against the wall, and the depth of field makes her look TINY, which is exactly how she is feeling at that moment.

Brilliant, I say! Brilliant!

Natsthename said...

OK, first flick of the club and I didn't have time to re-watch it (saw it when it first came out on DVD.) My bad!


I love Anderson's pacing, which seems to punctuate the humor for me. Some call it "slow," but I'd call it deliberate.

Quoteworthy? Well, not in a Monty Python way, but I definitely love when Richie says "Of course it's dark. It's a suicide not," and I love the look on Wilson's face when he delivers the line. He's such an under-rated actor, but he's always perfect in Anderson movies.

Jeff Kos said...

Where the hell is everyone?

Looney said...

I was thinking the same thing? LOL...

BTW, Jeff, I thought the cinematography and direction were outstanding in this film. You see a lot of films where the techniques are pretty basic. Everything looks good, but you don't go "Wow, that's gorgeous! or clever! or just plain neat!"

There was also a lot riding on the actors, if you think about how many shots were simply on the face of one of the actors, no dialogue, just react, show me what you're thinking. You don't get that from just any talent, you know?

I just loved this movie. It is exactly right down the center of my likes :-)

O' Tim said...

I can't do the thing nat's done, because it's been a couple of years since I watched this. And neither Movie Gallery or Hollywood has this!!! I'll check BB today, if not, I'm out, sorry.

Joe the Troll said...

Well, I've been silent so far because I saw the film for the first time just last night! I'll have to have a few more viewings before I can address that technical stuff like Koz, but here's a few things.

First, thanks for picking this. I really enjoyed it.

While the pacing is a bit slow for a comedy, I wouldn't really call this a comedy. I would call this a drama with some very funny people in it. Given that, the pacing was perfect, although I think the narration and backstory at the beginning went on a little.

The narration was essential, since the core story dealt with a large cast of rather complicated characters. For instance, you could not understand Margot without knowing certain things about her childhood, like the fact that she was adopted and never once allowed to forget that. Similarly, the backstory explains why Chas had such an incredible mad-on for Royal in a way that spared us a boring summary speech later in the film.

Now, the copy I borrowed had a little problem - I couldn't turn off the closed captioning. At first, it drove me nuts, but then I noticed how the closed captioning treated the sound effects, and especially the music. I first noticed this when the captions said "gulls chirping" (or whatever gulls do) at a moment when I could hear the gulls, but none were shown. It struck me then that the sound of the gulls was there to tell me something that I might have glossed over in my first viewing. Then I noticed how the captions treated the music. Sometimes the selection was more imprtant than others.

When Chas and the kids moved back in, for instance, the caption just said "classical music playing". It didn't matter what it was. However, when the "Charlie Brown" music came on, the caption read "Vince Guaraldi Trio's "Christmas Time" plays. At first I though "Thanks, I know what and who it is" - it was my introduction to true jazz, after all. That shows, however, that it was important to the narrative that the song be recognised. There were at least two other instances where the captions didn't give the name and artist, but instead showed the lyrics that were playing, as that was integral to the narrative or to the development of a character. Having had this experience in my first viewing, I think it's safe to say that there was no randomness in this soundtrack.

Funniest parts for me:

Two people have mentioned the line "It's a suicide note." but I thought Ben Stiller's lead-in line was funnier. "Can you PARAPHRASE it for us?" I had to hit pause because I was busting a gut. Another great line was when Ethel found out that Margot smokes.

"How long have you been a smoker?"

"22 years.

"Well.... I think you should quit."

It was so calm, so matter of fact, and so weird that she would have only that to say after learning that she's been decieved for 22 years, I had to crack up.

The performances were top-notch, and I want to single out Ben Stiller because he didn't suck. I often don't like him because in many of his films, he's playing up the goofiness, the wacky expressions, and the physical comedy, and that doesn't work so well for him IMO. Here, he was a real person with real feelings, a person who happened to say some very funny stuff. He should reach for this kind of depth more often.

One reason to see the film again - to figure out why that Eli character was in it and why I care if he's on mescaline. That part of the story fell flat for me on this first viewing.

So that's my take. Sorry, I've only seen it the one time so I didn't have much to say..... :-)

Jeff said...

most of my feelings and thoughts have already been covered above. i really don't want to rehash others comments and bore anyone.

my only comment would be that i found this flick to be very funny but it's not my favorite anderson feature. imo bottle rocket is the superior venture.

i would actually rank anderson films in chronological order. with bottle rocket being my favorite and life aquatic being my least favorite (but still funnier than some of the other crap out there).

favorite bottle rocket quote: "Kakaa! Kakaa!"

Nobody said...

I wouldn't really call this a comedy. I would call this a drama with some very funny people in it.

That is so interesting. If I saw this movie as a drama - IOW if I felt compelled to take it more seriously - I doubt I'd like it. I certainly wouldn't love it.

Jeff, ITA about Life Aquatic. Not up to snuff.

Joe the Troll said...

"That is so interesting. If I saw this movie as a drama - IOW if I felt compelled to take it more seriously - I doubt I'd like it. I certainly wouldn't love it."

I find THAT interesting. If it didn't have a deeper purpose than just providing some giggles, I doubt I'd be as interested as I am in seeing it again.

Sylvia, The Supreme Ruler said...

[sneaking in and sitting in the back row, hoping no one notices that she's late]

Oh! Is it my turn? Well, I thought that... it seemed to me... ummm... the dog ate my homework?

[sigh] 'K, I've been really busy with Supreme Ruler Matters, and I kept forgetting to get the movie. I suspect that's because I saw it when it first came out and I found it disappointing. I don't remember any of the lines--heck, I don't remember the plot, the characters, the actors, or whether I had Jr. Mints or Raisinettes. So, I believe I'm safe in sayin' that, IMHO, I rate it: "F" (Forgettable).

And, mebbe also: "ISDA" (Instills Subconscious Desire to Avoid). Ummm... I'm guessin' that I ain't winnin' anything, huh? (Don't even think about sayin', "Yes! You win a copy of the movie!")

Paticus said...

I have not had a chance to re-watch it yet. I plan to this weekend.
I will add my staggeringly brilliant two cents sopmetime this weekend. Sorry about that.
First assignment and I blew it.
Stupid.
Stupid.
Stupid !!

O' Tim said...

OK, review/comments still pending, but I'm curious - did/does anyone rent/own the two-disc Criterion Collection of this film? If everyone says 'no' then I can do a write-up that will really make me look like a smarty-pants film critic/snob. Just Kidding. The features are quite fascinating, in particular Wes' description of the scene where Royal tells his wife he's sick. There's also a an in-depth look at the murals in Ritchie's room, some of which are quite hilarious.

Paticus said...

okay, I am finally holding up my part in this bargain.
i don't want to repeat what everyone else already said, but I re-watched this again on Saturday night, and I still love it.
I like the soundtrack. I think Anderson does a great job of picking appropriate music(even when it's appropriate in its' inappropriatenesss-such as the Charlie Brown christmas music at the meeting between Royal and Margot-which I thought was perfect for the awkward, sort of pointless meeting)
Something that i noticed this watching that I never really noticed before was how Royal's re-entrance into their live's sort of spurred them all to action.They were all sort of stagnant, and then by the end of the movie, their live's have all sort of moved on(Margot with a new play, Richie has at least removed his headband-and moved on from his meltdown/obsession w/Margot, Chgas' has lightened up a bit), Etheline got remarried. I guess thatw a sfairly obvious, but it didn't occur to me in that sense th first time I watched it.
And I happen to think that the casting/acting is very omportant to thsi movie. i think a lot of the lines would have fallen flat had they not been delivered just right.
Sorry i took so long.



"That's 72 unforced errors...He's taken off both of his shoes and one sock, and he appears to be crying."

O' Tim said...

The great thing about being in Film Freaks is that it’s going to get me to look much more closely at films. The crappy thing about being in Film Freaks is that it’s going to get me to look much more closely at films. Thank god for DVD, for this task would be unbearable with VHS.

Looking closer at this film for me was a great thing, as it reminded me of all the reasons why I liked it the first time I saw it casually with the wife soon after it was released on DVD a few years ago. There are several things that I had not noticed or considered after just one viewing (Joe, you are on a mission that I applaud you for if you intend to watch every monthly choice at least twice). It also revealed some flaws which reveal a growth process for the director, and in the case of this film the co-writer as well.

There’s been discussion of pacing, and a suggestion that it’s too slow in this story. I agree with those who said it’s just right, with the caveat that some of the dialogue is aggravatingly dead-end, without even an offbeat or later resolution to it. How many times does Margot say, “It doesn’t matter” in this film? Arrgh. Some of the visual devices were indecipherable, though perhaps they were meant to be, which then adds to the aforementioned complaint. The portrait of the grandmother in the nurse outfit is an example (although Royal does later mention that “she was a tough old broad,” and her tomb which declares her the Salt of the Earth, but it’s still too obscure).

Jen asked, “If you read this as a script instead of seeing it performed, is it still funny?” Taking the liberty to forego the concept of “script,” I’d say as a novel I think this story would be even funnier (Paula may have even liked it!). There’s really too much here to get into one film, and you get a sense of Wes Anderson struggling with that here (his caveat perhaps being the checking out of the library book at the beginning).

As in almost all cases, if this was a 75,000-word novel that was adapted into a film, I think I would have been more disappointed with it if still reserving my usual “hey it’s a movie” rationalization and enjoying the visual aspects. I agree with Jen that the incest/suicide storyline drags the movie, though overall I like Luke Wilson’s portrayal of Richie. I sympathize with Joe’s feeling toward Eli – he is the weak link for me, even with a couple of funny moments like the wedding crasher (haha) scene. Perhaps since Owen Wilson was the co-writer he may have taken this role on purpose?

The story was in fact weird, and it plays up family dysfunction in a delightfully offbeat way. I remember the tagline for the film catching my ear when it first came out – “Family isn’t a word, it’s a sentence.” Classic. While there were no absolutely side-splitting moments, I would not categorize this film as a drama even though it does contain numerous lovely dramatic elements. I like Don’s assessment that the film is “almost like a fable.” I think it very strongly has that feeling.

I’m at a loss as to how Paula concluded the characters in this film to be lifeless. To me Royal is one of the 10 best comedy sonofabitches, right up there with Ratso Rizzo (sorry Jen) and Hedley Lamar.

The beginning sets up Royal leaving, and shows the slow disintegration of the family after his departure. I find it interesting that the adopted Margot seems to suffer the most at first, while natural offspring Chas and Richie continue with ostensibly successful lives for a time. Etheline is still bound to Royal. She never gets a divorce and even goes without sex for 18 years. The coincidence of all of them migrating back to the house on Archer Avenue after all that time is hilarious. I love Chas coming in with the sized Haliburton cases for luggage and the fire extinguisher. Ben Stiller is great in this film. His transformation is moving and well portrayed.

Kos described one of my favorite scenes for its technical merits, where Royal tells Etheline he has cancer. The acting here is superb, especially how she reacts so effectively that Royal is persuaded to confess his ruse, but in the end must stick with it (remember what he said to Henry about being an asshole - “It’s what I do”).

The retro wardrobes and other anachronistic items are great visual devices. I especially like the Gypsy Cabs, and the 375th St. “Y” is another goofy little touch.

The soundtrack is top-notch, if not 100 percent relevant to the film then at least up the dark and ecletic alley of my tastes. As a Devo fan I was pleased to see that Mark Mothersbaugh was the musical director.

Two of the film’s best moments are the montages: Royal corrupting his grandsons to “Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard” and the Margot synopsis to “Judy Is A Punk.” That’s a big thing for me because I usually tend to be montage averse.

My favorite line from the movie? Royal (to Chas): Ha ha! There are no teams!

Other great lines/dialogue:

Royal (to Henry after Etheline introduces them): Hey man, lay it on me!
Henry: How do you do?
Royal: Not too well. I’m dying.

Royal (to Uzi and Ari): What do you think about that? You don’t have to answer that – it’s just kind of a “fuck you” to the old man.

Royal (to priest): Of course I’m half Hebrew but the children are three-quarters Mick Catholic.

Royal (after it is revealed he does not have cancer): I do have high blood pressure.

Royal (upon his expulsion from the house): Take it easy on those boys, Chasie. I don’t want this to happen to you.

“Dr.” Dusty’s pager reading “Smitty worked a double yesterday. Can you sub for him tonight?”

Dudley: This cab has a dent in it.

Jeff Kos said...

"does anyone rent/own the two-disc Criterion Collection of this film?"

yup!

Nobody said...

did/does anyone rent/own the two-disc Criterion Collection of this film

I own it. I love everything having to do with Pagoda. The juggling rocks.

Eden said...

Sorry if I'm repeating what anyone has said so far. This is my first opportunity to post my answers and I haven't gone back to read your comments yet.

1. Like all dark comedies, this film depends on finding the humor in taboo/Not Funny subjects. When did you think they nailed it, and when did you just cringe?

I didn’t find any of the film cringeworthy. I think I took some parts more seriously than humorously (like the incest angle). I felt that the film treated the characters and subject with respect and maybe a winking irreverence. I think what they used in the story wouldn’t have worked outside the dark comedy trappings b/c I think it allowed us a little distance.

2. This is pretty slow-moving for a comedy. If you were editing it, would you have paced it differently? What would you have cut or held a bit longer?

I actually find TRT to be a pretty quick movie. I sit down to watch it and it seems to be over before I know it. I didn’t have any problems with the pacing and I liked the length of shots. It allowed me to concentrate on the rich visuals.

3. The conceit of the story being read from a book: distracting or crucial? How important is Alec Baldwin's narrator to the funny? Is this still pretty much the same movie without him?

I love the narrator. When I saw it in the theater, I remember being particularly attracted to the idea of the book. I see it as a part of the insular world in which the story unfolds. For me it provides a dichotomy of fantasy story (“once upon a time…”) and realism (as if to say “here’s the real, true published story”). Which is it? Which should we believe it to be? Does it matter?

4. How much of the comedy here is delivery versus writing? How crucial is this particular cast? If you read this as a script instead of seeing it performed, is it still funny?

For me, I think it’s excellent writing paired with great casting. I don’t find that TRT has a lot of quotable lines though, for as funny as it is so that makes me think that it’s delivery. Frankly it’s the only time I’ve enjoyed a Gwyneth Paltrow performance. The writing is excellent in terms of structure, storyline, plot arc and character development. In terms of individual scenes, it’s harder to say that the appeal lies in the writing. When I watch the film, I never think “There’s Bill. There’s Gene. There’s Angelica.” I am completely swept up in their characters. I think this insular world that I mentioned before contributes to that power.

5. There are several shots in this movie of Royal alone off to one side, with someone else walking in or out of the shot. What's the point of this and is it effective?

Well it shows us that he’s apart from his family. In the rooftop scene w/ Richie, he is closer than usual but then again he’s closer to Richie than to the other family members. I never really noticed it before so if its purpose was to create a subconscious distance, it worked for me.

6. According to the grave stones in the cemetery, the story takes place in 2000-2001. What do the retro costumes and sets add? How do they reflect the story?

I don’t think they’re “retro” so much as “timeless.” I love the fonts on the books, at the hotel, on the hospital sign, on the taxis and the buses. They’re older fonts that evoke a certain time period but we see them in a contemporary setting. I think it’s part of the fantasy element. I think it’s meant to displace our conception of time. When the story is set isn’t as important as how time has been used and is being used by the characters we see. Maybe it’s supposed to show us that time moves faster than we realize.

7. What do the particular songs chosen for the soundtrack add?

This is my favorite Wes Anderson soundtrack. There’s a wistful quality to the instrumental music especially, a sense of things slipping away. I’m also naturally prejudiced b/c it uses “Stephanie Says” (my name IRL) and The Ramones.

8. For Wes Anderson fans: how does this stack up with his other movies?

I’ve not seen Bottle Rocket but I liked TRT better than Rushmore. TRT is one of my favorite films. My husband preferred Rushmore but he admits that the soundtrack pushes it past TRT for him.

Eden said...

O'Tim: I think that is the version we have. Does it have the art on it w/ the "ship to shore" stuff?

O' Tim said...

Eden - that's the one.

Your comments on the fonts are ironic in that Anderson primarily used Futura, which, ironically, has been around about 80 years.

I can see why film tech geeks are gaga over TRT - it's beautiful.

Nobody said...

31 comments. And the new movie comes out in 2 days. Sigh. You know what the Filminati's problem is? That stupid rule about being nice or respectful or some such horseshit Jeff posted a while back. Ignore that, peeps. You don't get to 50+ comments by being nice. You need to tell other peeps that their opinion is just plain stupid, and the movie just plain sucked, and also that they smell bad and their dogs do too. Geesh.

O' Tim said...

Shut yer piehole, you blogless disgrace to bumpkins everywhere.

How's that, or as Sylvia would say, "What'd I win?"

Nobody said...

Well, I give it a 5.9. You didn't even swear.

Looney said...

I love Chas coming in with the sized Haliburton cases for luggage and the fire extinguisher. Ben Stiller is great in this film. His transformation is moving and well portrayed.

I *lurved* Stiller in this film. Though I could feel everything, his transformation actually brought a tear to my eye. Loved it.

Oh, and Jen? You're an ambisexual walnut!

Heh! Got you now!