Best of the Decade #15

by robbiefreeling
December 14, 2009 4:00 AM
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In a decade when American studios seemed to discontinue serious dramas, or cynically relegate them to their independent divisions, one of the most poignant and heartrending stories of family came from a filmmaker blindly decried as a purveyor of dollhouse quirk and precocity. While wavelets of European and Asian filmmakers continued to respond to Hollywood with various counter-aesthetics of long takes, temps mort, and empirical narratives, Wes Anderson lavished attention on the individuality of his characters and their surroundings with the elaborate production design of an old Hollywood musical and the connoisseurship of a subsequent admiring French New Waver (plus the camera-angle tendencies of a Joseph Cornell box).

Grandly and ambitiously titled after Welles’s dynasty-mythologizing The Magnificent Ambersons, The Royal Tenenbaums provided Anderson’s greatest canvas yet: a “family of geniuses” with every excuse for full elaboration on their dysfunctions and paraphernalia, with a majestic-shabby homestead to linger over and make look lived-in. Read Nicolas Rapold on The Royal Tenenbaums.

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