At this moment, The Royal Tenenbaums is my favorite movie of all time. Hands down, no contest. If you had asked me a few years ago it would have been in my top 10, maybe top 5 movies. In the distant past I might have said Blade Runner, The Third Man, or The Big Lebowski. Right now, I’m confident that it’s Wes Anderson for the win and likely will be for a very long time.
I grew up about an hour outside of New York City. Because of that I got to visit the city a lot, to go to museums, the theater, and the usual tourist traps. In high school I had a girlfriend who was from New York. Her parents had sent her to live with her sister in my town, where the quality of public education was higher and the neighborhood was safer. We visited several time.
The New York that Anderson shows is a lot closer to the city that I got to know. I met a lot of educated people with quirks and pretentions. Living there had worn the shine off for them, though. They had no illusions that while it was a special place, it was also just a place. People grew up there and worked there. Beneath the glamour that outsiders saw on television and in the movies, it was refreshingly ordinary.
Film as Literature
The Royal Tenenbaums also dovetails into my fascination with J.D. Salinger’s Glass family stories. It conjured up Booth Tarkington’s novel The Magnificent Ambersons, and the butchered and lost Orson Wells film version. The characters are quirky, funny, and poignant, and everyone is perfectly cast. I don’t think there’s a bad performance in the entire film.
While it’s a gorgeous piece of filmmaking, and arguably Anderson’s best, it feels like a novel. It’s meant to, as the chapter cutaways show. It feels like reading a book. Every time I watch it, I notice little details that I’d missed before. It is infintely rewatchable for me.
What’s Your Favorite Movie of All Time?
How would you answer this question, reader?
Do you have questions you’d like to ask me? Leave them in the comments below, and I might answer them in a future post! Thanks for participating!