DVD review

This Unhappy Brood

They don't make films like this any more. Except modern-day auteur Wes (Rushmore) Anderson does with his best movie to date—a dysfunctional family comedy which recalls the quirky '70s prime of Nichols, Altman or Ashby. A deliciously devilish Gene Hackman plays Royal Tenenbaum, the estranged patriarch of a shabby-genteel Upper Manhattan dynasty whose early promise crumbled following Dad's untimely departure. Weaseling his way back into the family home, Royal attempts to make peace with his embittered ex-wife (Anjelica Huston) and majestically fucked-up offspring (Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson).

Framed as a bogus literary adaptation and peppered with novelistic touches, Anderson's semi-autobiographical masterpiece boasts a spiffing Stones-to-Ramones soundtrack and inhabits an offbeat, washed-out, parallel universe New York of the imagination. Featuring Bill Murray, Danny Glover and co-writer Owen Wilson among its first-division ensemble cast, The Royal Tenenbaums is melancholic yet life-affirming, gloriously pointless but richly intoxicating.

Rating: 3 / 10

Retail dvd & vhs (buena vista home entertainment, widescreen)


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Weird serendipities aplenty this week: versions of "O, Death" on two albums I downloaded one after another, by Mike & Cara Gangloff and Bessie Jones; dovetailing into Sea Island overlap between Jones and Loscil. It makes for a nice blurring between time and genre with, say, the Gangloffs...