Thursday, April 23, 2009
THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS AND JOHN IRVING
Watching Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums again, I think I put my finger on the exact comic tone of the movie: it's that combination of absurdity and sentimentality we find in the novels of John Irving. In fact, Tenenbaums probably captures the Irving tone better than any of the Irving adaptations I've seen--perhaps even better than The Cider House Rules. If I were asked to make a list (a few months premature) of the best movies of the 00s, I'd include Tenenbaums, Adaptation, There Will Be Blood, Letters From Iwo Jima, O Brother Where Art Thou, Gosford Park, Mulholland Drive, Amelie, Fahrenheit 9/11, Gangs of New York, Amores Perros, and doubtless a few from '08 and '09 that I haven't seen yet. A tentative Top Eleven list, as absurd as any other. Tenenbaums impressed me even more on this second viewing as an especially rich film, one with enough interesting characters and situations for at least three ordinary movies. And that's undoubtedly another thing that reminds me of Irving: the movie is novelistically rich. Specifically, it's Dickensian in its wealth of eccentric characters and Irvingesque in its combination of sentimentality and dark absurdity. The climactic car crash is an especially Garpian touch.