Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Royal Tenenbaums

Wes Anderson Movies Power Ranking 2014

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1. Rushmore (1998)
2. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
3. The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
4. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
5. “Hotel Chevalier” & The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
6. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
7. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
8. Bottle Rocket (1996)

In general I would say that Anderson’s career seems to me to be divided between two clear periods: films about failed genius (Bottle Rocket through Darjeelingand about fairy-tale genius (Fantastic through Hotel.) That is: in the first period we find characters whose attempts to realize their creative potential are hamstrung by their inability to move past sadness, with the arc of the movie generally allowing them to expiate that sadness and move on (Max finds love and can write again; Royal’s children forgive him; Zissou grieves; the brothers literally abandon the baggage they’ve been carrying around the entire film). But the films of the second period, unlike the first, are dominated by characters who cannot lose: Mr. Fox is temporarily troubled but ultimately unflappable, always fantastic; Suzy and Sam are able to bend the unforgiving adult world to the service of their love; M. Gustave’s poise, control, and total mastery over social convention never fail him except in the face of maximum fascism in the moment of his heroic death. The all-pervading sadness of the first films persists in the fairy tale films, but only in the background, in the side characters who threaten to, but never quite, take over the main narrative: F. Murray Abraham’s adult Zero; The Bishops and Captain Sharp; Fox’s less-than-fantastic son. My gloss on Anderson’s recent “fairy tale” films is that they feel, generally, like the stories the characters from the “failed genius” period attempted, but failed, to craft about themselves. Moonrise Kingdom feels very strongly like one of Max’s or Margot’s plays; the story the Reader reads of the Author’s recounting of Zero’s telling of M. Gustave’s life feels like a cut from one of the films from the heroic era of Zissou Society, and is quite literally the lie Royal gets engraved on his tombstone: “Died tragically rescuing his [friend] from the wreckage of a [country sinking into fascism].” The ironic cruel-optimism gap between potential and reality that dominated the early films, that crucial space of failure, is strongly pushed off center stage in the later ones — and I think that’s why, while I love them all, I think the later ones are generally a bit worse.

But I wonder if The Grand Budapest Hotel won’t improve a bit, in my estimation, upon subsequent viewings; while a strong sense of entropic breakdown runs throughout the setting, especially in the subtle architectural sublime of the Budapest itself as it falls into ruin, the anti-climatic “shock” of the abrupt ending permanently hurls us out of the fairy tale back to a world structured by failure and loss. Unlike Fox and Moonrise, which never deviate from the inner logic of a children’s story, The Grand Budapest Hotel can really only be viewed that way once. When M. Gustave’s magic finally fails at the end of the film, as it always had to, the fairy tale dispells and only the elegy is left; we’re actually left at the end of Hotel in a world darker and sadder than any found in the earlier films, a world where we seem to have neither the compensations of art nor friendship, where grief never fades, where the intricately constructed dollhouse becomes instead a tomb.

Wednesday! Night! Links!

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* I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity.

* Ambivalent campus benchmarks watch: Today is “Tuition Runs Out Day” at Marquette.

The MOOC Revolution: A Sketchy Deal for Higher Education.

The promoters of MOOCs claim to see universities as dinosaurs, but their business model is parasitic upon the very institutions they claim to be rendering obsolete. Udacity designs its own curricula rather than aggregating pre-existing university courses like Coursera and EdX, but without the Stanford credentials and backgrounds of its founders it is highly unlikely it would have gone anywhere. The affiliation provides startup companies with a highly desirable brand: the “top tier” of higher education, according to the U.S. News and World Report (which always rates the wealthiest and most selective schools as the best). A similar motive drives the colleges themselves: much like encouraging over-application to enhance their selectivity and thereby their U.S. News ranking, or establishing campuses in Abu Dhabi, China, and Singapore, the promotion of MOOCs is a way for highly competitive university administrators to enhance global brand visibility and give themselves an aura of cutting-edge innovation. The media’s celebratory response confirms the initial success of the strategy.

* From Cal’s student regent: “Online education: proceed with caution.”

CUNY Loses Landmark Discrimination Lawsuit.

* It’s a curiosity of literary history that Corelli’s fantasy virgin, unwrinkled and slim waisted, would give rise to one of its most grotesque, tragically despoiled characters. But without Corelli’s Thelma, there would be no Gollum.

* Secrets of a Feminist Icon: The Anti-Union History of Rosie the Riveter.

* The Malware-Industrial Complex.

No law directly regulates the sale of zero-days in the United States or elsewhere, so some traders pursue it quite openly. A Bangkok-based security researcher who goes by the name The Grugq tweets about acting as a middleman and has spoken to the press about negotiating deals worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with government buyers from the United States and western Europe. In an argument on Twitter last month, he denied that his business is equivalent to arms dealing, as critics within and outside the computer security community have charged. “An exploit is a component of a toolchain,” he tweeted. “The team that produces & maintains the toolchain is the weapon.”

* Judge Rules White Girl Will Be Tried As Black Adult.

Climate Hawk Obama: ‘If Congress Won’t Act Soon To Protect Future Generations, I Will.’

Unpaid Internships Are a Rich-Girl Problem—and Also a Real Problem.

The famous 1996 Election Day crossword puzzle.

* The blue eyes / brown eyes experiment, 1968.

* The rich are different from you and me: they’ve captured 121% of income gains during the recovery. You read that right, more than 100%.

* “You could safely say that Iceland holds the world record in household debt relief,” said Lars Christensen, chief emerging markets economist at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen. “Iceland followed the textbook example of what is required in a crisis. Any economist would agree with that.”

* Zounds! Credit agencies ripping everybody off. I’m shocked, shocked…

* In the largest false memory study to date, 5,269 participants were asked about their memories for three true and one of five fabricated political events. Each fabricated event was accompanied by a photographic image purportedly depicting that event. Approximately half the participants falsely remembered that the false event happened, with 27% remembering that they saw the events happen on the news.

* Defense Nerds Strike Back: A Symposium on the Battle of Hoth. will be tracking this important story as far as it goes.

* Proved: Wertham fudged his data for Seduction of the Innocent.

* What is fracking?

* An ‘Autopsy’ Of Detroit Finds Resilience In A Struggling City.

* Car gets stuck at 125 mph for over an hour.

Lecerf, frantic, called the police from his car — and they sent an escort that The Guardian describes as “a platoon of police cars” to help him navigate a highway full of fellow cars and get them to swerve out of the way of the speeding car. (Lecerf stayed, appropriately, in the fast lane.) What resulted was a small miracle of technological coordination: Responding to emergency services’ advance warnings, three different toll booths raised their barriers as Lecerf approached. A police convoy ensured that roads were kept clear for the speeding car. Fellow drivers, obligingly, got out of the way. Emergency services patched Lecerf through to a Renault engineer who tried — though failed — to help Lecerf get the speeding car to slow down.

* And the reason for the season: Wes Anderson valentines.


Finally My Condition Has a Name

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Can the Boy Tell Time? Oh, My Lord, No

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Freaks and Geeks and The Royal Tenenbaums were two of the most influential comedies of the last decade. They are also the only credits on Sheppard’s CV.

Whatever happened to Dudley Heinsbergen?

Written by gerrycanavan

June 13, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Wes Anderson Cornell Boxes

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Photos of Jaimee’s Wes Anderson Cornell boxes, at Flickr.

Infinite Summer #4: You, Me, and Everyone We Know

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Rather short Infinite Summer post from me this time around as I put together all the things that need to be put together for my late-summer stint as an instructor at the Duke University Institute for Gifted Youngsters. Like last year, posting will be somewhat slow the next three weeks; I’ll mostly be posting only in the very early morning, at night, and on weekends, with occasional daytime posts here and there whenever I’m able to commit a little time theft.

With IGY on my mind, I was really struck by footnote 76, which provides as good a summary as you’ll find of the inner life of anyone stamped “gifted” when they are young, not just Hal Incandenza but also my IGY students and me and most of the people who have become my close friends over the years and maybe you as well:

Hal Incandenza had been thought for a while as a toddler to have some sort of Attention Deficit Disorder—partly because he read so fast and spent so little time on each level of various pre-CD-ROM video games, partly because just about any upscale kid even slightly to port or starboard of the bell curve’s acme was thought at that time to have A.D.D.—and for a while there’d been a certain amount of specialist-shuttling, and many of the specialists were veterans of Mario and were preconditioned to see Hal as also damaged, but thanks to the diagnostic savvy of Brandeis’s Child Development Center the damage assessments were not only retracted but reversed way out to the other side of the Damaged-to-Gifted spectrum, and for much of the glabrous part of his childhood Hal’d been classified as somewhere between “Borderline Gifted” and “Gifted”—though part of this high cerebral rank was because B.C.D.C.’s diagnostic tests weren’t quite so keen when it came to distinguishing between raw neural gifts and the young Hal’s monomaniacally obsessive interest and effort, as if Hal were trying as if his very life were in the balance to please some person or persons, even though no one had ever even hinted that his life depended on seeming gifted or precocious or even exceptionally pleasing—and when he’d committed to memory entire dictionaries and vocab-check software and syntax manuals and then had gotten some chance to recite some small part of what he’d pounded into his RAM for a proudly nonchalant mother or even a by-this-time-as-far-as-he-was-concerned-pretty-much-out-there father, at these times of public performance and pleasure—the Weston M.A. school district in the early B.S. 1990s had had interschool range-of-reading-and-recall spelling-beeish competitions called “Battle of the Books,” which these were for Hal pretty much of a public turkey-shoot and approval-fest—when he’d extracted what was desired from memory and faultlessly pronounced it before certain persons, he’d felt almost that same pale sweet aura that an LSD afterglow conferred, some milky corona, like almost a halo of approved grace, made all the milkier by the faultless nonchalance of a Moms who made it clear that his value was not contingent on winning first or even second prize, ever.

The incredibly slippery slope from this sort of childhood precociousness to adult dysfunction is something we’ve talked about here once or twice before in connection with the films of Wes Anderson, whose thematically similar The Royal Tenenbaums pops up around the fringes of IJ discussion quite a bit. And we can see now what a hard-luck case I really am: thirty years old and I’m still a student, still chasing the same damn high.

Most of the rest of what I’d have to say about today’s spoiler line was already covered in my post last week on DFW, addiction, and suicide, for which Joelle is something of an exemplary case. This weekend’s pages were pretty much all Joelle, all the time, not that I’m complaining. She’s an interesting character and somehow able to bring us closer to the mind of Himself than anyone else we’ve met thus far.

Tuesday, Tuesday

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Tuesday, I’ll never forget you.

* Precision Hacking: 4chan hacks a Time poll not just at the top but all the way down.

* In the fifth and final installment of his Wes Anderson series, Matt Zoller Seitz annotates the prologue to The Royal Tenenbaums.

* You and I know it’s fair and balanced, but believe it or not there are those who argue that the reporting on Fox may show a slight rightward tilt.

* On the making of Swamp Thing #20.

* And Blographia Literaria calls FAIL on

Written by gerrycanavan

April 14, 2009 at 4:51 pm