HTF REVIEW: "The Royal Tenenbaums" (CRITERION) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jun 26, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    The Royal Tenenbaums




    Studio: Touchstone
    Year: 2001
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 110 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.40:1)



    You Are Invited To A Remarkable Family Gathering
    This is perhaps one of the hardest reviews I
    have ever written because as I sit here typing
    these words, I still don't quite know if I really
    enjoyed The Royal Tenenbaums or not.
    I have to admit, there were several times during
    the first 30 minutes of this movie that I wanted
    to turn it off. I was forming letters of apology
    to Disney within my head for not reviewing the DVD
    they sent me. But remarkably, the more I stayed
    with this film, the more I slowly got into the
    absurdity of it all.
    [​IMG]
    From Director Wes Anderson (Rushmore) comes the
    story of The Tenenbaum family who has inhabited
    a beautiful three-story brownstone on the Upper
    West Side since their three "genius children,"
    Chas (Ben Stiller), Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), and
    Richie (Luke Wilson) were born approximately 30
    years ago. Gene Hackman (in a performance that
    is nothing short of amazing), is a mustachioed
    chain smoker and unattentive a father who is
    separated from his level-headed wife, Ethel
    (Anjelica Huston).
    [​IMG]
    The kids grow up to be very strange in the
    Tenenbaum household. One becomes a business
    genius, another a famous playwright and the
    other a world famous tennis pro. There is
    also the boy next door Eli (Owen Wilson), who
    forever wants to be a Tenenbaum.
    Royal decides late in life that he'd like to
    reunite with his family, and therefore concocts
    a scheme that results in him moving back home
    with the children and ex-wife even though she's
    about to remarry, to her longtime accountant
    (Danny Glover).
    I suppose the reason this film placed on many
    of the critic's top 10 lists of last year was
    simply because The Royal Tenenbaums is
    rich in original, fascinating and hilarious
    characters. This stellar cast of actors are
    seen in ways you have never before imagined.
    Watch Gwyneth Paltrow in a very untypical
    role for that may be her best performance yet.
    [​IMG]
    So, I sit here typing these words and wondering
    what I really thought of the film. I was captivated
    by the highly entertaining visual style of this
    film which is told in storybook fashion (narrated
    by Alec Baldwin) where almost every frame of the
    film looks like something out of a comic book.
    Even more impressing was the diverse rock soundtrack
    that helps set the mood for both humorous and
    forewarned moments.
    How is the transfer?
    The overall transfer of this film looks simply
    terrific. I was rather amazed at how vivid colors
    could get on a transfer like this before becoming
    oversaturated. Filled with vibrant yellows and
    reds (especially the red jump suits), the color
    levels peak higher than most any other movie I
    have seen before, yet just barely stay out of the
    oversaturation zone. The print is flawless, and
    the only problem I had was the smallest evidence
    of video noise throughout.
    [​IMG]
    Though this DVD contains an additional DTS 5.1
    track, I found it to be completely wasted on a
    film that really doesn't make use of it. As I
    sat watching this film, I rarely heard any noise
    come from the rear channels. In fact, not until
    halfway through the film as Hackman and Huston
    walk through Central Park, did I heard the very
    first sounds of the background city in the rears.
    From that point on, it was the few outdoor scenes
    that followed that contained hints of ambient noise.
    The lack of rear channel output can be easily be
    forgiven by the strong and robust front channels
    that give off superior stereo separation. The
    film's rock soundtrack comes across with such
    deep resounding bass that you will find your feet
    tapping along in no time.
    Special Features
    The Royal Tenenbaums has been released
    in a deluxe 2-disc CRITERION edition. As
    anyone knows, Criterion sets the standard in
    providing superior transfers and supplements in
    all their releases. This is no exception.
    [​IMG]
    I must first talk about the packaging. Arriving
    in a cardboard slipcase that mimics a book, the
    inner plastic housing slips out to reveal a cover
    adorned with artwork by Eric Anderson.
    [​IMG]
    Inside the cover you immediately find two small
    pamphlets, one of is Kent Jone's insight into
    Director Wes Anderson's film, and the other
    containing interesting artwork by Eric Anderson
    of the Tenenbaum house, which maps out every floor
    and room, pointing out the most intricate details
    and objects of each.
    [​IMG]
    Disc One contains the movie that contains
    both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtracks.
    The film also features a full-length commentary
    by writer/director Wes Anderson.
    [​IMG]
    Disc Two houses the bulk of supplemental
    features that are divided into eight specific
    chapters.
    Let's begin with The Scrapbook
    This entire section is devoted to the many
    paintings and images found in the film.
    [​IMG]
    Photographer James Hamilton presented a slide
    show of for the wrap party of the film. You can't
    help but be highly amused by these beautifully
    photographed images that show the cast and
    filmmakers in some very candid moments.
    [​IMG]
    One of the most absurd and hilarious images
    from the film are the paintings that hang in
    Eli Cash's apartment. Here, we get a close-up
    look at the two paintings by artist Miguel
    Calderon. A public radio broadcast is included
    for your listening pleasure that explains how
    these paintings ended up in the film.
    Eric Chase Anderson provided the many portraits
    of Richie Tenenbaums's sister, Margot, that
    appeared in the film. Using your remote, you can
    step through each of these portraits for a closer
    look.
    [​IMG]
    Storyboards features excerpts from Wes
    Anderson's annoted script pages that you can
    thumb through. Smaller televisions may provide
    more difficulty reading the script's small print.
    A whole area is dedicated to the murals that
    adorn the bedroom of Richie Tenenbaum. Detailed
    illustrations are provided by Eric Chase Anderson.
    [​IMG]
    The Tenenbaums certainly enjoyed a lot of media
    publicity either by the books they wrote, or the
    articles that were published about them. This
    section shows us all the book and magazine covers
    that appear throughout the film.
    Two very easy to find EASTER EGGS (boy I love
    having these put in plain sight) shows some plate
    spinning by Kumar Pallana at the film's wrap party
    and Anjelica Huston blowing out a birthday cake
    that sets her hair on fire.
    The next section is The Peter Bradley Show
    [​IMG]
    Designed as being a farce, this interview never
    takes itself too seriously as we are introduced to
    actors that have played small parts in Wes Anderson
    films. Thought its meant to be a joke, I found
    myself skimming through it due to overall boredom.
    Much too long for its own good.
    (length: approx. 14 minutes)
    The next section is dedicated to Trailers
    Two of the film's original theatrical trailers
    are included. Simply press PLAY and both trailers
    play against each other. You cannot individually
    select each one you wish to play.
    The next section is With The Filmmaker
    [​IMG]
    An excellent documentary (a portrait by Albert
    Maysles) that plays as a film diary. Shot with
    no narration, we are taken on very candid tours
    of the principal set of the Tenenbaum house and
    its inner construction; the trainer discussing
    how he is going to bring his bird into the shot;
    storyboard drawing; Wes Anderson directing Luke
    Wilson making an entry into a house window at
    night; at the editing consoles; decorating the
    walls of Richie's room. This is a fascinating
    look at putting the film together, done in a
    style that sets the viewer free of any narrative
    boundaries.
    (length: approx. 26 minutes)
    Let us take a look at Cut Scenes
    I was surprised with a film of this magnitude,
    that there are only two deleted scenes
    included. Even more sad is the fact that both
    are very short, with the longer cut involving a
    dinner scene between Glover and Huston. There
    is absolutely nothing of added value here.
    Finally, we come to Interviews
    [​IMG]
    Nine personal interviews of the personal cast
    that includes Gene Hackman, Gwenyth Paltrow, Bill
    Murray and Anjelica Huston can be selected with
    your remote by clicking on the corresponding
    painting. The actors basically talk about their
    individual characters. What is sort of frustrating
    here is that each of these interviews contain a
    considerable amount of video noise.
    Final Thoughts
    As I end this interview, I find myself still
    unsure of The Royal Tenenbaums. While I
    can truly understand its brilliance, I find it
    very difficult to outright recommend this film
    to everyone, as it won't be everyone's cup of tea.
    [​IMG]
    At the very least, I must confess that this
    movie restores my faith in Hollywood for producing
    a film that is totally original, filled with
    quirky, offbeat yet intellectual humor. It has
    forever burned images in my mind and carried
    thoughts with me even days later. That should
    give you an encouraging sign that the movie is
    growing on me favorably.
    Those who have seen this film and enjoyed it,
    owe it to themselves to purchase this Criterion
    edition that is chock-full of great supplements.
    Those who have never seen the film should not
    buy it blindly, but rather test the waters first
    with a rental.
    Release Date: July 9, 2002
     
  2. HenrikTull

    HenrikTull Second Unit

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    This is so mine... anyone know if there's any differences between the US and the Canadian release? Thanks.
     
  3. Paul_D

    Paul_D Cinematographer

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  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Hi, Paul!

    I am not on Criterion's list. I was actually
    sent this screener because I am on Disney's list.

    I would like to be on Criterion's list, but
    to be honest, I receive more than 10 DVDs a
    week to screen from all the various studios
    and I had to cut back somewhere. Though I
    love what Criterion does, their titles are
    often a bit obscure for my taste, though I
    own several of their more mainstream titles.

    I would certainly welcome Criterion to add
    me to their list, though I am not going out
    of my way to request so at this time, as I
    am the sole DVD reviewer for this forum (as
    it will remain) and I have so much on my plate
    already.
     
  5. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Can I get on the Criterion mailing list? [​IMG]
    Nice review, Ron. Personally, I loved The Royal Tenenbaums and will be first in line to pick up a copy.
     
  6. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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  7. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

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    This one is a keeper for me, it was part of my Top 10 of last year. A great quirky and genuinely funny film.

    What I want to know is, why isn't Owen Wilson on the commentary track? Apart from being Co-Writer and Actor the guy is one of the funniest people around at the moment. Is he to busy at the moment for a commentary?
     
  8. ChrisMatson

    ChrisMatson Cinematographer

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    I will definitely be bringing this one home. Thanks for the review.
     
  9. John Bryant

    John Bryant Second Unit

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  10. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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  11. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    My copy was shipped from a Canadian e-tailer (who I will not name) yesterday, and I'm quite psyched. Thanks for the review, Ron.

    DJ
     
  12. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    I have one question about the packaging, is it a fat double alpha like most two disc criterion sets, or is it the slim double size like gladiator and AI?

    I can't wait to get this film, the 9th can't come soon enough!!

    Adam
     
  13. Sean Moon

    Sean Moon Cinematographer

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    Cant wait to get this either. Have been waiting to see the transfer. The cinematography in this film is to die for. THe framing of every shot is perfect, just look at the screen shots!
     
  14. Wes C

    Wes C Supporting Actor

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    I have had my copy pre-ordered for about two months. After reading this i really cannot wait any longer. Goor review Ron, did you ever see Rushmore or Bottle Rocket?
     
  15. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    I saw no unusual artifacts in the transfer.
    Overall, it looked very smooth on my
    Panasonic RP91.
    No, I have never seen any of Wes's former
    films. Don't know if I want to as The
    Royal Tenenbaums took some getting
    used to.
    You know, the more I think of this movie
    the more I like it. It really needs to
    grow on you for a few days.
    Enjoy, guys!
     
  16. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    I'm almost embarrassed to ask this as, but what kind of case does it come in?

    I'd have thought double Alpha, as that's much more book-like proportions (given the design of the slipcase).
     
  17. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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  18. Michael St. Clair

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    Ron,

    You are spending too much time reviewing crap like 'Thirteen Ghosts' and 'Pearl Harbor' and not enough time in the movie theater! 'The Royal Tenenbaums' on film was a sight to behold.

    'Rushmore' is a must see. It's also probably a little more accessible for the mainstream crowd.
     
  19. Tim RH

    Tim RH Second Unit

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    I personally thought The Royal Tenenbaums was one of last year's very best films, though apparently most critics didn't agree with me for some reason. Most comedies don't make me laugh anymore, but this one sure did! [​IMG]
    And I agree, the cinematography is perfection.
     
  20. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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