The Substance of Style, Pt 5

The prologue to The Royal Tenenbaums, annotated
by Matt Zoller Seitz   posted Apr 13, 2009

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Hi Matt, it looks on my browser that the full text is gone. Could you fix that? Thx. Btw, what a great and lovely book you've done! My wife and I loved it. I hope my one year daughter will eventually love it as well. :)
Sacredfighter   posted 28.10.13

Can't see the video. Anyone help with this?
CastorTroy   posted 09.11.12

Hey, Katie: To answer your question, I did mean The New Yorker, the magazine. Should've put that in italics or underlined, I guess.
Matthew Seitz   posted 04.09.09

Hi Matt, I found this to be very nicely done; thanks so much. A small point of (rather minor, and perhaps obvious, clarification): over the shot of young Chaz choosing a tie from his tie rack, you note "A very New Yorker choice of words...." My assumption is that you were referring to The New Yorker, the publication, and not a New Yorker, as in an average citizen of New York. I'm in the middle of a paper commenting on the intertext of Salinger in The Royal Tenenbaums, and I don't want to misconstrue your meaning if I decide to cite you! Thanks.
Katie   posted 25.08.09

Incredibly insightful. Thanks so much!
D-Man   posted 20.04.09

Oh boy, was this wonderful. Wish there was more of this sort of video essay. Beautifully and affectionately composed too. Great work, Matt. I'd like to add one more filmmaker I'd consider a clear influence: Stanley Kubrick. The immaculate art direction, the near-constant centering of subjects in shots, and an affection for the font Futura Extra Bold all strongly recall Kubrick. Small critical note if you do a version 2: I had trouble keeping up with some of the titling, particularly in this last segment. I think narration would work better. Off to get me some Ashby now.
Kirby Ferguson   posted 16.04.09

Thanks, Ian--Didn"t know about either of those (though somebody called the "Mixed Up Files" reference to my attention via email). Hopefully I'll be able to upload an appended/corrected cut at some point. Thanks for being so attentive!
Matthew Seitz   posted 14.04.09

A correction and addition: That's not the NY Public Library seen as the "museum," but the U.S. Customs House hard by Battery Park: And that section of the prologue is an out-and-out homage to the 1968 book, FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER -- you may know this and have left it out (apparently Anderson mentions it in his commentary) but for those of us who grew up reading that book over and over (and imagining a fictional NYC we wanted to live in that's not too different from Anderson's version), it's an immediate tip-off as to the world of this film:
Ian W. Hill   posted 14.04.09

Thanks, Joe. I know how you feel. I've been immersed in Anderson and many of the films/filmmakers that influenced him for six weeks now, and you'd think I'd be tired of him and want a break. But my 11-year old daughter, who'd been sort of peeking over my shoulder as I edited, got interested in the films (she'd only seen "Rushmore") and we've since watched three other Anderson films in the last few days. It was a fun experience and yet again, I noticed new details and grace notes that eluded me all the other times I'd seen the films -- which to me proves what a rich and surprising director he is.
Matthew Seitz   posted 14.04.09

Matt. Thanks for a wonderful series. It makes me want to re-watch Anderson's catalog (and Ashby, Scorsese, and Welles, while I'm at it). I hate that it's over.
Joe Johnson   posted 13.04.09


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Courtesy The Criterion Collection
Anjelica Huston, Aram Aslanian-Persico, Irene Gorovaia, Amedeo Turturro and Gene Hackman in The Royal Tenenbaums, directed by Wes Anderson


The Substance of Style, Pt 1 by Matt Zoller Seitz
The Substance of Style, Pt 2 by Matt Zoller Seitz
The Substance of Style, Pt 5 by Matt Zoller Seitz
The Substance of Style, Pt 4 by Matt Zoller Seitz
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Matt Zoller Seitz is a writer and filmmaker whose debut feature, the romantic comedy Home, is available through Netflix and Amazon. His writing on film and television has appeared in The New York Times, New York Press, and The Star Ledger, among other places. He is also the founder of The House Next Door, a movie and TV criticism website.

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Author's Website: The House Next Door