Sunday, July 07, 2002

The second thing that I want to rattle on about, other than the inexplicably arsey attitude of the guy who just served me in York's branch of Borders, is the fact that I'm going to see "Minority Report" this afternoon at the grand old city's resplendent, and only slightly arty, City Screen complex.

Those of you who peruse these pages regularly will be only too aware that I am nothing if not a complete THX tart and can't get enough of low-frequency bass which rearranges your internal organs, high-frequency digital notes which threaten to remove your fillings and the general "Bigger, Louder, Faster, More" ethos of a theatrical presentation which so engages the senses that it can even make the likes of "Captain Correlli's Mandolin" pretty much bearable.

Expect an actual reviewing attempt sometime early in the week, when I regain my hearing and have had more than two seconds sleep - It's been one of those Asthma-related insomnia sessions for me, I'm afraid...


A swifter than usual First Season update today, partly because I'm posting it from an Internet Exchange branch in York, and mostly because I have some spooky, deep cover business to attend to (Is that about right, K?).

The first thing that you need to be aware of is the general genius of Wes Anderson's latest masterpiece, "The Royal Tenenbaums", which is so good that it very nearly floored me on my viewing of it last night (A big "Huzzup!" goes out to the good people at Future Entertainment who sold me my two-disc, Criterion Collection set for the almost insultingly cheap price of £12.99, and shipped it to me in double-quick time). Ladies and gentlemen? Buy yourself a multi-region DVD player.

The storytelling, which mostly concerns the odd entanglements and anxieties of a rather well-to-do and terminally eccentric family of geniuses in a blissfully imaginary New York City, is easily on a par with Anderson's previous films, "Bottle Rocket" and "Rushmore" (If you haven't seen it, why not? Go and rent it now...), and might even surpass them on some levels - There's a really neat balance in this movie between tragedy and absurd farce that few other filmmakers could pull off.

The acting is uniformly sublime, but you'll be wanting to pay particular attention to Gene Hackman as the titular, and truly awful patriach, Royal Tenenbaum, who takes the noble art of living vicariously through his children to new heights of crassness and horror - It's a superb bit of comic characterisation which apparently wasn't worthy of much critical attention. Go figure. The ensemble here is terrific too, with splendid work coming from the brothers Wilson (That would be Luke and Owen), Danny Glover, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, a not immeadiately recognizable Bill Murray and the very wonderful Angelica Houston. There are no weak links here.

The extras are generous and form an actual connection to the fictional universe created in the film - This is a package made by reknowned film archivists and all-round swell guys, The Criterion Collection, and they know what they're doing. Happily, they've found an eager collaborator in director Anderson, who supervised the film's flawless digital transfer and contributes a commentary track that I look forward to listening to. The box art is truly gorgeous, and rendered in the storybook style which runs through the Tenenbaum house's production design and the film's stylised, on screen 'Chapter Headings'.

If my friend Richard is reading this - The DTS 5.1 sound is warm, involving and, despite not being a non-stop sonic orgy of digital gunfire and explosions, more than acceptable. The score and songs are particularly well-delivered and clearly well-considered.

On this evidence, I'll be upgrading my generic region 2 copy of "Rushmore" and swapping it for the Criterion edition which came out a year or so ago. It should be as much of a treat as this dark, yet curiously life-affirming comedy is on DVD.

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