Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Well It Can't Be Very Good for Your Eyes Anyway"

The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001

This is a submission for Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series at The Film Experience, a great series that I don't get to participate in as much as I should. But considering Tenenbaums is one of my all-time favorite movies, how could I not? I saw it on the big screen for the first time last fall as the New York Film Festival celebrated the film's 10th anniversary, and talk about a jewel box of stuff to look at, all the way to the edges of the screen. I know Wes Anderson takes a lot of shit for being so precious in his art direction, but it's what I love about him. Who ever said that cold and sparse was the only respectable way to kit out your movie?

This particular frame called out to be because it's not the usual Anderson Frame of either a character or object in dead center. I initially wanted a frame of Margot tapping her wooden finger on something, as it's my favorite running gag of the movie. But this shot is even better: the very picture of cocooned inertia, with Margot's bathroom crash pad (complete with mini-TV oh-so-safely tethered to the radiator) being invaded by interventionist Etheline. Only, as always, Etheline's best of intentions end up manifesting as concerned mothering, which only ends up allowing her gifted children to cocoon themselves further. Anjelica Huston is so perfect in this movie. Her dress and posture here are pure child-therapist, but her voice is so kind and accommodating. Of course she's going to let Margot move home. And then Margot's foot! Invading the frame, that one chaotic element that signals both physical danger (that precariously perched TV!) and emotional peril (not having the energy to get up and change the channel is a classic symptom of depression).



i'm so glad you single Anjelica out. It's really a brilliant piece of both character work and not doing too much or too little with a character who is rarely the focus.

one of hte great unsung supporting performances of the Aughts I think.

Joe Reid said...

Agreed. No room on the ballot for her either, since as good as she is, Gwyneth gets in ahead of her. Do you recall a campaign for Gwyneth at all for RT? If she gives that performance today, she gets in.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I love that even though this is about Anjelica, it turns into being about Margot. It's a weird thing to say because they only have two scenes together, but my favourite beats (or one one them) is the rapport between these two and I'd probably single this out for my favourite single scene.

Also, YES on Anjelica. She's just bringing so much to this performance, and so effectively too bringing the warmth in the places you'd least expect and selling it so hard.