Tag: The Royal Tenenbaums

Nice Fur Coat

by on Dec.02, 2009, under Movies

Beyond their compatible tones and themes, though, Salinger’s and Anderson’s work display a similar approach to characterization—a kind of ornamental realism that suggests Gustave Flaubert’s journalistic romanticism, with its obsessive worrying over the rightness of each word and phrase, only updated and pushed to the brink of caricature, sometimes beyond. The style is rooted in the notion that character can be signified, revealed, perhaps even distilled, through observable details.

–Matt Zoller Seitz, The Substance of Style Pt 4

Margot Tenenbaum’s fur coat shimmies in slow-motion as she gets off a bus, recalling Franny Glass’s sheared-raccoon coat. Anderson’s objective correlatives evoke nostalgia for a bourgeois childhood as enveloping as a hot bubble bath. He personifies things and objectifies people, aiming always for a pleasantly underwhelming sumptuousness. So it’s hard not to see the lovingly manufactured puppets in The Fantastic Mr. Fox as the epitome of this process.

The story Anderson tells reinforces this sense of unecstatic pleasure rooted in precision and thinginess. “I’m a wild animal,” protests George Clooney’s fox at every turn, but the joys of Mr. Fox aren’t rooted in wildness at all. For the characters, pleasure comes via real estate, dinner parties, a supermarket smorgasborg laid out like a gridded city, and, somewhere in there, the wild-but-careful thieveries and acts of cunning. For the audience, the pleasure is in the superfine textures of the characters and their world: ornamental realism, a celebration of the finer things. These are the teddy bears that rich children miss.

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