DVD Tuesday: ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’

 

It would be too reductive to say that Wes Anderson’s films are about people who don’t fit in. Yes, his characters are on the oddball end of the spectrum. But in Anderson’s better films (like The Royal Tenenbaums), he doesn’t fall prey to the common bugaboo of those artists who celebrate the unique. Namely, he doesn’t even bother creating an outside world to judge them for their curious behavior. There is no island of misfit toys for his characters to retreat to, because the whole that is visible doesn’t seem much different. Everybody doesn’t fit in, together…

The Royal Tenenbaums is available now in a beautiful new Blu-ray transfer from Criterion. Read my full review at PopMatters.

 

DVD Tuesday: ‘Where Do We Go Now?’

 

Filmmakers run all kinds of risks when they try to update the classics; for all the universality of some of the great dramas, they can fail miserably when downloaded into new and sometimes incompatible formats (witness what happens when studios try to dress up Austen and Shakespeare as candy-colored high school comedies). Nadine Labaki’s zesty Where Do We Go Now? has to navigate two minefields: updating Aristophanes’s Lysistrata and setting this comedy amidst modern Lebanon’s murderous religious strife. The result isn’t a new classic, but stands nevertheless as a potent and lively satire about how the violence of men tears societies down and the lengths to which women go to staunch the bleeding…

The Oscar-nominated Where Do We Go Now? comes out today on DVD. My full review is at AMC Movie Database.

 

Reader’s Corner: Kurt Vonnegut

 

Next month, Delacorte Press is publishing the collection Kurt Vonnegut: Letters. Now, normally these sort of things are of interest only to the extremely engaged fan—those completists who just have to own every scrap of material written by a particular author. The “lost” letters of Edith Wharton, say.

However, the Delacorte edition promises to be something different. Among the items collected within its pages is this selection from a January 1947 “contract” drawn up by Vonnegut and his pregnant wife, Jane (the two had been married for sixteen months):

i. In the event that my wife makes a request of me, and that request cannot be regarded as other than reasonable and wholly within the province of a man’s work (when his wife is pregnant, that is), I will comply with said request within three days after my wife has presented it. It is understood that my wife will make no reference to the subject, other than saying thank you, of course, within these three days; if, however, I fail to comply with said request after a more substantial length of time has elapsed, my wife shall be completely justified in nagging, heckling, or otherwise disturbing me until I am driven to do that which I should have done;

Eminently reasonable, but just slightly cracked in execution. In other words, exactly what you would expect from the author of Cat’s Cradle—the sanest book on the insanity of modern life that you can find. Funniest, too.