Thursday, March 12, 2009

Top 15 Films of the Decade: No. 13 (Tie)

13. Royal Tenenbaums (2001)/ Down With Love (2003)

So, I have arrived at my first and only tie on the list...and it's pretty random. Now, these two films have nothing in common (except for maybe the varying degrees to which they are perceived) but I kind of like their pairing here, nonetheless. On one hand, you have probably one of the most increasingly popular "indie" sacred cows right now in Royal Tenenbaums; on the other, a criminally underrated bomb that walks the line between overbearing superficiality and bona fide charm in Down With Love. With Royal Tenenbaums, you find Wes Anderson and his disaffected, stoic archetypes at the height of their effectiveness with a wonderfully dizzying tale of a formerly affluent and respected family of "geniuses," and their slow climb back to normalcy. Despite the film's primary conceit of a father faking cancer in an attempt to get closer to his estranged family, the film is, of course, not as plot-y as all that. It's more free-form, and has an air of character study to it that aids in its overall resonance. And, in a way, Down With Love is just as subversive in how it draws you in with one idea, and takes the concept to substantially greater heights by losing that sense of itself. Like previous entry Wet Hot American Summer, Down With Love satirizes a very specific genre and again succeeds so well because it creates a wholly unique aesthetic for itself while still skewering with a keenly impressive eye. Its presentation of lop-sided sexual politics rings no less apt when set within its own heightened 60's reality, and carries a hefty weight within a modern context as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An interesting pair.
I love the concept at work in Down With Love but found the film itself to be grating. Zellwegger, in particular, seemed merely to be attempting her finest Doris Day impression, while never really rising above it to find her own character, something the rest of the cast accomplishes with aplomb.

Just my two cents.