The first thing I notice about the book is its weight. The Wes Anderson Collection by Matt Zoller Seitz is almost a square foot large and weighs over 4.5 pounds. I think, as I hoist the solid book, the bright cover wrapped with intricate drawings by Max Dalton: this is a good deal for forty bucks. The book has the feel of a photo album—dense with decades of memories—and I open it with a similar reverence, because there they are: all my old friends.
I saw The Royal Tenenbaums in theatres with both of my parents, sometime in the winter 2002, when I was in eighth grade. Oh, a movie with Bill Murray, we said. We love Bill Murray! Off we went. But this would be no ordinary movie-viewing experience for me. This was not giggling in the back row with my friends during Harry Potter or being the target of a sloppy, off-mark kiss, courtesy of my middle-school boyfriend in Spider-Man. I sat between my parents, and as Margot Tenenbaum disembarked from the Green Line Bus to greet her adopted brother and true love Richie Tenenbaum, my life changed. There is a beat of silence as they see each other, the action slows, and the film takes a deep breath as the soundtrack slips into the soulful opening of Nico’s “These Days.” Something split and surged below my collarbone. I fell in love.
On our way home from the movie, I demanded my parents stop at Barnes & Noble to see if they had The Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack in stock. They didn’t. I ordered it, and when the CD arrived, I listened to it continuously. This was not unusual—I am obsessive with music. I play an album, artist, or one song on repeat for a week, month, half a year, until I find something new. I sensed, though, that this attachment to the Tenenbaums soundtrack was not a phase. The CD was full of artists who would become favorite musicians—Nico, Paul Simon, The Velvet Underground—but I was smitten with the entire aesthetic of the movie. I imagined Alec Baldwin narrating my life. I loved the overhead and straight-on shots, the flat light, the faded colors and serious faces like in an old photograph, the on-screen labeling of characters and objects, the meticulously detailed sets. It felt similar to a Polaroid I had my mother take of me the summer before. I orchestrated the shot myself: I sat cross-legged in the grass, my terrier to my left, my pet tortoise straight in front, all centered in the frame as I stared straight into the lens and did not smile. I thought Wes—yes, in my head we were on a first-name basis—would approve. Continue reading