Joel Haver’s review published on Letterboxd:
On my Fantastic Mr. Fox review, someone pointed out that Wes Anderson’s films have an ever-increasing puppet feel to them, in that as they’ve gone on they’ve gradually felt less and less like he’s dealing with real people and more and more mere objects on which he can enact his precision. This is most apparent in his stop motion work, but I’d argue Grand Budapest and, to a lesser extent, Moonrise Kingdom, fall into this trap as well. In continuing to push and exact his style, he has begun to kill the humanity.
With that in mind, I see The Royal Tenenbaums as the perfect midpoint, it’s flashier than Rushmore but more grounded than Life Aquatic. It manages to be both brimming with color and character all at once. Wes hasn’t made a bad film, arguably he’s only made great films, but more and more I fear his style is becoming as all-encompassing as the discourse surrounding his films has always pretended it was. Wes is an incredible writer, that to me is the heart of his films, and by choosing to let the style take center stage, he obscures the heart that I know is there. A movie can have style or become about style, I can have an in-depth discussion about The Royal Tenenbaums without bringing up aesthetics once, the same can’t be said for Wes’s later work.
The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore are still his masterpieces in my eyes, I could watch them everyday till the day I die.