Starring: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Houston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson Director: Wes Anderson The film: The dynamic scriptwriting duo of Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson have an odd take on the world and delight in presenting characters who are a little bit left of centre. They have progressed through Bottle Rocket (1996) and Rushmore (1998) to this, their most confident and complete work. The family of Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) is a motley collection of overachievers gone wrong. And even here Anderson, as director, goes against the grain with his casting. Wacky Ben Stiller (as Chas) is the most reserved and seems to simmer with repressed emotion. Gwyneth Paltrow (Margot) hides her beauty behind sad, darkened eyes, and Richie (Luke Wilson) skirts the action like a shadow. Even the supporting cast sees funny man Bill Murray (as Raleigh St Clair) holding his tongue. But there is little doubt as to who is the star of the show, and Hackman shines as the father who once walked away but now wants to win his way back into his family's hearts. Anderson's take on New York City is as weird as anything you could ever find thumbing through the pages of The New Yorker magazine but he never makes his characters appear as 'freaks'; there is a sadness to each that makes them seem very real indeed. And that is where he succeeds - as strange as it all gets, it's never too strange as to having us suspend all belief. You end up feeling that maybe, somewhere deep in the heart of the Big Apple, families like this really do exist. Like their two previous efforts, Anderson and Wilson pay acute attention to each line and spring surprises at every turn. Alec Baldwin's deadpan voice-over also gives the film a dream-like quality which works well in contrast to some of the more startling plot developments. The extras: An entire extra disc shows how much effort has been put into giving the viewer more and what's more surprising is that most of it is pretty good. The out-takes give the actors playing more reserved roles (read Murray and Stiller) a chance to let loose, and Anderson shows through his commentary and the 'With The Film-Maker' section just what a fastidious artist he is. The Peter Bradley Show featurette is a strange little attempt at satire that's a bit hit-and-miss with the laughs. The verdict: As close to a modern-day masterpiece as you're likely to find. Another superb selection from the Criterion Collection.