O.R. They?.

I've seen every major release Wes Anderson has to offer - including the introductory short film 'Hotel Chevalier', which acts as prelude to the upcoming feature-length film 'The Darjeeling Limited' - and I have to say that 'The Royal Tenenbaums' is still the best of the bunch.

Everyone you'll meet familiar with the director will tell you that nothing tops 'Rushmore'. While there are some obvious moments borrowed from Rushmore that are used in The Royal Tenenbaums, I'm here to tell you that the latter is the more complete and better of the two.

Something about Rushmore doesn't quite sit well with me; maybe it's because it lasts 90 minutes but plays like it's 120. Seriously, check the time while you're watching it; there's a natural conclusion that occurs after an hour. All that would be required is a little 10-minute denouement and roll credits. But it keeps on going, with the last half hour little more than an unfunny reprise of the first 60 minutes. It IS that first 60 minutes, though, that shows you there's something strong within Wes Anderson; that shows he's got a complete film within.

I won't discount the fact that The Royal Tenenbaums WAS the first Wes Anderson film I saw; there's always that element of being partial to your first exposure of any given artist. Say, the first album you hear from a beloved band, the first book you read from a prolific author, whathaveyou.

'The Life Aquatic' is running a little ahead of Rushmore; mostly because it's got The Moment. Every Wes Anderson has The Moment, that is except for Rushmore (at least, as far as I can discern). In 'Bottle Rocket', his first film, it was when Owen Wilson quotes a Guns N' Roses lyric (They won't catch me / 'Cause I'm fucking innocent); in Tenenbaums, it was when Richie cuts open his arm veins as Elliott Smith plays on in the background and all dialogue goes silent; in Aquatic, it's when Steve Zissou jumps out and single-handedly fends off the pirates as The Stooges' "Search & Destroy" blasts over everything else. The Moment is what makes your body tingle, what brings the goosebumps out from hiding; it's that point where the quirky little comedy socks you in the gut with a dose of reality. The only place in Rushmore that could possibly, conceivably be The Moment is when Miss Cross gets ... cross with Max in her classroom as she's packing up following her resignation and she finally tells him off, leaving him speechless and horrifically embarrassed. But, even then it doesn't really do it for me.

Really, it's hard to go wrong with a Wes Anderson movie. I'm just saying, he never really hit his stride until Tenenbaums; but I guess the proof will come this week (or next) when I see The Darjeeling Limited. Hopefully by that time I'll have figured out how to pronounce the title.