Monday, January 26, 2009

The Peter Bradley Show

Last night as I perused the supplementary disc to Criterion's version of Wes Anderson's brilliantly deco-stylized family study, The Royal Tenenbaums, I came across a feature titled "The Peter Bradley Show". At first I felt I was in for a nice, organized interview with Wes Anderson or perhaps some of the central actors in the film. What I got was a sloppy session of a man named Peter Bradley, who was likely the most oafish television personality I've ever encountered, conversing with five of the most minor characters to have participated in any of Anderson's initial three films. For a while, I believed the program to be authentic yet incompetent, but eventually, as it went completely haywire, I realized it was one heck of a spot-on parody of PBS's The Charlie Rose Show. And in all sincerity, I can't remember laughing this hard in months. I don't actually watch The Charlie Rose Show, but I feel that having a knowledge of the late-night chat program is unneeded, because for anyone who gets a grand kick out of deadpan comedy, the short does not disappoint.

It involves Peter Bradley in a darkened studio with two of Anderson's marginal extras, while on the phone with a separate studio containing two chairs - only one of which is filled - and a small room in San Francisco holding the most well-known Anderson minor, Dipak Pallana, and his son. Pallana can be witnessed as Gene Hackman's sidekick in The Royal Tenenbaums, or as a man who furtively rings his neck in a distant alcove of the frame in Rushmore. As an ardent admirer of Anderson's films, I especially got a kick out of seeing Pallana gradually reveal his mounting anger, culminating in San Francisco's line being cut. The interview features several clumsy cuts, bumbling camera movements, and graceless shifts in pacing. Peter Bradley continually cuts his subjects off to move on to another, and once he realizes they are all unworthy of television attention, begins to uncomfortably penetrate their personal lives. The virtue of the short is its ability to just nearly seem plausible, never overdoing its ineptitude to the point of indulgence. For the majority of the interview, it seems possible that Bradley is just simply an awkward character, much like Elvis Mitchell has frequently displayed (most notably in his chat with Christopher Nolan). Unfortunately, "The Peter Bradley Show" can only be found on the extras to The Royal Tenenbaums, but it nearly matches the film in merit, so why not indulge?

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