Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Just watched...

..."Fantastic Mr. Fox" directed by Wes Anderson.

I love the films of Wes Anderson: "The Royal Tennenbaums," "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," and "The Darjeeling Limited." They are quirky, sweet, touching and honest. So it was a tremendous pleasure to see his filmed version of this classic children's story by the wickedly subversive Roald Dahl, author of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.

The story, which children will enjoy but which was not neccessarily made with children in mind, is sweet and kooky. But what made it truly memorable was the fact that it was made in such an "old-fashioned" way: in stop-motion and NOT CGI. It is such a beautifullly hand-crafted look, lovingly rendered--so warm, real, rich and full of life. It reminds me of the kind of holiday specials I grew up watching on television, where puppeteers painstakingly moved models with an inner armature one frame at a time. When you watch Mr. Fox move, you can see the fur move on his face and the fabric of his jacket crinkle as he turns. It's a lovely effect, and a nice, welcome respite from the often too-slick blur of CGI.

And the film boasts a stellar voice-over cast: George Clooney as Mr. Fox, and Meryl Streep as Mrs. Fox, along with Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon, and Owen Wilson. Several of these actors are familiar faces from other Anderson films.

The lovely thing about "children's films" is that the story moves right along, from one thrilling event to another. The running time for "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is listed at 87 minutes, but it felt less than half that... it whizzed by.
See the trailers for yourself at the official website:
The "making-of" featurettes are fascinating as well!

Recommend? If you like delightful, charming, hand-crafted animation, by all means!

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