Friday, November 27, 2009

A very fine frame of hyacinth bone

This afternoon I'm going to see Fantastic Mr. Fox. We were going to see it on opening night in New York, but I took too long to finish my guaco loco and then insisted that we walk from the Lower East Side to Union Square and by the time we got there, it was sold out. Instead, I got to see The House of the Devil, which I was also very eager to check out, and I'm glad I got the chance, since it's been playing on way fewer screens. It turned out to be two-thirds amazing and one-third absolutely terrible. The difference was like night and day. Still, I admire a film that 1. is written, directed, and edited by the same person, and 2. so earnestly (and seemingly without much motivation) strives to approximate 1980s style. I'm not just talking the affective use of awkward fashion and a walkman as a gimmicky prop. I'm talking freeze frames and markedly distinct image quality and camera movements. The good parts of that movie were really good. But the bad parts were so bad that they sort of overshadowed the good. It's sort of funny to think about the film in these terms, since its events transpire during the night of an eclipse.
So Fantastic Mr. Fox.
I'm a sucker for anything from the world of Roald Dahl, and also for the work of Wes Anderson (despite the debacle of The Darjeeling Limited), and also for real handcrafted stop motion animation. However I end up feeling about the film, I love that it is filled with real little objects: puppets and their clothes that were meticulously hand sewn. Those details are magical. I was listening to my "Fever Ray" Pandora station the other day when the song Marble House by The Knife came on. I hadn't heard it before and enjoyed it, so later, I looked up the video (directed by Chris Hopewell) and found a strikingly similar aesthetic going on. A lot has been said about how Fantastic Mr. Fox bears the distinct look of Wes Anderson, but I think this video, which is from a few years ago, maybe set the standard when it comes to stop motion woodland creatures. The sound and image together make it seem like a sad story, like the woman of the house is a little too selfless and bedraggled, and I'm left feeling a little suspicious of the man as he goes off to work. Like the films of the Brothers Quay, I think some of the exquisite detail here is obscured by shadow, which is a shame, but it's definitely worth checking out.

1 comment:

Jill said...

Very fun. I'm excited to see Fantastic Mr. Fox. I hope it's good.