Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quick Takes: "Fantastic Mr. Fox", "Sword in the Stone", "Dr. Strangelove"

"Fantastic Mr. Fox"
Directed by Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson is one of those directors who appeals to the quirkier side of film direction, which is an area that quite often feels rather stilted and passionless to me. All that said, there is something about that style that translates rather well to animation, and "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is such a pleasant surprise because of that. Filled to the brim with gleeful pointlessness, Anderson fills in the holes in the plot with some hilariously tucked human commentary. True, there are still scenes that ring not just utterly ridiculous, but have no purpose to actual film. That glaring fact that this is an artificial construct can be rather distracting at times, but Wes is just having so much fun with this new toy of stop-motion that you just get taken in with his exuberance about it.

"The Sword in the Stone"
Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman

It's rather dismaying to revisit childhood films and find that they're rather massively lacking in story, character, and style. My memories of this film had been fond, until I started watching it again, at which point it paled to playing out not just predictably, but with no passion whatsoever. From the first moment, it feels like everything's already happened. You're generally familiar with the story, know what's happening, and the film doesn't even create any tension in that respect. Neither does it create characters that are at all endearing. Merlin is rather pathetically silly and pointless, and Arthur is just plain, dull, and rather pathetic. The film's a catalyst to turn people into animals, and not in a particularly interesting way. It's all to easy, and there's really no joy there.

"Dr. Strangelove OR How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"
Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Heading into another straight viewing of Stanley Kubrick's revolutionary canon of films, this film is somehow given a diminishing effect from the outside. It feels almost like a small effort from Kubrick, looking at it against films like "2001" and "The Shining", but Kubrick always has something important to say about humanity. In this case, he's making a rather tight-nipping commentary on distrust between wildly different factions of people. It's hilariously perfect how the mutual destruction of the world is not set off, but spurred by the finicky preoccupations of every single character. And even in such confined environments, the production design finds neat and distinct ways of creating paranoia. Kubrick isn't so intent on flying off the handle with his satire. He's creating a very real statement about the world then, and in way how the world still is. "But if you don't get the President of the United States on that phone, you're gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company."

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