Variety is the name of the game this week as I take on The Road and Fantastic Mr Fox.
Both are based on beloved books. Of the two I think Fantastic Mr. Fox is more successful.
From the beginning to the end this is a movie brimming with life. Even though the characters are animated, the little fur-covered marionettes dance and sing, laugh and smirk. Like the best kind of kids film Mr. Fox doesn't condescend to his audience. Director Wes Anderson treats all his characters with respect and that gives them a depth we don't often see in the genre.
You may remember there was a bit of ruckus a while ago about the production. Some folks in the animation studio were annoyed about the auteur directing the action "via email." While that may be true the fact is much of what makes Fox so charming is due to Anderson's insistence; His directing style, his focus on old-school animation techniques, even down to the way they recorded the voice actors. If you want to see more watch this clip from makingof.com.
As far as The Road goes, let me say this. Viggo Mortensen is amazing as the Father. One of the great actors of his generation I think. The movie is as stark as the source material but seems to lack a little of the poetry of the novel. Part of the problem may be the power of the images. How can author Cormac McCarthy's dialogue compete with those pictures of the crumpled hydro towers and ash-covered highways?
Before you go see The Road may I recommend you read this fantastic interview with author Cormac McCarthy and director John Hillcoat. You'll learn where the relationship between the father and son began and that not even the McCarthy knows why the world ends.
Also, before John Hillcoat took on The Road he gave us one of the decade's best westerns: The Proposition. An Aussie tale of rough justice set in the outback. Highly recommended.