Tag Archives: The Fantastic Mr. Fox

october: yellow, anderson and family

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”-Anne Shirley

I recently posted my “fall moodboard” which focused on three movies released between 1965-1970. But I realized that that really only applies to September. Returning to school. Air changing. The Breaking Out of the Trench Coat.

October is a different story. Culturally, the beginning changes have already happened (I say culturally because in Georgia is was both 75 and 55 last week). October is aware of its identity as a fall month, while September sometimes attempts to hold on to the last grasps of summer.

In October, my inspiration is Wes Anderson. I am convinced that the man lives in a perpetual October. I actually think there are more yellow/orange skies in Anderson films than blue ones.

I told my brother today that I love the “underrated overrated folks.” My favorite baseball player is Ryan Howard of the Phillies, whose payroll is too high, admittedly, and he strikes out a lot. So people call him overrated, but I think he is wonderful and that calling him overrated looks at only one aspect of his baseball playing skills. He’s also a team leader and a great first baseman.

Another example is John Singer Sargent, my favorite painter. I love the idea that he was marginalized by his peers because he wasn’t on the surface an avant-garde painter. He appeared to be a traditional commissioned portraitist, but later examining of his art, outside the context of the Gilded Age, Sargent reveals a keen knowledge of art history and sardonic awareness of the constructs of high society life.

I feel like Wes Anderson is my “underrated overrated” director. His films are just so quirky that they seem to either be immediately beloved or immediately hated for being so beloved without any qualifications. But I honestly love him, without an ulterior motive to align myself with either the quirky hipster set, or the erudite anti-hipster set, or any set annoyed by any other set. Somehow Rushmore, The Royal Tenebaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve ZissouThe Darjeeling Limited and The Fantastic Mr. Fox are all October for me. So sure of their identities and having an awareness of their place in the world.

One thing about Wes Anderson’s characters that work so well for inspiration is that they all have uniforms. Just in the case of The Royal Tenebaums, Margo has her kohl lined eyes, fur coat, barrettes, and polo dresses, Richie, his tennis sweat bands and suits, and Chaz and his sons have their matching sweat suits.

october: margo tenenbaum

Anderson movies sort of uniforms too. Distant wives/sisters/mothers, over bearing father figures, misunderstood youths. all centering around the family. Anderson prioritizes the family and somehow contradicts the first lines of Madame Bovary by making all of his families unhappy in the same way, where they are disconnected from each other, yet don’t have identities that are not Tenenbaum, Zissou, Whitman or Fox. Maybe I love him because I feel like my largest identity marker is that of my family. A friend in high school once said “Kearneys travel in packs.” And it is so true. My family is very close and very disconnected as the same time. No member of my immediate family is just their familial role to me, there are other layers of that relationship. Though I imagine that it is true is all families. But, like Anderson’s families, we are aware of it.

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Fantastic Mr. Anderson

My love affair with Mr. Wes Anderson began when, in a fit of insomnia that plagued my early high school, I watched The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. As far as I can see, Anderson is best watched in a dream-like state because if you aren’t there already, he will slowly nudge you until his oddly juxtaposed orchestration of a sixties pop song and denouement in the film finally lulls you completely in the fantasy worlds that he creates.

And creates he does in his new film Fantastic Mr. Fox. This movie is basically Life Aquatic, Tenenbaums, Ocean’s 11 and Old Mother West Wind stories put together.
Once again Anderson focuses on what he does best and doesn’t stray too much. At the center, a dysfunctional, albeit loving, family with a disillusioned patriarch who has seen better days. But in animation maybe Anderson had found the entry point to the mainstream that big name stars haven’t been to give him.
In Fox, Anderson still has the wit and subversiveness that 20-somethings and up love, but the story of a child being misunderstood by his father would resonate with anyone one 12 and under.
Still even the patriarch is slightly more lovable than the abusive Royal Tenenbaum or distant Steve Zissou. That may be, of course, because Mr. Fox, is a fox. And fact: furry animals are just more lovable.
So the acid tongued wife and sassy adolescent get away with unlikeable nature that would be off putting in a children’s movie, but perfect in an Anderson movie, simply because their red fur and awkwardly gangly legs that remind the viewer of Anderson’s skinny chicken legs, are so darn cute.

With everyone Anderson archetype filled by his regulars of over-the-top actors, Fantastic Mr. Fox may be his first non live-action film, but I believe Mr. Anderson could find a long career in children’s movies. For the past decade he’s been making movies for adults for the neglected child within. I wish he would continue to work with Roald Dahl books because this is by far the best adaptation I’ve seen.


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