www.list.co.uk/film ANIMATION/COMEDY/ADVENTURE FANTASTIC MR FOX (PG) 88min ●●●●●
Wes Anderson’s animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s much loved book is no straightforward children’s film. Wee ones might enjoy it to a degree, but they won’t get much of the typically arch humour and wanton eccentricities the filmmaker once again indulges in. Working with his regular co-screenwriter Noah Baumbach, Anderson has broadened Dahl’s short tale, and in doing so pulled off the neat trick of retaining the spirit while recasting it with his own idiosyncratic sensibility.
Thus, the pater familias of the title
(voiced by George Clooney) is an incorrigible and irresponsible husband and father (of Meryl Streep’s mum and Jason Schwartzman’s son) cast from the same mould as Gene Hackman’s Royal Tenenbaum. Mr Fox’s refusal to settle down into a quiet domestic life leads him back to his old career as a chicken thief, which in turn gets him into trouble with local farmer Bean (Michael Gambon). The war of wills and wiles that ensues drags the whole animal community into the fray, including Mr Fox’s lawyer, Badger (Bill Murray), and his nephew, Kristofferson (Eric Anderson, brother of Wes). Anderson’s decision to use old school stop-motion animation, with its puppets painstakingly animated frame-by-film-frame, is an inspired one. He’s made a virtue of the imperfections of the technique and this chimes beautifully with Dahl’s delightfully scraggy tale. (Miles Fielder) ■ General release from Fri 23 Oct. See feature, page 18.
DRAMA/COMEDY TALES FROM THE GOLDEN AGE (AMINTIRI DIN EPOCA DE AUR) (12A) 131min ●●●●● Cristian Mungiu, the Palme D’Or winning Romanian filmmaker of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, would almost certainly find himself in contention with American communications magnate Harold S Geneen’s much quoted belief that ‘We must not be hampered by yesterday’s myths in concentrating on today’s needs’. But then the bombastic Geneen never had to live through the very worst years of the Ceausescu regime, the final 15 years of which where marked by a self aggrandising insanity that left the Romanian populous fearful, depressed and in some cases hungry. Marshalling the talents of some of Romania’s best new filmmakers, Mungiu has now produced a portmanteau film to revisit some of the myths that came from that period, some of which are undoubtedly more than myths.
comedy as party photographers, long-distance lorry drivers, greedy policemen and young con men come up against party rule. It’s an affectionate portrait of the all too recent madness that gripped this much sinned against country. Reflected in the increasingly erratic personality cult, nationalism and a deterioration in foreign relations with the Western powers as well as the Soviet Union that marked the second decade of Nicolae Ceausescu’s rule, these tales already have an inbuilt horror. Having opened up his muted Tales from the Golden Age series to other Romanian directors who were old enough to remember the period, Mungiu (who directs two of the segments) allows himself and his cohorts an easier, more accessible style than his previous films. Stylistically it’s a fine balance between the popularist Italian comedies of the 1960s and 70s (Fellini’s comedies and Vittoria De Sica’s lighter weight films are comparable) and Kieslowski’s wry sense of doom.
Kicking off with ‘The Legend of the Official Visit’, in Beautifully executed by all concerned, with acute
which the small village of Vizuresti prepares for an official visit with a farcical hysteria that can only be leavened by a kind of callous surrealism, the film unfolds into episodes of bewildering bureaucratic period observations, smart in-jokes and excellent performances, Tales from the Golden Age is a joy. (Paul Dale) ■ GFT, Glasgow from Fri 30 Oct.
ANIMATION/DRAMA/FANTASY 9 (12A) 79min ●●●●●
With visionary heavyweights Tim Burton and Nightwatch/Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov among the producers, Shane Acker’s feature-length animation, based on his own Oscar-nominated short, promises revolutionary animation, but never delivers the emotional hooks required to sustain a feature’s length. The concept is certainly novel; 9 is the name of a central character, a tiny cloth
doll who finds himself fighting for survival in an post-apocalyptic Earth where huge machines rule. Voiced by Elijah Wood, plucky 9 sets off to save what’s left of humanity, working in conjunction with his other numerically named pals including 1 (Christopher Plummer), 5 (John C Reilly) and 7 (Jennifer Connelly). With an impressive dystopian look, 9’s alternative reality initially intrigues, but once the mystery of what these doll-like figures represent is explained, Acker’s film falls back on a fairly conventional sub-Pixar adventure format, with little social or political detail to give the striking images much resonance. Too scary for small kids and too pat for adults, Acker’s well-meant but exhausting film never really overcomes the flaw of its central conceit; that in a world devoid of personality or humanity, there’s little reason for us to empathise with its two-dimensional heroes. (Eddie Harrison) ■ General release from Wed 28 Oct.
22 Oct–5 Nov 2009 THE LIST 49