Wes Anderson is the predominant auteur of American Cinema, and he has created a style that is instantly recognizable and wholly distinct. So many of his cinematic influences, from Bergman to Scorsese are apparent in his work, but some of his literary influences are just as important. Salinger and Melville both have obvious connections to Anderson’s films, but the director has only once given a true literary adaptation.
Anderson and Noah Baumbach injected new life into Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel, Fantastic Mr. Fox. Turning Dahl’s anthropomorphic fox into a bespoke chicken thief turned journalist makes him the perfect hero for an Anderson film.
While animation is certainly a departure for the director, the new style proves to be the perfect platform for his signature style. The complete control of that Anderson continually exhibits over his actors and sets exists tenfold in his stop motion animation.
With an all-star voice cast, and an endlessly engaging script, Fantastic Mr. Fox remains a unique and wonderful masterpiece. Common sense would make it seem that a director at the top of his game would be crazy to direct an animated adaptation of a children’s novel, but Anderson turned this unique opportunity into one of the best and most critically acclaimed films of the 2000’s.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
To say Billy Wilder’s filmography is diverse is more than a little bit of an understatement. Amongst the list of films that includes romantic comedies like The Apartment and war films like Stalag 17 is what some consider to be the greatest of all Films Noir.
The story of Walter Neff and his femme fatale is a sinister yarn that truly does not have anyone to root for. Of course, our Mr. Neff becomes our protagonist as he begins confessing his crimes in that dark insurance office, but when he has said his peace we only feel worse for it all. Film Noir is dark, by name and by appearance, but most importantly by the themes which these stories explored. Double Indemnity is a tale of two murderers who can’t avoid their inevitable demise.
This darkness, and in turn this depth of feeling is what made Film Noir so popular in the time of The Great Depression and of World War II. People were able to live these fantasies vicariously on the screen. The glitz and glamour of 1940’s Hollywood was perfectly contrasted by the evils that these actors lived through in their films and for that reason, film noir played a huge role in developing much of what we associate with Hollywood today.
Neff is a relatable character. Everyone can relate to that feeling of instant attraction, and we’ve all done crazy things for the people we love. However, perhaps the most relatable thing about Neff is that in the end, he gets played. In the end, he loses. Walter Neff killed for money and for a woman, and in the end he got neither. Don’t we all know the feeling?
Double Indemnity (1944)
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Criterion Collection Trailer