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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

I have to say, I've been waiting patiently and not so patiently for a Wes Anderson to come up in the project, but it was never this one I was hoping for! Haha. This was another film that I loved when I saw it in theaters, bought it when it crossed my path at the used bookstore, but hadn't watched it since seeing in the theater. One of those that I have deep fondness for but never craved a second viewing. But it happened tonight! Yay!


I will admit, I was less enamored with it this time around. It's not a bad film by any stretch, just not as polished as I'm used to seeing from one of my favorite directors. Especially just having seen The French Dispatch a few weeks ago and loving it. But I realized afterwards that Mr. Fox feels like so many of my pieces for this project. Just going all out on a new medium trying to learn as much as possible. The outcome isn't great (but it's not bad!) but the point is the learning. So much of what I adored in French Dispatch can be seen in its infancy in Mr. Fox. The use of cotton batting for smoke. The use of filmed (rather than photographed) tableau. A whole mess of other things, I'm sure. Just very cool to see someone I look up to artistically trying things. In a culture that is so focused on end result and looking polished always, it makes it so difficult to learn publicly. Because learning is stumbling and getting back up. I firmly believe that knowledge is earned through failure. Without falling short, you're just getting lucky.


Most of what left me wanting in this movie is the character of Mr. Fox. He's surrounded by truly fantastic creatures and he's kind of an ass. And he's kind of an ass who doesn't learn very much. Or grow very much. I do love the moment with the wolf but the end would have meant so much more if he'd let someone speak. Specifically Mrs. Fox. But then, it's a Wes Anderson film, and Mr. Fox is a father... (I hate that part of my brain is already thinking that whatever this piece ends up being is my first shot at showing at Bad Dads. Bad Dads - call me!)


I don't have a lot to say about it but I watched The Lighthouse for the first time this afternoon and Willem Dafoe's Rat was just extra trippy with the other movie in my brain.



My heart hurts for Mrs. Fox in ways I can't totally articulate. I wish the movie gave her more. It's Meryl Streep for goodness sake. But she (actor and character) deserved better and more. I dunno.


I do not remember loving Kylie, the superintendent opossum, nearly as much as I did tonight. It may or may not have had everything to do with my beloved's absolute delight that he couldn't contain whenever Kylie was on screen.


I've often wondered what it is about Wes Anderson's works that appeal to me so much. I mean, there's the obvious repeated them about familial dysfunction, but mostly it's his aesthetic choices. And not just the pastels (not my thing) and vintagey vibes but the framing and the camera movements. There's something so surreal and yet honest about the straight on framing, the camera gliding through walls, the focus bouncing like a tennis match from one speaker to another. It's delicious, indulgent whimsy and I honesty wish I went as hard as Wes in some of my work. The loneliness speaks to me too. There's so much there about being deeply connected but feeling apart. Maybe the combination that makes being melancholy lovely.


"This Story's Too Predictable"

Cut paper (and paint) in shadow box. 8x8"



Takeaways:

-This is one that I feel pretty good about. I finally felt like a Skillshare class I watched on Monday to teach me more about this process paid off. Big leap forward in the cut paper work in both composition and organization of process. Hooray!

-This is also one that because I didn't Toil on it, I feel a little detached from but honestly? I'm digging that detachment these days. I go into tech for Heathers the Musical today and it's been, artistically, the easiest show of my life and maybe my best work. Gotta explore all of that more.

-The I bought the shadowbox thinking I was going to get Great Depth out of the composition and then I didn't really create much depth. I also composed and built all the pieces thinking that the area I had to fill was .75" larger in height and width, so the composition is a little more cramped than I'd planned but I also kind of love that. Wes Anderson would have it way more spread out but this feels truer to my studio experience.

-It kind of amuses me that I made so many tiny paintings and you can see almost none of them. But I enjoyed doing them so that makes it just fine.

-I love that Mrs. Fox only paints thunderstorms and rough weather on landscapes. (But I couldn't leave Kylie out so he makes an appearance too.) I love thinking about her working through all the things she has to work through via thunderstorms. I've got quirky movies, she's got lightning. Both get the job done.


I honestly don't know what the movie is for this week. I'm doing one, but it's either going to be a dumb action movie from the list or a Special Edition of a movie that I've been thinking about A LOT lately but don't own. How very, bub. It all depends how work goes today.


I hope you have a lovely week that embraces all the highs and lows life has to offer and that it's done with gentle, whimsical beauty. Wear that beret and neck scarf you feel silly about. Listen to a deep cut Rolling Stones track while riding the bus. Hatch a great scheme. You've got this.

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