Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox ★★★★★

"What's the subtext here?"

Realized with this re-watch (right on the heels of the Tenenbaums re-watch for Filmspotting #589), that a key part of the Anderson aesthetic is the way his characters speak candidly, without any subtext at all. We refer to the style as "deadpan" but the performances are just as stripped down as the language itself. There's little for the actors to play because the characters are almost always speaking their minds. This comes off as comic and absurd, but it's also honest, which keeps the films moored in a physical and emotional reality. Ash isn't physically gifted; he's ornery and resentful. He's also "different" because he's the single character who DOES speak in subtext. He wants praise, he wants to belong, but he doesn't know how to ask for it.

And we talk a lot about Anderson's gift for scoring his films (whether in collaboration with composers or with existing rock and pop music), but Anderson's sense of pacing is itself musical. Rapid cuts lead to static shots with little or no action or vice versa. Tempting to credit this genius sense of pacing and the way he exploits it for comic and emotional payoff as the most potent skill in his arsenal.

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