Looks like Fantastic Mr. Fox will be playing out of competition at the 66th Venice Film Festival. The film will be screened alongside new films from Michael Moore, Steven Soderbergh, and the Coen Brothers, among a host of other films from around the world. Anderson was last at the festival holding the world premiere of The Darjeeling Limited, which played in competition and won the Little Golden Lion prize. The festival runs from September 2nd to the 12th. (Which would make this the world premiere of Fox, coming over a month before the London Film Festival.)
And here’s Fox composer and voice actor Jarvis Cocker on last night’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
In this month’s issue of Interview(June 2009, Björk on the cover), Wes Anderson interviews (more of a discussion between close friends than an interview) Fantastic Mr. Fox collaborator Jarvis Cocker. Be sure to pick up a copy at your local newsstand!
Jarvis: I wanted to ask you something, actually. It’s an obvious question, I suppose, but on the film that you’re making now, Fantastic Mr. Fox, you’re using old puppets — well, do you call them puppets? What do you call them?
Wes: I think puppets more or less covers it.
Jarvis: So you’re used to working with live actors. How have you found the experience of working with things that will do exactly what you tell them to do?
Wes: Well, as it happens, they won’t. As you know, the voices are recorded before it’s animated, and that process is more familiar to me — working with actors in that way. So when we’re recording the voices, there can be the same sort of excitement that working with actors normally has — there can be the same surprises and spontaneity. But then when it comes time to animate it, I’m working with people who each bring their own interpretations to it, even if we have very carefully determined what is going to happen in the scene. Sometimes I will do a video version of myself doing what I think the puppet ought to do, and then I’ll discuss it with the animator — and there are many different animators working on different stages all at once. But in the process of going one frame at a time to bring the puppet to life, the animator will sort of sculpt things out, and they have somehow trained their brains to sync in this ultra slow-motion so there’s a performance that they’re giving. And so you can find in that process that you’re going very slowly being pleasantly surprised over the course of several days or weeks and saying, “Oh, look at what’s happening here…” Or you can slowly see the shot falling apart before your eyes and see that it’s not working. So there’s no real corollary in live-action movies, but it’s interesting anyway — and fun.
Jarvis: So the animators are kind of the nearest thing you get to actors in that process, basically.
Wes: They’re the nearest thing you get to working with actors in a sense, yeah.
Cocker divides his time between Paris and London (he has a place in trendy Shoreditch), with regular forays back to his home town of Sheffield. But he wants to remain in the French capital for his son, who is at school in the city. And he has established a life there – one of his friends is the American film-maker Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums), another expat.
Anderson has created a role for Cocker in his forthcoming, stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. “Petey” is a mandolin-strumming puppet who looks and sounds like his real-life counterpart. Cocker and Anderson have written a song for the film — “a little hoedown number”, says Cocker, who also wrote music for and had a cameo role in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. “I did a narration bit at the start of Mr Fox, too, but they showed that to test audiences in the US and they were very bamboozled. So I’ve ended up on the cutting-room floor. I tried to enunciate clearly!”
TOC: Yet you wrote songs for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, appearing in the film as the frontman of the Weird Sisters. Do kids recognize you? Jarvis Cocker: I had a very specific look going on in that film—giant fur jacket, snakeskin trousers—that I wouldn’t normally wear down the street. That would get me attention, but probably the wrong kind of attention. I’ve been doing some stuff for a children’s film Wes Anderson is doing, an animated feature.
TOC: The stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox? Jarvis Cocker: I’ve written three, four songs, and some of that might become bits of the score.
TOC: Now you’re writing the new Disney songs. Jarvis Cocker: If you criticize Disney, the next step is “do better.” I get the chance to do it myself and corrupt young minds.
Whilst taking Alexis to see the window on the last night of fashion week Wes Anderson strolled by with a banjo over his arm walking with what looked like a band that consisted of two members I didn’t recognise and Jarvis Cocker. Alexis knees buckled fumbling at her crash helmet, it was a pleasant suprise as when we started we had dinner with Jean and met Wes and discussed it. He stated lets stay 2m and take it in, very sweet, honked the horn and off we road.
Wes in a band? With JC? Sounds like a dream come true…