“Off-beat director, Wes Anderson, gives Dahl readers a 21st century fox”

Times (London)
November 12, 2007

(thanks to Racer jexxica for the lead)

His recent films have been offbeat, melancholy comedies, but what Wes Anderson really wanted to do was bring his favourite Roald Dahl story from childhood to the big screen. After nearly a decade of planning, during which he made The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited, the American director has started work in London on an animated version of Fantastic Mr Fox, with George Clooney providing the voice of the eponymous hero.

Dahl’s classic tale was written in 1970 after he had made his name as a children’s writer with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. Aimed at younger readers, it pits the daring Mr Fox against three memorably grotesque farmers who are determined to put an end to his raids on their stock by shooting him or starving his family out of their den. “It was one of my favourite books as a child,” Anderson told The Times. “I have been trying to make this film for eight years.”

New characters and plotlines, including something resembling a raid scene, have been introduced to make the story into a feature-length film.

“There’s a whole new bit at the start and a new section at the end, but we’ve tried to do something that Roald Dahl would love,” Anderson, who is writing the script with Noah Baumbach, a director, said.

Amanda Conquy, who runs Roald Dahl’s literary estate, said that she and Felicity, the author’s widow, had no doubts that the pair had the right vision for the project.

“Whatever Wes does is interesting and has a definite point of view. He understands the humour of Dahl and the sweetness and slightly anarchic nature of this story,”
Ms Conquy added.

Links:

Wes & Jason on the Reel Geezers, India, Mr. Fox, and Bottle Rocket on Criterion

Help get/keep The Darjeeling Limited on the Yahoo! Buzz Index of most popular searches by clicking here.

Wes and Jason were on CBC’s The Hour last night (video). Wes promised that Hotel Chevalier will be added to The Darjeeling Limited print in Canada.

Ain’t It Cool has a great interview with Wes and Jason, including Wes’ confirmation of a Criterion Collection edition of Bottle Rocket. Some highlights:

[about this]. Roman said they are both very smart, and he really liked them. And the old man said that he liked these brothers, that the movie is from their point of view traveling through India. And she doesn’t like them, but she also felt that the film exploited people in India. And I always feel like, that makes me unhappy to hear anybody say that because we went to India because I was fascinated with this country. We fell in love with it. We are tourists there; that’s all we can ever be there. But we’re tourists who are very interested in this culture and learning about it. It’s a place where people who go there and like it tend to love it, and the people who love it tend to want to go back. There is more religion, more variety of religion, more practice of religion, more rituals there than any place else I’ve ever experienced. I think that’s why people go on pilgrimages there because it’s a place where, if you’re open to it and interested it will genuinely have quite and impact on you just because of the intensity of the place. I’ve always found that I had very emotional experiences there, but then you get sensitive and wonder if that sounds kind of naive. I don’t know. I just hate to sound self-protective and defensive; I’d rather just express our real feelings about it….

It’s taken us a long time to get this [Fantastic Mr. Fox] going, but we finally got it going. Noah Baumbach and I adapted it. George Clooney is going to play Mr. Fox. We’ve just started working on it in England, and it’s going. We have a guy named Mark Gustafson directing the animation. Henry [THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS] Selick was going to do it originally but over time that didn’t work out because Henry has his own thing he’s directing [CORALINE, based on Neil Gaiman’s novel]….

I think the closest thing to compare it to is that Eastern European stuff, because the animals are going to have fur, and the sets are meant to look kind of like real life. So it’s more in the vein….

[about the Criterion Collection DVD] That’s right. We just have to do a lot of work to prepare it, but that’s in the works. I was supposed to do a bunch of stuff already that I didn’t do yet, so I’m going to get on it though. But some of the stuff is at my mother’s house in Texas, so I have to go to Texas and dig through all my boxes, because there’s materials for the movies that I haven’t looked at in a long, long time. And we want to try and include everything that might be good….

Jason’s new album Nighttiming is available as an MP3 download on Amazon.com. Buy it here — it supports the site.

Keyboard, tip, tip, tip (Thursday morning update)

Wes from the New York Observer

The Darjeeling Limited opens the New York Film Festival tomorrow (if you are going, please send your reports and photos to edwardappleby @ yankeeracers.org, no spaces). Hotel Chevalier, the 13 minute prequel to (or ‘Part I’ of) The Darjeeling Limited, was released on iTunes yesterday.

Many fans have been frustrated with the limited availability of the short film. Russer, from the Great White North, writes:

Please mention on your website that people around the world are wanting to see “Hotel Chevalier” just as much as [A]mericans do. Unfortunately, iTunes does not allow people outside of the US to download the short film even if they are current customers. Ridiculous!

Many of the Yankee Racers have been upset about this problem, and the difficulties of dealing with iTunes (i.e. needing to enter a credit card number to register for an iTunes account, even if the film itself is free). We are excited — thrilled — about the film, but we hope Fox Searchlight and the Wes team find a more democratic/international method of distributing the free short.

I have received leads on MANY relevant newspaper and magazine articles. I will try to archive them here on the website once the initial commotion has ended, but until then, some links:

In the New York Magazine piece, there is an exchange between the writer (David Amsden) and Wes about recent criticism of his work, The Life Aquatic in particular. Wes’ eloquent response is worth quoting at length:

At one point I [the author] bring up a recent essay by Michael Hirschorn in the Atlantic Monthly arguing that, as a culture, we are “drowning in quirk,” an aesthetic he defines as the “embrace of the odd against the blandly mainstream.” … Anderson, who in person is typically quite calm, becomes suddenly animated by the topic. “You know, I’ve heard that argument a million times, and it’s completely uninteresting to me,” he says. “It’s just deadeningly unoriginal. If you have ideas that you think can contribute to a movie, that you think might help you honestly enjoy it more…” … “When they say a movie I make is smarter-than-thou, that the movie is ‘too smart for its own good,’ as if we’re making movies to try to show everybody how great and cool we are…well, that’s just not the case. We’re trying our hardest to entertain people, to make something people will like, something people will connect with. I don’t think there’s a great effort to try to make some statement about ourselves, you know?”

About.com review:

“A wonderful film. It’s a pleasure to write that sentence. I want to write it again. The Darjeeling Limited is a wonderful film — both funny and affecting.” – Marcy Dermansky

The New York Sun review:

“The Darjeeling Limited” is Mr. Anderson’s most heartfelt film. . . Now that he’s freed from his own tendencies, it is again exciting to ponder where Mr. Anderson will travel next.” – S. James Snyder

New York Press’ resident eccentric Armond White weighs in:

“Casual moviegoers might grumble that Anderson’s vision is “quirky” and doesn’t allow for the mass hypnosis of self-reflexive trash like Superbad or Ocean’s Thirteen. But The Darjeeling Limited is so reflective of personal experience (within the context of rarefied pop antecedents) that it returns common emotional power to today’s fragmented, disingenuous popular culture.”

Eric Kohn – also of the New York Press:

“Having seen Darjeeling twice, I feel firmly convinced that it’s one of Anderson’s greatest accomplishments.”

Lisa Schwartzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gives Darjeeling a B+:

“There’s a startling new maturity in Darjeeling, a compassion for the larger world that busts the confines of the filmmaker’s miniaturist instincts.”

Check out this video interview with Brody and Schwartzman – there’s a mini review at the end.

Finally, the MTV Movies Blog mentions that (link) Bill Murray has been “enlisted” for The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Mr. Anderson’s next film, an adaptation of the children’s book by Roald Dahl. George Clooney will be Mr. Fox. Jason Schwartman will offer his talents. The fantastic Cate Blanchett and Anjelica Huston are rumored to be part of the (voice) cast as well. Wow, I haven’t even seen the new one yet, and we’re already excited about the new new one!

As usual, send your questions, links, leads, and other coherent statements to edwardappleby @ yankeeracers.org (no spaces).

Variety: The Fox scheduled for 6 November 2009

3262

According to Variety.com, the current release date for The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson’s sixth full-length (and first fully animated) film, is 6 November 2009. They have a good article (URL) about such ‘farsighted’ release planning.

Mr. Fox and the Wild Things; new Nick Drake; and Paste!

Danny Leigh has written a good (if skeptical) piece about Mr. Fox and Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are over on the Guardian Unlimited (U.K.) film blog:

Those of us with kids or a childish disposition (put me down for both) may have already noted with some excitement that Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox is being adapted for the screen… optimistic fool that I am, I can’t help feeling there’s something intangibly right about it. In part, it will be refreshing to see Anderson’s baroque sensibility applied not to the overfamiliar features of Bill Murray but to animated wildlife. It will also be a delight simply to witness one of Dahl’s finest yarns – in which the titular hero outwits the brutish farmers Bunce, Boggis and Bean – being transposed to the cinema.

URL: I can’t wait for Fantastic Mr. Fox’s screen debut

Some dug-up tapes of Nick Drake’s music (featured in The Royal Tenenbaums) are being released in a new album called Family Tree (rel. 10 July). According to Paste:

Featuring lo-fi home recordings that predate his haunting 1969 debut, Five Leaves Left, the 28-track Family Tree makes a compelling argument for the continued excavation of Drake’s oeuvre (July 07, pg. 95).

You can pre-order this album (and support this site) at Amazon.com:

And, speaking of the fine publication Paste, I have discovered that back issues are available for purchase, including…


#13 featuring Wes Anderson

Quoting the web

David Poland wonders:

Is The Darjeeling Limited Fox Searchlight’s secret weapon of 2007 or just a happy Wes Anderson comedy? (link)

Jake Coyle, writing for the AP, argues that the last decade of film has been far better than the AFI Top 100 suggests:

According to the American Film Institute’s new list of the 100 greatest films, the last 10 years have produced only four great ones: “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (No. 50), “Saving Private Ryan” (No. 71), “Titanic” (No. 83) and “The Sixth Sense” (No. 89).

I get bloated just typing those titles. Granted, the last 10 years have been a historically weak period for films. They can’t touch Hollywood’s golden era of the ’40s, or the heralded ’70s, when maverick directors roamed the studios.

But surely, there’s been more to see in the last decade than Haley Joel Osment whispering “I see dead people.” (Pssst: I’ve seen better movies.)…

Wes Anderson’s classically quirky comedy “Rushmore” is far more than a cult flick. In a long comic lineage of oddballs, Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) tops them all.

Many others that weren’t on the ballot are also deserving. Two that could sit comfortably on the shelf next to “Rushmore” are “Election” and the Coen brothers'”The Big Lebowski.” The latter rises to the level of classic — after all, its whole premise is film noir held up to the funhouse mirror of “The Dude.” (link)

Jeffrey Wells dished up some harsh criticism of Wes in relation to his sometimes-collaborator Noah Baumbach. You can read it here, if you’d like. I would like to hear your comments over on the message board.

Henry Selick at the Platform International Animation Festival

574 Henry Selick, the fantastic animation artist, will be appearing at the Platform International Animation Festival in Portland, Oregon.

An Afternoon with Henry Selick
Saturday, 30 June
2.00-3.30 pm
Newmark Theatre (Portland, Oregon)

Mr. Selick worked with Wes on The Life Aquatic. He was scheduled to work with Wes on The Fantastic Mr. Fox, though some sources have cast doubt on this collaboration. His current project is called Coraline. If anyone plans to attend, please report any Wes related news to webmaster@rushmoreacademy.com.

URL: festival website

Wes Anderson’s ‘Fantastic Fox’ Script Leaks

3262

The (alleged) script for The Fantastic Mr. Fox (March 2007 edit) has been floating around. There was also an (alleged) script for The Darjeeling Limited (at natalieportman.com no less), which has been removed. I have no sense of how developed these scripts are (or if they are legitimate). I don’t plan to post any of these on the site (for personal and legal reasons). There has been some discussion of this subject as of late on the forum.

The script for Wes Anderson‘s stop-motion animated film, “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” has leaked. The follow-up to the-not-yet-released, “The Darjeeling Limited, ” Anderson and ‘Life Aquatic’ c0-writer, Noah Baumbach adapted the script from the original Roald Dahl children’s novel. George Clooney and Cate Blanchett will voice the lead characters and rumors have it that Anjelica Huston and Jason Schwartzman will join the cast. Celebrated animator Henry Selick, apparently the real force behind “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” was scheduled to work on the film, but has allegedly moved on to other projects (namely Neil Gaiman’s “Coraline”).

URL: The Playlist blog (story)*

I really hope that the news about Henry Selick isn’t true (he is still listed as part of the project at IMDB.com). We, of course, recommend that you read the ‘fantastic’ Roald Dahl book:


* Rodrigo also notes on his blog that Noah Baumbach’s forthcoming (October 12th) Margot at the Wedding will star Jack Black, Nicole Kidman, John Turturro, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Clooney and Blanchett a couple of foxes?

According to The Hollywood Reporter, George Clooney and Cate Blanchett are in talks to provide their vocal talents to Wes Anderson’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox as Mr. and Mrs. Fox, respectively. Wes is currently editing The Darjeeling Limited in New York, and he will go to London to film Mr. Fox when he is finished.

More at Coming Soon.

Welcome to the Dahl House {archive}

August 18th, 2002 – New York Times
By Wes Anderson

My brothers and I grew up reading Roald Dahl’s stories. Our mother had gotten us nameplates to put in our books, and we used to steal one another’s copies of ”Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and ”The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar,” tear out the other’s nameplates and replace them with our own. Dahl was our favorite.

Continue reading “Welcome to the Dahl House {archive}”