Hedwig and the Angry Inch – 2001 – dir. John Cameron Michael
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the 2001 motion picture based on the successful off-Broadway musical of the same name, is a rare bird indeed: a stage adaptation that doesn’t fall flat, it has visual verve to spare and feels right at home on the big screen. The colors pop and the music (composed by Stephen Trask) truly rocks. Hedwig is perhaps too wild to be considered a throwback, but there are moments, such as the triumphant sing-along number “Wig in a Box,” when this film gives audiences that same giddy rush that comes from watching the best old Technicolor musicals. It’s one of only a handful of really special movie musicals to come out of the ‘00s, and one of the decade’s most unique films to boot.
Tim Burton’s Big Fish is an homage to everything that we were, everything that we are, and everything that we will be. What really bakes your noodle is the reveal that it’s all happening, every moment, all at once.
Based on the novel by mythology enthusiast Daniel Wallace (watch for a cameo of Joseph Campbell’s TheHero with a Thousand Faces on Ed Bloom’s nightstand), Big Fish is a tale about everything big in our lives: the worlds of our childhood, the worlds of being in love, and the worlds of responsibility, maturity, death, and beyond.
Adaptations of nearly forgotten children’s stories are a complicated process. It requires certain tools, one could say, in order to “re-invent” the story in an appropriate way. It must be done carefully, not daring too far from the original heart of the book, yet driving the narrative towards a more theatrical climax, properly combined to invigorate not only the audience, but the depth of the story. While many other adaptations and remakes have both succeeded and failed to do this in the past decade, the stop-motion genre has invariably avoided such defeats. Unlike recent hits Coraline & Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (both directed by Henry Selick,) Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox looks gritty, perhaps even haphazard, if fans weren’t aware of the director’s impeccable career (The style more closely resembles 1988 Czech film Alice by Jan Svankmajor). The Fantastic Mr. Fox goes beyond exploring the classic tale through a more contemporary perspective. Through the expansion of the original narrative, Anderson amalgamates the story into modern thought, meticulously transfusing both Roald Dahl’s original message and his own artistic vision, proving once again that the auteur is still at the top of his game. Continue reading →