Tag: children

January 29, 2010 / / Main Slate

By William Benker

Why Adaptations Still Work (When Done Properly).

Fantastic Mr. Fox – 2009 – dir. Wes Anderson

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.

August 7, 2009 / / Main Slate

By Amy Tetreault

The Muppets Take Manhattan – 1984 – dir. Frank Oz

Muppets Take Manhattan is the third in a series of live-action musical feature films with Jim Henson’s loveable Muppets. Released in 1984, this is also the final film before Jim Henson’s sudden death in 1990. In 1992, Henson was posthumously awarded the Courage of Conscience Award for being a “Humanitarian, muppeteer, producer and director of films for children that encourage tolerance, interracial values, equality and fair play.” Muppets Take Manhattan is a great example of Henson’s renowned work for both kids and adults. In fact, at times, I thought the Muppets were better geared for adults than kids. Besides the fact that the Muppets are made of cloth, their story in Muppets Take Manhattan is totally relate-able. Especially right now.

January 9, 2009 / / Film Notes

The Sweet Hereafter – 1997 – dir. Atom Egoyan
(Filmmaker and author quotes from DVD commentary)

Adapted from a Russell Banks book and directed by Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan, The Sweet Hereafter is the sublime, aching story of a fatal school bus accident in rural Canada.  Most of the town’s children are killed as a result, and city lawyer Mitchell Stevens (Ian Holm) travels to the town to fan the flames of confusion and anger into a potentially lucrative class action lawsuit.  However, the town’s sorrow mirrors Mitchell’s own personal drama: the loss of his daughter to drugs and darker forces still.  The themes of confinement are rife within this drama of parents, children, lovers, and courage.