I hated Pulp Fiction the first time I saw it. The first Tarantino movie I’d ever seen was Kill Bill: Vol. 1, which is a decidedly gorier and altogether more accessible movie for an eighth grader (technically I wasn’t legally “mature enough” for either by the MPAA’s standards), although I was the only one in my grade who seemed to enjoy it. When I watched Pulp Fiction for a second (and a third and a fourth ad infinitum) viewing, it gripped me like few other movies had before or since. To this day it is still one of my all-time favorites.
Movies, especially great ones, often change from viewing to viewing, not because they are different but because we are. Though we now live in an age of Rotten Tomato blurbs and aggregated consensus, a critic’s most valued possession is still their written voice. With every review now posted quickly and then archived online, conversation on most movies usually peaks quickly when they are first released, and then dissipates just as fast. The only time afforded to looking back is the annual “Best of the Year” cluster fuck.
Submarine Directed by: Richard Ayoade Written by: Richard Ayoade (screenplay) Starring: Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor
Richard Ayoade will probably emerge as a “unique” new voice of independent cinema after this debut feature. Submarine is exactly the kind of movie that can be a cross-over hit in America. It’s got everything critics and its built-in audience adore: a spunky sense of humor, an aesthetic flare and a sensitive young male protagonist.
Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is a younger version of Harold, though this movie contains no Maude. Instead, there’s a younger Lulu out of Something Wild, bob haircut and all. When Oliver meets Jordana (Yasmin Paige) he’s immediately drawn to her. To win her over he must take part in the cruel bullying of a larger girl. He does, and he feels subsequently guilty, but he views it as something he had to do for his muse.
The Royal Tenenbaums Directed by: Wes Anderson Written by: Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson (screenplay) Starring: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller and Gwyneth Paltrow
The idea that movies can have a literary quality to them is something that a director like Wes Anderson often takes to heart. His movies operate on many basic storytelling conventions- the dysfunctional family, the adolescent emerging the cocoon- but within them is an entire world of his own creation.
The Anderson Aesthetic is one where his art and his life-view merge; where the clothes of the characters often meticulously match their surroundings. It’s a style of filmmaking that can be divisive, which also means that it’s a style that is always interesting.
Fantastic Mr. Fox Directed by: Wes Anderson Written by: Wes Anderson (screenplay), Roald Dahl (book) Starring: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, and Bill Murray
The world of awkward young males and disapproving father figures often associated with the world of Wes Anderson is polarizing. You have those who absolutely despise his style and those who absolutely love it. Typically I fall into the former. For all his faults, though, he does have a style. Had I seen Fantastic Mr. Fox before Mr. Anderson’s other features, I’d have wondered what he was getting at with all of the others. This is his best, most assured, most mature work , and it’s a stop-motion animation adaptation of a children’s novel.
It becomes perfectly clear in this film that all of the characters in Anderson’s other movies really were just cartoon characters. Now that they are in the literal sense, their absurdest actions look and feel right. The stop-motion techniques of the animation greatly help flesh out the emotion and style. The camera work is amateur in the best sense of the word, making this feel like chaos that came together at the last minute.