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Movies: Foxhole Messengers



Nathaniel Rogers blogs daily at the Film Experience.


George Clooney is a fox. You knew this already but now he's actually playing one onscreen. Fantastic Mr. Fox is a sly one and that's a description that happily fits all: character, star and movie containing them. Mr. Fox is living a peaceful life as a newspaper columnist but he can't tame the wild animal within. Some of the funniest gags in the movie play off this discord between the tendency of animated films to anthropomorphize everything and the character's realizations that they aren't behaving like animals of their species would. Fox wants to go back to stealing chickens and when he moves to a new home with a window view of three massive farms (belonging to the villains Boggis, Bunce and Bean), he just can't resist. Even if you aren't at all familiar with the book, you know how complicated it gets in the movies whenever a charming criminal decides to do one last big job. 

Roald Dahl's books have a rich history of onscreen adaptations from Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp's very different Willy Wonkas through Angelica Huston's sick transformation into the Grand High Witch in The Witches to the 90s animated version of James and the Giant Peach. Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of the most successful transitions, merging director Wes Anderson's emotional affect, fondness for diorama like production design, and symmetrical compositions with Dahl's whimsical storytelling and sometimes ghastly humor.

Meanwhile at the movies, how did Ben Foster get that scar by his eye?

There's no answer, AFTER THE JUMP...


I don't remember if The Messenger specifically explains his injuries, but this new soldier drama gets considerable kick from his damaged eyes which the actor douses repeatedly with drops. He's too hardened from his tours of duty for actual tears so medicinally prescribed stand-ins will have to do. For now.

There have been so many war dramas over the years that it's rather shocking that filmmakers haven't really thought to explore the Army's Casualty Notification program prior to this. Kudos go out to writer Oren Moverman for exploring this hot button topic in his directorial debut. Casting Foster was a smart move, too. The actor has been playing mentally unbalanced and/or violent men for a few years now (Six Feet Under, 3:10 To Yuma, X-Men: Last Stand, 30 Days of Night among others...) but he gets a plum opportunity to modulate and spin those perceptions here. The Messenger usually transcends its acting vignette structure with good work from Foster, co-star Woody Harrelson and the typically riveting Samantha Morton as a newly widowed army wife. She doesn't take the news the way these soldiers expect.

Zach_dare Also opening: More CGI destruction porn from Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow) in 2012, Philip Seymour Hoffman plays DJ in the British comedy Pirate Radio, Uncertainty gives Joseph Gordon Levitt and Lynn Collins their own Sliding Doors as their lives split in two directions, Women in Trouble is a multicharacter comedy starring the always watchable Carla Gugino as a world famous porn star. Finally Emmy Rossum, Sandra Bernhard and Alan Cumming star in an indie high school drama Dare, the trailer of which hints at a gay kiss for Friday Night Light's goodhearted quarterback Zach Gilford.

Have any movie-going plans this weekend? Maybe you're catching up Precious (reviewed last week)?

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  1. "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is quite good, and very much a Wes Anderson movie

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Nov 13, 2009 4:55:14 PM

  2. "very much a Wes Anderson movie"=stay away far away in my book. The most shallow and indulgent director in the biz these days. He looked deep inside his soul, and told the world "hey everyone, look how cool and interesting I am! Lucky me!"

    Posted by: henry | Nov 13, 2009 5:55:27 PM

  3. 2012 looks like the worst movie of the year. Yet I still don't get why it's not your lead. For starters, Roland Emmerich is gay... why does a gay man continue to make destructo porn? Surely there's an interesting conversation there.

    Posted by: crispy | Nov 13, 2009 6:02:05 PM

  4. Ben Foster is hot. IMO

    Posted by: John in Boston | Nov 13, 2009 6:16:26 PM

  5. I know I've seen that swimming pool kiss scene before. Was it on this site?? That movie is old, isn't it?

    Posted by: C | Nov 13, 2009 6:38:23 PM

  6. crispy -- but if we stop talking to him and supporting disaster porn, won't it go away?

    c -- possibly. sometimes it takes these indie movies a long time to come out in theaters

    Posted by: Nathaniel Rogers | Nov 13, 2009 11:01:32 PM

  7. Awww leave Roland Emmerick alone. Okay his movies are nothing more than special effects but he makes alot of money and donates alot of money to gay causes.

    As for Ben Foster. I'll take a Bananna Ben Foster Pleeeeease

    Posted by: Wolf | Nov 14, 2009 8:34:43 AM

  8. Dare was originally a gay short film, and has been extended to a full length movie, clips of the short are available on several video sites. Ben Foster is one of those amazing, underrated talents that hopefully people will start taking notice of and remember. He's been a favorite actor of mine for quite some time.

    Posted by: Chuck | Nov 14, 2009 9:22:34 AM

  9. After sitting through "Knowing", I REFUSE to subject myself to any more apocalyptic garbage. WTF? Every cable channel that's all you see is depressing, "What would the end of the World look like?" merde. ENOUGH!!

    Posted by: Rad | Nov 14, 2009 10:50:52 AM

  10. I am taking a group in costume to go see The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It won't necessarily be the characters in the movie but we still dress up as animals with high end costumes. They are for conventions but when a movie like this comes around we wear them to it.

    Posted by: Aiden Raccoon | Nov 15, 2009 3:44:02 AM

  11. "Fox" is clearly a metaphor for Clooney's closeted sexuality. Clooney "is living a peaceful life as a [successful actor] but he can't tame the wild [homo] within."

    "Fox wants to go back to stealing chickens and when he moves to a new home with a window view of three massive farms (belonging to the villains Boggis, Bunce and Bean), he just can't resist."

    Clooney lives a life of sterile luxury, privilege and abstinence hermetically sealed from the "massive" homo circus of Los Angeles, access to which is controlled by the three evil villains: agent, manager, publicist.

    Can he "resist"?

    Posted by: Mark | Nov 15, 2009 10:16:13 AM

  12. Oh yeah, Ben Foster and Matt Saracen are hot.

    Posted by: Mark | Nov 15, 2009 10:19:06 AM

  13. I mean Zach Gilford. Zach Gilford is hot.

    Posted by: Mark | Nov 15, 2009 10:20:54 AM

  14. Aiden, is this like an, uh, plushies thing?

    Posted by: Nathaniel Rogers | Nov 16, 2009 10:19:20 AM

  15. I assumed it was a plushy thing too. Who knew Fantastic Mr. Fox was drawing the plushy crowd?!

    Posted by: crispy | Nov 16, 2009 10:31:20 AM

  16. especially because the animals in MR. FOX are a little closer to 'mangy' than plush shall we say

    Posted by: Nathaniel Rogers | Nov 16, 2009 11:45:53 AM

  17. George Clooney is a cool actor. I liked his Ocean's series very much.

    Posted by: Movies | Nov 21, 2009 2:20:25 AM

  18. I agree George Clooney is awesome, i got some movie collection of him

    Posted by: Free best Movies | Dec 11, 2009 3:23:46 AM

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