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The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar (2023). Netflix. Wes Anderson does Roald Dahl

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  • The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar (2023). Netflix. Wes Anderson does Roald Dahl

    The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar (2023) - The first thing the viewer sees is a black 1:33 frame with speckles replicating an old Academy ratio film strip with scratches (it is shot on 16mm film). Welcome to Wes Anderson world. Again.

    Wes Anderson doing Roald Dahl should be a pretty good match and it is, intermittently. Dahl's clever story about a man who could see with his eyes closed shines through. Anderson's visuals (working with Production Designer Adam Stockhausen and Robert Yeoman's cinematography) paint some pretty pictures from Dahl's words (Anderson wrote the adaptation). At times the film resembles an elaborate stage production complete with “on stage” set changes and trickery.

    Unfortunately, Anderson's script is narrated almost from end to end making its 37 minutes seems much denser and longer. Certainly, the voices of actors Ben Kingsley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel and Ralph Fiennes are fine enough, but the constant chatter detracts from the pictures. Worse, they are delivered in Anderson speed, not Dahl's written rythms.

    Anderson, who's trademark is the look of his films should, more than the usual filmmaker, know the principle of: Show. Don't tell.

    P.S. There are four shorts in all. The others are The Swan, Poison and The Rat-Catcher. Watching the trailers for the other three, they are all in a similar style

    Click image for larger version

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    JoeS
    Senior Member
    Last edited by JoeS; 10-02-2023, 05:38 PM.

  • #2
    I like Anderson's previous "Dahlliances" (snort) and this one looks the goods and has some powerhouse actors backing up Anderson's quirky(?) style, but yes. The narration is so jam-packed in there, it makes the film far too busy for me.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Mark Tolch View Post
      I like Anderson's previous "Dahlliances" (snort) and this one looks the goods and has some powerhouse actors backing up Anderson's quirky(?) style, but yes. The narration is so jam-packed in there, it makes the film far too busy for me.
      I kept saying, Shut Up! Let me hear the dialogue and see the action!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by JoeS View Post

        I kept saying, Shut Up! Let me hear the dialogue and see the action!
        Yeah, I unfortunately didn't make it all the way through. I'll try and pick it up again when I'm a little more patient.

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        • #5
          I agree with Mark and Joe. To much in to short a time.

          Also, sadly, Wes anderson seems to become more and more a repeat of himself these days.
          "No presh from the Dresh!"

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          • #6
            Originally posted by The Silly Swede View Post
            I agree with Mark and Joe. To much in to short a time.

            Also, sadly, Wes anderson seems to become more and more a repeat of himself these days.
            Comically, Anderson claimed in a recent interview that he had no "aesthetic"!!!

            He's become a self-parody at this point

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            • #7
              I'm stunned to be disagreeing with you all. Generally speaking I dislike Wes Anderson's films on an ideological level. I don't want to get too deep into it here so I'll just say, in short, he can go fuck himself. HOWEVER... I enjoyed the hell out of this.

              The credit primarily goes to Dahl. He was a master of his trade. Anderson largely gets out of the way here and let's some very nice voices narrate me a little Roald Dahl tale while he amuses himself doing tricks in the background. Beguiled, I was.

              Reminds me of the sort of thing British TV used to do a bit when I was a kid. Tony Robinson arseing about in a garden telling stories about Fat Tulip and Thin Tim. Or Rick Mayalls nasty fairy tales. Quality kids programming.

              I'm looking forward to the next 3.
              "Never let the fact that they are doing it wrong stop you from doing it right." Hyman Mandell.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Dom D View Post

                The credit primarily goes to Dahl. He was a master of his trade. Anderson largely gets out of the way here and let's some very nice voices narrate me a little Roald Dahl tale while he amuses himself doing tricks in the background. Beguiled, I was.
                .
                Just read the Dahl. Why have to watch Anderson's actors playing adult dress up to recite it all?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by JoeS View Post

                  Just read the Dahl. Why have to watch Anderson's actors playing adult dress up to recite it all?
                  Having good voices read you a good story is one of life's great pleasures. Besides I'd argue that what's been done is additive to the original stories.

                  I watched the remaining 3 and enjoyed them all, particularly poison. I read one critic saying that combined they are one of the films of the year. I'd say he's missing the point. The very idea of just being able to make a few shorts and throw them up in front of millions of people is unique to streaming where content doesn't need to fit into the parameters that film and TV do. It could be very freeing. I imagine a young David Lynch would have gone hogwild in this environment. Anderson is a good example of someone who benefits. 17 minutes is the right amount of Wes Anderson. The smugness over a feature length is not something I can do.

                  Hopefully there's more of this kind of free-form content
                  Last edited by Dom D; 11-01-2023, 10:32 PM.
                  "Never let the fact that they are doing it wrong stop you from doing it right." Hyman Mandell.

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