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The Swan, The Ratcatcher, and Poison

Posted on the 07 December 2023 by Sirmac2 @macthemovieguy

Where I watched Them: Netflix

English Audio Description?: Yes

It’s been a while since I talked about the short film Netflix seemed to want everyone to talk about, the Wes Anderson adaptation of The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar. I had no idea he actually had more than one short at Netflix. their marketing was all behind Henry Sugar, even sending that to festivals. Turns out, he directed three others. All of them are shorter than Henry Sugar, but are any of them better?

Rather than devote space for each individual short, I decided to break them down as one unit. They all roughly have the same cast, and were shot in the same style. in fact, if you just watch them all together, you have essentially Wes Anderson’s Ballad of buster Scruggs, where stories are different, yet unified. Here, unified in style and by Dahl. But, roughly that film would run 90 minutes, which ain’t bad.

The Swan was my least favorite. I really love the craft that Anderson is putting into this, and i respect that these films are pushing him as a director to try new things, while maintaining fractions of what he brings to other projects, but there was nothing about Dahl’s story that interested me. Poison was the one that struck me as least likely to be read to children, and also deeply interesting as the film is told a lot in whisper, and there really isn’t a lot of location, set, or prop changes. It is performance driven. The best of the three, and also not really a great one for kids, is The Ratcatcher, which left me with such a weird feeling. It very much has that “what did I just watch?” Feel to it, only because these stories are written by the same guy who came up with Matilda.

The audio description for all of these are fantastic, explaining to the audience in advance that this is not shot like a normal film, but more like a play, and that stage hands are visible changing set or props as needed, with Anderson crafting little ways for them to slip in and out as needed. It may feel like you are going on a journey, but that’s the combination of storytelling that wins here, between Dahl’s original stories, and the choices Anderson makes while directing them.

This was a very interesting year for Wes Anderson as a director, even if nothing he made topped my list, I think the fact that he’s willing to challenge himself, could lead to a really exciting project in the future. but for now, this is what I’ve got:

The Ratcatcher: B

Poison: B-

the Swan: C+

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