American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Some artists have a way of riveting your vision with the certitude of what they do. This has nothing to do with subject or style. It's inexplicable. Andy Warhol and Grandma Moses. The spareness of Bergman or the Fellini circus. Wes Anderson is like that. There's nothing consistent about his recent work but its ability to make me go zooinng! What else do "The Darjeeling Limited" and "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" have in common?
Now here's "Fantastic Mr. Fox," an animated picture with nothing in common with traditional animation, except that it's largely in one of the oldest animation styles of all -- stop motion, the one used in "King Kong." The animals aren't smaller than people but often larger, and more mature.
They live in a sometimes flat dimension; the cameras are happier sliding back and forth than moving in and out. The effect is sometimes like a old-fashioned slide projector. The landscapes and structures of this world are mannered and picture-booky. Yet the extraordinary faces of the animals are almost disturbingly human (for animals, of course). We venture into the UnCanny Valley, that No Man's Land dividing humans from the devised. Above all, their fur is so real. I've rarely seen such texture in a film.
The story involves a valley somewhere, by which is meant the world, which is ruled by: