Roald Dahl Short Is Wes Anderson at His Most Inventive

Wes Anderson‘s “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” is the “Asteroid City” and “Moonrise Kingdom” director at his most visually inventive — and most fetishistic toward the pleasures of devices like dioramas, rear-screen projection, and fourth-wall-breaking in its adaptation of a collection of Roald Dahl shorts.

And “Henry Sugar,” which premiered out of competition at the Venice Film Festival, is the first of four Roald Dahl shorts Anderson has crafted, all of which he’s filmed. This one stars Ralph Fiennes, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, Sir Ben Kingsley, and Richard Ayoade, and centers on a rich man who learns about a guru who can see without using his eyes and then sets out to master the skill in order to cheat at gambling. IndieWire’s David Ehrlich called it “37 minutes of pure bliss.”

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Anderson spoke about his upcoming Roald Dahl films while in Venice to receive the Cartier Glory to the Filmmaker Prize for his life’s work.

“There’s another one that’s in the ‘Henry Sugar’ collection that’s called ‘The Swan,’ we’ve done that with Rupert Friend,” he said. “We did a very old one called ‘Poison,’ which is one I always loved… And then we’ve also done a very, very strange one called ‘Ratcatcher,’ which is from a book called ‘Claud’s Dog,’ a kind of obscure Dahl book set in the Eastern part of England. It’s a really rural one, it’s a peculiar story. And they’re all strange. But I don’t really have any other ones in mind. I have some things brewing, but that might be it for Dahl for the moment.”

Anderson previously adapted Roald Dahl in 2009 with the double-Oscar-nominated animated favorite “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

More from Ehrlich’s review of “Henry Sugar”: “Far from a disposable exercise that only exists because Anderson was offered a boatload of streaming money, this short — and, presumably also the other three pieces that comprise the larger project — is yet another vital chapter in the filmmaker’s career-long obsession with self-understanding in a senseless world. Its presentation is something we’ve never really seen before, either from Anderson or anyone else, but its ethos couldn’t be more familiar to anyone who’s followed his work.”

Watch the trailer for “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” below. Netflix will release it in select theaters on September 20 followed by streaming on September 27.

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