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The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

Cale’s cinema corner: ” The Swan”, “The Rat Catcher” and “poison” review

Warning: The following contains spoilers for “The Swan,” “The Rat Catcher” and “Poison,” which are available to stream on Netflix.


Wes Anderson’s four latest short films, “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar,” “The Swan,” “The Rat Catcher” and “Poison,” are available to stream on Netflix.


Together, the four shorts form the equivalent of a feature film. “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar,” which I wrote about in the last issue, runs about 40 minutes; the other three are each around 20 minutes.


Most of the cast of “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” return in “The Swan,” “The Rat Catcher” and “Poison.” Ralph Fiennes plays Roald Dahl in all four; Richard Ayoade, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rupert Friend, Ben Kingsley and Dev Patel round out the series’ cast.


“The Swan” follows Peter Watson, played by Friend, as he recounts his experience with bullying. Watson’s meek, precocious younger, played by Asa Jennings, is tormented by a pair of big, brutish boys. They tie him to train tracks. After he escapes, they chase him, kill the village’s famous swan, clip its wings, make him wear them and force him to climb to the top of a tree and “fly” across the lake the beloved bird reigned over.


It is a 15-minute gut bunch and by far Anderson’s darkest work, short or feature, yet. Never before has the director’s candy-colored, picturesque style been juxtaposed with subject matter as drab and depressing. “The Royal Tenenbaums” is dark; “The Swan” is pitch-black.


From there, we get “The Rat Catcher,” a welcome change of pace from “The Swan.” Fiennes stars as an idiosyncratic, yes, rat catcher, who shares his against-the-norm tactics with Ayoade and Friend, a pair of reporters at a small-town newspaper. He is not your everyday exterminator; his ways are irreplicable, and Anderson does not shy away from showing the less-than-admirable — and gory — aspects of Fiennes’s work. But here, bloodshed is used to show his dedication to his craft. “The Swan” highlights two boys’ disregard for human life; in “The Rat Catcher,” rodents’ disturbing demise illustrates the titular rat catcher’s disregard for life — even if it is not human. It takes a rat to catch one.


“Poison,” the fourth and final of Anderson’s recent run of shorts, is a thriller — or about as close as Anderson can come to making one. It centers on Cumberbatch as a man bed-ridden, not only by illness but also by a more immediate threat: a poisonous snake, which he believes is on his chest, under the covers. Unable to move, he cries for help. His associate, played by Patel, and doctor, played by Kingsley, come up with a plan to sedate, and eventually, remove the snake, only to realize there is no snake to sedate or remove. It might be pretentious to draw grand moral and philosophical conclusions from a 15-minute short, but I think it is worth noting its setting: India and, more specifically, colonial India. I do not know if Anderson’s juxtaposition of Cumberbatch’s unjustified wide-eyed panic with Patel and Kingsley’s frantic, hushed rush to rescue him is worthy of essayistic analysis, but there is something there; Anderson’s much-maligned “The Darjeeling Limited” followed three white American brothers’ raid of Asian — and specifically Indian — culture for surface-level spiritual enlightenment in the aftermath of their father’s death.


“The Rat Catcher,” an unofficial bookend to “The French Dispatch,” Anderson’s love letter to journalism, is by far my favorite of the bunch. As I said in my review of “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar,” Anderson’s quartet of shorts will not go down in history as his best work — and nor should they. But they are certainly worth watching, especially if you are a fan of his.


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