|Director, writer:||Matt Ross|
|When and how viewed:||2016/7/23, at The Charles Theater, Baltimore, large audience, evening|
|Rating||R (some very explicit nudity and biological language, which is quite funny in context)|
“Captain Fantastic”, directed and written by Matt Ross, somewhat resembles the “Wilderpeople” comedy (July 10) but is even more focused on fatherhood, in a domestic American (western) setting.
As the film opens, father Ben (Viggo Mortensen) Is leading his six kids in a camouflage deer hunt in Washington state’s Cascade mountains (which are often shown with stunning views). The kids paste their bodies, even more than we did in Army basic. The movie shows us their campground with its little huts, barracks like sleeping quarters, gardens, and animal husbandry. Soon the kids are all rappelling, and one of the young kids slips and apparent breaks his wrist. Daddy and the other kids fix him up.
They go around in a “vancredible” bus. They’re also home schooled. Soon we learn that the kids know the great books of literature (George Elliot’s “Middlemarch” and I believe Thomas Hardy’s “Return of the Native” get mentioned or show up in the “library”), can do the science and math, and the oldest boy, Bo(a charismatic and fit George Mackay) has gotten into every Ivy league college. Bo likes to quote political manifestos, and at one point says he is a “Troskyite” but may become a “Maoist”. That makes sense, because Maoism (in the Chinese cultural revolution of the 1960s) had involved everyone taking his turn as a peasant or “prole”.
Ben is no right wing doomsday prepper (and the film doesn’t get into the area of guns). His hero is Noam Chomsky, and on Chomsky’s birthday, he fakes a heart attack in a supermarket so the kids can shoplift groceries. That’s after an emergency room scene where one of the kids notices that most patients are fat (and probably diabetic). You don’t say those things in public. It’s like saying Amish kids are usually much fitter than modern teens.
We learn that Ben’s wife – the kids’ mom – has committed suicide in a mental hospital, and the conflict over her father’s (the kids’ maternal grandparents) funeral plans generate the rest of the plot. The patriarch is Jack (Frank Langella), who lives in New Mexico in a huge estate. Although Jack first threatens Ben with arrest if he comes, Ben takes the family down and they attempt a reconciliation (and now the scenery switches to New Mexico deserts and mountains). The main conflict now comes from mom’s will and her funeral wishes, which had expected modest ceremony, cremation, and disposal of the ashes, in comparison to the lavish funeral desired by Jack. Ben proves disruptive, which provokes the climax of the film. Maybe in the end, the kids (most of all Bo) all win out.
The idea of wanting to downplay a funeral, especially if death occurs in certain shameful or violent circumstances, is an idea that has occurred to me. The idea was even explored on NBC’s “Days of our Lives” with EJ’s murder.
Wikipedia attribution link for I90 thru Snoqualimie Pass in Washington, p.d., from Byways.org I had an “ephiphany” there at lunch in 1978 on vacation, which would turn out to be prophetic in a few years.
Wikipedia attribution link for view from Lama Foundation (north of Taos, NM), which I visited in 1980 and again in 1984 (“Spring Work Camp”). The facility sustained a
(Published: Sunday, July 24, 2016 at 11:15 AM)