Thursday, February 11, 2021

Robyn and Adam Discuss WHITE FANG

 by Robyn Buckley and Adam Riske

Hawke gotta go see about a wolf.

Adam: Robyn, you gave me a list of movies we could potentially watch and write about and once I saw White Fang as one of the options, I jumped at it. This is one of those movies that I’ve put off for 30 years despite always kinda sorta wanting to see. The trouble with a movie like White Fang (for me) is that even though most of these Disney nature-adventure movies (like Eight Below or The Call of the Wild) are good, they always feel like work when I press play. I enjoy them when I get into the movie, but it takes time for me to warm up to something this old-fashioned.

The good news is that I really liked White Fang. It’s oddly structured, e.g. Ethan Hawke doesn’t meet the wolf-dog hybrid known as “White Fang” until nearly an hour into the movie, but that’s okay because it gives us time to hang out with villains played by James Remar and Bill Moseley and see a developing bromance between Hawke and Klaus Maria Brandauer, who plays a veteran outdoorsman taking Hawke to his father’s claim to seek gold. The Brandauer character totally reminded me of Christoph Waltz. If this movie came out today, it would have to be Christoph Waltz in that part.

Was this your first time seeing White Fang? What did you think of the movie?

Robyn: It totally would be Christoph Waltz. Am I crazy to think that the main villain would now be played by Timothy Olyphant?

He should play it like his character in Go.
Robyn: This was a first time watch for me! I had suggested it on a whim based on a random selection of Disney+ offerings and dang, am I happy that I did. I really enjoyed White Fang - I found it to be oddly peaceful and relaxing. It felt safe, if that makes sense. I agree with you that it has an old-fashioned feel, I kept thinking to myself “they don’t make movies like this anymore.” Just gently paced and simple.

Adam: I felt like White Fang was more dangerous than the 21st century Disney movie kid fare like The Call of the Wild for example. There’s some real wolf/dog on dog fighting that I know isn’t real but seems real and the villains seem like genuine bad people as much as movie bad people. It makes rallying around Hawke and Brandauer that much easier because I felt like they were in legitimate danger that surpasses the typical kids’ movie.

Robyn: I could have spent hours hanging out with Hawke and Brandauer. I found their friendship to be refreshing - I cracked up at the “date” scene between Brandauer and his girlfriend (maybe wife?) that Hawke crashed. Brandauer is all “I love you, but if you don’t leave now I will be forced to kill you.” I also enjoyed the random “nature doc” section of the movie where puppy White Fang frolics around in the snow. I’m a sucker for a cute wolf-dog. Give me all of the scenes of animals running around across gorgeous landscapes. The cinematography in this movie was amazing...

Adam, you mentioned the odd structure to the movie. Did it surprise you that the friendship between dog and man was such an almost afterthought?

Adam: I was, although I think the friendship is well-established even if it’s introduced late and is somewhat one-sided. I think Hawke LOVES White Fang and White Fang is like “Yeah, I love you, but I don’t know if I forever love you.” I’m quoting one of my ex-girlfriends with that line. Don’t know why I thought of that during a White Fang article. Anyways…what are your thoughts on Ethan Hawke overall? Do you prefer his earlier performances or the work he’s doing now? Also, this was made by the same guy (Randal Kleiser) who directed Grease. That’s cool.
Robyn: I tend to forget that Ethan Hawke exists until I’m watching a movie with him and realize, “oh, he’s an interesting actor.” I’d say that I prefer the work he is doing now as he seems to be picking really different roles, whereas I feel like he coasted a bit on his good looks in his younger years. I don’t think I’ve seen anything that I would ever consider a bad performance though. Do you want an interesting bit of trivia? White Fang (real name Jed) is the same dog who played the dog from The Thing and The Journey of Natty Gann. He was a dog star! Have you ever seen Journey of Natty Gann? We should review that at some point... I hadn’t realized that this was the same director as Grease -- the vibe and aesthetic is a very different beast (ha ha, I hate myself).

I think we both can agree that readers should check out White Fang. It’s a gorgeous movie with a good story. Plus, you get to watch a cute wolf-dog and an almost as cute Ethan Hawke!

I still need to see Journey of Natty Gann. Good Winter pick, Robyn!

Robyn: Thank you.

Readers, now it’s your turn! What are some other snowy adventure films you recommend?

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