Alter Ego: Craig Silvey is Fantastic Mr Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

The Fantastic Mr Fox

Twenty-seven-year old Craig Silvey grew up on an orchard in Dwellingup, Western Australia. He wrote his first novel, Rhubarb, when he was 19. His latest book, Jasper Jones, is an unforgettable coming-of-age novel, set over a shimmering hot summer of 1965. It tells the story of 13-year-old bookish Charlie Bucktin, whose life is upended by Jasper Jones, a half-Aborigine boy. Jasper, with his troubled home life and a charismatic sense of self-sufficiency, is implicated in the calamitous disappearance of a local girl, but is too mindful of the consequences to admit his involvement. Saluting To Kill a Mocking Bird, and Huckleberry Finn, Silvey movingly explores the stifling secrets that lurk behind the most ordinary of facades. Below, Craig Silvey tells us why he would be the Fantastic Mr Fox if he was a film character. Eithne Farry

Foxes, traditionally, get a rough deal. They’re crafty, resourceful, clever and ambitious – which yields resentment in most quarters, but admiration in mine.

There is something very attractive about Mr Fox. He’s charming and capable, generous and daring. He’s loyal to his competitive instincts, but he also understands that his nature is his weakness. The very things that make him remarkable also cause him the greatest peril. Still, the thrill of the squab heist almost always outweighs the pressure of being caught. He can’t help himself.

And so, in that sense, he is burdened by his own truth and he battles with the compromise. And what could be more human than the struggle to straddle the line between right and wrong, between the things you want and the things you should have?

And it’s tough. Mr Fox can only deny his nature for so long before it gets the best of him. He falls prey to his discontent and his lust for adventure, inspiring him to stage the mother of all coups, which, despite its success, has considerably dire consequences.

But, just like his nature imperils his community, it’s those same impulses that ensure their safety. And it is here, I must confess, that I feel some kinship with Mr Fox. Not that I share these traits, but I would like to. Like Randal P McMurphy, Cool Hand Luke and Atticus Finch before him, Mr Fox has the comforting ability to draw people in and settle their nerves, despite his own racing pulse. I’m attracted by that valorous sureness and strength of presence, and my heart goes out to his vanity and folly and insecurity. Under Mr Fox’s flawed leadership, even though he caused the clustercuss in the first place, we know that we’re going to be OK.

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey is published by Windmill Books.

Film Jukebox: Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow have been thrilling audiences for the past decade with their 70s-inspired hard rock and psychedelic riffs, punk attitude and gorgeous tunes. When they moved from Washington, DC, to LA a few years ago, they embraced the California spirit with gusto and, perhaps in tribute to their new hometown, they have now made a movie. Taking a cue from the idea that the Three Kings were Bedouins and wandering mystics, the film combines old-school concert footage with fantasy vignettes shot in stunning locations, including the sand dunes used in Star Wars and John Lautner’s Elrod House in Palm Springs, where the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever was partly shot. The Three Kings (Double LP+DVD / CD+DVD) – five new songs, live recording and original film – is out on April 4 on Xemu Records. Watch the video for ‘That Old Temple’. Below, founder members Steve Kille (bass) and Jason Simon (guitar, vocals) tell us about their favourite movies of all time. LUCY HURST

Steve Kille

1. Strangers on a Train (1951)
Probably next to Shadow of a Doubt, this is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest and most disturbing thrillers. The visuals, including the ‘eyeglass’ shot, are way ahead of their time, and a reminder of why Hitchcock is a true master. I love and have seen almost his whole catalogue, including his lesser-known early UK productions.

2. Double Indemnity (1944)
I love Raymond Chandler, who co-wrote this with Billy Wilder. Even though this was not entirely his baby, his unique way of making film noir helped bring it to life. It is a very powerful film set in 1940’s LA, and being a resident of the city makes it even more alluring to me. Edward G Robinson’s character is amazing, he’s the nosey boss you never want to have.

3. Casino Royale (1967)
There is nothing truly James Bond about this film, but it is a perfect example of the self-indulgent movie-making that was going on in the 60s. You’ve got Woody Allen, Peter Sellers and David Niven together in one movie that spoofs Bond with a fair amount of go-go dancing and mod sets. What else do you need for a rainy day?

4. The Mouse that Roared (1959)
Another great Peter Sellers movie, this time about a little country that made a big bang. Long live the Duchy of Grand Fenwick!

5. The Petrified Forest (1936)
I have always been drawn to the stillness and weirdness of the desert. It is hard to explain, unless you have been to a place like Tucson, how oddly refreshing it is. When I finally saw this movie, which launched Humphrey Bogart, I was blown away by how Leslie Howard describes this very feeling, as a wandering European in the hills of sand and cactus. There have been a bunch of remakes of this movie but the original is still the best.

6. Suspiria (1977)
This Dario Argento film combines amazing beauty and pure horror. I think it is the best horror movie ever made. All of the Art Nouveau sets are amazing and suck you into the suspense. The whole look of the film has been a huge influence for our band since day one. The colours affect the spookiness!

Jason Simon

7. Fantastic Planet (1973)
The combination of the art, the story and the music provides an otherworldly experience.

8. Koyaanisqatsi (1982)
I watched this movie many times without any sound while working at a restaurant in the Bay Area. One day, I finally watched it with sound. The beautiful soundtrack is by Phillip Glass. Not a typical documentary, nor a typical film in general. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, the images tell the story, there is no dialogue. I loved it. Amazing cinematography with very thought-provoking images.

9. El Topo (1970)
Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s epic tale of spiritual rebirth is the most psychedelic Western ever. What more can you say?

10. Rockers (1978)
This is the coolest movie ever, in my opinion. Nothing beats Burning Spear pulling two spliffs from his sock and singing a cappella on a moonlit beach.

11. Columbo – ‘Any Old Port in a Storm’ (1973)
I am a fan of the entire series but this is my all time favourite. The pairing of Peter Falk’s Detective Colombo against the mild mannered and murderous wine aficionado played by Donald Pleasance is perfect. Who doesn’t love Donald Pleasance?