Wes Anderson is the toast centered at Cannes once again. July 12 is Houston’s native The French Dispatch became an instant sensation at the seventy-fourth edition of the French festival, earning rapturous applause, gushing reviews, and multiple column inches dedicated to the costume of bright metallic star Timothée Chalamet.
For Anderson, it was a very late satisfaction: The French Dispatch wrapped production in March 2019, only to sit on the shelf of the entire COVID-19 pandemic. All this time Anderson kept on it, waiting until his film could have the kind of European festival premiere that has been his favorite medium since Darjeeling the limit.
Given that two-year-plus mistakes — and the fact that you probably had other things to think about — it’s possible you’d forget everything about a new Wes Anderson movie, just until you started seeing the picture Bill Murray working the red carpet in resort wear. To you we present a quick primer on everything we know about them The French Dispatch and the impact it has already made.
What else are we talking about?
French dispatch in Liberty, Kansas the evening sun (or The French Dispatch, as it will be called by all who are not an insipid pedant). It’s latest from Houston filmmaker Wes Anderson, the writer-director who has been celebrated as one of the most diverse authors of the modern era.
Isn’t calling Wes Anderson a Houston filmmaker kind of a stretch?
Yeah, just. Anderson lived in New York for most of his life, and now resides in Paris. Plus, all his foppish, John Cheever-adoring, velvet-fits stuff not exactly raw Houston. Still, he was “own Texas Wes Anderson” for the bulk of his formative years, even filming Rocket bottle and Rushmore right here with his college friends and fellow Texans Owen Wilson-Who, by the way, costars off The French Dispatch.
Owen Wilson, wow. Who else?
The film is a genuine vintage picnic basket stuffed with Wes Anderson staples like Adrien Brody, Anjelica Huston, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Willem Dafoe, Jason Schwartzman, and, of course, Bill Murray. There are also Timothée Chalamet, Frances McDormand, Léa Seydoux, Jeffrey Wright, Liev Schreiber, Saoirse Ronan, Elisabeth Moss, Christoph Waltz, and Henry Winkler. Some of these are probably just praise cameos, but they do for an impressive poster.
And Bob Balaban?
You know it!
So what is it about?
Presented as a “love letter to journalists“And set in the fictional French city of Ennui-sur-Blasé, The French Dispatch a series of episodic vignettes are all positioned as articles for the titular magazine. The film is divided into “an obituary, a tour guide, and three feature articles,” evoking Anderson’s beloved reading experience The New Yorker from cover to cover, and celebrate the kind of unique, proud literary writers therein. It’s about people! Sad, hyper-articulate, funny little man.
The overall story is the “obituary” for the magazine’s publisher, played by Murray, whose death marks the next end of his publication and inspires his staff of fellow American expats to think about some of the pieces being filed on these decades. In one feature, Tilda Swinton’s critical art character profiles a genius painter, played by Benicio Del Toro, who also happens to be a murderer. In another, Jeffrey Wright plays a food writer James Baldwin-esque who recalls the time he became trapped in a local kidnapping. The “journey” section is essentially Owen Wilson in a beret, the citywide tool on a bicycle. And in what is already destined to be the centerpiece of the film, Frances McDormand’s political reporter shadows a radical wild-haired student played by Timothée Chalamet, then winds up seducing her.
Wait, Frances McDormand having sex with Timothée Chalamet?
Yes! Fox Searchlight has even put out a teaser clip where McDormand surprises a naked Chalamet in the bath. Please enjoy this very specific fantasy.
How were the reviews like?
Positive uniform, border on rhapsodic. The French Dispatch now there are many a 100 percent “Fresh” rating of rotten tomatoes, thanks to reviews strewn with words like “wonderful, “”sorry, “Ak”deceived. “Inspired by the film painting journalists as soulful hero-poets, some have even taken the opportunity to wax lyrically about how much they liked it. Perhaps this fulsome assessment comes from Playlist and Jessica Kiang better summarize it up: “[It] is such a foolish Andersonian task, that at times the sheer level of detail — mobile, static, graphic and typographic — that bedecked the screen was enough to make your corresponding jaw slow. ”
There were a few doubts poured in, and some, like Deadline‘s Todd McCarthy, suggests that Anderson sacrificed narrative coherence at the expense of “prostrating himself on the altar of aesthetics for his own sake.” But even McCarthy meant that as a compliment.
How did the Cannes audience react?
Nine minutes ?! That seems too much.
It is, though not uncommon for Cannes — particularly at a premiere that probably felt like a big release from a pent-up pandemic year we all spent deprived of any new movies or audience connections. Kyle Buchanan offers a more granular breakdown to the applause of the New York Times which helps to explain how it could possibly go on so long, while also chronic growing Wes Anderson’s discomfort. But yes, nine minutes is a crazy crazy time to applaud. You could listen to all of Bob Dylan’s “Hurricanes” in nine minutes and still have thirty seconds to spare.
Well, it sounds like everyone had a nice time.
They did! According to Variety, the whole throw arrived at a giant gold party bus, then fell out to take pictures of each other on the red carpet. Chalamet in particular really hammed it up with Swinton: leaning his head on her shoulders, holding hands with him as they walked downstairs to the theater. While standing ovations, he and Swinton did too a jump pantomime and name signs from Swinton’s chair – something no one would ever laugh at if it involved two which is not-famous man, yet he was judged a hilarious “prank” by several dizzy publication.
Even better, since Anderson refused to do a press conference or do any interviews, they were all able to run through the night the moment he finished.
Hmm. It doesn’t look like … ironic that a lion journalist film refuses to do any press?
Yes, it is a cunning observation. Very funny. Sounds like you are the exact audience for this movie.
Actually, I find Wes Anderson’s style calculated and twee. Is there anything new here, or is this just another one of his whimsical little dollhouses?
Well, while it certainly sounds like Anderson relies on all his usual tricks, a few critics have also noted “the increasingly dark tones at the edges of Anderson’s Technicolor Dream,” as Nate Jones Vulture a put it. There are definitely some very strange subjects — prisoners, protests, murders — even if he is busy with the usual touching director Fabergé Eggs. Plus, the film engages with politics and sex in a way Anderson hasn’t really touched on before. He’s also trying on new visual flair, experimenting with black and white, and animated sequences, etc. But yes, if you’re not predisposed to enjoy Anderson’s fad, you probably already know you don’t want to see this.
Just enough. When did it hit theaters?
October 22 ?! And everyone is talking about this now?
Did you miss the part about how we starved for new movies? The exchanges are already debating it Oscar luck. Better to settle in.