New Trailer + Poster Spotlight: Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch

Something super fun just arrived in my inbox today! I was in the middle of a rather long, tedious training for my new job, but upon opening this email, a huge smile formed on my face!

Ooooh!! I absolutely adore this poster, I wish I could have it to hang on my wall right now! Wes Anderson‘s upcoming movie has The Adventures of Tintin vibe to it, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé that I grew up reading religiously as a kid.

Here’s the premise…

THE FRENCH DISPATCH brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city. It stars Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson.

What a cast!! I know lots of [thirsty] people are going nuts over ‘it boy’ Timothée Chalamet writing naked in a bath tub 🤣 – I didn’t even notice him until an article specifically mentioned about it in the headline! In any case, I wonder if he’ll actually be speaking French in the movie? The internet would probably spontaneously combust!

Upon further reading, the Tintin vibe seems intentional given Tintin is a globe-trotting reporter. Per Wiki, the film has been described as “a love letter to journalists set at an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city”, centering on three storylines.

When speaking to French publication Charente Libre last year, Anderson noted: “The story is not easy to explain, [It’s about an] American journalist based in France [who] creates his magazine. It is more a portrait of this man, of this journalist who fights to write what he wants to write. It’s not a movie about freedom of the press, but when you talk about reporters you also talk about what’s going on in the real world.”

Per tradition of Wes Anderson’s movies, it’s another awesome ensemble cast, many of whom have worked with the Texas-born filmmaker. The screenplay was written by Anderson, Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness, and Jason Schwartzman.

Now here’s the trailer! 

It’s classic Wes w/ his usual visual flair, distinct camera work and quirks! I love it!! It looks so much like Grand Budapest Hotel and I saw some of the cast are back as well. I can’t wait to step into this world of global journalism filled w/ intrigue and idiosyncrasies.

It’s scheduled to be released on July 24.


What do you think of The French Dispatch?

FlixChatter Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

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I came to appreciate Wes Anderson‘s films through his third feature film The Royal Tennenbaum a few years after its release in 2001. I enjoyed it but I didn’t immediately become a fan right away, his movies are definitely an acquired taste. Since then I have only seen three more from his work, The Darjeeling Limited, The Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom. I never really quite anticipate Wes’ movies until this one though right from the first time I heard about the premise. I was hooked not only because of the usual stellar cast, but the story just sounds like a joyful romp.

The film centers on the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. I’ve always loved stories about unlikely friendship, and it couldn’t be more unlikely than Gustave and Zero, played brilliantly by Ralph Fiennes and newcomer Guatemalan actor Tony Revolori. When you see a Wes Anderson’s movie, you’re invited to an eccentric world where everything is symmetrical and painted in a retro-looking, highly-saturated color palette. It’s within this meticulously-stylized macrocosm that he set kooky scenarios of his equally quirky characters. The film was set in an old hotel in Görlitz [on the Germany-Poland border] and there’s a whimsical cartoon quality about it despite being a live-action film. Apparently Wes did complete the animated version before he started filming this, according to this article.

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It’s a story within a story, starting with an author (Tom Wilkinson) recounting his memoir based on his encounter at the Grand Budapest Hotel, located in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka in Central Europe. We then see the author as a young writer (Jude Law) staying at the hotel and ended up having dinner with the mysterious hotel’s owner Zero Mustafa (F. Murray Abraham). The movie takes place primarily in flashback mode in the early 30s, as Zero recounts the adventure he had thirty years earlier with the renowned Monsieur Gustave (Fiennes). Gustave ran the hotel almost with an iron-like precision, who’s apparently known for wooing the older ladies who frequent the hotel. It turns out most of them came to see him, including the 80-something Madame D. (an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton). It’s when she passed away that the real adventure begins, involving Madame D’s huge family fortune and a priceless Renaissance painting.

It’s fun to see what Wes has in store with each of the cast member, including his BFF Bill Murray who yet again has a cameo in their seventh collaboration. I have to admit that whenever each of these well-known actors show in various scenes, it did take me out of the story a bit, but soon I was caught up in the story again. There’s an underlying dark story about war and the dramatic continental change, after all, the memoir Wes was inspired by (The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig), describes Austria at the start of the 20th century as it’s anticipating Nazi persecution. But a lot of the violence as well as sexuality are played for laughs here and they’re shown only briefly on screen. It still made me wince though seeing even a glimpse of an old woman performing fellatio on Gustave, one character losing all his fingers in a rather gruesome way, as well as a display of a severed head.

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The hotel is practically a character in itself, where most of the adventure takes place. The retro-looking saturated color palette feels a bit brighter with the addition of the pink color of the hotel exterior and the box of the old-world pastry of Mendl’s bakery, which plays a pretty big part in the story. I appreciate the visual treat of Wes’ idiosyncratic camera work and the precise symmetry of each shot makes for an amusing contrast to the haphazard and chaotic scenes. There’s a journey theme here that we often seen in Wes’ films (again involving trains). Either the characters are running away from or towards something, sometimes both. This is also perhaps one of the most action-packed of all his movies — part road movie, part heist, complete with a snowy ski/sled chase scene as farcical as in the Roger Moore’s Bond flick For Your Eyes Only. Some of the action scenes, like the shootout at the hotel, felt over the top to me though.

Ultimately, the heart of the film belongs Zero Moustafa, whose loyalty, bravery and selfless-ness saves Gustave time and time again. There’s a sweet romance between him and Agatha (the always excellent Saoirse Ronan), whom the older Zero speaks of as being the love of his life. There’s a scene where Agatha is reciting poetry about her romance with Zero is a welcomed tender moment amongst all the droll and wacky scenarios. Similar to the two newbie actors playing young couple in Moonrise Kingdom, Revolori is quite memorable here even with his zany, deadpan expression. Abraham as the older Zero adds gravitas and emotional resonance to his character even in his brief scenes. I rarely see Fiennes in a comedic roles but that actually adds to the peculiarity of his character. I read that Wes wrote this role for him, which I think is an inspired choice. The rest of the supporting cast did a nice job, with Jeff Goldblum, Ronan and Adrien Brody being my favorite. Ed Norton‘s character seems quite similar to the one he did in Moonrise Kingdom, which reminds me it’s been a while since I saw him in anything but small supporting roles. Harvey Keitel and Willem Dafoe played the kind of tough guy persona I’ve seen in other films, but it’s still amusing to see them here.

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When I look back at previous work of Wes that I’ve seen, this one perhaps rank pretty close to The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I consider my favorite of his work. I was quite invested in the two lead characters, particularly Zero, more than I’ve ever felt about previous Wes Anderson’s characters. There’s a lot of stuff happening in this movie that it was discombobulating at times, but it was an entertaining ride. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the pace felt swifter than his other films, so there’s not a boring moment for me here. Mischievously whimsy, but with heart. Like a charming hotel, it’s one I wouldn’t mind revisiting again and again.

4.5 out of 5 reels


What did you think of Grand Budapest Hotel?

Rental Pick: The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

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The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

A year after their father’s funeral, three brothers travel across India by train in an attempt to bond with each other.

To say it’s a quirky movie is an understatement, you’ve come to expect that from Wes Anderson, but I think this one felt extra kooky as it has a bit of a fish-out-of-water tale on top of being a road movie. Peter (Adrien Brody), Jack (Jason Schwartzman) and Francis (Owen Wilson) play a trio of brothers on a *spiritual* journey in India a year after their father’s funeral. Despite not looking at all alike, the three actors actually look pretty believable as a family and the peculiar dynamics among them is pretty fun to watch, at least initially. 

The *spiritual* aspect journey is not really there, as it’s used a pretext to the actual reason for the road trip. Francis didn’t tell Peter and Jack about the real reason until later in the film. Apparently a motorcycle accident where he said he nearly died made him want to reconnect with his brothers, and he planned the trip meticulously with the help of his assistant. The title refers to the train that they’re riding on, and it serves as some kind of metaphor. I’m not quite sure what that is, but it could be symbolic to each of the character’s life? Now I really want to LOVE this movie but I feel like I never felt quite invested in the story for whatever reason, and the constant bickering of the tree boys sometimes get tiresome instead of amusing.

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About halfway through, I noticed my hubby nearly falling asleep watching this. Though I was more engaged than him, I could understand why he tuned out. Nothing rarely happened in this movie, it was simply one kooky scenario after another along their journey, i.e. Peter buying a small cobra in a box (and later losing it), Francis having one of his very expensive shoe stolen, a weird ceremonial burying of a peacock feather that I have no clue what it’s about, etc. I think the only truly memorable scene, which is the most emotional one of the entire 1.5 hour running time, is the time the three brothers rescued three Indian young boys who fall into a river. It’s a moment of benevolence for all three of them that seemed quite life-changing.

Some of the metaphors range from obscure to obvious, but since I don’t really connect with the characters, it’s lacking emotional resonance for me. The Louis Vuitton luggage set with their dad’s initial on them represent an emotional baggage of some kind, though I still have no clue just who their father was other than he must’ve been well off. Towards the end, their mother (Anjelica Huston) entered the picture. I wouldn’t spoil it for you but that experience also changed the way they look at their lives and each other. By the end, their relationship had a 180-degree turn from being reluctant siblings who couldn’t stand each other. “I wonder if the three of us would’ve been friends in real life. Not as brothers, but as people,” Jack asked halfway through, and I think the ending answered that question for us. I do like that the story is primarily focused on these three characters from start to finish. Bill Murray‘s cameo as a businessman felt like it was well, obligatory, as I don’t think there’s really a point to his appearance.

Now, I’m glad I finally saw this as even a so-so Wes Anderson film and despite its flaws, it’s still fairly entertaining. I quite like the music here by The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and the French song in the finale Aux Champs Élysées seems to fit the mood of the scene perfectly. That said, I don’t consider this one my favorite amongst Anderson’s work. In fact, it’s just not something I’m keen on watching again, unlike The Fantastic Mr Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, or his latest one, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Stay tuned for my review of that on Friday!

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What do you think of The Darjeeling Limited?