“Unfortunately, [those who booed as the credits rolled at the press screening] led into the dark before I could debate them on the essential role imagination plays in Anderson’s filmography, which would surely have been an exciting time for us both.”
“What’s more interesting, I think, are the increasingly dark tones at the edges of Anderson’s Technicolor dream. This is a director whose last live-action film ended with fascism descending on Central Europe, so it’s not exactly new, but still, it’s striking how much of The French Dispatch, which began shooting way back in the fall of 2018, turns out to mirror the cultural flash points of the past 14 months — somehow, Hollywood’s least-contemporary filmmaker has made a movie all about prison, protests, police. Perhaps all those boos were merely an expression of dismay: If even Wes Anderson is picking up on this stuff, we’re fucked.”
“This is also arguably the director’s his most detail-oriented work; the runtime flies by as we become immersed in the meticulously constructed world. Anderson isn’t just a filmmaker, he’s an architect, crafting intricate worlds for viewers to get lost in. This one requires a little concentration to follow all the dialogue and storylines, but it’s a pleasure to be in the hands of a storyteller who cares so deeply about every aspect of his work.”
The film “is the cinematic equivalent of a brakeless freewheel through a teeming bazaar – if said bazaar was stacked with beautiful vintage artefacts, all meticulously arranged.”
“The film is a hymn to human curiosity and compulsions – Anderson is clearly besotted with the style of journalism that hammers away at niche pet topics over thousands of words. But it’s also about the necessary incompleteness of a curious life.”
“Like his latest menagerie of rovers, visionaries and outsiders, Anderson does nothing by halves.”
‘It’s a significant breakthrough to see the director engaging with sexuality and violence as aspects of real life. Yes, there’s still an ironic distance between such elements and the audience, but ‘The French Dispatch’ feels less safe than Anderson’s earlier work, and that’s a good thing.”
“Apart from Ernst Lubitsch or Jacques Tati, it’s hard to imagine another director who has put this level of effort into crafting a comedy, where every costume, prop and casting choice has been made with such a reverential sense of absurdity. If that sounds airless or exhausting, think again: Sure, it takes work to unpack, but the ensemble ensures that Anderson’s humorous creations feel human.”
Credit: Photos de Laura
** no spoilers here ** If you click through, you are on your own.
Peter Bradshaw, Guardian 4/5 stars
“To which I can only say … sure, yes, more fun, more buoyancy, more elegance, more marvellously eccentric invention, more originality. It might not be at the very zenith of what he can achieve but for sheer moment-by-moment pleasure, and for laughs, this is a treat.”
Nicholas Barber, BBC 4/5 stars
“The French Dispatch has to be one of the most labour-intensive films in existence. It makes The Grand Budapest Hotel look as if it was improvised over a weekend and shot with a smartphone. “
“There is something delightfully perverse about Anderson’s hyper-industrious treatment of such flimsy material. His craftsmanship is so overwhelming that unless you’re already allergic to his tics and trademarks, you should get a buzz from the film’s many, many incidental pleasures. One thing’s for sure: there is nothing quite like The French Dispatch – except Anderson’s other films, of course.”
“While The French Dispatch might seem like an anthology of vignettes without a strong overarching theme, every moment is graced by Anderson’s love for the written word and the oddball characters who dedicate their professional lives to it. There’s a wistful sense of time passing and a lovely ode to the pleasures of travel embedded in the material, along with an appreciation for the history of American foreign correspondents who bring their perceptive outsider gaze to other cultures. “
“Anderson’s movies may be pretty, whimsical flights of fancy, but they also express genuine curiosity about the strange nature of human relations.”
“On a certain level, the fate of the paper suggests that this kind of handmade approach to distinctive human experiences died long ago, and Anderson’s salute to an earlier era may also be his version of an elegy. Certainly, the precise, discursive storytelling of “The French Dispatch” is in constant peril, but the very existence of this delightful movie is proof that it hasn’t gone away yet.”
“Wes Anderson is shooting his new movie in Spain, with production set to begin in September.
In a recent interview with Variety, Tilda Swinton revealed that she will star in the project, specific details of which are being kept closely under wraps…
The project is believed to have originally planned to shoot in Rome, but moved to Spain earlier this year. Sets resembling a desert landscape have been going up in Chinchón, a small town located southeast of Madrid, over the last two months, as reported by Spanish outlet El Pais. However, the film isn’t believed to necessarily be a western.”
Some highlights (spoilers ahead for design nerds):
- “[Production designer Adam] Stockhausen explains that all Anderson projects begin with an animatic. “The animatic is really a way of thinking through the entire movie from an animation point of view and building the entire film shot by shot in a way that defines the scope of what you see… In The French Dispatch, some of the live action is in miniature context, some is in context of the location and some are full-scale set builds.”
- “’The film is broken up into different stories each of which has its own visual story, so the task of design is multiplied,’ Stockhausen says. There is even a pure animated sequence. ‘Conventionally you introduce a set and keep going back to it over and over again. Here, we introduce places and 20 minutes later we’re done with that story, never to return.'”
- “Tonal references included The Red Balloon, a 1956 French fantasy short filmed in the Ménilmontant neighbourhood of Paris, and photos of Paris before its reconstruction in the mid-19th century. ‘The idea was to find a town which felt like Paris but not as it is today – more a sort of memory of Paris, the Paris of Jacques Tati,’ explains Stockhausen.”
- “The French Dispatch is shot on 35mm with Yeoman finding the texture of negative film more in keeping with the story’s artisanal aesthetic. Several sequences are shot in black and white with colour used for emphasis, for instance when actress Saoirse Ronan leans forward to reveal her blue eyes.”
- “Anderson also uses different aspect ratios to tell parts of this story. It’s a technique he has used before, notably on ‘Budapest’ when Yeoman shot 1:37 for the scenes that take place with concierge Gustave to signify the time period of the 1930s and 1940s.”
Motherbaugh’s version of “Hey Jude” is one of my absolute favorites (“Go Mordecai!”). It was not included on the original 2001 soundtrack release but was added to the 2002 re-release.
Watch the trailer here.