French Dispatch Review Round-Up (no spoilers)

** 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.”

David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

“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. “

Eric Kohn, IndieWire B+

“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.”

Friday News Round-Up 5/25/12

It’s here, it’s finally here! It’s opening day! Buy your tickets early and often to support Wes and luxuriate in his newest cinematic masterpiece (and confidentially, as few of our editors have already seen the film, we can confirm it’s as wonderful as you had hoped.)

With that said, it’s time to get down to brass tacks, here’s your Friday Round-up:

On-going coverage of Moonrise Kingdom’s premiere at Cannes

(photo credit: Pop Sugar)

Last updated: 16 May 2012, 2:36 pm ET


  • Telegraph (UK)“Moonrise Kingdom (the name Sam and Suzy give their secret hideaway) is a worthy addition to Anderson’s canon – his deadpan wit meshes nicely with a generous view of human imperfections. A mood elevator of a movie, it’s an ideal opener to a sunny, blue-skies Cannes.” 4/5 stars
  • Time Out London – “This is an American story but it has an unmistakeable French flavour to it. The 1960s setting, the kids on the run and the wild plotting (a bit too wild in the final third), all give it a nouvelle vague feel. It’s an American ‘Pierrot le Fou’ refashioned in retrospect with Anna Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo as pre-teens.” 4/5 stars
  • Hollywood Reporter“Wes Anderson’s Cannes opening-night film is a highly idiosyncratic, impeccable made portrait of young love. A blandly inexpressive title is the worst thing about Moonrise Kingdom, a willfully eccentric pubescent love story in which even the most minute detail has been attended to in the manner of the most obsessive maker of 19th century dollhouses.”
  • Variety“What is childhood if not an island cut off from the grown-up world around it, and what is first love if not a secret cove known only to the two parties caught in its spell? While no less twee than Wes Anderson’s earlier pictures, “Moonrise Kingdom” supplies a poignant metaphor for adolescence itself, in which a universally appealing tale of teenage romance cuts through the smug eccentricity and heightened artificiality with which Anderson has allowed himself to be pigeonholed. A prestigious opening-night slot at Cannes lends luster to Focus’ May 25 release, but not enough to grow his audience.”
  • Film Comment – “Key to its magic is the candlelit production of Britten’s opera about Noah’s ark, Noye’s Fludde, which the town is putting on in the wonderfully named Church of St. Jack. Sam first encounters Suzy there while she is costumed as the raven Noah sends off to find dry land, and the film’s giddy denouement unfolds during an actual storm when the community has taken refuge in the church, which stands in for the ark. Children clad as paired animals—in vivid costumes inspired by Camille Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals—echo the movie’s emphasis on love, friendship, and imagination. Like The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, and like Moonrise Kingdom itself, Noye’s Fludde celebrates beauty in a variety of forms and how it all can come together in a wondrous whole. “
  • IndieWire – “There are diehard Wes Anderson fans and then there’s everyone else. “Moonrise Kingdom,” the idiosyncratic auteur’s seventh feature, eagerly pitches itself toward that first group of audiences and ignores the rest. But those open to Anderson quirks will find a rewarding experience littered with warmth and playful humor.”
  • Film 4 Blog – “It’s doubtful this will win over any outright Anderson sceptics, but as someone who wasn’t sure about a couple of his more recent films, this is an exciting reaffirmation of talent (I’d say it’s his best since Tenenbaums).”
  • Atlantic “He’s still a filmmaker teetering dangerously on the brink of terminal tweeness, but Sam and Suzy bring out Anderson’s sincere side. “Moonrise Kingdom” is about romantic love, but it’s also about love of books, music, nature, and objects—in many regards, a movie that allows Anderson to be himself in a way most of his recent efforts haven’t. It may fade from memory as the festival proceeds, but for now at least, “Moonrise Kingdom” has me reconsidering a filmmaker I had started to write off.”
  • The House Next Door – “Moonrise Kingdom is therefore an unabashed continuation and, what’s more, intensification of the rigorous aesthetic preoccupations and occasionally precious thematic concerns that have long marked Anderson’s films. Since, time and again, adolescent precocity has been his narrative meat and potatoes, he can be given a certain amount of latitude for such indulgences as his obsession with handwritten notes and other kinds of communiqués”
  • Press Play – “Moonrise Kingdom is a great success, both within the context of Wes Anderson’s body of work and as a work unto itself.”
  • Hitfix – “Gilman and Hayward are exquisite as Sam and Suzy, and I like that they don’t look like polished, perfect Disney Channel kids.  They have big personalities that are just starting to come into focus, and they feel like real kids, struggling with the disappointments that are inherent to the maturation process.”
  • Little White Lies – “Yet with Moonrise Kingdom, Anderson has made a film about youth that feels like it was ripped from the overactive imagination of a 12-year-old. It’s like a Prairie Home Companion version of Romeo and Juliet as made by a raffish aesthete. But the biggest coup here is that Anderson has finally managed to anchor his trademark whimsy with a sincere and heady romanticism, and by the end, you may even be reaching for your immaculately embroidered handkerchief (or neck scarf) to wipe away the tears.”
  • Thompson on Hollywood – “It’s fun watching Anderson manipulate this superb cast, who deliver delicious, precisely scripted comic moments surrounded by such archaic 1965 props as walkie-talkies, megaphones and person-to-person split screen phone calls.”


Roger Ebert Reviews Fantastic Mr. Fox

Ebert's Golden Thumb

Roger Ebert has reviewed the film, and as with The Darjeeling Limited, he awards it 3 1/2 stars. Full review after the break.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

BY ROGER EBERT / November 24, 2009

Some artists have a way of riveting your vision with the certitude of what they do. This has nothing to do with subject or style. It’s inexplicable. Andy Warhol and Grandma Moses. The spareness of Bergman or the Fellini circus. Wes Anderson is like that. There’s nothing consistent about his recent work but its ability to make me go zooinng! What else do “The Darjeeling Limited” and “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” have in common?

Continue reading “Roger Ebert Reviews Fantastic Mr. Fox”

Fantastic Mr. Fox Reviews

Fantastic Mr. Fox takes in the reviews

With Friday’s release of Fantastic Mr. Fox in New York and Los Angeles, tons of reviews are pouring in. We’ll try and keep tab on most of them here, positive and negative, and will update as more appear. Excerpts below, full reviews at the links to the left of them. At the time of posting, the film had an 87% at Metacritic, and a 93% at Rotten Tomatoes. To see a similar round-up of UK reviews from a few weeks back, click here.

New York Times, A.O. Scott – “So “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which Mr. Anderson wrote with Noah Baumbach, and which he has been hoping to make for many years, is in some ways his most fully realized and satisfying film. Once you adjust to its stop-and-start rhythms and its scruffy looks, you can appreciate its wit, its beauty and the sly gravity of its emotional undercurrents.” Critic’s Pick

Fresh Air (NPR), David Edelstein – “For all the engineering behind The Fantastic Mr. Fox, it still feels handmade, as if the artists were in the room, manipulating everything onscreen. When it ended, I wished they’d come out and take a bow: animation director Mark Gustafson, cinematographer Tristan Oliver, designer Nelson Lowry, the whole team. And of course Wes Anderson, who for the first time has a right to preen.” (Edelstein also reviews the film for New York Magazine)

Village Voice, Scott Foundas – “For the reportedly painstaking labor it took to create, the film is a marvel to behold—with wonderful shifts in perspective, an intensely tactile design, and an intentional herky-jerkiness of motion that only enriches the make-believe atmosphere”

Continue reading “Fantastic Mr. Fox Reviews”

Glenn Kenny Reviews Mr. Fox

As we reportedly earlier, he’s quite fond of the film.

One of the consolations of art is that it can be used to remake the world, up to a point. And this consolation applies as much to the artist doing the remaking as it might to the consumer of the resultant art product. “Wes Anderson fans will note that Mr. Fox’s wardrobe bears an uncanny resemblance to the suits the director wore during his clipped haircut/pre contact-lens phase,” my friend Kent Jones says in his terrific Film Comment cover essay on Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson’s new film, a stop-motion animated adaptation of a Roald Dahl wryly-funny-animal tale. I imagine it must have been fun for Anderson to reinvent a former self of his as a snappy, clever, fun-loving semi-rogue who’s also an idiosyncratic, self-appointed savior to his community. Just as I imagine it had to have been at least a bit sadly self-knowing of him to give the obsessive, self-deluding, heartbroken, and finally suicidal Richie Tenenbaum that camel-hair jacket. 

Continue reading “Glenn Kenny Reviews Mr. Fox”

Fantastic Mr. Fox Reviews (on-going)

Evening Standard: 4 stars. “The resulting film, though, is brilliantly eccentric, a cult classic in the making and a bold choice for tonight’s opening gala of the 53rd London Film Festival… And though Wes Anderson may have cocked a cheeky leg on some childhood memories, he has produced a distinctively individual work of art and entertainment.”

Time Out London: 4 stars. “Like much of Anderson’s work, it’s cool on the eye and cool on the heart.”

Telegraph: Though his move into animation marks a detour for Anderson, it’s recognisably his film, with its deadpan wit, playful running gags and judicious use of music; there’s a lovely chase sequence early on, set to the Beach Boys’ Heroes and Villains. It’s accomplished work with a cheerful sense of uplift. Not a bad way to kick off a film festival.”

Screen Daily: “If Anderson has a spiritual affinity with Dahl’s written word, he also has a vision of Foxy’s world which recalls Quentin Blake’s illustrations but goes much further; it’s this sustained creativeness that sets Fox apart in a similar way to Nick Park’s Wallace & Gromit. As for the puppets, Fox himself is indeed fantastic; long and lean, standing on tiptoes in his cut-off-trouser-suit and slightly threadbare, he could come from a toy cupboard yet is the perfect incarnation of the Vulpes vulpes who called everyone ‘darling’ in Dahl’s book. When he bares his teeth or shreds his toast it’s worth the price of admission alone.”

Variety: “The film’s style, paradoxically both precious and rough-hewn, positions this as the season’s defiantly anti-CGI toon, and its retro charms will likely appeal more strongly to grown-ups than to moppets; it’s a picture for people who would rather drive a 1953 Jaguar XK 120 than a new one. B.O. for this Fox release will no doubt be closer to that of ‘Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’ than of ‘Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.'” “Throughout the film, Anderson has replaced any obscenities that would appear in the character’s dialogue with the word ‘cuss’… Not only did it temporarily eject the viewer from the world the film had created, but it also seemed entirely inappropriate for a film where much of the audience would be young children. That flaw aside, ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ is a hugely enjoyable film that combines the highly stylized worlds of Wes Anderson and Roald Dahl perfectly. While it may frustrate those who expect a straight adaptation of the book, the fast pace and quick wit of the film should satisfy most viewers, even if they aren’t fans of Anderson’s previous work.”

Guardian: 4 stars. “Wes Anderson gets his eccentric groove back on with a witty and likeable movie for little kids and their hip older siblings. It’s a demi-Americanised, wholly Andersonised version of the 1970 Roald Dahl children’s tale Fantastic Mr Fox, all about an elegant furry rapscallion pulling off the chicken-chomping crime of the century against three apoplectic farmers… It’s a smart and well-written kink in the furry Dahl tale.”

Independent: 3 stars. “Fantastic Mr Fox has a gently subversive edge that many mainstream animated features lack. It celebrates a hero in Mr Fox who is a habitual thief. With all its imagery of furry creatures down holes, there is a mild erotic charge here too. The dialogue is smart and sassy enough to entertain the adults. Kids should enjoy the antics of the younger foxes, Fox’s son Ash (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), desperate to emulate his feats, and his karate expert cousin Kristofferson (Eric Anderson). It is possible, though, that the film will prove too spiky and idiosyncratic for the mainstream audience that its producers clearly crave.”

Pure Movies: 4 stars. “Fantastic Mr Fox is a warm-hearted, visually striking film that although will appeal primarily to adults, will hopefully also be a success with younger audiences too. It is a bold choice for the Opening Gala for this year’s London Film Festival, but early critical reaction seems strong. Wes Anderson has proved himself once again to be one of the most creative directors working in the film industry today and Fantastic Mr Fox is a stand-out addition to his already impressive list of credits.”

Hollywood Repoter: “Although sometimes too sly for its own good, this great-looking carnivorous caper brings Wes Anderson’s whimsical melancholy to a kids’ classic.Although sometimes too sly for its own good, this great-looking carnivorous caper brings Wes Anderson’s whimsical melancholy to a kids’ classic.”

Box Office: 4 1/2 stars. “A witty script, brilliantly animated with stop motion techniques and wonderfully voiced by a cast led by George Clooney and Meryl Streep make quirky director Wes Anderson’s first foray into ‘toons a major winner and a total delight. Adapted from Roald Dahl’s best selling children’s book about a wily fox whose family life is threatened when he re-enters his “criminal” past, Fantastic Mr. Fox is indeed fantastic in every way. Returns from this Fox for 20th Century Fox should be sweet with an endless afterlife on DVD.”

Times: 4 stars. “You have a children’s film that is concerned mostly with the quiet consistent heartbreak of family life. And yes, the movie is as stylistically meticulous as you would expect from Anderson, with his trademark proscenium framing, baroque production design and standout soundtrack (including the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys). But it’s the small intimacies — the wiping of a tear from fluffy fur, the fleeting reconciliation of father and son — that suggest the work of a master.”

The Playlist: B-. “It’s undeniably a minor work, but it’s more consistently entertaining and cohesive than either “The Life Aquatic” or “The Darjeeling Limited,” despite its inability to compete with the likes of Pixar in emotional terms.”

In Contention: 3 stars. “The medium of stop-motion animation complements Anderson’s obsessive preoccupation with costuming and set-dressing beautifully: details that can seem overbearingly precious in his live-action work here lend the film a handmade quality that enriches the action rather than stifling it.”

Hit Fix: “…this is a Wes Anderson film in every way.  You can absolutely feel his overall sensibility at play in every detail of what you see onscreen.  The script, co-adapted by Anderson and Noah Baumbach, is a delight, a very funny riff off of the original Roald Dahl source material, and the result is one of the most giddy comedies of the year.”

more soon…