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The French Dispatch Review: Wes Anderson Loves The New Yorker and the New Wave

Wes Anderson’s carefully crafted omnibus narrative The French shipping takes his pursuit of beauty to new levels, but he struggles to make it more than a visual exercise. Its rotation by a bevy of distant correspondents begins with an eulogy: Arthur Howitzer Jr. (Bill Murray), based on The New Yorker Founder Harold Ross has died. Howitzer, a Midwestern inspired by his youthful travels to France, wanted to send the events of Ennui-sur-Blasé back to the corn fields of Kansas. So he started a sleek magazine The French shipping, as an addition to The evening sun.

The film does not deal with the death of the howitzer. Anderson only notes that he died at his desk and that his last wish is To ship to cease publication after his death, with the last issue dedicated to his obituary. The rest of the film takes place before his death, showing how his low-key, spirited defense of his neurotic journalists and blasé demeanor helped create the stories that made up each issue. His favorite piece of advice for his writers: “Try to make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose.”

The film is divided into five separate vignettes, each of which pertains to a reported column on a specific newspaper section written by one of the journalists. As is often the case with anthology-style films, some sections work better than others. Anderson’s penchant for dry comedies that used to explain grief, the inner workings of dysfunctional people and children experiencing the loss of their innocence comes to the fore again. And yet this is the director’s least digestible work. It is supposedly a love letter to her New Yorker of yore, but during The French shipping exhibiting Anderson’s familiar aesthetic style, it is often a distant omnibus that could only appeal to its most ardent fans.

Tilda Swinton, Lois Smith, Adrien Brody, Henry Winkler, Bob Balaban and many others pack into a car in Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch and stare at the camera.

Photo: Searchlight Pictures

From the beginning of the movie, it is difficult to square the emotional line. The first story comes from the travel writer Herbsaint Sazerac (Owen Wilson), a slapstick exposé that is shaped by his bike tour through the shabbier areas of Ennui. In the second story, “The Concrete Masterpiece”, an imprisoned sociopathic painter (Benicio del Toro) becomes aware of a shopkeeper and imprisoned art dealer (Adrien Brody). Léa Seydoux plays a prison guard and is Del Toro’s muse. And Tilda Swinton’s JKL Berensen is the reporter. None of these stories are narrative conspicuous. The amusement stems from the actors’ dedication to the play – especially Del Toro and Swinton, as two idiosyncratic characters who don’t care about how people perceive them.

Other stories also fail: In “Revisions To A Manifesto” the reporter Lucinda Krementz (Frances McDormand) portrays rebellious students who imposed a revolution in May 1968. dune Star Timothée Chalamet portraying Dylan-esque retribution for him Lady Bird Character, is the student leader while Lyna Khoudri takes on the role of his hostile teenage opposition. Chalamet approaches the role head on, portraying his character with an enforced confidence, a kind of projected maturity that only serves to cover up his insecurities. McDormand also plays a role that she has previously taken on with greater success: her “strict adult trying to relate to the youth” character here does not do justice to her role Almost famous.

If these stories come to life, it’s because of Anderson’s familiar imagery. He relies on sharp, structured black and white, a cool color palette (he seems to switch to color for no reason) and animation. His compositions are always carefully considered, but his depth of field is richer and denser than ever before. He clearly composes odes to the French new wave stars Jean-Luc Godard and Jean Renoir. The only part of the framework that hasn’t been fully realized is Elisabeth Moss, who plays a minor, ungrateful role than that To ship Editor. But when it comes to travel, food, art, and politics, Anderson has little to say but aping other literary styles.

These vignettes are beautiful facsimiles of fascination New Yorker Columns, but they are not interesting in and of themselves. They are talkative, unassuming longreads that can be interpreted as an ode to journalism, a kind of voice-specific reporting that has apparently been lost today. But Anderson is not only concerned with the stark, rapidly changing perspectives of journalists. It is worth considering how The French shipping opens. The film’s narrator, voiced by Anjelica Huston, explains how the newspaper’s sensitivity reflects the personal tastes of its founder.

Tilda Swinton, in an orange bouffant and blaze orange layered dress, on a spotlight podium in Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch

Photo: Searchlight Pictures

Andersons The French shipping is not just a love letter to journalism, it is a romanization of an ideal editor. In countless scenes, Howitzer analyzes the copy for redundancy and searches the prose lines to shed light on the core of a play. Although he protests his writers’ exorbitant spending, their word count and the way they deliver stories he didn’t originally assign, he never cuts a column. He finds a way to align his writers’ voices with his vision. With that logic in mind, every illustration we see has been selected to his liking, allowing for double curation from both the character and Anderson. In a way, he’s the own editor-in-chief of his film, bringing together these diverse actors he deeply trusts.

Maybe therefore The French shippingThe final section of the film carries the kindest heart in the film. “The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner” follows Jeffrey Wright, who portrays a food critic with a photographic memory of every word he has ever written. The character appears on a talk show hosted by Liev Schreiber, presumably long after Howitzer’s death. The author tells how on the night a chauffeur (Edward Norton) kidnapped his son Gigi (Winston Ait Hellal), he met the renowned chef Nescaffier (Stephen Park) when he was visiting a police superintendent (Mathieu Amalric). It’s a cute story because Wright’s character is the only journalist to thank Howitzer. His monument is real, touching and without overzealous aesthetic frills, made possible by Wright’s detailed but vulnerable performance.

The tenor that Wright strikes leads perfectly to the film’s laudatory ending. Howitzer’s writers gather to write his obituary in tribute to their fallen leader. But there are a lot of ramifications in this film (the double images of the artist, chalamets two lovers, etc.) and that is reflected in the duplication in this scene. Anderson’s trusted cast members also pay homage to him in some ways, praising his vision and approach. It doesn’t seem like a deliberate decision Anderson made – if it had been, he might have personalized this movie sooner.

But given the abundance of styles, themes and stories, The French shipping could reveal more of its real charm with successive reprints. However, on a single look the film bears little fruit, at least not for the last 20 minutes, other than allowing the director to work his visual magic. For a work that moves to a conscious beat, that may not be enough for non-Anderson acolytes. The French shipping is possibly the worst film in the director’s career. But even his worst exertion is worth the bullet.

The French shipping Premiere in cinemas on October 22nd, with a wider rollout on October 29th.

In Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch, Timothée Chalamet and Lyna Khoudri lean against opposite sides of an outdoor jukebox (is that a thing?) And turn away.

Photo: Searchlight Pictures

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