Stop The Presses!
The French Dispatch
Stars: Mathieu Amalric, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Timothee Chalamet, Benicio Del Toro, Lyna Khouri, Frances McDormand, Lea Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Jeffrey Wright, Willem Dafoe, Anjelica Huston, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Live Schreiber, Jason Schwartzman, Henry Winkler and Christoph Waltz.
Director/Scriptwriter: Wes Anderson
Composer: Alexander Desplat
Cinematographer: Robert D. Yeoman
Indian Paintbrush/Searchlight Pictures
Rating: R for themed material
Running Length: 103 Minutes
Director Wes Anderson is at it again. A story within a story within a story,” The French Dispatch” is about a newspaper, and a special one, “The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun.” (Persons living in Kansas know there is a Liberty, Missouri, too). Why “French Dispatch?” The owner, aptly played by Bill Murray left the U.S. and went to France to start a newspaper there. The story is a tongue-in-cheek about the closing down of a newspaper, and in today’s world, that is what is really happening, the small ones are going and the larger ones are ads, news, ads, flyers, ads, and, oh, yes, news. Not like newspapers of generations ago when writers actually lived in other countries and used typewriters or telephones or telegraph to convey news from abroad. This is how “The French Dispatch” began, and when the editor, Arthur Howitzer, Jr. (Bill Murray), passed away, the paper is done. He had a “No Crying” sign in his office. The last edition is gathering all the news and then the audience begins to see the various personalities who made the news (revolutionists, lovers, and genuine writers). You may need paper and pen to follow the stories and characters. Quite a cast. What actors who were not busy at the moment, are in this film.
The film has four main parts, with several sub-plots, so be aware of an enormous list of characters and what they do in the movie. We begin with a bicyclist (Luke Wilson) who writes a Travel Column while traveling on a bicycle, and giving you a short tour of Ennui, France (ennui in many ways). Then, we go to visit Rosenthaler (Benicio del Toro in a stand-out role) as a murderer who is also an artist and likes to paint the prison guard, Simone (Lea Seydoux from “James Bond”).
After that, we visit student revolutionaries with Frances McDormand (Lucinda) who introduces the audience to Timothee Chalamet from "Dune" (Zeffirelli ), plus Lyna Khouri (Juliette), a fellow student. Last, there is Jeffrey Wright (another good role) as Roebuck Wright, a who writes about food. Not your usual cooking segment, this one has a food tasting and a kidnapping, so the readers of “The French Dispatch”, are getting crime, too. This reminds one very much of “The New Yorker” magazine.
I liked the second part best, titled “The Concrete Masterpiece.” The acting is almost split second as the characters change direction and facial expressions. It would be difficult to point at stand-out performances, as the entire cast could be listed at Oscar Nomination time. Including Wes Anderson for Original Screenplay, besides Director. However, there are Benicio del Toro and Lea Seydoux as the psychopathic prisoner who is also a sculpture and the girl who is his prison guard and model. Jeffrey Wright as a food editor, Adrien Brody as an art dealer, Christoph Waltz as an art collector, or Willem Dafoe as a walking calculator.
Much like “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” this film has the touch of Wes Anderson and that includes set design. This is part cartoon and part realistic, so you know the topics will be comic in a serious zone (food tasting), or serious in a comic zone (the psychopathic sculpture). Adam Stockhausen’s production design, mixing models with miniatures, gives the audience the town of Ennui-sur-Blasé. The mixture of background art and real life works well and gives the audience a variation from “what could be” to “oh, really?” This is a film that has a psychopath, kidnapping, revolutionaries and regular reporters. Typewriters are used and a news room is a wooden desk, lots of paper and pens and pencils and going back into the past where the gathering of news was not to be outrageous, but to just plain report what is happening.
Copyright 2021 Marie Asner