The Naro staff has chosen a few of Wes Anderson’s best live-action films to showcase in our run-up to the release of his newest feature The French Dispatch opening here on Nov 5th.
What is the Wes Anderson style? Is it a mixture of vintage tchotchkes, droll repartee, intricate and rich pastel set design? Well … yes, but there’s more to it than that, a lot of which has generally gone unnoticed. The Wes Anderson aesthetic is much more deliberate. It seems simple, but it’s actually complex. The viewer gets to enjoy a sophisticated, tongue-in-cheek feature that spoon-feeds its audience with inside-information. His stories are undeniably fun, and he is one of the only working directors who can pull off massive tonal shifts and shift genres within the same feature.
The French Dispatch
The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun is a 2021 American comedy-drama anthology film written, directed, and produced by Wes Anderson from a story he conceived with Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness, and Jason Schwartzman. The film stars an ensemble cast featuring 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. Its plot follows three different storylines, as the French foreign bureau of a fictional Kansas newspaper creates its final issue.
Additional cast members in The French Dispatch include Liev Schreiber, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, Elisabeth Moss, Jason Schwartzman, and Anjelica Huston.
“Anderson’s extraordinary 10th feature, which premiered at the festival earlier this evening, is the cinematic equivalent of a brakeless freewheel through a teeming bazaar…” – Robbiw Collin, Daily Telegraph (UK)
“This is Anderson in full flower, one that only grows in a rarified altitude.” – Todd McCarthy, Deadline Hollywood Daily
“A work of such unparalleled Andersonian wit, that at times the sheer level of detail – mobile, static, graphic and typographic – that bedecked the screen was enough to make your correspondent’s jaw slacken.” – Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Visually stunning, exceptionally well-acted, beautifully written, and masterfully executed, The Grand Budapest Hotel may well be Anderson’s crown achievement. A glorious hotel in the mountains is the location of many exciting events over the years, this is the story from the perspective of the present owner who was once a hardworking lobby boy mentored by the silk-tongued concierge played by Ralph Fiennes. Displayed on a miniature set that was carefully handcrafted, it makes for a gorgeous frame to go along with this treasure of film history. (2014, PG-13, 99 mins) Sun., Oct 24 @ 6:30 | Tue., Oct. 26 @ 5pm | Thu., Oct. 28 @ 8:15
The Royal Tennenbaums
One of the first films where we really start feeling the Anderson signature filmmaking style. This is a story about a big family and a whole smorgasbord of issues that arise from their physically and emotionally absent father. Featuring the biggest combination of on-screen talent of all his films, the performances are all incredibly poignant and carry all their own meanings. Plus, Alec Baldwin randomly narrates throughout the film which just gives it that shiny cherry on top. Thinking about this movie just brings back the emotions and the laughs that it consistently provides, making it an absolute highlight for movies released in the early 2000s. (2001, PG-13, 110 mins) Sat., Oct. 23 @ 4:30 | Tue., Oct. 26 @ 7:15 | Thu., Oct. 28 @ 6pm
With an entirely wholesome main plot that stays consistent with his theme of adventure, Moonrise Kingdom is one of Wes Anderson’s later live-action films where he really starts to get his formula down. On the island of New Penzance in 1965, there is a community that lives an abnormal, campy life, where two kids have fallen in love and decide they will run away together. The young character played wonderfully by Jared Gilman is much more courageous and bold than he was apparently, as the story plays out in a dreamlike fashion. (2012, PG-13, 94 mins) Fri., Oct. 22 @ 7pm | Mon., Oct. 25 @ 7:15 | Wed., Oct. 27 @ 5pm
The Life Aquatic
When marine biologist/documentarian/ship captain Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) loses his mentor to the legendary jaguar shark, he makes it his mission to hunt and kill the creature while, of course, documenting it all. The reason the movie is bleak is the main character, Steve Zissou (played wonderfully by Bill Murray), who provokes a strange sort of curiosity if the viewer chooses to look a little deeper and see his many life failures. This feature ranks quite high on the quirky scale even for our famously quirky creator, Wes Anderson. With Owen Wilson and Angelica Houston. (2004, PG-13, 119 mins) Sat., Oct. 23 @ 7pm | Mon., Oct 25 @ 4:45 | Wed., Oct 26 @ 7:15