The exquisitely and extremely curated life of filmmaker Wes Anderson has always resembled a mosaic of high-browed great taste, be it music, sartorial style, costumes, food, fashionable friends, literary discrimination, culture and the various arts. Maybe not unlike an eclectic and well-curated edition of the New Yorker, a magazine Anderson has been vocally fond of and enthusiastic about for years. So, for his latest film, “The French Dispatch,” Anderson is using the venerable New York cultural magazine as a jumping point to explore what seems to be a potpourri of disparate vignettes and stories.
To rewind slightly, in 2015, Anderson said he wanted to make two different movies, one, an animated movie about dogs (which became 2018’s “Isle Of Dogs”) and an anthology film, but one that was made all by one director featuring many of that filmmaker’s stories within that one omnibus picture (he cited Vittorio De Sica‘s “The Gold of Naples” as the influence).
And he may have utilized that idea for “The French Dispatch,” which takes the New Yorker framework—journalists working at a popular magazine— to explore a greatest hits collection of the short stories reported on within, some of which are told in black and white, mostly a first for Anderson outside of his 16mm short version of “Bottle Rocket.”
Here’s the official synopsis:
THE FRENCH DISPATCH brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city. It stars 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.
Anderson’s film is set in a fictional French town (Ennui-sur-Blasé) and the magazine within is called The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun. The film is said to use the death of their celebrated editor as a catalyst for the journalists to look back on some of their most distinguished stories and the film brings several of them to life, how many in total is currently unknown. But, it sounds not unlike “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” as well that used a literary framing device to explore several different time periods in the life of a hotel concierge and his loyal lobby boy. The story, after all, was conceived of by Anderson, Jason Schwartzman, Roman Coppola, and Hugo Guinness, the same for men credited with the ‘Grand Budapest’ screenplay ideas as well.
The cast of the film is stacked and it includes,Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Benicio Del Toro, Jeffrey Wright, Adrien Brody, Léa Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Mathieu Amalric, Lyna Khoudri, Stephen Park, Elisabeth Moss, Saoirse Ronan, Owen Wilson, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jason Schwartzman, Henry Winkler, Bill Murray and many more.
“The French Dispatch” won’t hit American shores until July 24, 2020 via Searchlight Pictures, but the Cannes Film Festival in May sure feels like the proper place to debut the film to the world. In the meantime, feast your eyes on the first trailer and soak it all in.