Wes Anderson’s latest anthology film The French Dispatch is a love letter to journalists, as the director himself described the basic plot of the film. The movie features three main stories from the final issue of an American magazine in France set in the 20th-century at a fictional town of Ennui-sur-Blasé . The movie reunites Anderson with actors he has collaborated with in his previous films, including Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan, Owen Wilson, Mathieu Amalric, Bob Balaban, and Léa Seydoux. In addition, Jeffrey Wright, Timothée Chalamet, Guillaume Gallienne, Benicio del Toro, Lyna Khoudr, and Stephen Park also join Anderson’s pastel-colored world in the film. In an article published by ABC, they described the plot’s film as “Structured around sections of the titular rag – a European offshoot of an American literary journal, inspired by The New Yorker – it features a series of beautifully crafted, if occasionally mechanical vignettes that riff on the contributing writers’ various beats: arts, politics, cooking, a dash of the obituaries.” Vox published a review of the film, saying, “For Wes-heads, The French Dispatch is likely satisfying. It’s like a greatest hits album, with many of his favorite themes: loneliness, friendship, family, love, death. Every intricate tableau and winking nod to his influences feels like a nudge to the audience, an invitation to be in on the joke.” Here are five movies to watch when you’re done with The French Dispatch.
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
Wes Anderson’s adventure comedy film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou tells the story of an oceanographer, played by Bill Murray, who plans revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner. He partners with a pregnant journalist played by Cate Blanchett to chronicle the mission together with other crew members, including his estranged wife (Anjelica Huston) and a young airline copilot (Owen Wilson). The film is an homage to French diving pioneer Jacques Cousteau. The film also features Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon, Jeff Goldblum, and Bud Cort. The Guardian’s film review described Murray’s lead role in the film saying, “Murray is the star of Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic and he hardly needs to crack an expression playing Steve Zissou, the autocratic oceanographer and has-been star of his own self-produced marine documentaries. Zissou is a weird mixture of Jacques Cousteau, Captain Kirk and Captain Bligh, but mainly the French legend Cousteau, to whose calmly paced and lugubriously narrated television shows the movie is a lovingly detailed tribute.”
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel shares a very similar style visually and narratively with The French Dispatch, despite not being an anthology film. It tells the story of Gustave H., a charismatic concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel, and Zero, a junior lobby boy, who becomes Gustave’s friend and protege. The film’s main cast includes Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Ed Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tony Revolori, Owen Wilson, Tom Wilkinson, Tony Revolori, and Léa Seydoux. The film is set in the 1930s. If you enjoyed The French Dispatch’s humor and pastel aesthetics, you’ll be in for a treat watching The Grand Budapest Hotel. New York Times‘ review of the film indicated, “Mr. Anderson is no realist. This movie makes a marvelous mockery of history, turning its horrors into a series of graceful jokes and mischievous gestures. You can call this escapism if you like. You can also think of it as revenge.”
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, directed by the Coen brothers, might not share the same artistic style as Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch but it’s still within the anthology genre. According to Variety, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was originally set to be a Netflix series. The Western anthology film features six stories during the 19th-century post-Civil War America. The film stars Tyne Daly, James Franco, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Heck, Grainger Hines, Zoe Kazan, Harry Melling, Liam Neeson, Tim Blake Nelson, Jonjo O’Neill, Chelcie Ross, Saul Rubinek, and Tom Waits. In Vox’s film review, they shared, “You could call The Ballad of Buster Scruggs the conclusion of the Coens’ Western trilogy, except it isn’t much like those two films stylistically. It’s a trope-heavy sextet — six short films strung together, with nothing obviously connecting them besides a kind of dream logic. Thematically, though, they’re connected by a sense of how absurd death can be, how unfair and irreverent and sometimes even funny it is.”
The comedy-drama The Paper, like The French Dispatch, also tackles journalism, depicting the life of newspaper editor Henry Hacket, played by Michael Keaton, as he struggles to make decisions in his personal and professional life. The film is directed by Ron Howard and also stars Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei, Randy Quaid and Robert Duvall. Los Angeles Times published a film review of The Paper, writing, “The Paper is rife with the motion and commotion that characterize all newspaper films. With their insistence on what’s timely and their fear of time running out, deadline-crazed daily papers have a built-in thrill-of-the-chase quality that the movie business understandably finds irresistible.”
The satirical film The Square, written and directed by Ruben Östlund, might remind you a bit of the “The Concrete Masterpiece” story by J.K.L. Berensen (Tilda Swinton) featured in The French Dispatch. The Square is about a curator, played by Claes Bang, and his personal struggles as he attempts to set up a controversial art exhibit. It also stars Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West, and Terry Notary. The film touches on the contemporary world of art and freedom of expression. Vox reviewed the film saying, “The Square at times feels more like longform performance art than a narrative film. It’s social satire by way of art-world comedy, and no woke participant is exempt from its barbs.” The Guardian described the film as “a strange mix of pop and profundity: archly entertaining, occasionally grating and consistently uncomfortable.”
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