The French Dispatch, Wes Anderson’s love letter to The New Yorker, is, as you might expect, a charming way to pass a couple of hours – but not as funny or as tight as we might like, and certainly a disappointment in the light of his last two films, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Isle of Dogs (although, in fairness, reaching those heights even twice, let alone a third time consecutively, would be a big ask for anybody). Still, despite The French Dispatch‘s pleasures, some gorgeous imagery and a terrific, star-packed cast, we’re left asking what it’s all about, really – is it more than a vaguely diverting trifle based on Anderson’s favourite publication? And why can’t an ode to an icon of American sophistication be set in America?
Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs is a stop-motion story of the utmost beauty and wit. We discuss its cinematography, compositions, lightness of touch, allegorical relationship to reality, and place in Anderson’s body of work. We also reserve particular praise for Bryan Cranston’s vocal performance and Alexandre Desplat’s score.
Recorded on 1st April 2018.
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Ghostbusters does have some laughs. But it’s so bad it’s exhausting to watch: everything seems out of kilter, mis-timed, the gags obvious and over-elaborately set up; and one just looks at one’s watch, thinks of leaving, but the charismatic performers and the occasional laughs keep one hoping. It’s the worst-directed comedy I can think of. The movie relies for its energy on the editing, terrible in a comedy. And one just ends up tired and with a headache. Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth were standouts; and I do love Melissa McCarthy. Even in this.
The twitterstorm over the reboot has been ridiculous. I saw the original when it came out and liked it. It was a fun summer film with a truly great comic performance from Bill Murray – wry, slobby in appearance, cutting in attitude, smartly knowing and totally endearing. He’s what was great. As a film, the original Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, USA, 1984) has been fetishized beyond all comprehension.
The reply to the sexist reception of the reboot has been that a lot of women seem to like the film. Part of the reason has to be Melissa McCarthy. She’s got warm eyes, seems human in her gestures and responses, and has crack timing. She’s really the biggest female star of the moment, practically the only one to have a star persona so defined as to be deployed in high concept films. The only thing many of her films have going for them is her; it’s not as if she’s the weak element coasting on the success of the other aspects of her films. They’re not much to speak of and yet she turns them into hits: audiences like her.
But she’s not enough in Ghostbusters (and perhaps to the film’s credit and as validation of it’s feminist politics, she’s not the best thing about it either: everyone has their moment in this ensemble). I liked the buddy aspect of the film, and the interaction between the women. But some of the rah-rah sisterhood stuff felt really forced and the last shot of the four women hugging…well…Add to that that the whole supernatural aspect of the plot seems pointless, undramatic and uninspired and one isn’t left with much. On the other hand, and to be fair, one can’t deny that it creates a fair share of laughs; and to paraphrase Lubistsch, I wouldn’t sneeze at such laughs, especially in a comedy.