Asteroid City

Scarlett Johansson in red top and matching lipstick

Welcome to Asteroid City, Wes Anderson’s companion piece to The French Despatch, another film appearing to take its inspiration from yellowing adverts in ancient back issues of Life magazine to depict a world where corporate capture by Hollywood, the military-industrial complex and Madison Avenue is rendered in Anderson’s ironic deadpan – the writing, the acting, the visuals, the soundtrack all point in the same direction. The action centres on a 1950s desert waystation where a motley group of people get trapped together after a recent atom bomb test, and then get locked down (spot the pandemic) after an alien arrives and steals the asteroid that gives the area its name. Anderson’s usual collection … Read more

The Batman

Catwoman and Batman

The Batman. Let’s get the plot out of the way first, since it’s the most straightforward aspect of the latest bulletin from Gotham City. A caped crusader, a trio of villains in the shape of Paul Dano’s Riddler, Colin Farrell’s Penguin and John Turturro’s Carmine Falcone, a campaign of murder being waged against city officials. The mayor dies first, in the opening moments of the film, forcing Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) to call in Batman – he rates the mysterious vigilante but no one else does. Along the way Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) becomes involved, a good girl in this version, and a crimefighting sidekick, should Batman want one, which he doesn’t seem to. … Read more

The French Dispatch

Bill Murray as the editor of the Dispatch

A middle finger to the haters, The French Dispatch finds an unrepentant Wes Anderson doubling down on the whimsy and pastiche of films like The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. There’s more. An artist’s statement, done early on in Owen Wilson’s laconic voiceover, vouchsafes that “All grand beauties withhold their deepest secrets.” Secrets? Deepest? Anderson is all surface, surely? Anyhow, on to the Dispatch, which is an American magazine/supplement of New Yorker stripe run in the old way – a liberal institution headed by a steely eccentric (played by Bill Murray), never short of money and with enough space to contain at least one writer who doesn’t write, … Read more