The French Dispatch

It began as a holiday. Arthur Howitzer Jr., a college freshman, eager to escape a bright future on the Great Plains, convinced his father, proprietor of the Liberty Kansas Evening Sun, to fund his transatlantic passage as an educational opportunity to learn the family business through the production of a series of travelogue columns to be published for local readers in the Sunday Picnic magazine … Over the next ten years, he assembled a team of the best expatriate journalists of his time and transformed Picnic into The French Dispatch, a factual weekly report on … world politics, the arts – high and low – fashion, fancy cuisine, fine drink … He brought the world to Kansas.

—- Narrator, The French Dispatch

The French Dispatch

I had an hour or two free and decided to watch a streaming movie. I have always enjoyed Wes Anderson’s work so I called up The French Dispatch (recently added to HBO max). And it was an enjoyable film.

I didn’t like it as much as Moonrise Kingdom – which I saw in the theaters, but it’s on a par with some of his other more recent work. For me, the judgement of a film like this – one that is obviously very stylized and springs from the unique mind of the director – is if I gave a shit about the characters. I really cared about the folks, especially the young couple, in Moonrise Kingdom. In The French Dispatch… not so much.

Of course, any film I see right now will suffer in comparison to Everything, Everywhere, all at Once – which is still rattling around in my noggin – and I really, really cared about all the characters in that masterpiece.

The movie is a love letter to the New Yorker. A deserving subject, to be sure, but one that is more than a little dry, twee, and removed from the hell of our present lives.

That said, the stories were intriguing, original, surprising, and a lot of fun. It was a fine way to pass the time, but I won’t remember it a year from now. Probably the most enjoyable part is playing “spot the famous actor.” Everybody is in this thing….