Quick Reviews: Eternals Bad; The French Dispatch Good


Image Courtesy of IGN

Marty was right. If this is what Kevin Feige thinks arthouse films are like, then cinema is doomed. I’m glad we all mocked him for being so excited about natural lighting. As for Chloé Zhao, to paraphrase a much better movie: “Look how they massacred my girl!” It’s really sad to watch Feige and other Disney acolytes sap away an entire generation of talented indie filmmakers with big paychecks and phony promises of creative control. So far only Rian Johnson and James Gunn have been able to overcome this to some extent. It basically took down Zack Snyder. Zhao is clearly just not even remotely equipped to stake any kind of lasting creative claim. This great Oscar-winning talent shrivels up under the oppressive Disney microscope. She’s powerless; it’s sad. I was fine with Marvel just chugging along in their limited creative lane. But now that Feige actually thinks he can start probing away at whatever’s left of genuinely thoughtful, precise, artful filmmaking…it’s depressing. Hopefully the fact that this movie sucks will ward him away from that particular endeavor for the foreseeable future. But yeah, Kevin, huzzah for natural light. ✩✩

The French Dispatch:

Image courtesy of Variety

    Wes Anderson movies are really hard to write about. Save Fantastic Mr. Fox, I don’t think I’ve ever walked out of one with a firm grasp on what I just saw other than a vague sense of overall satisfaction. Anderson, dubbed “your barista’s favorite director” by Honest Trailers, has once again produced a meticulously staged, sharply edited, and cinematically artsy motion picture that also, as usual, leaves one rather emotionally unsure. The French Dispatch’s three vignettes make for Anderson’s first anthology picture, awfully suitable for his already stupefyingly odd plots filled with maze-like narrative asides. Each one feels like a thoughtfully framed showcase for the three leads Anderson has yet to work with until now (Benicio Del Toro, Timothée Chalamet, and Jeffrey Wright, respectively), which are less stories than frames for dramatic talent. Anderson is at his most visually sublime here, with a playful quality to shifts in the aspect ratio to cutting from color to black-and-white images at a moments notice. I honestly cannot believe they named the French town in which it’s set “Ennui,” (pronounced on-WE) and then actually got away with pretending that it was not as on-the-nose as it obviously is (on-you-EE, anyone?). Anderson is becoming uncomfortably self-aware; maybe he watched his own Honest Trailer. I wouldn’t discount it, because you can be sure to see plenty of overhead shots of objects, stage plays, funerals, facial wounds, zooms, shots of writing, shots of typewritten letters, whip pans, characters explaining elaborate plans, characters running away suddenly, the Futura font, whimsical names, face punches, characters with dead parents, Willem Dafoe, dead animals, Angelica Huston, old-timey telephones, foreigners, classic rock songs, oil paintings, characters reading books, uniforms, graveyards, smoking, moving vehicles, a Wilson brother, strained sibling relationships, exotic animals, Ed Norton, reel-to-reel tape recorders, Bill Murray, tiny motorcycles, and profile shots. ✩✩✩✩

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