‘The French Dispatch’ shows a director at the top of his game

Sean I. Mills

The wonderful, whimsical worlds of director Wes Anderson are back in theaters with “The French Dispatch”, a perfect entry point for anyone curious about what it’s all about.

Anderson is my favorite Hollywood director and I never miss any of his new films.

“The French Dispatch” is especially fun, an anthology of three cleverly crafted and meticulously staged stories that I think could help new fans get into Wes Anderson’s groove. A cavalcade of famous actors line up and clearly enjoy putting on a show in the director’s distinct and delightful style.

“The French Dispatch” plays in Rome and other limited theaters.

The French Dispatch is a news magazine published in the town of Ennui, France, a collection of arts, politics and culture, written by some of the greatest writers of their time. “The French Dispatch,” the film focuses on three such stories: a prison artist, a teenage rebellion and the world-renowned personal chief of the local police commissioner.

Each story is its own little world, and that only adds to the absolute freshness of Anderson’s style. He could just tell these stories as they are. But instead, he creates this whole fictional magazine, gives it an interesting backstory (it started off as a weekend track in Kansas), and fills it with all kinds of funny characters. Bill Murray as the magazine’s longtime editor, with ink in his veins, is a hoot.

“The French Dispatch” is Anderson’s ode to the New Yorker, and the kind of work classic romantic journalists could do in the heyday of print media. Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and Jeffrey Wright take on the roles of reporters, bringing each character to a vibrant life as they relate their news to the audience. Then you have everyone from Benicio Del Toro to Henry Winkler for smaller, but no less juicy parties.

What I love most about Wes Anderson movies is their sense of style. It’s hard to describe, but once you see it you’ll know there is nothing like it in Hollywood. And “The French Dispatch” is full of that sense of style. Everything from the landscape to the storytelling to the position of the characters in a setting is very unique and captivating.

Part of me knows this style isn’t for everyone. But if anyone’s curious what it’s all about when it comes to Wes Anderson, I think “The French Dispatch” is a good starter movie. The stories are short enough that viewers don’t get lost, and the heart, humor, and intelligence are showcased fully with each.

There is still magic in the movies, just like there is magic in the written word. “The French Dispatch” glorifies both.

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