Being a Wes Anderson fan used to mean you were into weird and artsy-slash-eclectic films, but lately it just means that you’re probably just the one who is weird and a little artsy-slash-eclectic.
Wes Anderson films have fallen into a kind of mainstream formulaic pattern that is so acutely focused that (apparently) you can download an app to apply a Wes Anderson filter to your video clips and use a kind of quasi-AI to Wes Andersonify your iPhone videos.
I can only imagine that this is more than a little frustrating to Wes Anderson himself who while neatly defined by a style always manages to come up with something surprising and unique with his work.
I had avoided as many reviews of Asteroid City as I could because of this very reason. Even the handful that snuck up on me and caught my attention long enough always seemed to start with some phrase like “The most Wes Anderson Wes Anderson film to date…” or “Asteroid City is Wes Anderson the Cliche The Movie…”
But like walking into a modern art museum and musing at the Warhol, the Pollock or just the canvas painted a uniform shade of off white and wondering what the heck one is looking at and how the heck can this be art, the medium of the modern Wes Anderson film is in fact the message, and the plot or the story or the whatever your Marvel Cinematic Universe loving brain thinks should constitute a movie, these are secondary to the vibe being evoked in a film like Asteroid City.
The film is a layered experience that seems to question the nature of media in our sleepwalking world. The deeper the fantasy the more real and in higher definition becomes the illusion, the weirdness amplifies into a crystal clear dream and the further we back out of the production the grainier and less defined the reality becomes. It is a meditation on art and story and acting and writing and all of it wraps into a weird science fictiony but character-driven lullaby that makes you want to revisit and follow the threads between things and see what the bigger pattern Mr Wes Anderson is trying to weave.
Or maybe I’m just weird and a little artsy-slash-eclectic.