Wes Anderson Releases the Official Trailer for His New Film, The French Dispatch: Watch It Online

James Pogue in the Baf­fler recent­ly lament­ed the rise of “share­able writ­ing,” man­i­fest in a now-com­mon breed of arti­cle both “easy for pub­lish­ers to repro­duce” and for read­ers to absorb. Share­abil­i­ty requires, above all, that pieces “be sim­ple to describe and pack­age online.” This in con­trast to the writ­ing pub­lished by, say, The New York­er in decades past. “Every time I have a rea­son to pull up a piece from the archives, I am shocked at how strange and out­ré the old­er pieces read — less like work from a dif­fer­ent mag­a­zine than doc­u­ments from an alien soci­ety.” That alien soci­ety pro­vides the back­drop for Wes Ander­son­’s next fea­ture film The French Dis­patch, whose trail­er has just come out.

Any­one who watch­es one of Ander­son­’s films will sus­pect him of lov­ing all things mid-cen­tu­ry — that is to say, the arti­facts of life as it was lived in the decades fol­low­ing the Sec­ond World War, espe­cial­ly in west­ern Europe. This love comes through in the look and feel of even Ander­son­’s ear­li­er pic­tures, like Rush­more and The Roy­al Tenen­baums, whose sto­ries osten­si­bly take place in con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­ca. But in recent years Ander­son has gone in for increas­ing­ly intri­cate peri­od pieces, set­ting Moon­rise King­dom in mid-1960s New Eng­land and The Grand Budapest Hotel in the years 1932, 1968, and 1985, all in the imag­ined Euro­pean coun­try of Zubrowka. The French Dis­patch takes place in the 1960s in the very real Euro­pean coun­try of France, but a fic­tion­al town called “Ennui-sur-Blasé” that allows Ander­son to con­jure up a mid-20th-cen­tu­ry France of the mind.

The mid-cen­tu­ry objects of Ander­son­’s love include The New York­er, a mag­a­zine he’s read and col­lect­ed since his teen years. The influ­ence of that love on The French Dis­patch has not gone unno­ticed at the cur­rent New York­erA piece pub­lished there offer­ing stills of Ander­son­’s new film describes it as “about the doings of a fic­tion­al week­ly mag­a­zine that looks an awful lot like — and was, in fact, inspired by — The New York­er. The edi­tor and writ­ers of this fic­tion­al mag­a­zine, and the sto­ries it publishes—three of which are dra­ma­tized in the film — are also loose­ly inspired by The New York­er.” Head­ing the tit­u­lar dis­patch is Arthur How­itzer, Jr., played (nat­u­ral­ly) by Bill Mur­ray and inspired by New York­er found­ing edi­tor Harold Ross. Owen Wilson’s Herb­saint Saz­er­ac is “a writer whose low-life beat mir­rors Joseph Mitchell’s.” Jef­frey Wright as Roe­buck Wright, “a mashup of James Bald­win and A. J. Liebling, is a jour­nal­ist from the Amer­i­can South who writes about food.”

Oth­er reg­u­lar Ander­son play­ers include Adrien Brody’s Julian Cadazio, an art deal­er “mod­elled on Lord Duveen, who was the sub­ject of a six-part New York­er Pro­file by S. N. Behrman, in 1951.” Con­sid­er, for a moment, that there was a time when a major mag­a­zine would pub­lish a six-part pro­file of a British art deal­er who had died more than a decade before — and when such a piece of writ­ing would draw both con­sid­er­able atten­tion and acclaim. There are those who crit­i­cize as mis­placed Ander­son­’s appar­ent nos­tal­gia for times, places, and cul­tures like the one The French Dis­patch will bring to the screen this sum­mer. But here in the 21st cen­tu­ry, inun­dat­ed as we are by what Pogue calls the “large­ly voice­less and pre­cise­ly for­mu­la­ic” writ­ing of even respectable pub­li­ca­tions, can we begrudge the film­mak­er his yearn­ing for those bygone days? The only thing miss­ing back then, it might seem to us fans, was Wes Ander­son movies.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Wes Ander­son Explains How He Writes and Directs Movies, and What Goes Into His Dis­tinc­tive Film­mak­ing Style

A Com­plete Col­lec­tion of Wes Ander­son Video Essays

Wes Anderson’s First Short Film: The Black-and-White, Jazz-Scored Bot­tle Rock­et (1992)

Watch Wes Anderson’s Charm­ing New Short Film, Castel­lo Cav­al­can­ti, Star­ring Jason Schwartz­man

Watch the New Trail­er for Wes Anderson’s Stop Motion Film, Isle of Dogs, Inspired by Aki­ra Kuro­sawa

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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