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Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City

Asteroid City

Asteroid City

Asteroid City, USA 2023. Directed and screenplay by Wes Anderson, story by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola.

Bambi Theater 1, Row 2, Seat 9. Original version w/ German subs.

(This post originally appeared, in slightly different form, at my Instagram account betweendrafts.)

First, a confession. While I reliably score—theater visits only!—between 86 and 92 on any old-school “100 Movies You Need to Watch” list (depending on the number of comedies included), this just now was my very first Wes Anderson movie.

Which, what can I say, needs some time to digest. Very artsy-brainy, very postmodern-y, very much celebrating its own hyper-artificiality. However, reflecting the movie’s own mantra “you can’t wake up when you don’t fall asleep,” Asteroid City’s an exercise in “you can’t reveal/acknowledge your emotions when you don’t cover them up.”

And, sure, I’d heard about Wes Anderson’s movie aesthetics, and this one doesn’t disappoint. What I hadn’t heard about are his (or his cinematographer’s?) distinct camera movements that regularly fall into what I can only describe as tank control patterns (vintage game aficionados know what I mean). It’s both very peculiar and very entertaining.

A final observation about the German subtitles the theater’s copy of the movie came with. They were really good on the one hand (a kazillion times better than German dubs, which are invariably atrocious), but they de-specified cultural details to a remarkable degree as a choice, like replacing “Episcopalian” with “protestant“ or “a USO show” with “Army Entertainment” (or something to that effect). Yes, I can understand this choice; it makes movies (or games) more easily digestible in foreign markets. The drawback is, however, that the audience will never bump into something that stirs their interest enough to ask or to look it up.

Nearly two months later, here’s finally a full-fledged review that really captures the spirit of this movie: Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City Tests the Boundaries of Dream by Dan Wilson at tor.com. Great read.

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