Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Best of 2023, #8: Asteroid City

My affection for this movie (which I haven’t seen on any other year end lists) was increased by how I saw it. I was vacationing for a week in Stratford, Ontario with my family and my wife’s parents. On a night when the kids were with their grandparents, Betsy and I came across a storefront that billed itself as North America’s smallest movie theater and they were showing this movie. We couldn’t resist. We bought our refreshments, and were shepherded into a 12-seat movie house. There was a curtain that parted to reveal the screen, but it was still slightly blocking the edges of the screen. Normally, that would have been annoying, but it was perfect for a Wes Anderson movie. It was a very pleasant evening.

I think Anderson’s most underrated quality as a director is his work with actors. Some find the performances in his movies mannered, but I think that the actors actually do spectacular work, all while staying within a certain deadpan tone. I feel for his characters, even when the characters are reluctant to feel things on the surface themselves. There’s a reason he attracts such stellar casts. This movie stars, among others, Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Liev Schreiber, Hope Davis, Steve Carell, Matt Dillon, Willem Dafoe, Margot Robbie and Jeff Goldblum, and they’re all very entertaining. You don’t attract that level of talent if you don’t know what you’re doing.

One of my favorite working actors is Maya Hawke (who’s also great in Maestro). She’s so tremendously appealing in this movie. I wish Hollywood would do more with her.

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