It is practically impossible not to be fascinated, however minimal, with Wes Anderson’s cinema . Postmodern art was defined by its theorists as the random cannibalization of all styles of the past, a game of innumerable dating, a collage of recombined ancient material. We have been postmodern for 40 years and it may be getting long, but it never has as much charm as in the films of the American filmmaker .
The French chronicle is based on Anderson’s three wishes: to make an episode film, show France and, above all, The New Yorker . The weekly magazine of majestic reports that inflamed his childhood and youth transmutes in his film in a magazine called The French Chronicle ( The New Yorker ) that writes chronicles from a fictitious city called Ennui (Paris) for Kansas (for nobody).
After the death of the editor ( Bill Murray ), four reports from the last edition that make up the four chapters of the film are reviewed. First, an Ennui guide that serves as a colorful prologue. Next, the most solid: a chronicle about the relationship of a prisoner-marginal artist ( Benicio del Toro ) with his muse-jailer ( Léa Seydoux ) and his patron ( Adrien Brody ).
Then the most poetic: the recreation of a student revolution by a feminist writer (Frances McDormand ) and the love of its leaders ( Timothèe Chalamet and Lyna Khoudri). Finally, the most bizarre, the report on the exquisite chef ( Stephen Park) of the prefect of police ( Mathieu Almirac ) whose son is kidnapped.
Lyna Khoudri, Frances McDormand, and Timothèe Chalamet. TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
Animated cinema with actors
For a filmmaker so in control of all the elements of the image, testing the animation in Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) has been a point of no return. What was already aimed at Moonrise kingdom reached its paroxysm in The Grand Budapest Hotel : achieving a real film that seems animated.
And already installed in that language, it does not matter if it is already stop-motion , as in Isle of Dogs , or actors as in The French Chronicle , although there are nuances in having plasticine dolls or Frances McDormand in the foreground.
Anderson has found his new style by fitting his characters into miniatures, false perspectives, and all kinds of tricks that draw from a more artisan era of cinema and that can only be compared in the current scene with his homophone Roy Andersson .
Bill Murray in ‘The French Chronicle’. TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
In Anderson’s Cartesian fantasies the actors are stuck on their mark: it ‘s like playing clicks with movie stars . Everything is precision. The camera is the absolute protagonist to which all the movements of the actors are subject. The visual gags don’t stop. The rhythm of ideas almost overwhelms the viewing and asks to stop the time to recreate.
The film is traversed by nostalgia in which written, journalistic or literary narratives were relevant to understanding and forming an opinion about the world. All the characters in The French Chronicle are based on or are a combination of mythical signatures from The New Yorker Janet Flanner, Joseph Mitchell, James Baldwin or Mavis Gallant , to whom the film dedicates.
The danger with so much formal charm is that it often overshadows the dating complexity behind glitter. An example: the claim of the students to start the revolt based on May 68 is to be able to access the girls’ dormitories. What seems like a cute Andersonian plot was one of Daniel Cohn-Bendit’s real demands to solve “the sexual problem of the students.”
If the journalistic envelope is removed, the heart of The French Chronicle speaks of art. It is easy to see in the director of the newspaper (a Bill Murray inspired by Harold Ross, founder of The New Yorker) who backs up the entry and exit of each chapter, the role of the film director himself, bringing out the best in his team. And the artist’s tension with the market forms the backbone of the painter prisoner and his protector, who is as fond of painting as he is of money.