mixed movie feelings

I have mixed feelings about the Wes Anderson movies I’ve seen.

(This is not a question of “love/hate,” by the way. People use “love/hate” quite often for things which — as far as I can tell — never rise to the level of “love” or “hate.” This is just mixed feelings.)

Some people say all of Anderson’s movies are basically the same, and either you like them or you don’t. There are reasons this theory comes up, but it doesn’t apply to me.

I saw The Royal Tenenbaums years ago and I couldn’t stand it. Too many people who were all miserable for no apparent reason. I don’t remember if any of them changed in the course of the movie, but if they did it was, for me, too little and/or too late.

Quite a bit later, I have no idea why, I watched Moonrise Kingdom, and I immediately watched it every night for a week. I’ve talked about that before.

Then, when The Grand Budapest Hotel came out, I saw that. At first I found it to be so-so, but I’ve grown to like it much more over time. I believe I’ve been won over by how funny it is (it has a lot more laughs than either of the other two I’ve mentioned, or both combined).

I skipped The French Dispatch. It sounds like it was based on how much Anderson likes The New Yorker, and I grew up reading the magazine myself, but a movie? Really?

But now I’ve seen Asteroid City, and it’s a hoot.

First of all, there were two moments which made me laugh immoderately and repeatedly. I think the last time I laughed like that at a movie was American Hustle.

Asteroid City has a nested structure, a story within a story within a story, like The Grand Budapest Hotel. A moment when that structure breaks is one of the two laugh-out-loud moments I mentioned above.

Here, that means that you never forget you’re looking at the actors playing actors playing characters (one of whom is a famous actor). The whole thing is all really just the writer/director talking to us (which is further emphasized by how often the characters address the camera directly).

Will Augie end up seeing Midge again? The question is moot, since, as we are reminded on a regular basis, neither is a real person, even within the movie.

So, the fact that the characters are, in some cases, wounded can be examined while maintaining a certain distance. With Anderson’s movies (as opposed to Robert Altman’s movies, or Les Miserables, for example) that’s what works best for me.

Also, enjoyably, it’s a movie of a play where both the actors in the play and the playwright himself are confused about what the play actually means. YouTube has tried to get me to watch various videos about “The Real Meaning” of this movie, but I haven’t watched them, just like I ignore all the videos which want to “explain” Mulholland Drive to me.

Explanations aren’t always necessary. When I was younger, I had a beloved cat for over twenty years. I never once had the urge to dissect him.

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