Director/Writer Wes Anderson brings his whimsical stylings to 1955 Arizona filmed during the pandemic with another of his sizable ensembles quarantined during the shoot. As it revolves around an alien encounter.
Asteroid City unfolds with a certain bittersweet reflection sprinkled with sardonic wit working off the promotion of an ‘Arid Plains Meteorite’.
The titular setting has a black-and-white television program formatted for the silver screen from noted playwright Conrad Earp (Edward Norton). And, voice-over work from a Rod Serling wannabe (Bryan Cranston).
The pioneer arid enclaves has a population of 87 with the tale formulated from a story by Anderson and partner Roman Coppola includes a crater, singing cowboys, -bomb testing and other clandestine scientific projects.
A convention for Junior Stargazers under the auspices of one Dr. Hickenlooper (Tilda Swinton) has bright students/parents engaged in the basin of a 5,000 year old meteorite crater. One of Anderson’s primary players again is Jason Schwatzman (currently in Across The Spider-Verse) is a forlorn war photographer having difficulty communicating bad news to his children, especially eldest Woodrow (Jake Ryan).
The filmmaker offers his uniquely zany toppings amidst various vignettes getting creative contributions from the Iikes of lenser Robert Yeoman and composer Alexandre Desplat to let an artificial world blossom in telling if episodic ways. Accentuated by nuanced designs say from a service station to the use of split-screens.
An idiosyncratic vision is embraced by all involved as Jeffery Wright appears as a General, and more familiar faces like Tom Hanks and Steve Carell appear in smaller turns as an admonishing father-in-law and hotel proprietor. Scarlett Johannsson’s Midge Campbell turns out to be the more interesting figure rendered by Anderson given her troubled background. Her daughter Dinah (Grace Edwards) becomes drawn to the brainy Woodrow. Maya Hawke and Rupert Friend also connect as a science teacher and cowboy, respectively.
Maybe this opus may be embraced most by baby-boomers, but Anderson (French Dispatch) still in his halcyon maneuverings finds ways to amuse, impress, and even dazzle, though not as much as Moonrise Kingdom or Grand Budapest Hotel.