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Asteroid City (2023)

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I was surprised to discover there wasn't already a thread about this. I'd have assumed I had created one back when the trailer came out.

The midcentury Americana setting (plus some prominent teen characters) reminds me a bit of Moonrise Kingdom, which isn't a bad thing at all since that's one of the best films of the 2010s. In this case, the theme seems to be a lot of emphasis on the search for meaning/answers in life, so we're getting a bit existential here, as well as Anderson's using framing devices to create layers of storytelling (as he's done before, most notably in The Grand Budapest Hotel).

Among returning members of Wes' company of players, Jason Schwartzman gets his first true lead role from Anderson since Rushmore launched his career, albeit with a very different sort of character. Jeffrey Wright also has a lot of fun with a more purely silly supporting role in comparison to The French Dispatch.

Newcomers to Wes World include a very charming Maya Hawke and America's dad, Tom Hanks, who fits in really well in a very slightly atypical sort of casting for him.

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I saw this last night, and had a blast.  That said, it does seem like Wes is trying to out-Wes himself, with all the layers to the story (stories?).  I will also add that if you aren't familiar with his work, this is not the place to start.


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3 hours ago, Browncoat said:

I saw this last night, and had a blast. 

I'm pissed off because tried to see it today but the closed caption machine didn't work.  I'd noticed in the previews I saw that I had trouble understanding the dialogue, but that's not always indicative of the movie, since dialogue in previews generally doesn't have any context and can be harder to piece together than dialogue in a cohesive movie.  So I fucked with the machine for a little bit and then tried watch without it and I had to give up.

But from what I saw, it does look like Wes is trying to out-Wes himself.  It probably won't bother me because I'm a fan, but I agree with you that from the ten minutes I saw, it's probably not a good starting point for non-fans.

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I'm not even entirely sure what I saw but I enjoyed it.  There is so much to take in, and Anderson's style is so quick and droll, that I imagine this will reward multiple viewings.  Ironically, I enjoyed how it poked fun at the over analysis of art, even by the people who make it.  And I think a key for me is that I like it enough on a surface level that I want to watch it again.  Sometimes I see a movie that I know will probably be better a second or third time around but I don't care enough to commit the time to it.  On the contrary, I'll probably A-list this again this coming weekend.  

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I loved it. I'm a sucker for all things WA, so I knew I would. It's beautiful and sad and funny and gorgeous to look at, and the performances are very good, esp. Scarlett and Jason. Tom Hanks, playing Bill Murray, redeems himself, mostly, from the awful thing he did in Elvis. He fits nicely into Anderson-world, as does Steve Carell. 

I need a martini dispensing machine in my life. 

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I liked it, but didn't love it.  There seemed to be lots that could have been cut out without hurting anything.  The class of kids and the band for example.  I liked that they actually used the brainiacs' inventions.  And who doesn't need a martini machine?  If 10 quarters got you a piece of real estate, how much would a martini be?

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I went to see this again yesterday. I don't know if I understood it any better but some of the things I remember laughing at the first time stuck in my head better this time.  Like when Midge's daughter says "I'm sick of her face but I love her voice.  She should do more radio."  Or anything between Liev Schreiber and his son.  And the triplets!

My main takeaway from the movie is that no one knows what they are doing and all we can do is keep moving forward.  I don't know if that message is specifically for the pandemic but the entire second half seems like a fairly straight forward take on the first year or so of Covid.  And while the teacher and the students weren't exactly necessary to the plot, I do think they underscore what it was  like in "unprecedented times."  Especially the kids and all the art projects about the alien.  It reminded me of all the gallows humor memes that came out during quarantine.  And frankly, I thought the song was pretty funny so I'm all for it.  I also got a weird sense that Adrien Brody's speech to Augie about how it doesn't matter what you do because it will be the right thing was about parenting.  It sounded just like something an experienced parent would say to a newer parent.  And there are a ton of different parent/kid dynamics throughout the movie.  Midge has a line herself where she says she doesn't think she's a good mom.  Maybe Wes Anderson is working out some of his own fatherly anxieties?  I looked it up and he does have a daughter who would have only been 4 or 5 when he wrote this.

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I haven't been in a hurry to try to see this, but that may have been a mistake.  It's not being held over into next week in a lot of theaters in my area west of Chicago--it's ending in at least half the theaters, including the one a couple of miles from me.  I'm going to have to go to one 25 miles away.  I think Past Lives may be showing in more theaters than Asteroid City around here next week. 

So if you're wanting to see it, you may need to hustle up.  Much to my surprise.

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On 6/30/2023 at 1:33 PM, luna1122again said:

Tom Hanks, playing Bill Murray,

Mr. Outlier thought it was Bill Murray.  Or didn't really think it was, but accepted that it was.  After the movie he said something about Bill Murray as the grandfather and I said, "That was Tom Hanks" and he was like, "Whaaaat?"

It took some effort, but I (obviously) saw it.  A theater 30 miles away was holding it over this week so I was thinking maybe Wednesday, but for some reason I checked the schedule for later this week and found out the last day is today (Monday) (not Wednesday or Thursday, like most movies), apparently to make way for the Mission Impossible movie, which is opening on a Tuesday just to fuck with people who assume movies generally stick around until Wednesday or Thursday, I guess.  Anyway, I went last night; it's been forever since I left the house at 9:00 at night, so it was kind of exciting.  😀

On 6/30/2023 at 1:33 PM, luna1122again said:

I loved it. I'm a sucker for all things WA, so I knew I would.

Same here.  One nice thing is that I know I'm not going to get it all on the first viewing, so I just relax and go along for the ride, and Wes Anderson always provides a great ride.

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If you told me that Wes Anderson was going to do a movie about aliens, this is exactly what I would imagine. I am just a huge sucker for Wes Anderson and this is just such a Wes Anderson movie that of course I loved it. I'm glad that the trailers didn't spoil the whole story within a story format, it was a delightful surprise. Steve Carell, Tom Hanks, and Maya Hawke all fit into the Anderson troupe really well, I hope they all come back for the next one. 

My one disappointment was that there wasn't a lot of music, I always enjoy the music he picks for his movies. I can understand why a big soundtrack didn't work with this movie though.

The alien and the dancing roadrunner were real scene stealers. 

Edited by tennisgurl
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I finally watched this (on Peacock). 
Wikipedia's Production (wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteroid_City#Production) mentions the effects of the pandemic shutdown on the premise and production of the show, and links to the Deadline article that goes over this in more detail (deadline.com/2023/05/asteroid-city-wes-anderson-scarlett-johansson-cannes-film-festival-covid-1235377990).

But watching it now, in August of 2023, it seemed like it was supposed to be a Broadway play, but they resigned to making it a movie because of Covid. 
Perhaps it will become a play?

Jeff Goldblum really is physically perfect as the Alien as he was as The Fly.

The triplets insistence on burying their mother's ashes-in-the-Tupperware in the tent city next to the outdoor communal showers was probably more realistic than any other scene in print or on screen of children dealing with the loss of their mother.

The relationship between Augie and Scarlett Johansen's character was also realistic, and, thankfully, not gratuitous, although not lacking in passion either.


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