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San Diego Film Festival celebrates our eleventh anniversary with five days filled with 100 award-winning films; intimate gatherings with filmmakers and celebrities; high-powered industry workshops and four nights of San Diego`s most glamorous parties.

 

 


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"The French Dispatch" - REVIEW

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I opened my weekend with a bold and experimental visual experience provided by none other than Wes Anderson. "The French Dispatch" may have been met with inconsistent critical reviews during itss festival run, but don't let that fool you. The film is a 1 hour and 48 minute indulgence of everything we've come to love about Wes Anderson's cinematic style. From shifting color grades that go from color to black and white at the flick of a switch, to the classic Wes Anderson aspect ratio changes, this film embraces experimentation while staying true to his classic form. 

In a time where most major releases are baked in violence and self-deprecation, Dispatch provides viewers with a much needed breath of fresh air. It utilizes a creative editing approach that replaces harsh and shocking moments with fanciful cutaways and stylistic live portraits. The framing is meticulous and the exposition is delivered with the swift cadence of a Sorkin film. It packs multiple loaded storylines into a vignetted narrative, motivated by the structuring you would see in printed media. 

The humor is delivered in a dry and monotone fashion for much of the film, leaning on the editing and lighting cues to deliver the final punchlines. Some may have wanted something more authentic, less manufactured. But I wonder, has Wes Anderson not done enough to earn the right to deliver his story how he pleases? 

There are standout performances from Benicio Del Toro and Tilda Swinton, in what I believe to be the best story line of the collection. The film's biggest fault may be inherent in its structure and approach. It's a long film with a handful of stories which makes it hard to not want more as soon as it breaks into the next story line. Timothee Chalamet comes in and essentially does his best Jason Schwartzman impersonation while his character is carried by the undeniable brilliance of Frances McDormand. He has many laugh out loud moments, but they felt more like 'laugh at,' than 'laugh with' reactions. Other than Benicio, the performances were mostly predictable, with Wes' regular players recycling old traits and newcomers doing impersonations of his past films. This could be part of why critics have been less than excited. It feels like an amalgamation of his past work, while spreading it's narrative too thin. 

I, however, enjoyed its familiar feeling. I thought the vignettes all played critical roles in homaging classic print media. While the performances and familiar cadance allowed Wes to subtly push the boundaries of the visual experience to new heights. It was more focused on cinematic experimentation than character development and emotional catharsis, but if you are someone that loves Wes and enjoys movies that live outside the box, this film is for you. It just might be Wes Anderson's most Wes Anderson film yet.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Written By: Cameron Lui

 
 
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San Diego Film Festival celebrates the art & style of film for five days in September with 100 award-winning films; intimate gatherings with filmmakers and celebrities; high-powered industry workshops and five nights of San Diego`s most glamorous parties!

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