The cast and crew of Wes Anderson’s highly anticipated release Asteroid City celebrated the film’s New York premiere on June 13th at Alice Tully Hall.
Much of the film’s star-studded cast was in attendance, including Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Bryan Cranston, Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright, and Maya Hawke, among others, as well as filmmaker Anderson and other crew members.
Asteroid City takes place in a fictional American desert town circa 1955.
The itinerary of a Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet convention (organised to bring together students and parents from across the country for fellowship and scholarly competition) is spectacularly disrupted by world-changing events.
War photographer Augie Steenbeck’s (Jason Schwartzman) car has broken down as he and his kids children were travelling to Asteroid City there for the annual junior stargazer convention, where Augie’s son Woodrow (Jake Ryan) is competing with other child prodigies to win a grant by General Grif Gibson (Jeffrey Wright).
The small town is full of visitors for the convention and its corresponding star-gazing event, from actor Midge Campbell (Scarlett Johansson), to teacher June Douglas (Maya Hawke) and her class, and when a shocking event takes place the group are forced to quarantine in town.
The events are set in the framing device of a play written by the misanthropic playwright Conrad Earp (Edward Norton), told to us by TV host Bryan Cranston.
Wes Anderson’s filmmaking style is to the fore, with his familiar use of strong colour palettes, precise framing and quirky characters and costumes.
The movie has divided critics since its premiere at the Cannes film festival. One said “The nonsensical plot loses its charm the longer the film goes on as it becomes more obvious that there isn’t a point to any of it”, going on to say “If you’re looking for a point to Asteroid City, it seems that there simply isn’t one. This is a stylistic fable that has very little going in its plot, and what is there sadly doesn’t make much sense. That the film is a play within a play is an explanation of sorts, because the film does sometimes feel like an improv theatre production on the big screen.
“Asteroid City values style over substance, and while it is stunning that does hamper the experience somewhat. Unlike the exhilarating stories of (Wes Anderson) films like The Grand Budapest Hotel and Fantastic Mr. Fox, Asteroid City moves at a slow pace and by the time it does reach its conclusion viewers will find it hard to really understand what the point of it all was.”
“That’s not to say the film isn’t enjoyable, it has a delightful story and is beautiful to look at, while the star-studded cast do a wonderful job of delivering the director’s quirky script with all the seriousness expected in an Anderson production.”
Asteroid City premieres in NY/LA theatres on June 16th, nationally in the US nationally and the UK on June 23rd.
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