Director-writer Wes Anderson — the most recognizable and widely imitated auteur-level helmer working today — surely understands that his decision to not participate in a Cannes Film Festival press conference following screenings of his latest film, The French Dispatch (Searchlight, 10.22), isn’t going to enhance the film’s reputation.
Does this mean that The French Dispatch might be problematic on some level? Impossible. That can’t be the case. But Anderson’s duck-out means something.
The film will almost certainly play like another tasty bowl of Anderson soup. Wes is too assured, accomplished and exacting a filmmaker to do anything but deliver like he always has. For a quarter-century his signature has guaranteed a certain set of ingredients — dry irony, deadpan humor, high quirk, production designed with an inch of its life, a stop at Andersonville, etc.
Perhaps this more-than-two-years-old film is so out of his system that Anderson is thinking like Bob Dylan these days — perhaps he can only discuss a relatively fresh film or one that’s about to begin filming or whatever. Perhaps he simply feels unable to go over what for him is yesterday’s news — a film that, however popular it may turn out to be with critics and fans, is no longer in his system. Or he’s completely caught up in his next project (a film to be shot in Spain) and he doesn’t want to interrupt, etc.
The French Dispatch will debut in Cannes on Monday, July 9, and stateside, as noted, on Friday, 10.22.
Friendo to HE: “Maybe for Anderson there’s no value in pushing this movie?”
HE to Friendo: “What the hell does that mean, ‘no value’? If you bring your film to Cannes, you and your creative colleagues (cast, producers) always sit for a press conference. Has any brand-name director ducked a Cannes presser since Terrence Malick was a no-show at the Tree of Life press conference?”
Friendo to HE: “Not sure why, but he’s blowing it off for some reason.
HE to Friendo: “He made it, he’s a grade-A filmmaker, it’s playing at the biggest and most glamorous film festival in the world, it’s going to be offered to audiences in the fall, etc. Ducking the press conference makes zero sense.”
Friendo to HE: “I don’t think it’s because the movie is bad.”
HE to Friendo: “Something has stuck in his craw.”
Dispatch began shooting in late ’18 and wrapped in March ’19. It was slated to premiere at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, but that went south, etc.
The French Dispatch cast members include Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Timothée Chalamet, Owen Wilson, Benicio del Toro, Elisabeth Moss, Adrien Brody and Willem Dafoe.
Variety‘s Manori Ravindran: “Sources indicate that Anderson isn’t doing any press at all on the ground in Cannes, including a press conference for his latest France-set movie, which will premiere on Monday [7.12].”