‘Asteroid City’: Here’s the meaning behind Wes Anderson’s latest film

Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Asteroid City.approaching the beginning of the year wes andersonwonderful new movie, asteroid citywar photographer Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman) took his car to the mechanic in the town of the same name (Matt Dillon, because even small roles in Wes Anderson films were played by Oscar nominees). The mechanic told him there were two possible reasons why Auggie’s car broke down. The first required a simple replacement of a cheap part, the second meant permanent damage to his car. While the stakes are certainly high, some people may find comfort in this binary: Of all the things that could happen to a car, the mechanic sifts it down to two possibilities. It’s either a quick fix or a scrap car — one of the two.

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Of course, this is not the case. It appears that after the mechanic fixed the motor, it stopped abruptly again and the car made some weird sparks that had to be quelled with a fire extinguisher. “I think we’re dealing with a third thing that I’ve never seen before,” said the mechanic. The world is seldom kind enough to give us one thing or another.This is just the first sign of uncertainty and confusion asteroid citywhich finds one of modern cinema’s most meticulous directors dealing with things beyond his and others’ control.

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‘Asteroid City’ Fills Wes Anderson With Existential Moods

Steve Carell as the motel manager in Asteroid City
Images captured with the focus function

This isn’t the first time Wes Anderson has tackled major issues. Trapped by TikTok parodies and AI grotesques as a peddler of lightweight movie candy, Anderson’s famous style is a bit of a Trojan horse: He keeps audiences hooked on both his unparalleled art direction and the artificial whimsy of his writing thought, only to hit their bitter-sweet gavel with a croquet. (In any case, I think he uses a croquet mallet – it seems to fit his character.) royal tenenbaum family explores depression and intergenerational trauma, The Grand Budapest Hotel Pursuing its insane nonsense, a sobering reminder of the beauty destroyed by fascism, and french express Everything from the commodification of revolutionary politics to the solitary life of the diaspora is grappling with. Call it a “twee” if you like, but when a large crowd hears Pavlov’s “These Days,” do they shed tears? Nico Are they all wrong?

exist asteroid cityYet Anderson’s favorite themes of loneliness and emotional repression take on an existential bent. Two levels of film narrative—— asteroid city The film itself, and the TV framing set that surrounds it – learn what it means to be adrift and uncertain in a world that seems to have lost its axis. In the “drama” itself, a colorful cast of characters gathers in Asteroid City for a youth astronomy convention, only to have to confront the infinite mysteries of the universe when aliens interrupt their stargazing. Their lives are further thrown out of balance when the US government imposes a week-long quarantine on the city, trapping their newly fractured worldview in the middle of the desert.

Some people handle it better than others. No-nonsense Christian school teacher June Douglasmaya hawk), apparently immobilized by an alien invasion of God’s design; excited and nervous as she tries in vain to stick to her lesson plan. (Her students, by contrast, take it all in stride, aided by a singing cowboy named Montana Rupert Friend.) Stern, clenched-jaw patriarch JJ Kellogg (Liev Schreiber) is reduced to holding a death ray and barking threats at soldiers; five teenage stargazers, motivated by the scientific and philosophical implications of interstellar life, decide to leak the existence of aliens to the public. Those who remain poised have other things to devote themselves to, whether that is their job (steve carellmotel manager) or their sense of duty to their deceased daughter (Tom Hanks As Auggie’s father-in-law. )

Jason Schwartzman’s character anchors the film’s themes

Jason Schwartzman as Auggie Steinbeck in Asteroid City.
Images captured with the focus function

One of the most notable arcs belongs to Auggie himself, and that of his in-universe actor, Jones Hall. Auggie is the latest in Anderson’s long line of standoff father figures, managing to outshine the likes of Steve Zisu and Royal Tenenbaum in sheer emotional constipation. Auggie is a bearded, deadpan man with a habit of chewing his pipe, and his lines are so dry and monotonous that it’s deadpan even for a Wes Anderson character. For weeks after his mother’s death, he avoided telling his children about her mother’s death because “the timing was never right”; Same with press releases. He limits his strong emotions—the trauma of World War II, his desire for movie star Mitch Campbell (Scarlett Johansson), surprised by a new alien – within the lens of his camera, keeping them at a safe, clever distance. Like Army Generals (Jeffrey Wright) he ordered the people of Asteroid City to stay where they were, and he would rather keep the troublesome thing quarantined than let anything happen; sooner or later, of course, they would get out.

Jones Hall probably didn’t have to deal with aliens (or at least, as an actor, he knew his aliens were made of Jeff Goldblum), but he also faces many of the same problems as Auggie. He’s also looking for ingenious solutions that he can never really find. He asked questions that no one could answer. Not even playwright Conrad Earp (Edward Norton), knowing why Auggie burns his hand with a frying pan in the third act; when Jones makes a hesitant guess, Earp immediately agrees, but Jones remains unsatisfied. Even when that moment comes, Jones’ Auggie acts automatically and without thinking. This question is only a small part of a larger uncertainty; he cornered director Schubert Green (adrien brody) and urgently asked if he was “doing it right,” only to have a wistful conversation with his former scene partner to save time (Margot Robbie, playing the actress who was supposed to play Augie’s wife) helped put him on the right track. Finally, he comes up with an acting class mantra that serves as the film’s thematic statement: “If you don’t fall asleep, you can’t wake up.”

You can try to create order in your life. You can build a small town in a vast, arid desert; you can take pictures of things to make them less real; you can stick to a lesson plan about the solar system after an alien encounter; you can even become the world Renowned director, known for his microscopic attention to detail. But you will always be faced with unanswerable questions and unacceptable truths; you will always be showing the mechanic something he has never seen before; you will never find an easy solution to grief or trauma; you will never be 100 % Make sure you are where you should be. But if you don’t fall asleep, if you don’t accept what’s out of your control and make peace with the unknown, you can’t wake up and experience things like peace. Or, as Schubert Green tells Jones when he admits he still doesn’t understand the show: “It’s okay. Go on with the story. You’re doing great.”

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