If you spend even a moderate amount of time on social media, you may have encountered the recent trend of young TikTok-ers and other digital natives aping the unmistakable style of acclaimed filmmaker Wes Anderson. Given his current position at the fore of the zeitgeist, it’s tempting to view his latest film – Asteroid City, which is now available to rent on DISH – as something of a battle-rap response to his imitators, both human and computer. It’s not, because of course Anderson doesn’t hang out on social media, but it feels like a response, because Asteroid City provides perhaps the most persuasive evidence yet that Anderson is his generation’s most gifted visual stylist.
Like The French Dispatch and The Grand Budapest Hotel, Asteroid City is a true ensemble film, and it’s delightful to see actors like Steve Carell, Maya Hawke, and especially Tom Hanks bring their distinct energy to Anderson’s tableau. But it’s his longtime collaborator Jason Schwartzman who quietly steals the show. There are subtle and overt callbacks to many of Anderson’s previous films, and Schwartzman’s casting as a widowed war photographer and father to a precocious teen inventor seems particularly conspicuous. Beyond bringing his Andersonian acting arc full-circle from Rushmore, Schwartzman’s character is used to underscore the film’s themes about the importance of art and the creative process.
So what is Asteroid City about? That’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer, and not just because we’re anti-SPOILERS. From a story perspective, Asteroid City is definitely Anderson’s weirdest movie—if you define “weird” as “artsy” and not “quirky”. Some of that is due to the plot, but the film’s unusual framing device also keeps viewers intentionally off-balance.
With its striking visuals, odd structure, and weighty themes about the search for meaning amidst the chaos of life, Asteroid City is the type of film that will stay on your mind days after the credits roll. Wes Anderson may have spawned a generation of smart phone imitators, but his latest film proves that he’s still one-of-a-kind.
Asteroid City is now available to rent on DISH as an “Early Release” for $19.99. Here are other new titles to rent this July.
Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret – $5.99
Showing Up – $5.99
The Blackening – $19.99
Beau is Afraid – $5.99