THE POST DISPATCH – Review by Susan Granger

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Cannes Film Festival attendees called Wes Anderson’s wryly charming new film a love letter to vintage magazine journalism, specifically The New Yorker – which indeed it is.

Set in the fictional French city of Ennui-sur-Blasé, The French Dispatch traces its history as a former Sunday supplement to Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun, publishing for 50 years – until 1975 – according to narrator Anjelica Huston.

Beyond that, the story revolves around the staff of this mid-20th century literary magazine, headed by its impish editor-in-chief, Arthur Howitzer Jr., (Bill Murray). Those familiar with The New Yorker history know he’s a composite of its first two editors: Harold Ross & William Shawn. “No Crying” reads a sign on his office wall, and “Try to make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose” is his dictum.

Drolly sophisticated Howitzer savors the eccentricity of his quirky writers: Herbsaint Sazerac (Owen Wilson), taking viewers on a bicycle tour, creating a nostalgic cityscape…and Lucinda Krementz (Frances McDormand), conjuring memories of Lillian Ross & Mavis Gallant, joining radical student activists, like chess genius Zeffirelli (Timothee Chalamet), protesting male students’ exclusion from female students’ dormitories

Reminiscent of James Baldwin & A.J. Liebling, Roebuck Wright (Jeffrey Wright) profiles a police chief’s personal chef, evoking memorable meals in a culinary crime drama. Art lecturer (Tilda Swinton) presents imprisoned artist/convicted murderer (Benicio del Toro), his guard/model (Lea Seydoux), and a maniacal dealer/investor (Adrien Brody).

Contributing colorful cameos are Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Fisher Stevens, Mathieu Amalric, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan, Liev Schreiber, Stephen Park, Henry Winkler, Christopher Waltz, Lois Smith, Rupert Friend and Elisabeth Moss.

Deftly scripted as an absurdly fanciful anthology, filled with piquant caricatures, it’s meticulously crafted by Wes Anderson as an inventive, whimsical tribute to several generations of mannered storytellers who enriched the American literary landscape….a worthy successor to his The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Darjeeling Limited, The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, The French Dispatch is an astonishing, elegiac 8, playing in theaters.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.