THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF HENRY SUGAR – Review by Susan Granger

Netflix has quietly launched Wes Anderson’s The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar and three additional Raoul Dahl short stories. This whimsical cinematic anthology is the creation of Wes Anderson, who became intrigued by the emotional truths in Roald Dahl’s work after adapting his novel into the Oscar-nominated, stop-motion animated Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Each is a fanciful fable drawn from the extensive ‘idea’ files that eccentric, cardigan-clad, curmudgeonly storyteller Dahl (Ralph Fiennes) kept in Gipsy House, his isolated ‘writing hut’ adjacent to his home in Buckinghamshire, England. Stumped on how to translate Dahl’s jottings to the screen, Anderson decided to have the four principal actors (Benedict Cumberbatch, Ben Kingsley, Dev Patel, Richard Ayoade), playing various characters, narrate the author’s adroit descriptions and their actions directly into the camera at a rapid pace with deadpan directness.

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ASTEROID CITY – Review by Sarah Vincent

Shot in black and white on a black box theater set in a 1957 television studio, Wes Anderson regular Jason Schwartzman plays actor Jones Hall, who seduces playwright Conrad Earp (Edward Norton) after landing the role of Augie Steenbeck in Earp’s latest play, the titular Asteroid City. This intimate backstory is one of several behind-the-scenes vignettes about the production of Earp’s final work, which is shot in color – a dreamy, Southwest-evoking palette of teal, orange and tan. A recent widower, single dad and former war photographer, Augie is one of many offbeat parents taking their gifted children to the 1955 Junior Stargazer convention. A brief extraterrestrial visit interrupts the proceedings, triggering a government-imposed quarantine with no travel and no communication with the outside world and sparking a widespread crisis about the meaning of life.

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ASTEROID CITY – Review by Diane Carson

A who’s who of over twenty fine actors contribute fabulous, droll interpretations to characters’ encounters and collisions. Deriving maximum comic effect from all this, director Wes Anderson presents his skewed humor as if nothing could be more natural or normal. Alexandre Desplat’s music interprets and complements the ambiance as the film shape shifts through topics: science and science fiction, musicals and heartfelt romance, existential drama and philosophical treatise. All this is embedded in an hour forty-five minutes of fabulous entertainment.

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THE POST DISPATCH – Review by Susan Granger

Deftly scripted as an absurdly fanciful anthology, filled with piquant caricatures, The French Dispatch is meticulously crafted by Wes Anderson as an inventive, whimsical tribute to several generations of mannered storytellers who enriched the American literary landscape

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