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Monday, May 20, 2024

Movies with Tarek – ‘Asteroid City’


As a die-hard fan of Wes Anderson, he strikes gold again with brilliant directing and a bizarre world that feels interactive in his latest film. There are loads of dynamics involving connections and conflicts between his characters who are stuck in one setting in Asteroid City.

The movie is a bit like Wes Anderson’s The Twilight Zone because of the astronomy and physics he utilizes in his creative world. The all-star cast includes Jason Schwartzman (as Augie Steenbeck), Scarlett Johansson (as Midge Campbell), Tom Hanks (as Stanley Zak), Jeffrey Wright (as Grif Gibson) Tilda Swinton (as Dr. Hickenlooper), Bryan Cranston (as the Host), Edward Norton (as Conrad Earp), Adrien Brody (as Schubert Green), Liev Schreiber (as J.J. Kellogg), Hope Davis (as Sandy Borden), Stephen Park (as Roger Cho), Rupert Friend (as Montana), Matt Dillon (as Hank), and many more. It is an endless adventure of wit and giggles in an immersive world that will make audiences’ heads spin.

Asteroid City also offers an element of surprise which makes the film even more irresistible. The film begins with the Host presenting a play and then relating it back to Conrad Earp, a writer. The film’s introduction feels like a real experience which is a bit like Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004). Only this time, the film jumps back and forth between the Host doing his introductions to moments from Conrad Earp to the conflicts in the film’s setting, Asteroid City. The back-and-forth storyline as a setup makes the movie invigorating.

The film begins by focusing on the family of Augie Steenbeck, a recent widower who is explaining the sad news to his children. Augie’s father-in-law is Stanley Zak. The two men have a strained relationship. Augie and his family end up in Asteroid City due to car problems detected by the mechanic Hank. Once the car goes out of commission, more problems arise in the town. There is a quarantine order due to UFO danger as well as astronomy concerns. The scientific issues in the film are innovative and shift the dynamics of everyone in Asteroid City.

Astronomy is the focus of the unanswered questions for the film’s characters. Asteroid City explores a variety of intriguing subject matter. Augie finds himself feeling love for Midge Campbell. Augie is a photographer and is always taking pictures around the town. Another character is J.J. Kellogg who plays a boot camp father with strong family values. In addition, the characters are trying to pass the time in quarantine due to unprecedented UFOs.

Anderson’s depiction of life in quarantine is relatable due to the actual world recovering from a pandemic. Piled onto these issues are the relationships and backgrounds of all the other characters. Like the approach utilized in Anderson’s previous projects, there are insights into political issues and current interests. Asteroid City is an outstanding work of fiction portrayed in a realistic, clever and artistic form.

With the direction shifting between narration by Cranston and the scenarios playing out in Asteroid City, several questions and unexpected surprises occur which add to the strangeness and the politics of this fictional world.

Anderson also presents scenarios which are unclear in his pictures, but still in tune because of how it relates to his characters and who is ultimately in charge. Asteroid City is one-of-a-kind world filled with egos of talented, crazy people who are under a quarantine in a deserted Nuke town. Asteroid City presents endless possibilities and pure nostalgic joy.

Everyone faces challenges around every corner in Asteroid City which are made more complex due to the egotistical behaviors in close quarters. There are also breathtaking and amusing scenes in Asteroid City that spark the imagination and create an unforgettable spectacle.

Four stars for Asteroid City.

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Tarek Fayoumi
Tarek Fayoumihttp://movieswithtarek.com
Tarek Fayoumi is the creator and lead critic of movieswithtarek.com. He also contributes to Medium.com, is an approved critic of Bananameter, and a member of the Chicago Indie Critics (CIC) and Independent Film Critics of America.


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