Wes Anderson on his new ’50s film Asteroid City, AI and those TikTok videos

CANNES, France — When Wes Anderson comes down from Paris to the Cannes Film Festival in the south of France, he and his actors don’t stay in a luxury hotel in Cannes, but rather spend more than an hour on the beach, well outside the frenzy of the festival.

“When we arrived yesterday, we arrived at a calm, peaceful hotel,” Anderson said in an interview. “We’re an hour away, but it’s a completely normal life.”

Normal life can mean something different in a Wes Anderson movie, and that’s doubly so in the latest film, Asteroid City. Anderson’s most mesmerizing creations include a fusion of sci-fi, 1950s, and about a hundred other influences, from Looney Tunes to “Bad Day at Black Rock.”

Focus Functions’ “Asteroid City,” which will be released on June 16, premiered in Cannes on Tuesday. Anderson and his cast have arrived – including Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Steve Carell, Margot Robbie, Bryan Cranston, Jeffrey Wright and Adrien Brody. all together in a tourist bus.

The film, which Anderson co-wrote with Roman Coppola, is set in a southwestern desert town where a group of characters—some harboring unspoken grief—gather for reasons as varied as a stargazing meeting or a broken-down car. But even this story is part of a Russian doll fiction. It’s a play that’s being performed – that’s being filmed for a TV show in itself.

All of this means that “Asteroid City” gives Anderson’s distinctive, diorama-style Tik Tok videos fresh fodder for new social media copycats, both human and AI. Anderson talked about these Tik Toks. in an interview the day before “Asteroid City” debuted at Cannes, and other questions of style and inspiration in “Asteroid City,” a sun-dried and melancholic work of old Anderson density.

“I feel like it’s a movie that would benefit from a second viewing,” Anderson said. “Brian De Palma liked it the first time, and the second time he had a much bigger reaction. But what can you say? You can’t make a movie and say, “I think it’s best if everyone sees it twice.”

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AP: It’s a lot of fun reading the opening credits of the movie, “Jeff Goldblum as the alien,” before you even realize there’s an alien.

ANDERSON: Of course we debated whether that was necessary in the opening credits. I said, “You know, that’s a good thing.” This is a little prediction. It is not an extensive role in our story. But part of what the film means to me and to Roman has to do with the actors and this weird thing that they do. What does it mean when you give a presentation? If someone probably wrote something and then you study and study and you have an interpretation. But you essentially take yourself and put yourself in the film. And then we get a bunch of people who get busy and put themselves into the movie. They have faces and voices and are more complex than anything artificial intelligence can figure out. AI needs to know them to invent them. They do these emotional things that are usually a mystery to me. I usually stand back and watch and it’s always very busy.

AP: The alien could spell doom for the cast of “Asteroid City,” and nuclear tests are taking place in the area. Is this your version of an apocalyptic movie?

ANDERSON: The apocalyptic stuff was there. They probably weren’t strangers, but there was certainly a strong interest in them. For sure, nuclear bombs went off. And just now there was, I guess you could say, the worst war in the history of mankind. There’s a certain point where I remember saying to Roman, “I think one of the men is not only suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder that he’s completely unaware of, but he’s sharing it with his family in a way that ends up with Woodstock. But also: They should all be armed. So everyone has a gun.

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AP: Perhaps since “Grand Budapest Hotel” he has been adding more and more frames to Russian baby films one layer at a time. His first films, ‘Bottle Rocket’ and ‘Rushmore’, start to seem almost realistic. Comparison. Do you think your films are getting more elaborate as you get older?

ANDERSON: Ultimately, every time I make a movie, I’m just trying to figure out what I want to do, and then figure out how to make it do what I want it to do. It’s usually an emotional decision and it’s usually quite a mystery to me how it ends. The biggest improvisational aspect of filmmaking for me is the writing. I tend to obsess over stage directions that aren’t in the movie. “Grand Budapest” had several layers, and so did “French Dispatch”. This is really divided into two parts, but there are more complex layers. We know that the main movie is the play. But there are also behind-the-scenes aspects of the play. There’s a guy who tells us it’s a telecast of a fictional play that doesn’t actually exist. We don’t mean to make it complicated. I just do what I want.

AP: Have you seen all the TikTok videos made in your style? They are everywhere.

ANDERSON: No, I haven’t. I’ve actually never seen TikTok. I didn’t see any related to me or unrelated to me. And I haven’t seen the AI-type stuff related to me yet.

AP: You can see him as a new generation discovering his films.

ANDERSON: The only reason I don’t watch the stuff is because I probably have to do the same thing over and over again. We are forced to accept that if I make a film, I have to make it myself. But I will say that anytime someone responds with enthusiasm to these films that I’ve made over many years, that’s a nice, lucky thing. So I’m glad to have it. But I have a feeling that I would just feel: Oh my God, am I doing this? So I protect myself.

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AP: What people sometimes miss about your films is that the characters operating in such precise worlds are deeply flawed and comical. Fancy tableaus may be accurate, but people are all imperfect.

ANDERSON: That’s what I’d be aiming for anyway. In the end, it’s more important to me what it’s about. I spend a lot more time writing the film than anything related to making it. For me, the actors are the focus. They cannot be simulated. Or maybe you can. If you look at the AI, maybe I’ll see that you can do it.

AP: In “Asteroid City,” you combined interests in really disparate ideas—Sam Shepard’s 50s theater and the automaton. How does such a combination come about?

ANDERSON: We had an idea that we wanted to do a ’50s setting, and there are two sides to that. One is the New York theater. There is a picture of Paul Newman sitting in a T-shirt with his feet on the chair at the Actors Studio. It was about the world of summer sets, behind the scenes, and these towns that were built and never moved into. This will make the East Coast and the West Jacket, as well as the theater and the cinema. There is a series of dichotomies. And one of the central things was that we wanted to make a character for Jason Schwartzman that was different from what he had done before. The things that go into making a movie eventually become too much to even record. So much is added to the mix that I like. And what the movie is about is what you can’t control in life. In a way, the invention of film is one of those things.


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Source: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/wes-anderson-new-50s-set-film-asteroid-city-99547976