“Asteroid City”: The New York City Wes Anderson Premiere
Photo courtesy of Grier Calagione
This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s summer editorial intern Grier Calagione. Find her on Instagram at @g_fac. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at email@example.com.
Wes Anderson is the king of aesthetics and his new film “Asteroid City” is no exception to his reign. Covering themes of grief, longing and oblivion, all in the name of science, the film gives insight into the importance of storytelling. The movie first debuted at the Cannes film festival where it received a six-minute standing ovation, then at the Alamo Drafthouse in New York City. My mother and father co-founded a brewery, Dogfish Head, and had the opportunity to collaborate on a specialty brew for the film. I had the privilege of attending the NYC Wes Anderson premiere alongside my mother.
Photo courtesy of Grier Calagione: Dogfish Head’s “Asteroid City” beer alongside a limited edition film poster
Alamo DraftHouse had a magical world set up in the foyer of their theater. They served the Dogfish Head “Asteroid City” beer, printed film posters on a vintage press, and displayed set pieces from the fictional town. At this point the film had only been seen by those at Cannes and a select few journalists, the general majority of the pop-up was cloaked in confusion. We didn’t understand the context of props like a caged rock, so watching the movie became all the more exciting as the pieces fell into place.
Anderson opens with a black and-white scene of a man giving the audience a “behind the scenes” look into a new play titled “Asteroid City.” We watch as the playwright struggles to put ink to typewriter. The credits roll, and we enter into the technicolor universe of the play. Missing the first scene, as my mother did to get drinks with Wes, is detrimental to the understanding of the contextual complexity of the play within the play. There is no audience, stage, or applause; instead, we enter “Asteroid City.”
Photo courtesy of Grier Calagione: Tim League (Alamo Drafthouse founder) Jason Schwartzman (Actor, “Astroid City” lead), Mariah Calagione (Dogfish Head co-founder) and Wes Anderson (Director) (left to right)
The palette is a dusty sun-soaked reflection of the lowly southwestern town. The audience is greeted by dozens of fascinating and well-developed characters but also met with the realization that they are watching actors act as members of a theatrical cast. We watch as they struggle to understand the themes of the performance alongside us.
Full of sardonic wit and quite a few laugh-out-loud moments, the film was digestible and wildly entertaining. The format of switching between the play itself and backstage, alongside the divisional acts, works to keep even the cripplingly shortest of attention spans engaged. However, I’m left with so many questions. Questions even the panel with Wes and the cast brought no answers for. The film was easy to enjoy but much harder to understand.
Photo courtesy of Grier Calagione: Grier in the iconic set where Scarlett Johansen and Jason Schwartzman converse through the window
During the panel, Wes said that he overheard a discussion among the actors about not understanding the themes of the plat. He explained that one actress said the only one who truly understood was Jeff Goldblum (the Alien), Jeff launched into a full-scale analysis that fully satisfied Wes’ understanding of his vision. The irony of the Alien being the only character to understand his play was not lost on the director, he found a very profound beauty in it.
The film is set to release on Jun 23, 2023, and I highly recommend that everyone goes to the theater to enjoy it on the big screen. I for one can’t wait for the many more viewings to come. Those few journalists at the NYC Wes Anderson premiere who had the pleasure of seeing it beforehand claimed that they understood much more the second time. I have a feeling that with every viewing will come a deep revelation.
Are you going to see “Asteroid City” in the theater? Let us know what you think about the film below!