Episode 1

Asteroid City (2023) and The Fabelmans (2022)

In the first episode of our new cycle Set in the 1950s, we take a look at Wes Anderson's new film, Asteroid City (2023).

Both Chris and I are devout Wes Anderson fans, and covering Asteroid City was really the impetus for this cycle's theme. As we have traversed this cycle, we are seeing how the 1950s setting can be used in a variety of ways with varying degrees of historical richness. Wes, quite predictably, uses the Eisenhower years as mostly set dressing for his story of grief and isolation out in the red desert. Of course the film looks gorgeous and is filled to the brim with exquisite detail, but the film does deviate significantly from the typical Anderson film. Here the meta impulse is greatly indulged with a play running intertwined within the main narrative. The film has become quite divisive even amongst Wes Anderson aficionados.

A great counterpoint to Asteroid City is Steven Spielberg's autobiographical The Fabelmans (2022). Both works are about directors turning the lens inwards. Whereas Anderson deconstructs his own style and voice into a kaleidoscope of detail and paratexts, Spielberg lends his own story a hyperrealism he often evoked in his most classic work. Both films are honest reflections.

Note: This podcast was recorded and produced during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of writers and actors currently on strike, Asteroid City and The Fabelmans would not exist. Support the artists who make the art you love.