Podcast: We’ll Always Have... Paris

David Klion on Wes Anderson, Louis Menand and nostalgic Francophilia


I recently saw a movie that was a masterpiece of worldbuilding, featuring Timothée Chalamet as a callow youth caught in the maelstrom of history as the messianic leader of a revolutionary movement, torn between a strong-willed matriarch and an equally determined young comrade, all set against the background of an empire in crisis as it tries to hold on to resource rich desert colonies. 

“Oh, no,” you cry. “Not another Dune podcast!” 

No, in fact I saw a very different movie, Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch. Like Dune, The French Dispatch has been polarizing, with some reviewers loving how Anderson pushes his stylization of reality to a new level of artifactual artificiality, while others found the movie to be, variously, precocious, indulgent, empty, and childish, and irresponsible. In other words, Anderson was again accused of being in flight from maturity

I personally loved the movie and wanted to take up some of criticisms made of it. There’s an discussion to be had about the way Anderson takes real people and real history, some of it weighty, and turns it into an exuberant fantasia. 

To talk about The French Dispatch, I invited David Klion, much loved by Time of Monsters listeners for his Dune discourse, back on the podcast. We take up the criticism surrounding Anderson and his movie, while also discussing James Baldwin, Mavis Gallant, abstract expressionism, the CIA, Norman Podhoretz, Harold Ross, William Shawn, the history of The New Yorker, the rise and fall of Francophilia as a cultural style, and Louis Menand’s recent book The Free World (which can be seen as a kind cool-eyed skeptical view of the much of the same ground covered in The French Dispatch).

(Edited by Emily M. Keeler)

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