Jason Schwartzman as Augie Steenbeck, widowed war photojournalist (portrayed in-universe by Jones Hall)
The Mojave Desert, Fall 1955
Film: Asteroid City
Release Date: June 16, 2023
Director: Wes Anderson
Costume Designer: Milena Canonero
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
“Each year, we celebrate Asteroid Day, commemorating September 23, 3007 B.C., when the Arid Plains Meteorite made Earth impact,” General Grif Gibson (Jeffrey Wright) explains to the gathered crowd of Junior Stargazers and Space Cadets and their parents in Asteroid City, the latest from Wes Anderson—a colorful reflection of grief and loneliness in a delightfully surreal “cosmic wilderness”.
Vividly photographed in Anderson’s signature style, Asteroid City centers around a fictional play staged for live television in the 1950s, scored by a great early ’50s guitar soundtrack featuring contemporary hits by Les Paul & Mary Ford and cowboy singers like Slim Whitman and Tennessee Ernie Ford as well as Alexandre Desplat’s evocative original score. The play is set in a fictional town of 87, located approximately “halfway between Parched Gulf and Arid Plains” near a nuclear testing site in the California/Arizona/Nevada region, according to the opening lines of playwright Conrad Earp (Edward Norton).
The ostensible protagonist among our ensemble cast is the Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman), a jaded war photojournalist and—initially unbeknownst to his “brainiac” son Woodrow (Jake Ryan) and three younger daughters that he’s traveling with—a recent widow. “Let’s say she’s in Heaven… which doesn’t exist for me, of course, but you’re Episcopalian,” Augie reassures his children while grasping their mother’s ashes in a teal Tupperware bowl. Continue reading