180 Strand – The French Dispatch exhibition

Well crikey – it’s been 2 and a half years since my last post and so it’s only fitting that my return to form should be regarding a film about a paper about a city.

Yes I’m talking about cinephile Pied Piper Wes Anderson’s latest work; The French Dispatch. I’m not going to review the film but instead talk about the accompanying exhibition that’s treating Londoners to the work of the film’s talented set and prop department.

There have been Le Sans Blague cafe’s popping up to commemorate the release of the film – most notably on the corner of Bleecker St in New York. But the one that has popped up on London’s Strand comes with much more behind it’s bright yellow facade.

A still from The French Dispatch
The exterior of the exhibition on The Strand

Follow the building around the corner and it takes you to 180 Strand, a gallery space that is currently showcasing the props, sets, costumes and artwork from The French Dispatch.

Arranged into the layout of the films titular and fictional publication – the exhibition takes you through from the Cycling Reporter, across its Arts and Culture pages, through Politics and finishing with its Food pages in a display of the film’s (and the directors) unique aesthetic.

When interviewed by the New York Times on their podcast Wes himself commented he doesn’t make a concerted effort to maintain a specific aesthetic through his films, more that it’s something he’s “stuck with”. On the one hand hard to believe that his tableau of pastel colours and quirky attention to detail isn’t a choice – but on the other hand, it’s not hard to believe that his aesthetic effortlessly pours out of him in a way that needs no thought.

This attention to detail – both humorous and painstaking – are all up for analysis as the exhibition at 180 Strand invites you to take a microscopic look at the film. Check out The French Dispatch founder and editor Arthur Howitzer Jr’s desk (played by Bill Murray), stand before jailed genius Moses Rosenthaler’s paintings and gaze into miniatures of cargo planes and the streets of the movie’s fictional setting Ennui-sur-Blase.

Sets from the film are on display at the exhibition

You can even round off your visit with an espresso and a game of chess in Le Sans Blague as you exit. For fans of the film, this is an immersive Disneyland, for fans of Wes Anderson this is a tribute to the craftsmanship of his movies and for cinema fans this is just a general must visit.

You must book and visits cost £10 which include your own physical copy of The French Dispatch. I would say you could comfortably spend between 45 minutes and an hour looking around the exhibition.

Visit here for more info: https://wesanderson.seetickets.com/timeslot/wes-anderson-the-french-dispatch

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