10 anthology films to see before the French expedition


After much delay, Wes Anderson’s highly anticipated feature film The French Dispatch will be released this year. While the film’s trailer implies the presence of Anderson’s usual humor and visual aesthetic, it marks the writer-director’s first attempt at an anthology film. The plot involves a magazine preparing its latest issue and telling three separate stories in the process.

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The anthology format is fascinating to explore given how the directors have interpreted it with different tones and settings. While Jim Jarmusch is an undeniable pioneer in the genre, other directors like the Coen brothers and Mel Brooks have also made significant contributions.

ten The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) – Netflix

Buster Scruggs is holding a gun

The Coens brothers’ comedies and dramas are renowned for their quirky, tongue-in-cheek humor. The duo’s Netflix anthology The Ballad of Buster Scruggs similarly presents a satirical image of a post-Civil War American frontier with stories that revolve around hilarious flawed characters.

While the opening segment has a standout performance from Tim Blake Nelson with some poetic songs, the other stories also play with darker storylines and twist endings. While most segments are originals written by the Coens, two are based on stories by classic writers Jack London and Stewart Edward White.

9 Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) – Prime Video

Jack and Meg White in coffee and cigarettes

Jim Jarmusch has tried his hand at making anthologies more than once, with Coffee and cigarettes being one of his works par excellence. As the title suggests, each black and white vignette involves conversation over coffee and cigarettes. Boasting an ensemble cast including Cate Blanchett, Iggy Pop, Steve Buscemi and more, Jarsmuch’s script celebrates the mundane, which makes this anthology all the more relevant.

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From discussing Elvis Presley conspiracy theories to cigarette addiction itself, the film is filled with entertaining, everyday conversations.


8 Night on Earth (1991) – HBO Max

One of Jim Jarmusch’s best films, night on earth takes place on a specific night in five different cities. In each short, the story involves an unexpected bond formed between a taxi driver and his passenger. As is the case with other Jarmusch anthologies, the compilation is an artistic experiment that oscillates between realism and drama. The ambient soundtrack is provided by regular Jarmusch collaborator Tom Waits.

night on earth served immediately Mystery Trainanother notable Jarmusch anthology that garnered a cult following.

7 Ghost Stories (2018) – Hulu

ghost stories consists of three separate storylines that ultimately connect to form a larger storyline. At the center of the plot is a paranormal professor who seeks to disprove the film’s titular stories. However, as the three storylines unfold, he begins to question his own sanity.

The atmospheric tension in the horror anthology is remarkable, and it’s only enhanced by a talented ensemble. Martin Freeman, in particular, is in fine form while Andy Nyman plays the lead role. Nyman also co-directed and wrote the film, which in turn is based on his play of the same name.

6 Wild Tales (2014) – AMC On Demand

The Oscar nominee wild tales clearly lives up to its name, offering a mix of heart-pounding shock value and absurd dark humor. From a troubled marriage to a fatal robbery, viewers can expect the unexpected with the wildly fresh stories presented in this Argentinian film.

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When it comes to dark comedy thrillers like this, twists or shock endings are a common trope. But the twists in wild tales are rarely used for fancy purposes.

5 Paris, I Love You (2006) – VUDU

Poster for Paris Je T'aime

Paris, like New York, is a city endlessly romanticized in pop culture. Paris I love you (which literally translates to Paris I love you), is a grand cinematic tribute to this “city of love” with vignettes from 22 top directors.

Les Coens, Gurinder Chadha, Wes Craven and Gus Van Sant are among the filmmakers who contributed to the film. The multinational cast is equally impressive, including Bob Hoskins, Elijah Wood and Natalie Portman. Pure collective talent makes Paris I love you one of the best films set in Paris.

4 World History Part I (1981) – Google Play Movies

world history

History of the world, part one is a classic work of over-the-top but cleverly written humor from Mel Brooks. Consisting of several sketches parodying human history, the comedy finds Mel Brooks playing characters such as Moses and Loius XVI. Segments span the Stone Age, Roman Empire, French Revolution, and more.

While it may not be Brooks’ magnum opus, it’s a gripping assortment of shorts and is comparable to the pseudo-historical humor of some Monty Python sketches.

3 Four Bedrooms (1995) – DIRECTV

Four bedrooms is perhaps known for featuring Quentin Tarantino in one of his rare acting roles. Tarantino is also directing one of the shorts, with Robert Rodriguez, Allison Anders and Alexandre Rockwell joining him. Interestingly, each of the dark and comedic segments is based on the writings of Roald Dahl, who is best known for his children’s novels.

Each chapter deals with four strange encounters in four different hotel rooms, with Tim Roth’s bellhop, Ted, serving as the main character who connects them all. While Four bedrooms may not be the best anthology ever made, the humor and thrills of Rodriguez and Tarantino’s segments provide solid entertainment.

2 Tale of Tales (2015) – AMC Plus

Salma Hayek eating meat on a white board in an image from Tale of Tales

Prior to anime redesigns, fairy tales were often written as dark tales of fantasy and romance. The three stories of Tale of Tales reference to the Italian writer Giambattista Basile, who wrote similar stories, including early versions of Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty.

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A remarkable period anthology, this European production makes good use of its talented actors, including Salma Hayek and Vincent Cassell. Each of the three segments subverts adaptations of childish fairy tales for more mature stories.

1 The house full of O. Henry (1952) – VUDU

Marilyn Monroe in an image from Full House of O Henry

When it comes to American news, O. Henry was a titan. In the 1950s, some of Hollywood’s biggest stars teamed up to bring his short fiction to life in an anthology published under the title Full house. Charles Laughton, Anne Baxter and Marilyn Monroe lead the star cast while the film also features acclaimed author John Steinbeck as narrator, marking the only screen appearance of his life.

From “The Gift of Magi” to “The Last Leaf,” the film largely stays true to its source material, incorporating the balance of O. Henry on Spirit and Emotion.

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