Moonrise Kingdom

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Re: Moonrise Kingdom

Postby Sabin » Sat Jul 07, 2012 12:23 am

I saw Moonrise Kingdom again and my assessment now is that it's a lovely film with a lot of scenes that I don't particularly like but in retrospect I can forgive. I tend to warm to his films, and some of them ultimately revere (really just Rushmore & Tenenbaums). I don't think I'm going to revere Moonrise Kingdom because the third act is incredibly messy, but I found the mess more endearing this time.

I don't think Wes Anderson is nostalgic for this period of time or life per se. I think he's nostalgic for this era of filmmaking. This is the most French New Wave movie he's made to date. Something I enjoyed a bit more this time around was how we don't really see our leads in the first act. They're already pretty much gone. Well, Suzy's there, but she's always watching us through those binoculars. He's painting a lively first act of a feature that doesn't feature its protagonists. This notion enables Wes to zip about from location to location and very amusingly tell single-frame stories. When the kids do run away in the second act, I resisted in the first time around and I still don't think it's as imaginative as it could be, but for whatever reason I just found it a bit more endearing this time. I think it's ultimately because the darn thing is just so light on its feet.

But I never get the sense that Wes remembers this crucial passage of life or that he's sharing something of himself. In retrospect, that slightly impersonal distance likely goes hand in hand with the briskness of it all, which is something of a little blessing.
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Re: Moonrise Kingdom

Postby Sonic Youth » Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:53 pm

I'm a little surprised at Sabin's disappointment with Moonrise Kingdom considering how much he reveres Anderson, and I'm also surprised by his declaration that he's a "storyteller in decline". Me, I think the storytelling's neither better nor worse than it's ever been, and if anything it's considerably livelier. As for "actors are posed, where architecture, composition, and music are given more attention by Wes Anderson than anything with flesh and blood", all I can say in response is "Welcome to MY world of Wes Anderson", which I've inhabited ever since Rushmore. Yeah, I'm that guy, the one who grouses about his "privileged precociousness" which all the Wes-heads shrug off, or try to school my unenlightened self. Now that Wes Anderson's in his 40s, it would be interesting to see if he could finally outgrow or at least deepen his tics and traits. Instead he regresses, first by making an animated film (which I figured would've been an ideal format for his directorial quirks; instead, Fantastic Mr. Fox was his worst yet IMO) and now Moonrise Kingdom. It's sort of a comic companion to Hugo, meaning it's a children's film that no child will like but will enchant the grown-ups. But it's really a nostalgia piece, and what Anderson is nostalgic for - exactly as I suspected - is very early adolescence before the angst set in, when love is new and pure, life is an adventure, and independence carries no consequences whatsoever. It also takes place in innocent (if post-JFK) 1965, before the sexual revolution emerged and it's an odd era for Anderson to be nostalgic over since he wasn't even born yet. Yet it's where he seems happiest, and Moonlight Kingdom is his most engaging film in a while because of it. But I'm still concerned. He has to face up to adulthood eventually. What's he going to do once he hits 50? If you keep exploring a creative dead-end, eventually you're going to hit that wall.
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Re: Moonrise Kingdom

Postby Sabin » Sat May 26, 2012 1:06 am

Before I go into any amount of detail w/r/t my impressions of Wes Anderson's seventh feature, I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't point your attention to this:

https://indieflix.com/film/almost-runaways-33960/

It shouldn't matter, and I do believe if I didn't make this then my opinion of Moonrise Kingdom would be just as disappointed, but this was my undergrad thesis at Columbia. It was written during a time before the release of The Life Aquatic..., where I could say that Wes Anderson truly was my favorite filmmaker, and shot before the release of The Darjeeling Limited, where I could still count on him as a major influence. After coming out to Los Angeles and realizing that the whole money thing takes precedence over any filmmaking dreams I held, I managed to begin post-production around the time of Fantastic Mix. Fox. And I secured online distribution for it two months before Moonrise Kingdom. Again: it's different. But I showed the short (for which I have penned several drafts of features that I have years since abandoned hopes of truly pursuing) to my parents and the first thing they said was "Oh my God. You should write him a letter!"

In no way do you guys need to know this because the person who made this 16mm short feels as different from me as the person who once considered Wes Anderson to be his favorite filmmaker. Oh, Rushmore is still my favorite film and The Royal Tenenbaums isn't far behind. I recall words that Damien once told me after the release of The Royal Tenenbaums (which was the last film I saw in Tucson before bombing out of the University of Arizona and the first film I saw when I enrolled in my first filmmaking class days later back in Phoenix) when I said that I couldn't imagine what Wes Anderson could do to follow this film. Even if I prefer Rushmore, the progression from it to The Royal Tenenbaums felt then like the ultimate culmination of his sensibilities. Damien replied "He's just going to continue to do his thing." And that's exactly what happened. The Life Aquatic, The Darjeeling Limited, and Fantastic Mr. Fox...he's just taking the house on Archer Avenue out for a spin in different milieus. All of which (save for the second half of Darjeeling) I like quite a bit. So my curiosity was piqued when I heard that he was making Moonrise Kingdom, a tableau that seemed to innately cry out for his talents. I want to see it again but I doubt I'll be more disappointed by a movie this year.

We've just reached a point where it's become clear that his interest in human behavior can only be defined by detached dialogue, where personality traits can only be referred to off-hand and not demonstrated before the camera, where actors are posed, where architecture, composition, and music are given more attention by Wes Anderson than anything with flesh and blood. There is something pretty beautiful within Moonrise Kingdom and it intermittently rears its head in moments that will doubtlessly be wheeled out during montage retrospectives of his work: a masterful letter correspondence, the loveliest ending he's created since Rushmore, etc. But Wes Anderson is a perfectionist now taken to mild control freak extremes, and his tendencies allow for very little breathing room. Although the actors who play Sam and Suzy have "good looks", their exchanges don't exist on the same planet. Imagine Rushmore directed with the hand Wes has now. I doubt the honest adolescent energy Jason Schwartzman exuded would be allowed to survive through the myriad takes designed to crystallize every exchange into the postcards Wes Anderson envisions every scene as.

For some of Moonrise Kingdom, I felt a mild return to form. Wes's intention is to create a panorama what becomes an island-wide affair, and there is a liveliness to the procession that has been missed for over a decade. As I'm so prone to saying, "on the page" (which is really to say, "where I to read what I just watched) I might find this his best script since Tennebaums, but Wes isn't thinking about heart or moments. He's thinking in terms of filmmaking, and that's all I really saw in Moonrise Kingdom. A series of filmmaking decisions. If this is just who he is now, then he should go back to animation because animation thrives under control. Otherwise, since losing Owen Wilson, Wes Anderson is a storyteller in decline and a painter of postcards in accelerated growth.

I need to see it again, but if you've ever been a kid with a man in a nice suit and scarf playing Francoise Hardy over your head and telling you what to do and what to say and how to dance, you'll probably be able to relate.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: Moonrise Kingdom

Postby Sabin » Wed May 16, 2012 11:43 am

Mike D'Angelo tweets:
@gemko
Moonrise Kingdom: 75. Balance between pre-adolescent ardor and adult disappointment a bit wobbly, but mostly delightful in RUSHMORE vein.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: Moonrise Kingdom

Postby Sonic Youth » Wed May 16, 2012 7:55 am

Moonrise Kingdom
16 May, 2012 | By Tim Grierson
Screendaily

Dir: Wes Anderson. US. 2012. 94mins



The enchanting sweetness of director Wes Anderson’s 2009 foray into animation, Fantastic Mr. Fox, has been transplanted into his return to live-action filmmaking, Moonrise Kingdom, a delicate period love story whose slightness is mitigated by its deep feeling. Those who have complained that Anderson makes the exact same twee, precious, mannered deadpan comedy every time out will have plenty here to further their argument, but this bittersweet bauble so confidently goes about its business that it’s difficult to deny that Anderson knows his milieu and how to dramatise it eloquently.

After serving as the opening film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Moonrise Kingdom will be released May 25, and it seems safe to assume that it will cater to the exact same niche art-house crowds that previously embraced Rushmore and The Darjeeling Limited. Boasting his starriest cast since The Royal Tenenbaums, this Focus Features offering probably shouldn’t expect significant box office boost from the presence of Anderson newcomers Bruce Willis and Edward Norton, but its positioning as the prestige release of the long Memorial Day weekend could help its theatrical returns.

Moonrise Kingdom takes place on a small New England island as the summer of 1965 is drawing to a close. Two pre-teen misfits – orphan Sam (Jared Gilman) and troubled Suzy (Kara Hayward) – fall for one another and decide to run away, which sparks a pursuit from Sam’s camp leader (Norton), the town sheriff (Bruce Willis) and Suzy’s parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand).

A quick plot synopsis of Moonrise Kingdom will perhaps bring back memories of previous Anderson films, whether it’s the precocious underage protagonist reminiscent of Rushmore or the family dysfunction that’s been a central theme of all his work. The comparisons are obvious and inevitable, but if they do dull some of Moonrise Kingdom’s novelty, it’s also important to note how Anderson has refined and deepened his approach over time to allow for a more layered emotional resonance in his pictures.

Although the film has an impressive cast of indie-minded actors, Anderson puts most of Moonrise Kingdom’s emotional weight on the shoulders of two relative unknowns. Initially there’s a concern that Gilman and Hayward simply don’t have enough presence to carry the story along, but soon it becomes apparent that, unlike Rushmore’s hyper-articulate and competitive Max Fischer, these new characters are more withdrawn and introspective. Consequently, their bond is less about being soul mates than it is about a shared sense of being outcasts. Anderson and his co-writer Roman Coppola leave Sam and Suzy a bit underdeveloped, which robs them of some personality but at the same time makes the reveal of their darker impulses all the more shocking and unsettling.

Indeed, Moonrise Kingdom sails along beautifully when Anderson focuses on their courtship. Working with his long-time cinematographer Robert Yeoman, the director succeeds in turning young love into precisely the intense, transitory, impossibly idyllic sensation it can be in real life. Utilising the Rhode Island locations to good effect, Moonrise Kingdom is like a live-action storybook of open skies and empty terrain in which Sam and Suzy can run free, creating a new life away from the sadness of their previous existence. Very consciously, Anderson signals the fact that this Eden can’t last, which gives the film such poignancy.

Interestingly, it’s when this comedy spends time with its more famous cast members that things get a bit wobbly. The adults aren’t meant to be Moonrise Kingdom’s central characters, but their involvement tends to drag down the story rather than elevate it. On one level, this seems intentional, as Anderson contrasts the almost magical enchantment of Sam and Suzy’s getaway with the mundane foibles and failings of the grownups around them.

But the problem comes in the fact that the filmmakers haven’t done enough to provide definition to these supporting players. Murray and McDormand are fitfully amusing but nothing more as Suzy’s lawyer parents, too wrapped up in their work to properly address her emotional troubles. Likewise, Norton and Willis give likable performances as ineffectual male role models for Sam, but there’s not enough comic inspiration underlying the characters. Anderson clearly wants us to concentrate on Sam and Suzy, but one wishes he didn’t do it so much to the detriment of everyone else on screen.

Because this is Anderson’s first film since venturing into stop-motion animation for Fantastic Mr. Fox, it’s natural to wonder if the visually distinctive auteur would switch up his style at all now that he’s returned to live-action. But the long tracking shots, detail-heavy production design and quirky costumes remain very much in effect.

Because he also engages in the same brand of understated, ironic comedy as he’s done so much in the past, there can be temptation to accuse Moonrise Kingdom of insincerity or standoffish-ness, but Anderson’s new movie again demonstrates that the emotions are all there under the tightly controlled surface. Specifically, they come through on the faces of Sam and Suzy, who seem to have gone through life trying to protect their delicate feelings from the outside world. Gilman and Hayward don’t give bravura performances – their characters are too minor-key for that – but their shared melancholy creates its own spell.

As the chase escalates to find them and the young lovers have to decide what to do, Moonrise Kingdom starts to get bogged down in plot busyness and forced comic situations. But what remains is a sense of sadness about how fleeting happiness can be. It’s ironic that such a feeling occurs in a film in which its great central story sometimes gets lost amidst the large ensemble cast.
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Re: Moonrise Kingdom

Postby Sonic Youth » Wed May 16, 2012 7:54 am

Hiding spoilers is a pain, sorry.

Moonrise Kingdom: Cannes Review
by Todd McCarthy
Hollywood Reporter


A blandly inexpressive title is the worst thing about Moonrise Kingdom, a willfully eccentric pubescent love story in which even the most minute detail has been attended to in the manner of the most obsessive maker of 19th century dollhouses.

Although it trades in such large matters as true love, destiny, child abandonment and a storm of historic proportions, these issues are of no greater significance in the film than how two plaid fabrics look next to each other or the specific placement of a piece of Benjamin Britten music. In other words, this is a Wes Anderson film -- more lightweight than some, possessing a stronger emotional undertow than others -- that will strike the uninitiated as conspicuously arch. This Cannes Film Festival opening-night attraction and competition entry offers a raft of rarefied pleasures for the director's core fan base, but the Focus Features offering has scant hope of breaking through to a wider public upon its May 25 U.S. release.

During the opening sequence, you could be forgiven for thinking you are looking at a dollhouse, if not the underground lair of Mr. Fox and his family. In a series of quick lateral moves, the frame shifts from room to room as in a slide show to reveal the home of the splintered Bishop family, some members of which will figure prominently in what's to come. But the people pale in relation to the punctilious presentation, which emphasizes decor and geographic and meteorological minutiae about New Penzance Island in New England as well as the strictly regimented routines of the Khaki Scouts, whose 1965 summer session is under way.

Most of Anderson's shots are head-on, with a locked-down quality that makes them look like they're ready for a frame. Even more than in his previous work, the dialogue and music possess an extreme degree of declarative definitiveness that works as an aural correlative to the visuals. Everything is in a box -- a beautifully wrapped one, at that -- allowing for no relaxation, casualness or spontaneous combustion.

Except combustion is what takes place between Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman), a brainy orphan Scout, and Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), the odd girl out in a family with three preoccupied younger boys, a checked-out dad (Bill Murray) and a mother (Frances McDormand) having an affair with a milquetoasty local cop, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis). A general panic is sparked when Sam goes AWOL from Camp Ivanhoe to run away with Suzy.

On one level, this is They Live by Night with 12-year-olds: No one understands Suzy at home, and Sam suddenly has been disowned by foster parents, leaving him facing the severe ministrations of Social Services (Tilda Swinton) -- that's her name, not a bureaucracy. But the tone could not be more different. These kids look at life and each other squarely and without blinking -- he through thick glasses, she from behind perennially dramatic eye makeup. Not yet able to feel or express passion, they rotely go through the motions of what they know they're supposed to do -- briefly French kissing and touching certain key spots -- and acknowledge that they love each other.

Mostly, however, they are pursued -- by her parents, by the cop and his dog and, most vigorously, by the Scouts, who purposefully mobilize in ways for which they are theoretically prepared but are rarely required to implement. The idea of the kids running off -- on an island, no less -- is absurd, of course; nothing can come of it. But there is something close to moving in the way they approach it with such openness and unity; even if they are emotionally and physically immature, Suzy and Sam are as one mentally.

As in Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson is able to express sincere personal connection and compatibility while employing a highly artificial style. The result is that the core of Kingdom -- the bond between the leads played so forthrightly by newcomers Hayward and Gilman -- is strong, even bracing in its resilience.

What takes place around them -- the inevitable pursuit by Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), Scouts mobilizing as if for mortal combat, frantic parents and local law enforcement chasing them around -- has jokey artificiality with a relatively modest amusement quotient. Most of the skilled adult actors don't have much to play: Willis and McDormand at least have a relationship to sort out, but Norton, Murray, Swinton and Harvey Keitel as another Scout Master seem way out on limbs of their own.

But even in the most incidental scene, there is always an arresting design quality to divert the eye, such as the Scouts' treetop quarters, Captain Sharp's beautiful old Spartanette trailer home or Social Services' outrageously dramatic garb, which looks like a combination of a Salvation Army uniform and an outfit Snow White's Evil Queen would have coveted.

At the 50-minute mark, the errant couple is found, which reverses the dynamic: In the face of legal and family opposition, how are Suzy and Sam going to be reunited? The preannounced deus ex machina plays a major role in this, as do several changes of heart that occur during an increasingly frenzied final act that acquires the air of a miniature disaster movie.

Amplifying the peculiar little story worked out by Anderson and Roman Coppola, who also co-wrote The Darjeeling Limited with the director, is a sense of style that extends to every nook and cranny of the film. Clearly this emanates from Anderson above all, but he has chosen an array of collaborators no doubt stimulated by his exacting standards of artistry and detail, including cinematographer Robert Yeoman, on his sixth feature with Anderson; production designer Adam Stockhausen; costume designer Kasia Walicka-Maimone; and editor Andrew Weisblum.

Alexandre Desplat composed the excellent score, but his work is only a component of an extraordinarily complex soundtrack. Music by Britten is dominant, particularly from Noye's Fludde (Noah's Flood), a work by the English composer first performed in 1958 that could have been appropriated by Anderson for use in this watery context or, more likely, served as inspiration for the inundation that climaxes the film. The way Britten is joined on the track by a mix of Saint-Saens, Mozart, Schubert, Hank Williams and Desplat is remarkable and deserving of an essay of its own.
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Moonrise Kingdom

Postby Sonic Youth » Wed May 16, 2012 7:51 am

Happy Cannes!

Moonrise Kingdom
By Peter Debruge
Variety.com


What is childhood if not an island cut off from the grown-up world around it, and what is first love if not a secret cove known only to the two parties caught in its spell? While no less twee than Wes Anderson's earlier pictures, "Moonrise Kingdom" supplies a poignant metaphor for adolescence itself, in which a universally appealing tale of teenage romance cuts through the smug eccentricity and heightened artificiality with which Anderson has allowed himself to be pigeonholed. A prestigious opening-night slot at Cannes lends luster to Focus' May 25 release, but not enough to grow his audience.

While Anderson is essentially a miniaturist, making dollhouse movies about meticulously appareled characters in perfectly appointed environments, each successive film finds him working on a more ambitious scale. Co-written by Roman Coppola, "Moonrise Kingdom" may not be set anywhere so exotic as a Mediterranean boat ("The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou") or a trans-Indian train ("The Darjeeling Limited"), but it feels even more finely detailed than any of his previous live-action outings. Still, the love story reads loud and clear, charming those not put off by all the production's potentially distracting ornamentation.

Spoilers:Newcomer Kara Hayward plays Suzy, who lives in an overstuffed lighthouse on the East Coast island of New Penzance with three younger brothers and two immature-acting parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand). She has captured the heart of Sam (Jared Gilman, also making his bigscreen debut), a 12-year-old orphan and the outcast of his Khaki Scout troop (the other members of which all blur together, hardly distinguishable beyond the varying beige shades of their uniforms).

Sam first spotted Suzy the summer before, and the two have been pen pals ever since, plotting to run away from their not-uncomfortable normal lives in order to spend a week or so roughing it together. While Sam endearingly draws upon the wilderness survival tactics taught by his troop's otherwise irresponsible Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton, looking his most boyish), Suzy proves somewhat less practical, packing several hardcover library books, a battery-powered record player and her pet kitten for the adventure.

Opposite Sam's ugly duckling, Suzy is already a swan: She listens to French pop and paints her eyes a la Sophia Loren, suggesting the type of girl who'd be running with leather-jacket high-school boys in real life, rather than indulging an awkward, nearsighted daydreamer. And yet Sam, like "Rushmore's" Max Fischer before him, lacks nothing in self-confidence, rendered all the more hilarious by Gilman's comical seriousness and slight speech impediment. By contrast, Hayward conveys both intelligence and poise, reminding that young ladies mature faster than boys.


Anderson recently told the New York Times that the girl who inspired Suzy's character was never even aware of his affections, and that explains a lot. "Moonrise Kingdom" is nothing if not a nostalgic fantasy-reinvention of first love, transposed to 1965 (a fact supplied by Bob Balaban, who doubles as both the pic's narrator and its most sartorially silly-looking character). Despite the absurdly all-American backdrop, the film reveals a particularly French influence in its use of composer Alexandre Desplat's sprightly instrumentations and its admirably non-patronizing approach toward adolescents, which recalls the precocious protags of Louis Malle's "Murmur of the Heart" and "Zazie in the Metro."

Throughout, the picture retains Anderson's signature aesthetic: Whether dollying through the rooms of Suzy's house squarely on-axis or peering straight forward from the bow of Sam's canoe, the wide-angle 16mm lensing effectively places everything, including outdoor shots, within an artificial proscenium, the camera remaining fixed except for the occasional 90-degree whip pan.

This carefully orchestrated dynamic runs counter to most lovers-on-the-lam movies, where naturalistic acting and handheld cinematography typically enhance the outlaw spirit. In this case, Anderson's stylized approach masks the young actors' inexperience, while embracing a familiar genre to draw auds in to Sam and Suzy's runaway escapade. As his fellow Khaki Scouts organize a search party and her parents enlist the local police captain (a ridiculous-looking Bruce Willis), the couple have few hideout options from which to choose on such a small island.

Eventually, they find a quiet beach, generically labeled "Mile 3.25 Tidal Inlet," and claim it as their own. Thanks to an approaching hurricane, this secret spot will soon exist only in their memories. Naturally, the storm coincides with an elaborate and rather tiresome third-act chase involving Social Services (Tilda Swinton), the Khaki Scouts' humorless commanding officer (Harvey Keitel) and a dose of weak dramatic irony in the form of a church-theater production of "Noye's Fludde."


For the jejune duo, the whole adventure brings their first wave of adult problems; one suspects they will soon long for the days when their troubles could be contained someplace as charmed as New Penzance. In the meantime, "Moonrise Kingdom" represents a sort of non-magical Neverland -- that momentous instant when the world can seem so small and a naive crush can feel all-consuming.
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