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Let's try to understand the miracle I have just witnessed. Director Wes
Anderson is 12 years old, has just experienced his first love while at
Summer camp, and immediately rushed to a camera to tell us, his pen
pals, the story. A slightly embellished story which follows the perfect
scenarios we would draw at night in our beds at this age. It has all
the tiny details, the sense of adventure and the freshness of youth.
How someone 43 years old in real life could do this movie is beyond me.
The drawback of this miracle for the viewer is that such a jump back
into the kind of idealized feelings you had in your early teens leaves
you with quite some melancholy when you leave the cinema.
It could be that some people do not connect to the movie and just see it as "adorable" or "cute" and nothing more. But I suppose most people will feel connected, notably because the movie has this straight-to-the-point attitude in both the technique and the story-telling; the story is read to you, not force-fed with dramatic music and whatnot. Just like one of the characters who reads bedtime stories to the others.
You might complain about the lack of character development for some of the big names in this film (Norton, Willis, Murray - McDormand less so as she gets more detailed screen time than the others) but I suppose this is wanted: kids will see hints of the issues adults are facing, but can't understand them fully. And remember this is a movie shot by 12-year old Wes Anderson.
Saw this just now in a small indie cinema in Heidelberg, Germany and I have to say, it was a romp. In my humble opinion this film manages to be both Wes Anderson's funniest picture so far and his most melancholic. The utter uncompromising stylishness of his other work is also present here, perhaps even heightened, but in contrast to The Life Aquatic (and to a certain degree The Darjeeling Limited), the emphasis here is firmly on plot. The brave and often odd visuals never overwhelm the story and the audience never feels like they are not quite in on the joke, like in The Life Aquatic. The tone does tend to become a bit erratic, especially in the last third of the film when Anderson seems to want to pack so much into every frame that the film becomes a bit cartoonish at times (hence the not-perfect score from me). All in all, though, the plot is very balanced and the pacing is great. The two young leads are superb and the brave move by Anderson to place unknown actors front and centre pays off beautifully. The rest of the cast is on paper even more star-studded than The Royal Tenenbaums and yet Anderson never steers into unnecessary character development just to accommodate his stars. A touch here and a touch there are more than enough to paint a picture of a group of people who are eerily similar in their dissatisfaction with their lives and yet react quite differently to the two young lovers' dash (literally) for happiness. In conclusion, a must-see for Anderson fans and highly recommended for everyone else.
Despite the dreadful title, Moonrise Kingdom is simply wonderful.
Since his flying start with Bottle Rocket and the triumph of Rushmore, I felt that Wes Anderson had rather tottered off a true path. The Royal Tenenbaums was hit and miss, The Darjeeling Limited was too twee, and The Life Aquatic was simply AWFUL. I take against ANY film that wastes Bill Murray.
Moonrise Kingdom doesn't repeat that error. Despite covering ground Anderson's already visited to an extent in Rushmore, MK looks at a teenage crush with fresh eyes, and surrounds it with a fantastic cast of oddballs and misfits. Unlike his films where the characters are irritatingly quirky for the sake of it, these oddballs seem organic to their strange island home. Star among them is Ed Norton as Scout Master Ward, who looks as if he's having the time of his life in shorts and woggles, in charge of a troop described as 'beige lunatics'.
Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand and Bill Murray all play their parts but never feel as though they're elbowing for the spotlight, which keeps the mood kind, befitting the hearts of all involved in the search for runaway scout, Sam, and his pen-pal, Suzy.
Visually, it's a feast of saturated colour and fabulous design, but - as with the best of Wes Anderson - the devil's always in the detail. The laughs come from minutely observed accessories (keep an eye on the scouts' badges!) and from throwaway truths. And the soundtrack is a great mix of wistful Western and classical pieces. Definitely buyable.
Anderson flirts with surrealism, but never gets Burtonesque, controlling his story with a firmer hand and to better effect. His situations might be bizarre, but the people in them are always painfully, wonderfully human. It's also a rare film - one you could watch with your grandmother or your grandchildren, with only a couple of moments where young eyes would have to be covered, and no real violence or swearing.
There is an overwhelming feeling of innocence and good will throughout.
I loved it from the opening frames, and it only got better from there.
In the past, Anderson has whirled us from melancholy dreamscapes set deep below the Pacific to tales of inter-generation betrayals in the name of love, from doomed romances in Paris hotels to deliriously bizarre animal revolutions in the English countryside. But for all the retro-stylings his films so proudly wear, Moonrise Kingdom is Anderson's first period piece - a tender love story set in the sepia-soaked sixties of Anderson's youth that have worked their influence into every one of his movies. It is fitting that this film is his most childlike - not in any way any simpler than his other films (as anyone with an accurate memory of childhood will remember all it's complexities; the way each trivial thing became a nest of thorns), but an accurate and deeply heartfelt depiction of childhood. It is not aiming to be as crushingly dramatic as Life Aquatic or as deeply tragic as Hotel Chevalier, because that wouldn't be appropriate for the story it's trying to tell. Instead, while still bearing Anderson's still surprising streak of black humour (some acts of violence really catch you off-guard; then again, children are violent so hats off Wes), it is largely concerned with the dramas and tragedies of youth. Yes, it is less ambitious than say The Life Aquatic but it also has none of the flaws that that film does (and believe me, I am a massive Steve Zissou fan). Instead, it is perfectly executed, wonderfully acted poignant beauty, with fantastic performances across the board (especially from newcomers Gilman and Hayward). This, while not his most ambitious, is certainly Anderson's most perfect work so far. You owe it to yourself to see this movie.
The year is 1965 and a remote North Eastern coastal community is
plunged into confusion when it discovers that two kids have run away.
Sam, a discontented Khaki Scout, and Suzy, a put-upon older sister and
forgotten daughter, abscond into the forest to escape their
dissatisfying existences. The responsible adults Sam's Scout Master
Ward (Edward Norton) and Suzy's parents (Bill Murray and Frances
McDormand) and the entire town set out on a frenzied search, which
gets wild when the largest storm in recorded history touches down and
puts everyone's life into question. What ensues is a battle between
youth and age, hope and disillusionment, faith and cynicism.
In terms of story and character, Wes Anderson's previous films, especially The Royal Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited, are superior. Even in the most compelling relationship in the film between Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) and Sam doesn't embody Anderson's ability to take his characters into deep emotional places of hurt and healing without melodrama. However, the newest addition to the Anderson canon is a cinematic experience.
Moonrise Kingdom's story, co-written with Roman Coppola, takes a definite backseat to style, as Anderson saturates the entire film with a "Norman Rockwell-type of Americana". Stylistically, it may be Anderson's most masterful work, as the costumes, sets, and settings transport the viewer to an alternate universe, a place of wonder and adventure. The soundtrack is especially effective, as it recalls a time when things were simpler: Hank Williams was on the radio, and children listened to records instead of playing video games. However, Anderson isn't content with reminiscing about the year 1965. He takes this nostalgia and twists it, infusing the film with a twinge of sadness through the reality of life's disappointments. He doesn't reject the Rockwellian view of America, but argues that it doesn't tell the whole story.
Moonrise Kingdom is that place of beauty and passion that we all have been in at least once in our lives the one place on earth where we believe that anything is possible. It has since been lost, but it persists in our memories in moments of nostalgia.
I loved this movie! One of Wes Anderson's best - up there with Rushmore
and Fantastic Mr Fox. Top reasons to see this movie:
The love story between the quirky dark characters was so sweet. The casting for the 2 lead kids was spot on! You can take kids to this movie. They won't get all of the subtle humor but you will. The music and the film setting. The quirkiness of the filming, scenes, and narrator. Everyone in short pants... classic! Bruce Willis is actually good in it. Beautifully shot. You leave the theater with a smile on your face and a tear in your eye. Best movie so far this year.
Anyone who said they did't like it, doesn't get Wes Anderson. If you like his movies, you will love Moonrise Kingdom!
The thing that I enjoy most about Wes Anderson films is that they each
feel like a great adventure and in this sense I think Moonrise Kingdom
is his best yet. It tells that tale of Sam, an orphan on scout camp,
and Suzy, a misunderstood girl, as they run away together. At first I
found the two actors playing the kids to be kind of limp but after a
few minutes I warmed to them and I actually think they were both pretty
good overall, particularly Jared Gilman who plays Sam and even more so
knowing that it's the first acting he's ever done. The rest of the cast
are all pursuing or helping them in some way and there a couple of
sub-plots with the island's policeman (played by Bruce Willis) and the
parents of Suzy (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand).
I thought that the rest of the cast was great. In fairness I am a bit biased because I love Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis and Frances McDormand but even so I have to say that they were all really good, especially Edward Norton who plays the scout master, and Bill Murray. There are also a couple of minor roles for Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keital and Tilda Swinton who were also a lot of fun. Everyone in the cast fits into their role really well which is obviously exactly what you want, but not only is that the case for the main roles but also for the less important ones, like the scout troupe (especially Sam's 'enemy'), Suzy's three brothers or the oddball narrator.
Cinematography wise I didn't think this movie was particularly spectacular, especially in comparison to other Wes Anderson movies like 'The Life Aquatic' or 'The Royal Tenenbaums'. There were a couple of shots that were cool though, some really long zoom outs (which sounds clichéd but it worked) and the doll house type ones that I love and think are awesome.
I wouldn't expect to wet your pants laughing at any moment in 'Moonrise Kingdom' but it is funny. There are a couple of laugh out loud moments and as a whole the jokes are pretty sharp and intelligently done. The reason I like the humour in this movie is that it's a part of the ambiance and feel of it, it won't make you crack up but it will make you have a smile on your face for pretty much the whole thing and leave you feeling strangely happy.
That kind of ambiance is really why the movie is so good, and is possibly Wes Anderson's best movie. The whole story is this fantastic blend of reality and child-like dreaming and it's wonderful. At times I felt kind of nostalgic and sad that I'm not a kid anymore. On the other hand it feels like a tribute to those myths and dreams of being a child and it works so well. This is the kind of film that I feel I could watch over and over again, each time spotting something new but also feeling good and enjoying the overall purpose.
Definitely go and see it!
If you've been following Mr. Anderson's relatively short career, you'll
find more of the same here: a film that is full of quirkiness, which I
find to be parables of the troubles we encounter in life. I came to
this film without any expectations, having read nothing about it in the
news so I was pleasantly surprised that the main protagonists are a
couple of tweens. Any fears of mine finding a sappy or saccharine story
were vanquished and replaced with wonderment following the journey of
the two main characters. Both actors didn't seem to have formal
training but this didn't stop them from serving the story well. It is
down to the genius of Mr. Anderson capturing their human performances
which are nothing less than beautiful.
I can't recommend this film highly enough!
It's 1965 and pre teen pen pals, Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Heywood) agree to run away from home and meet up a year after meeting for the first time. While the two of them head off into the wilderness of Suzy's twelve mile long home island a search party that includes Island Policeman Bruce Willis, Scout leader Edward Norton, Suzy's parents Bill Murray and Frances McDormand and Sam's fellow Scouts set about trying to hunt the eloping children down in the days preceding a huge storm. I should say from the outset that I am a huge Wes Anderson fan and have absolutely loved all of his films with the exception of Fantastic Mr Fox so I went in expecting great things. My expectations were matched and even perhaps exceeded. I loved this film. Anderson sets up Suzy's home life in a fantastic opening sequence which features some exquisite tracking shots through the family home. Before anything is said it is already obvious to the audience that Suzy is a loner who longs for something bigger, something more. Her parents do not get on and are never even seen in the same room, let alone talking to each other. She has three younger brothers who appear to get along very well. Her house is large and well furnished, indicating wealth if not happiness. All of this is established in one long sequence of beautiful camera movements which last no longer than a couple of minutes. Sam's life with his Scout troupe is shown in a similar manner although it soon becomes apparent that he has already escaped in search of his love, Suzy. One of the things I love about all of Anderson's films is that you could turn on the TV at pretty much any moment during any of his films and within a few moments be sure that you are watching a Wes Anderson film. His style is very distinctive and it's all over his latest work. The shots are framed to perfection and each camera movement feels measured but not forced. There is a vague pastel and brown tint to everything which matches the film's period setting. Everything from the sets to the characters also feels slightly off centre and as though they inhabit the same world as The Royal Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited. Anderson not only creates his own world for each film but his films feel somehow connected and as though they too inhabit the same slightly odd world. The plot is absolutely delightful and sweet. It's such a touching and loving story which also feels like a love letter to the children's adventure books of which Suzy reads throughout the film. Though they read these books, the children long for an adventure of their own and have finally embarked on one. The characters are equally enchanting. Sam and Suzy are somehow both old beyond their years but also very much still children. They have obvious intelligence and wisdom but convey it through a child's eyes. They are on the cusp of adulthood but somewhere in between. The acting of Hayward and Gilman is superb and again both feel both older than they are but also very child like. They are great. The adult characters are also great without exception. Bruce Willis is a sad and lonely cop who patrols a quiet island and although he has his faults is very kind and caring. Edward Norton is an exemplary leader who also has a big heart while Bill Murray and Frances McDormand, both lawyers, talk to each other using mostly legal language and although are not really in love with each other, care a lot for their children and want the best for them. There are also small cameos from Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel and Tilda Swinton, all three of which were welcome and provided something. The adult cast on the whole was fantastic. The score goes perfectly with the on screen action and features a mixture of militaristic marching music, classical and 60s pop. They somehow all work together and help to push the story on to it's frenetic final act. This is a film with a big heart, lovely story and plenty of laughs. Although I only just saw it I already can't wait to see it again. It's everything you'd expect from a Wes Anderson film but as well as being unusual, wacky and nice to look at also has a sweet story about adolescence, growing up and first love.
Moonrise Kingdom is charming, quirky, cute, affable, well-composed, sentimental, nostalgic and pragmatic; and I HATED IT. When it comes to Wes Anderson films, there are three guarantees: children will act like adults, girls will carry around suitcases, and parents will not understand - Moonrise Kingdom cashes in on the Anderson promises with much aplomb. If you have never seen a Wes Anderson film you might find Moonrise Kingdom to be magical and unique. If you have seen Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums, Life Aquatic, and Darjeeling Limited, you will find Moonrise Kingdom to be a tired regurgitation of a one-trick-pony director who will forever try to recreate the popular and artistic success of The Royal Tennenbaums, his truly benchmark work. Anderson is a very creative artist, who freely steals from French New Wave and Italian Neo-surrealism, to craft highly choreographed and visually intricate films that specifically show the audience exactly what Anderson likes and how he likes to show these things; he is an artist who works exclusively in a personal space and so far hasn't compromised his personal artistic vision. And there is also the rub! Anderson is incapable of working outside his space; where he once filmed "outside the box"...he now is trapped in this box and ironically appears no longer able to think outside that box - he is a hostage of the aesthetics and style that define him. A tale set in the 1965 about two pre-teens who fall in love and escape into a boy-scout fantasy of an adventure, Moonrise Kingdom, while displaying the very artistic template that made him a favorite of cinematophiles, is also incredibly lifeless, pretentious, contrived and frankly, poorly written. A stand-out cast featuring Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, and Frances McDormand are wasted on underwritten cardboard cutout characters that are weighed down by hackneyed clichés and insipid dialog. I do give kudos to the main two leads - the children - they give the film its only signs of life; Kara Hayward would not look out of place in a Goddard or Fellini piece. While the story is mainly about unhappiness, disenfranchisement, and the ubiquitousness of love vs. duty, it also provides no real substance regarding these themes, meandering along until its trite conclusion. Moonrise Kingdom is a film that suffers the failure of style over substance - in so much as Wes Anderson's signature moves such as tracking from perfectly composed room to perfectly composed room, are now too obvious and no longer meld in the wholeness of the cinematic aesthetic, but instead point out, too glaringly, that you are watching a Wes Anderson film. There is a difference between suddenly seeing a Stanley Kubrick image and saying "oh yeah, this must be a Kubrick film" to watching a Wes Anderson film and throughout the entire film you are drubbed to oblivion with the fact that you are watching a Wes Anderson film. Within 10 minutes of the opening, I was tired of seeing what I was watching - it was so contrived and such a shameless display of idiosyncrasy that the film became a quest to find something new and fresh in it, and unfortunately there is none to be found. With a script that is full of humor but none of it funny, full of quirky characters but none of them interesting, and full of pretty visuals that add nothing to the story, Moonrise Kingdom seems like the death knell of the prototypical Wes Anderson film. But I doubt this will ever stop him - I applaud his artistic integrity and refusal to compromise with mainstream Hollywood, but ultimately he is becoming Quentin Tarantino - a one-note carnivalist forever trying to recreate the success of his early work (Reservoir Dogs is still by far Tarantino's best work and all subsequent films are the recyclage of Pulp Fiction, the film where QT blew his entire artistic wad, just like Anderson did with The Tennenbaums) by insisting on a personal style that is adored by many but offers nothing new to the medium through which the artist tries to communicate. Like Bill Murray's character, when told to stop feeling sorry for himself, I ask... "why?"
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