Jun 4, 2012

We were mighty pressed for time,

Encountered two traffic slow-downs, had to navigate parking in what might be the world's largest garage, figure out automated ticket buying, settle for pre-made popcorn, find a bathroom, and find the theater in the airport terminal known as the Metreon in The City.

(What is up with the Metreon? It was Renee and I's first visit there, and both of us never want to go back.  Very strange; teenagers canoodling on tables, Prom kids -- looking very lovely -- swanning through the mob and holding court, graybeards playing pinball, indie kids posing with paperbacks, the expected Avengers crew in an Avenger length queue.  Honestly, this type of melange of humanity would normally please me to no end.  Perhaps, because we were in a hurry? Was it the popcorn problem? We shook our heads disgustedly on the way out.  Never again.)

But we made it on time, despite our adventures.  (I was off at four.  The film played at ten past five.) And there is nothing more sexy on a movie date than arriving just as the film begins.

Jared Gilman.

And what of Moonrise Kingdom? Well, I am not sure if I am in a state worthy of speaking of the film in a critical manner.  But, I will try my best.  I have not felt this dreamy, this elated, this dazed upon leaving a movie theater in I do not know how long.  The film had such a personal connection to me that I felt as if I had watched it alone, as if my Wife were nowhere near me, that the rest of the house had never existed.

Wes Anderson's style has not changed.  It is the same as all his other films: inset shots, the same pastel pallet, an extra massive plot point precisely halfway through the film, the excruciating attention to detail, the composed shots, the triumphant anti-authoritarian slow motion sequence, the quick pans and tilts, the dollhouse half sets, and on and on, ...

But it is the love story in this film, a love story of two twelve year old children, both with considerable baggage in addition to what they carry when they run away together, that elevates this particular Anderson film to greatness,  and that means Moonrise Kingdom can sit comfortably on the shelf next to Anderson's other two masterpieces, Bottle Rocket and Rushmore.

On the island of New Penzance -- an island with no paved roads; an island of sad, fucked-up misfit adults -- it takes two damaged children with the guts and passion and love necessary to create a history for themselves to save the grown-ups and their sad little corner of the world, to survive the flood and cultivate and produce a new golden fulsome harvest the next Autumn.

But in like all the best fairy tales and myths there will blood and shocks and hurts and pain.  There will be some that will not be pleased with the violence in this film.  I understand their point of view and I respect it.  But, I think it is absolutely essential to the story being told here.  Although not even remotely as violent as the film, Drive, I see Moonrise Kingdom and Drive as authentic heartfelt modern fairy tales.  Drive is a modern Arthurian legend, and Moonrise Kingdom allegorizes the Old Testament's Great Flood and the "virtuous heroine" adventure stories that our lead female character, Suzy, likes to read.   Both films would make a smashing double feature.  (But which to show first?)

And, I do not think I have ever seen a finer, more poetic, more honest, touching love scene for children in the American cinema.  It is something so difficult to do.  And, I have only been completely convinced and swept off my feet with these type of love scenes when watching french films.  The love scenes in Moonrise Kingdom reminded me of Eric Rohmer. Or Truffaut.  So, naturellement,  we will be listening to a Françoise Hardy record as these scenes play, infuriating Anderson's numerous vehement critics, crying out, "Clever clogs!" or "Precious!" Fine.  But it is beautiful to me.

I am still in a daze thinking about this film.  Just like it took me a few days to absorb and process Drive.  Both films are supremely heavy on style, yet, both films are able to transcend style and touch your heart, move you.  They are the work of two master film makers at the absolute top of their game, stunning achievements.


Random favorite moments from Moonrise Kingdom:  the earrings; "Do the other one."; the opening sequence with a Child's Guide to the Orchestra playing; the battery operated record player; the kitten; the treehouse; the triumphant slow motion walk out of the chapel tent; the other scouts scene where they join forces w/ Sam and Suzy; "I love you, but you don't know what you're talking about."; Sam and Suzy's hilarious and poignant epistolary sequence; Suzy's expression when Sam asks, "No, what type of bird are you?"; the stellar yet awkward naive performances delivered by Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman as Suzy and Sam; the production of Noye's Fludde; the tennis ball can; Sam and Suzy's heads peeking out over the church steeple; Jason Schwartzmann; Tilda Swinton hanging up the phone; Françoise Hardy; that the adult characters are so deeply realized despite having hardly any dialogue, at all; and the film's position that children can save their parents.  What a lovely idea that is.

Kara Hayward.

All my Monday love,


  1. Last time I went to the Metreon (five or so years ago), I was incredibly disappointed. Actually, I remember being disappointed the time before that, too, but that was because they closed the Where the Wild Things exhibit before I got to see it and then we got caught... Anyway, still haven't seen Moonrise Kingdom, but I know it'll be worth the overpriced ticket and even if for some crazy reason I end up not liking it, I'll remember this post very fondly.

    1. Thanks, Jess, for your comment. Believe me, you won't mind the cost, and you will love the film, a real return to form for Anderson.