Thursday, July 12, 2012

What kind of bird are you?

I only have one child, but if I had say, seven of the them - would it be possible to pick a favorite? Sure, maybe the first would hold a special place in my heart, but what about the others? What if each one was so beautiful you couldn't take your eyes off them? How could you choose? Worse, what if they were all utterly charming and impossibly clever?  I know what I would do. I would never pick a favorite. I would love them all the same. I'd have to.

Wes Anderson is more than a filmmaker, he's his own genre. If video stores still existed like they did when I was a kid, I'm pretty sure that right next to Westerns would be a tiny section of Wes Anderson's (or would it be after Action?). It might not be very popular with the casual movie-goer, but I'm sure you'd find a lot of geeks and movie nerds (and every blogger, movie or otherwise) perusing the titles. And, you'd find me. But I would never know which one to pick. My favorite would be the one with the guy who has a quirky family and eccentric friends. Or the one with the sad girl.

Moonrise Kingdom is brilliant. Easily my favorite movie I've seen all year. This will be the type of movie I will use as a barometer to judge other people on for the rest of my life. If they  haven't seen it, or aren't interested - fine. But if you actually watched it and didn't absolutely love it, you will have lost whatever respect I had for your movie-going tastes and credibility. That, and I might just hate you and people who look like you. Seriously.

Okay, that's a stretch, but really, do what you can to see this one. I was shocked it made it to Bumf--k, PA, where I currently reside. I went with a usual cohort, Flem, and in the ultimate shocker - my Dad. I think the last time we went to the movies was Pearl Harbor. Goodness, that movie was so terrible it made the actual attack not seem so bad. And we were in Hawai'i at the time.

Jiminy cricket! He flew the coop.
Anyway, let's get back to the good stuff. The plot is simple, yet carried out in Anderson's uber-charming and always clever way. A confident, though slightly troubled young boy, Sam, runs away from camp to be with his similarly troubled girlfriend, Suzy. Sam's fellow campers, the Khaki Scouts, set out to find him at the same time that Suzy's family and the local sheriff look for her. Obviously, the young lovers don't want to be found, and an impending storm will complicate everything. My explanation can do this film zero justice. Just see the movie. Please. I'll even ask you nicely.

The performances are all stellar. From the two kids to all the adults, no one misses a beat. Ever. The pace, the quirk, the controlled-though-chaotic absurdity that is embedded in every single frame - it never slows down. There is no waste, no fat. You get 94 minutes of meticulously planned and executed comedic and dramatic filmmaking that may be Anderson's best. It's so well-crafted...I don't even no what else to say. For me, this movie was perfect.

This looks like a good place to set up a tent. You get some firewood, I'll get the Yays and Boos. Deal? Deal.

Sam is an incredibly confident guy. Suzy? Suzy's intimidating. Very.
  • The camera. From the opening tracking-shot awesomeness, to just about every single frame in the film, the camera is a character, too.
  • Speaking of characters, the Narrator is this close to being the most interesting man in the world.
  • Suitcases full of books. Sounds a lot like my sister.
  • Continuing the literary theme for a sec, I love the reverence that hand-written letters (and stationary) have in Anderson films. The trend continues.
  • The ear-piercing scene is as funny and awkward as anything ever put to film.
  • The bike attack incident! He told you not to cross that stick.
  • Edward Norton is awesome. He pretty much always has been, but any missteps have been fully forgiven and erased. Same goes for Bruce Willis. And Jason Schwartzman. Fine. Everyone.
  • Maybe the ultimate scene in this one, is the campground the two of them share in the inlet. It includes a wild dance number, weird portrait posing, and some of the best dialogue ever uttered by children.
  • I really loved the Khaki Scouts. They rebounded in an excellent fashion. Made up for being so shabby to Sam. Extra love to Lazy Eye. That kid ruled.
  • The montage showing how their relationship developed was very cool. Loved to see them both lash out at their peers. She goes Wolvie-beserk on a girl, he sucker punches a dude in the junk.
  • I could go on and on about the dialogue, but I'll just paraphrase one of my favorite lines. This is a very important decision. Go think about it near the trampoline.
  •  And finally, lefty scissors. Oh, and the importance of people who get you.
His final portrait is the best. This one? Well...about that...
  • Did that really have to happen to Snoopy?
  • The lightning. I'm with it, but...I'm just not sure about...what...exactly happened.
  • And the only legitimate boo I could come up with. There's a decent amount of time that I felt, as a man (and a teacher, no less), that we had drifted into awkward zone. when you watch this, you'll know what I mean.
In my last review, I discussed that living and breathing people could be replaced by technology. Hours later, I watched Moonrise Kingdom and immediately realized that's impossible (and that I'm stupid). This film is about as low-tech as possible (outside of a weird rescue-sequence), but is more alive than anything a computer could ever generate.

One day, I hope my son gets into Wes Anderson movies. I'll let my favorite pick his favorite.


  1. Seriously, still haven't read any review which didn't give it glowing praises. Makes it even more frustrating that there's still no release date where I live. I haven't even seen the film yet but have a strong feeling it'll feature in my top 10 films of the year. Hope my expectations are too high.

  2. I hate to hype up a movie too much, but I'm helpless in this situation. It's just soooo good.

    I'm still thinking about that samurai sword story, by the way. INSANE!

  3. "Wes Anderson is more than a filmmaker, he's his own genre."

    Agreed. Completely. Damn, I have to see this one. Great review!

    1. You must! This one is definite Stray Cat material.

  4. LOVED it. Edward Norton was brilliant. Sam and Suzy were perfect. Loved the Khaki Scouts, especially the first time we get to see Camp Ivanhoe. (That's not a safe-house, dude! Why's it up so high?) Easily my favorite from Wes Anderson....although I agree with you about the lightning - I wasn't too sure about that part.

    1. YESSS! I'm so happy you saw this. It was so good.

      I'm not sure it's my favorite Wes Anderson, but the fact that it might means it's possibly in my top 10 ever.

      Good news, this.

  5. I read a post somewhere in the interwebs asking the question - does Wes Anderson hate dogs? Think about their fates in his other movies.


    Epic norton jumps. Epic norton rescue jumps.

    1. Also the girl has been in Mensa since she was 8

    2. FLEMBOT!!!!

      What was the temperature when HELL FROZE OVER?

      But yeah, I saw that too about dogs. Damn cat makes it, though. Hmm.

      Does this development represent a major character flaw in Anderson? Perhaps.

  6. Great flick and one of my favorites from this year. Whenever Wes Anderson is on his A-game, it's just about perfect, but the last time he was on his A-game was probably a decade ago. Let's hope he keeps this up. Good review M.

    1. Glad you liked it, but one question...a decade ago?

      He's doesn't crank them out, but The Darjeeling Limited and Fantastic Mr. Fox were both awesome. I think his only game is A.

  7. Fantastic review! Can't wait to see the movie, it looks gorgeous and magical. And I love films set in New England, it's like heaven down there.

    1. If you don't LOVE it I will be very surprised...though I've said it before...we have very different tastes in movies.

      Well, at least sometimes.