Monday, September 3, 2012

Songs Of Innocence And Experience

Moonrise Kingdom(2012) 
Directed By Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" is a return to the subjects the filmmaker knows best, childhood's excitement and adult compromise and disillusionment. 
This story follows a young boy and girl in the 1960's who run away together to live in the woods and follow and Indian trail, while the girls parents and the local sheriff (who are also in a romantic tangle of their own) try to track down the kids.
Edward Norton also plays the boy's scout master who unleashes his politely feral troop to track down their wayward peer, with continuously disastrous results.
And all the while, a narrator (one of Anderson's best characters) periodically informs us a storm is approaching the small Iisland where this is all taking place.
The simplest way to describe Wes Anderson's sensibilities I think is to say in his films adults act children and children act like adults.
The same could be said obviously of any comedy featuring childish behavior, but in Anderson's films the idea is more ingrained into the fabric of his cinema.
"The Royal Tennenbaums" features characters wearing the same clothes as adults they wore as children frozen in an era of their lives they were happiest and moving back into their childhood homes to explore old psychological wounds, "The Life Aquatic" features a young man meeting his hero and long-lost father and living out his childhood fantasy (Cate Blanchett's character is an inverted version of same), Jason Shwartzman's desire to remain at Rushmore forever and Bill Murray accepting his challenge as a rival, Mr. Fox's need to relive his glory days with just one more big heist, even at the expense of his family and friends, the brothers in "The Darjeeling Limited" fighting over their fathers clothes while seeking out their wayward mother, and Owen Wilson trying to get his life together without betraying his bumbling childhood friend in "Bottle Rocket" captured at best in microcosm in the opening scene of that film.
A scene that would pretty much define the rest of Anderson's work.
At the beginning of "Bottle Rocket", Luke Wilson is saying preparing a bed sheet rope to escape through a window when a doctor comes in, and noticing, Wilson explains he has a friend who didn't know he was getting released today and was really excited about breaking him out. He asks if the doctor wouldn't mind just playing along.
 It would mean allot to his friend.
 Likewise in "Moonrise Kingdom" a young boy might for a moment existentially reflect on the irrelevance of morality in the life and death of a dog. To perfect comic effect.
 All of which is of secondary importance to the fact that this is Anderson's most exciting and adventurous film since "The Life Aquatic" and his most genuinely romantic since Claire Danes slow-motion walked to "These Days" in "The Royal Tennenbaum's". 
"Moonrise Kingdom" finds an accessible balance between ambition and execution, that had missing in his last two films, and sorely missing in most cinema in general.
In its opening virtuoso scene that juxtaposes, in cinematic terms anyone would understand, scenes of domestic life with instructional music about various instruments in a symphony, Anderson shows us that characters in his worlds are always parts of a bigger whole.
No matter how minor, each character, color, and sound must be taken together completely to fully appreciate. 
 Some might argue that all of these films are simply retreading the same path, and I would agree but also add, that is the point.
Like the runaways themselves retracing an old Indian path, its new because, its new to them.
The beach they discover has only a numerical assignment, an objectively identical point on a map, until they decide to rename it "Moonrise Kingdom". 

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