Monday, June 25, 2012

Youth Breaking Out:

Fresh from the success of Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson returns to live-action with a story about youth, adventure, love, scouting, and the usual eccentric cast of characters. What's not to like?
Youth Breaking Out
Moonrise Kingdom / Film Review
June 25
by Chris Homa
Youth Breaking Out
Moonrise Kingdom / Film Review
Released June 8 by Focus
Words By Chris Homa
Between Sam and Suzy lies the bright, yellow field. Both are twelve, and both are considered problem children. But where Sam’s scout troop and Suzy’s home are sources of conflict, they find peace and comfort in one other, and so they elope in the wilderness of New Penzance. With the entire island’s population searching for them, the question becomes: how long will their affair last, and can it end happily?

The colorfully titled “Moonrise Kingdom” is Wes Anderson’s return to live-action film, and to make things short, it is a beautifully triumphant return. The style mediates the cartoonish nature of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” with the touching realism of the director’s earlier works, placing items like ludicrously-high tree-houses and dysfunctional families side-by-side. Many of the director’s trademarks are present, such as meticulously-designed and photographed sets. Needless to say, the cinematography, overall, is incredible. But this time around much has changed, too.

Perhaps the most striking thing about Moonrise Kingdom is just how funny it is. Films like The Royal Tenenbaums and Bottle Rocket certainly had humor and laughs, but this one is different. It’s almost like actual jokes and parody made their way into the script and not just funny circumstances. Maybe it’s co-writer Roman Coppola’s influence, or maybe Wes and the gang thought they’d mix things up. Either way, the tone of the movie is something new, not just for the director, but something fresh for movies in general. Moonrise Kingdom is fun; unequivocally fun. At the very least, there’s just something about a twelve year-old smoking a pipe that makes you smile.

The acting is often a point of concern for stories that focus on adolescent characters, as does this one. And though there are one or two dry moments, both Jared Gilman and Kara Hayard perform wonderfully as the star-crossed youth. As per the rules of a Wes Anderson movie, much of the acting is stilted and removed, reminiscent of real life. But unlike a Wes Anderson movie, both Bill Murray’s and Edward Norton’s characters have a surprising amount of life and personality in them.

Fans may be disappointed to hear that music selection – one of Anderson’s most beloved strengths – is less sporadic and more oriented to classical pieces than the pop and rock heard in past films. No Kinks or Bowie here, I’m afraid. Instead, there’s an odd mix of original instrumentals by Alexandre Desplat, classical compositions by Benjamin Britten, a couple songs by Hank Williams, and a drum cadence by Mark Mothersbaugh. Even though it may be different, the soundtrack weaves together in amazing fashion, providing a sonic palette for the film to work off of. In most places it plays a more subtle role, but that doesn’t make it any weaker a role. Musical highlights include “La Temps de l’Amour”, a French sixty’s pop track by Fran├žoise Hardy, and “Cuckoo!”, a choir piece composed by Britten that truly makes the film’s most touching moment.

That’s the other thing about Moonrise Kingdom. The movie is absolutely one of the sweetest things to grace theaters in a good while, but not sweet in a kiddie-movie, foo-foo way. Rather, this is sweet and sentimental in a Wes Anderson, youth breaking out sort of way. It’s fun, but it’s also deeply touching and ultimately beautiful.

Some things are different, sure. But what the filmmakers behind Moonrise have made is something not soon to be repeated, something unique in tone, sweet in story and slick in style. Something to definitely be seen.

Here's the trailer:

And also, because this song is so amazing, here it is as well (turn your volume up!):

And here's the movie version that wouldn't embed:
Posted on June 25, 2012


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