Nobody asked me who I was wearing. Sacha Baron Cohen didn't try to dump ashes on me. Something I learned when I went to Sundance that has come back to mind now that in order to live some of the most glorious moments, some of the glory must be sacrificed. However, the price was well worth it.
Thanks to something called positive thinking (it's amazing what it actually can do), I ended up with a ticket for "Moonrise Kingdom." It wasn't the flashy premiere that Wes Anderson, Bill Murray, Ed Norton, and Bruce Willis would be at, but something a little quieter also in the one-of-a-kind Lumiere Theater. It is hard to review a movie totally objectively, as one's experience outside of the movie always impacts the experience of the movie itself. While the excitement of Cannes might have added to my opinion of "Moonrise Kingdom," it will definetly stand the test of time (more on that in a minute).
Cannes is the kind of place where dreams meet stark reality. There will be more people surrounding a red carpet, hoping to get just one glimpse of a celebrity, than actual celebrities. And you won't always get what you want, but if you try some time you'll find that you can get something just as good. When attending a film festival, know that you might see some things that you never imagined you would see in your life, but also remember to set your expectations to a realistic level.
- P. Diddy standing on the ledge of a balcony over his V.I.P. party at the "Famous Club." I put Famous Club in quotations because the title of the club is in quotations, implying it either isn't famous or that it isn't actually there. I can only imagine Kanye wanting to yell "I am golden God!" before jumping, only to have Kanye once again point out that he wrote the Bible.
- Harvey Weinstein walking down the street. At this point, he is the de facto King of Cannes.
Any given film from a great director will serve as a culmination point of all of their previous works. That is why it is hard for a director to have a flawless first feature, and it is also why Wes Anderson's films so frequently succeed. "Moonrise Kingdom," his latest effort, combines the dysfunctional family dark comedy of "The Royal Tenenbaums" with the childhood perspective of "Rushmore" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and the perfectly suspended reality of "The Life Aquatic."
"Moonrise Kingdom" feels like all of the best movies I watched as a kid, but it is much wearier of childhood whimsy. I imagine it is based off of fantasies that Anderson made up for himself when he himself was a child. It is a fine example of his evolving style as a filmmaker, and a long way from when he was first telling stories of book store robberies in Texas in "Bottle Rocket." This is both his most typical and most different movie yet.
"Moonrise Kingdom" is like an action comedy filled with inspired, gimmicky 60s style special effects. There are many out there who do not like Wes Anderson and can never be convinced to enjoy any of his movies. Well, maybe I can sell you this one by telling you that it made me think of "The Goonies." A more romantic version of "The Goonies," albeit.
The film of Anderson's past have always had an affinity for vintage, so I guess it was about time he made a movie set in 1965. The first detailed location we get is Suzy's (Kara Hayward), which looks like a giant dollhouse. The house becomes a character istelf.
Suzy is persued by Sam (Jared Gilman), a twelve-year-old who defines too smart for his own good. Sam is a foster child, and Suzy can't stand even the presence of her parents. The two bond as social outcasts, Suzy constantly fighting with her classmates, and Sam being constantly alienated from the rest of his khaki scout troop. The two run away together and look to form a place where they can forever be away from adults. Perhaps something similar to what Holden Caufield once described.
The adults of "Moonrise Kingdom" might feel underdeveloped as compared to Anderson's past films, but that's only because this is the first film he's ever done from the resentful and precocious perspective of a child. However, seeing Mrs. Bishop (Frances McDormand) and Suzy together, you can see how one was once like the other. As Mr. Bishop, Bill Murray is, well, Bill Murray. Willis is the most deadpan funny and sincere he has ever been. This might be Norton's funniest performance since "Keeping the Faith."
The film as a whole is simultaenously adult and childlike. It is a darker and more mature version of a typical childhood fantasy. It is as if you are rooting for and against the fantasy. Sam and Suzy become so likable, yet their love causes chaos for all who care for them.
"Moonrise Kingdom" might be Anderson's most traditionally structured film to date. However, that doesn't mean everything works out ever so perfectly. A main character is killed off early on, and the ending, meanwhile, can evoke tears. Anderson also twists around his usual formula and gives us the character montage tracking shot at the begginning, and the slow-mo walk long before the finale.
When comparing this to the rest of Anderson's oevure, it may not be his best. But on its own, it is still fantastic. This is the kind of movie that I just want to give a big, warm hug to. I love the gimmicky special effects, the Noah's Ark parallel, and the surprise cameo toward the end of the film from one of the best living actors. Most of all, I love all of the little detail poured into every single shot. It is nice to see so much effort being put into something that people usually don't give a s**t about.