A few words about Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson, NY Film Fest 2007

Spent a rainy evening in New York City out at the movies last night. Itching to check out the new Wes Anderson film , Moonrise Kingdom, but not wanting to travel too far, I headed to the nearest multiplex up in Union Square. But having to sit through a half hour of commercials and bad movie previews nearly wore me out by showtime. What a scam - squeezing every commercial buck out of you while you foot the bill. This is why I spend all my time at actual art cinemas - Film Forum, Walter Reade, BAM Cinematek. This was all new to me. In fact, if the 4 train was running normally, I would have been out at BAM to see this film and saved myself the torturous run up of advertising. At least the final preview before the film started was for my favorite film of the year - Beasts of the Southern Wild - a stunner that won Sundance and which opens next week locally.

Jason Schwartzman with Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise screenwriters

But back to Wes Anderson and Moonrise Kingdom, which despite multiplex rules, finally started up and swung itself into action. The first half hour was very much in the style of The Royal Tennenbaums, which to me was a little too stylized, and so I spent some time thinking that Moonrise Kingdom might not live up to the hype at all, making me want to kill myself for sitting through all those commercials. But around the point that the two young teenage lovers, Sam & Suzy, begin dancing by the shore to a Francoise Hardy yeh-yeh girl disc they brought along on their runaway adventure, like a preteen homage to a Godard film, I was hooked.

Wes Anderson, Anjelica Houston, Bill Murray -2011

From that point, the rest of the Moonrise moves elegantly along like my favorite Wes Anderson film, The Darjeeling Limited. Actually it felt more like a Coen Brothers - Tarrantino - Anderson hybrid, with all the character actors playing similarly quirky parts - Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel - all showing up just at the "oh I forgot they were in this movie" moment. I'm still partial to Darjeeling's long slow motion takes choreographed to Kinks songs - especially that grand opening train sequence with "This Time Tomorrow" (I know someone who was phoned by a nervous Wes Anderson, to be sure that no other director had already thought to use this great Kinks song. That's a man concerned with the smallest details.)

Peter Bogdanovich (another Hank Williams fan) and Wes Anderson

And the details are indeed packed into Moonrise Kingdom. Sure the Kinks are replaced here by Hank Williams (no complaints there), minus the sweeping slow-mo camera tricks. Still there are plenty of exquisite horizontal / 360 camera pans. The detailed references throughout Moonrise are little treasures for movie buffs.  Let me just say that Bob Balliban's goofy narrator reminds me of Fellini's Amarcord narrator.  You can sense Francois Truffaut behind the scenes. But Wes Anderson's attention to detail really helps Moonrise Kingdom stand on its own here. I sensed a bit of Hardy Boys /Nancy Drew mystery zeitgeist thrown in as a dose of 60's childhood nostaligia for the twenty somethings in the theater to re-digest from their parents/grandparents childhoods.

Cast of the Royal Tennenbaums, 10th Anniversary screening, fall 2011

And so, as the film swept towards it's well wrapped end, I found myself sitting through the final credits (oh so alone), and knew that within minutes I'd be doing what my 19 year old daughter told me all teens do at the multiplex in this economy - head into another screening. For me it was a couple of doors down for the subsequent screening of Moonrise Kingdom, already in progress, to watch the spectacular final hour of this film one more time.